Final Environmental Assessment and
Finding of No Significant Impact
Record drought in the southwestern United States continues to threaten domestic water supplies with severe shortages. The Association is entirely dependent on one shallow groundwater infiltration gallery well for its water supply. The existing well is approximately 13 feet deep and pulls water from the local unconfined aquifer that is composed of alluvium. The existing well is approximately 30 years old and is considered to be in the later part of its useful lifecycle. The proposed well project is needed to replace the Association’s existing water supply which is considered to be highly susceptible to contamination.
Precipitation in the area averages 16 inches per year, but may vary from less than 12 inches to over 20 inches. The seasonality of the precipitation and the lack of quality surface water sources in the area make a reliable ground water source extremely important. Prolonged periods of drought, such as the current event, can have a negative impact on groundwater levels, which often requires deeper and more expensive wells. The drought is forecast to continue and, based on the historic record, may be very long. Support for drought emergency well drilling was authorized by the U.S. Congress in Title 1 of the Reclamation States Emergency Drought Relief Act of 1991.
The Bureau of Reclamation will provide funding to drill one to four water wells, approximately 40 feet deep, through the existing alluvium into the sandstone and shale bedrock of the Abo Formation to tap into the existing subsurface aquifer. The well(s) would be drilled on a site prepared by the Cañon Mutual Domestic Water Consumers Association (Association), located approximately six miles north of the Jemez Pueblo. A supplemental water supply source would help local residents maintain a reliable domestic water supply during drought and would help minimize the potential for contamination of the existing water supply. The Association will obtain a permit for a supplemental well from the Office of New Mexico State Engineer.
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