New Mexico Water eNews


February 2017

NMSU graduate student Befekadu Habteyes looking over the edge of a dock suspended over a dried-out artificial pond at the Tucumcari Agricultural Science Center compound. The pond is used to store water temporarily and to irrigate an adjoining field.

NMSU Grad Student Studying Economic Impact of Water Conservation, Storage Capacity Development, and Crop Diversity in the Tucumcari Project of East-Central New Mexico
by Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager

The Tucumcari Project surrounding the city of Tucumcari, NM, includes about 41,000 acres of irrigable land. Principal features include the Conchas Dam and Reservoir, built on the South Canadian River, plus the Conchas and Hudson Canals, and associated distribution and drainage systems. This water storage and distribution facility constitutes an irrigation district named after Mr. Arch Hurley, who lobbied for its creation in the 1930s. For over half a century, the Arch Hurley Conservancy District (AHCD) has used the approximately 40 miles of main canal and 350 miles of smaller ditches and laterals constructed as part of the Tucumcari Project to deliver water, on average, to almost 700 different parcels of irrigated lands. And for just as long it has been recognized that there are significant water losses in the system, due to such realities as evaporation, canal seepage, and evapotranspiration by canal bank vegetation. Befekadu Habteyes, a PhD student in the NMSU Department of Ag Economics and Ag Business and in the Water Science Management Program, in collaboration with his faculty advisor, Dr. Frank Ward, is conducting a field survey and economic modeling analysis of the AHCD, taking into account the possible effects of different crop choices and of water conservation and storage policies.

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Call for Abstracts and Papers

Deadline: April 7, 2017

2nd Annual Conference on
Environmental Conditions of the Animas and San Juan Watersheds with Emphasis on Gold King Mine and Other Mine Waste Issues

June 20-22, 2017
San Juan College, Farmington, NM

The upcoming June 2017 conference includes a Call for Abstracts and Papers on topics related to the theme of the conference. Particularly relevant topics include the following:

  • Geology, minerology, ore bodies and natural sources of contamination
  • Analysis of Animas and San Juan watersheds as a result of Gold King Mine spill
  • Effects of acid mine drainage after more than a century of mining
  • Effects of historical mill-waste discharges
  • Effects of historical spill events
  • Effects of the Gold King Mine spill
  • Differentiating geologic and historical contaminants from Gold King Mine spill contaminants
  • Transport and fate of mining contaminants in the Animas and San Juan watersheds
  • Contaminant uptake into the food web
  • Mining and milling contaminant impacts on surface water, sediment, groundwater, agriculture, livestock, wildlife, and humans
  • Long-term monitoring
  • Existing corrective measures to control mine seepage and hydraulic consequences
  • Options for additional source control, spill prevention, and remediation
  • E. coli and other organisms in nutrients •Streamflow and water quality sensitivity to climate change
  • Groundwater and surface-water geochemistry and their interaction with the hyporheic zone

Visit the NM WRRI conference website by clicking here for abstract guidelines. All abstracts must be submitted online using the provided abstract form.

From left to right, Francisco Ochoa, Fernando Herrera, and Catherine Ortega Klett

AG Fest Draws Large Crowd in Santa Fe
by Jesslyn Ratliff, NM WRRI Program Specialist/WSM Student Program Coordinator

The New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau hosted another successful AgFest in Santa Fe, NM in which the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (NM WRRI) participated along with 43 other organizations. A few of the NM WRRI staff traveled to the Santa Fe Convention Center and set up a booth to provide information about grant opportunities, conferences, reports, and research projects conducted by faculty and students from around the state.

Beside the NM WRRI booth was a booth to promote the Water Science and Management Graduate Program (WSM) at New Mexico State University (NMSU). Handouts regarding fields of study, course requirements, and scholarships were made available to AgFest attendees.

The NM WRRI and WSM Graduate Program enjoyed being a part of AgFest 2017 and hope to be a part of the festivities again in 2018. Thank you to those of you who came to visit our booths.

Meet the Researcher

Dr. Hatim Geli
by Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager

New Mexico State University’s Department of Animal and Range Sciences welcomed Dr. Hatim Geli as Assistant Professor of Landscape Hydrology in the fall of 2016. Dr. Geli’s research and teaching interests are in the area of hydrology and remote sensing. His research focuses on the utility of remote sensing data and tools to improve water resources management. He utilizes multiple modeling approaches to model water and energy fluxes within the soil-vegetation-atmosphere interface.

