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Surface Water Quality Bureau
Monitoring, Assessements & Standards


(Total Maximum Daily Load) for
The Upper Rio Grande - Part 1

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The Upper Rio Grande watershed is located in north-central New Mexico. For practical purposes, the Upper Rio Grande watershed was divided into two investigations (i.e., Part 1 and Part 2). The Upper Rio Grande watershed from Pilar, New Mexico to the New Mexico-Colorado border was Part 1 of the Upper Rio Grande investigation and is addressed in this document.

Heidi Henderson
TMDL Coordinator
(505) 827-2901

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Bulleted item TMDL for the Upper Rio Grande Watersheds, 2012
Bulleted item TMDLs for the Upper Rio Grande Watershed, Part 2
Bulleted item TMDLs for the Red River
Bulleted item TMDLs for Cordova Creek
Bulleted item TMDL for the Valle Vidal
Bulleted item TMDL for the Rio Hondo
Bulleted item Intensive Watershed Survey 2000

Stations were located throughout the Upper Rio Grande watershed during an intensive watershed survey performed by the NMED-SWQB in 2000 to evaluate the impact of tributary streams. As a result of this monitoring effort, several exceedences of New Mexico water quality standards for temperature were documented. New impairment listings included:

Bulleted item Comanche Creek  (Costilla Creek to Little Costilla Creek) - Temperature;
Bulleted item Costilla Creek (Diversion above Costilla to Comanche Creek) - Temperature;
Bulleted item Rio de los Pinos (Colorado border to headwaters) - Temperature;
Bulleted item Rio Fernando de Taos (Rio Pueblo de Taos to headwaters) - Specific Conductance, Temperature;
Bulleted item Rio Grande (Red River to New Mexico-Colorado border) - Temperature;
Bulleted item Rio Grande del Rancho - Specific Conductance;
Bulleted item Rio Hondo (Rio Grande to US Forest Service boundary) - Temperature;
Bulleted item Rio Pueblo de Taos (Rio Grande to Arroyo del Alamo) - Temperature;
Bulleted item Rio Pueblo de Taos (Arroyo del Alamo to Rio Grande del Rancho )- Temperature, Stream Bottom Deposits (sedimentation/siltation);
Bulleted item Rio Pueblo de Taos (Rio Grande del Rancho to Taos Pueblo Boundary) - Temperature; and
Bulleted item Rio San Antonio (Montoya Canyon to headwaters) - Temperature

The total maximum daily load (TMDL) addresses the above noted impairments as summarized in the tables found in the Executive Summary.  The NMED-SWQB has prepared separate TMDL bundles for other surface waters in these watersheds, including the 2012 Upper Rio Grande and the 2005 Upper Rio Grande Part 2 TMDL documents. A later 2009 study identified other potential water quality impairments which are not as addressed. Additional data needs for verification of those impairments are being identified and data collection will follow. If the impairments are verified, subsequent TMDLs will be prepared in yet another TMDL document.

A TMDL document for stream bottom deposits and total phosphorus was previously completed for Cordova Creek (Costilla Creek to headwaters). Accordingly, this effort provides total maximum daily loads that address all the above noted impairments.

A TMDL is a planning document that establishes specific goals to meet water quality standards in waterbodies where pollutant limits are exceeded. It includes current pollution loadings, reduction estimates for pollutants, information on probable sources of pollution, and suggestions to restore or protect the health of the waterbody.

A 30-day comment period on the initial draft of this document opened August 10, 2004 and closed on September 9, 2004. A public meeting was held to summarize the information and to provide a forum for interested parties to ask questions and provide comments. The meeting date allowed the public time to review the document and generate questions or comments. The meeting was held in Taos on Tuesday, August 24 from 7-9pm at the Juan I. Gonzales Agricultural Center, located at 202 Chamisa Road.

All Public Comments that were submitted to SWQB staff were responded to and included as an additional appendix in the Final Draft which was submitted to the Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) for their approval on August 12, 2004 during their regular public meeting.  After a brief deliberation, the WQCC approved the Final DRAFT TMDLs without alterations.  The document was reviewed by the US EPA Region 6 Offices for final approval, which was granted on December 17, 2004.

The SWQB’s Monitoring, Assessment & Standards Section will collect water quality data during the next rotational cycle. The next scheduled monitoring date for the URG – Conejos Watersheds is 2017, at which time TMDL targets will be re-examined and potentially revised as this document is considered to be an evolving management plan. In the event that new data indicate that the targets used in this analysis are not appropriate and/or if new standards are adopted, the load capacity will be adjusted accordingly. When water quality standards have been achieved, the reach will be moved to the appropriate category in the Integrated Report.

The SWQB’s Watershed Protection Section will continue to work with watershed groups to develop Watershed-Based Plans (WBPs) to implement strategies that attempt to correct the water quality impairments detailed in this document. Implementation of items detailed in the WBPs will be done with participation of all interested and affected parties.

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