GGI Geologist Paul Drakos presented “Alpine Hydrology of Phoenix Spring and Lake Fork of the Rio Hondo, Taos Ski Valley, NM” at this year’s New Mexico Geological Society (NMGS) Annual Spring Meeting in Socorro, New Mexico. The focus of this study is the hydrology and recharge sources for the Phoenix Spring complex and the Lake Fork of the Rio Hondo. The Phoenix Spring complex currently provides the entire municipal water supply for the Village of Taos Ski Valley, NM, and is one of the primary sources of streamflow in the upper reaches of the Lake Fork of the Rio Hondo. Water is also diverted during winter low-flow conditions for snowmaking by Taos Ski Valley, Inc.
This investigation included the collection of precipitation samples and discrete intervals of the snowpack for tritium and stable isotope analyses, installation of piezometers and water level monitoring upgradient of the Phoenix Spring complex, sampling of springs, piezometers and Williams Lake for general chemistry, tritium, and stable isotopes, and gaging of stream and spring flows. Preliminary analysis of d18O-d2H data indicate a greater contribution to recharge from summer monsoonal precipitation than has been found in previous studies, although recharge is still dominated by winter precipitation. Tritium data from springs are within the range of tritium concentrations indicative of a modern recharge source. This ongoing investigation will develop a local meteoric water line for the Taos Ski Valley and will provide a hydrogeologic framework for the development of a source water protection plan (SWPP).