Hydrogeology of Hale Spring and evaluation of declining spring discharge, Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico
— Jim Riesterer, Paul Drakos, Jay Lazarus, and Mustafa Chudnoff


Hale Spring is located on the southern outskirts of the City of Ruidoso Downs, in the Rio Ruidoso valley on the east side of the Sacramento Mountains in southeastern New Mexico. The spring discharges from the Permian Yeso Formation, which is part of the regional carbonate aquifer system that includes the Yeso and overlying Permian San Andres and Glorieta Formations. Discharge from Hale Spring has decreased from 404 gallons per minute (gpm) in January 2000 to 217 gpm in December 2005. Interpretation of data from a geologic mapping-based investigation suggests that the spring discharges from fractures in the core of a fold within the Yeso Formation. Analysis of geochemical data from springs and wells in the area indicate that water discharging from Hale spring is part of the regional aquifer system, and tritium data show that water currently flowing from the spring was recharged between 1952 and 1963. Precipitation records indicate that declining precipitation has likely contributed to declining spring flow. However, pumping records from the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer (OSE) show that municipal pumping from Yeso wells near Hale Spring significantly increased beginning in 1999. In addition, the cumulative number of wells drilled within a ten-mile radius of the spring increased from 1155 in 1998 to 1605 in 2005. Although forest density in the region has increased over the past 100 years, our analysis indicates that a combination of increased groundwater diversions from the regional aquifer and decreased precipitation are the primary causes of decreased discharge from the spring.

Full-text (4.51 MB PDF)

Recommended Citation:

  1. Riesterer, Jim; Drakos, Paul; Lazarus, Jay; Chudnoff, Mustafa, 2006, Hydrogeology of Hale Spring and evaluation of declining spring discharge, Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico, in: Caves and karst of southeastern New Mexico, Land, Lewis; Lueth, Virgil W.; Raatz, William; Boston, Penny; Love, David L., New Mexico Geological Society, Guidebook, 57th Field Conference, pp. 287-295. https://doi.org/10.56577/FFC-57.287

[see guidebook]