Currently, Dr. Geli is part of a team of researchers working on the NM WRRI Statewide Water Assessment initiative attempting to improve evapotranspiration estimation using remote sensing technology. Part of his research is related to evaluation of remote sensing based models over agricultural and natural vegetation landscapes. Estimates of evapotranspiration will help account for water consumption by vegetation and hence support water balance calculations at different hydrological systems. Dr. Geli is also collaborating with a group of researchers working on an NSF EPSCoR (New Mexico’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) project that involves working with the Social and Natural Science Nexus research team to model and understand the linkages between natural and human systems. His research is focused on understanding the linkages and feedbacks between drought impacts and socioeconomic responses. An improved understanding of these linkages would guide development of effective drought management practices.

Dr. Geli received a BS in civil engineering from the University of Khartoum, Sudan and an MS in water resources engineering also from the University of Khartoum. His thesis was entitled, Streamflow Forecasting Using Artificial Neural Network. In 2012, Dr. Geli earned a PhD in civil and environmental engineering from Utah State University. His dissertation was entitled, Modeling Surface Energy Fluxes over Agricultural and Riparian Vegetation Using Remote Sensing.

Credits: 6 hours professional development Wells, Pumps, etc… is an annual seminar offered by New Mexico State University with the purpose of technology transfer to farmers, engineers, and water managers. The conference presents state of the art techniques in design, maintenance and the operation of wells and pumps.

Registration and Information:

More information, contact Zohrab Samani at

New Mexico Highlands University graduate student Behnaz Yekkeh presented her research project at NM WRRI’s 2016 Annual New Mexico Water Conference in Silver City.

Recipient of NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant Studying Effect of Tree Canopy Cover on Discharge of Upper Gallinas Watershed in New Mexico
by Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager

Behnaz Yekkeh is a master’s student at NM Highlands University in the Department of Natural Resource Management and a 2017 NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant recipient. She is currently engaged in a collaborative study with her faculty advisor, Professor Edward A. Martinez, as well as James R. Biggs, PhD., and Joseph P. Zebrowski, also in the Natural Resource Management Department; and Patricia R. Dappen, who is a remote sensing specialist with the New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute. The purpose of the study is to use aerial photography and Geographic Information System (GIS) techniques to determine the percentage of tree canopy cover in the Gallinas watershed for the period from 1939 to 2015. By assessing changes in canopy cover, precipitation, and discharge over time, they expect to gain insight into the relative contributions of canopy cover and precipitation patterns on water discharge in the Gallinas River. Such information can potentially be used by water and land managers to better inform their decisions for the utilization and management of the watershed.

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Welcome Austin Hanson
by Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager

Austin Hanson recently joined the NM WRRI staff as a research assistant. He will be working primarily with Program Specialist Joshua Randall on modeling efforts for the Statewide Water Assessment (SWA). The SWA was initiated three years ago as an effort to complement existing state agency water resources assessments. It is providing new, frequently updated, spatially representative assessment of water budgets for the entire state of New Mexico. Specifically, Austin will be working on integrating climate and other collected data into the New Mexico Dynamic Statewide Water Budget, and assisting with larger modeling and data presentation efforts within the NMDSWB project.

Austin earned a BS in geology from NMSU in 2009 and will complete a master’s degree in geology in May 2017. His thesis topic is: Late Quaternary slip rates from offset alluvial fan surfaces along the Central Sierra Madre fault, southern California. While working on a master’s degree, Austin honed his skills as a research and teaching assistant in the geology department. Austin hopes to eventually consult in an Earth science-related field. “Most of my hobbies evolve around water, and growing up in the Southwest has emphasized just how important water resources are for life on earth. I am very excited to contribute my geological background and technical skill set to the SWA project because I believe that water resources are only going to become more important as we move forward with time.”

A native New Mexican, Austin enjoys skiing, whitewater rafting, fly fishing, and hiking. For several years he worked as a carpenter and provided EMS care while ski patrolling at Taos Ski Valley.

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