DECEMBER 10, 2018


New Mexico Drought Plan Posted on OSE Website
by Sam Fernald, NM WRRI Director

Drought is an all too frequent visitor to New Mexico, and even with recent winter snows drought persists in the Four Corners area and parts of southeastern New Mexico. Planning for drought in advance identifies critical responses that can help alleviate some impacts of drought and prepares for future drought. In 2018, the Governor of New Mexico issued an Executive Order directing the NM Drought Task Force to update the New Mexico Drought Plan. The New Mexico Office of the State Engineer (OSE) completed the update with assistance from NM WRRI and many state agencies. The updated New Mexico Drought Plan: 2018 is posted online on the OSE website: The newly updated drought plan includes a summary of the history of drought planning in New Mexico with links to previous drought planning documents.

The drought plan has important new features. It establishes the operational framework for response to drought in New Mexico. It simplifies and clarifies the levels of the United States Drought Monitor declared drought classification levels that trigger the responses. The drought plan incorporates a response action plan to be activated during drought as well as a mitigation action plan for times when the state is not in drought. The drought planning team also identified important areas of future work that could improve the State’s response to drought. This effort provides a foundation for the development of drought planning efforts throughout New Mexico.

      Kyle Stark has set up an elaborate monitoring array in an ephemeral channel
      to the Rio Grande.

NMT Student Using NM WRRI Funding to Study Sediment Flow in Arroyos
by Thom Guengerich, NM Tech Office of Communications and Marketing

New Mexico Tech doctoral student Kyle Stark is putting his NM WRRI grant to good use. He is conducting a multi-year study of sediment transport in an ephemeral arroyo near Socorro.

Stark, along with his advisors and other funding agencies, constructed a monitoring station on the Arroyo de los Piños, which is a seasonal tributary to the Rio Grande. That arroyo only runs a few times each year, but the flow can provide significant sediment transport into the river.

The Rio Grande is a crucial part of life in the southwest United States. Constant maintenance along these rivers is required to ensure that the adjacent communities have consistent access to water, to prevent avulsions and the development of sediment plugs, to manage reservoir infilling, and to maintain aquatic habitat for life in the Rio Grande.

One source of uncertainty in managing these rivers is the sediment incoming from arroyos and other dry river channels. Flowing water in these channels is rare, but sediment production can be high when they do flow.

Read entire article by clicking here.

Meet the Researcher

Laura J. Crossey, Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, University of New Mexico
by Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager

Laura J. Crossey joined the faculty at The University of New Mexico in 1986 and became the first woman tenured, the first woman named full professor, and the first female department Chair in the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences. Her research group explores applications of low-temperature geochemistry to problems in hydrochemistry/water quality, diagenesis, geomicrobiology, and geothermal processes. Her research approach combines field examination of modern environments (water, gas, geomicrobial materials and sediments) with laboratory analysis as well as core and outcrop study to evaluate paleohydrology, spring sustainability, and reservoir/aquifer characteristics.

Professor Crossey received a BA in geology from Colorado College (Colorado Springs, CO) and an MS, also in geology, from Washington University in St. Louis. She earned her PhD from the University of Wyoming in deep-basin sedimentary diagenesis.

Read entire article by clicking here.

NMSU Student Investigating the Chemical Treatment
of Water Produced as a Byproduct of Oil and Gas Production in New Mexico

by Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager

Lei Hu, a PhD graduate student in the Department of Civil Engineering at New Mexico State University, is working on a grant project funded by the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (NM WRRI) titled "Recovery of Ammonium and Magnesium from Produced Water by Struvite Precipitation." His faculty adviser is Dr. Yanyan Zhang, also of the Department of Civil Engineering at NMSU.

Oil and natural gas industries generate huge amounts of produced water containing a complex mixture of organic contaminants and very high concentrations of inorganic salts. Pollution problems related to the ammonium (ionized ammonia) discharge of produced water commonly include eutrophication and dissolved oxygen depletion in water bodies, as well as toxicity to aquatic life. Therefore, high concentrations of ammonium in the produced water is a major hurdle for the treatment and reuse of the produced water. A particularly promising chemical treatment for the removal and simultaneous recovery of ammonium and magnesium from the produced water is to precipitate it out in the form of a relatively insoluble compound of magnesium, phosphorous and oxygen (as phosphate), ammonium, and water, known as struvite. This white crystalline mineral can also be put to good use as a slow release chemical fertilizer, which therefore helps to make this approach to water treatment economically viable.

Read entire article by clicking here.

  February 2019 

  New Mexico’s Mountain Sources of Water:
  A Mechanistic Approach to Understand Mountain Recharge
  and its Implications for Local and Statewide Water Budgets:

  WRRI Technical Completion Report No. 381
  Jesus Gomez-Velez
  Chao Wang

        Simulated steady-state groundwater (a) head and (b) mean age (unit: day)
        in the Rio Hondo watershed under fully saturated conditions (page 19)
New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute
New Mexico State University
MSC 3167, P.O. Box 30001
Las Cruces, New Mexico 88003-8001

(575) 646-4337 email:

NM WRRI Publishes Report on the New Mexico’s
Mountain Sources of Water

by Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager

Former New Mexico Tech Assistant Professor Jesus Gomez-Velez, and his former PhD student, Chao Wang, have completed an institute funded research project entitled, New Mexico’s Mountain Sources of Water: A Mechanistic Approach to Understand Mountain Recharge and its Implications for Local and Statewide Water Budgets. Project results will contribute to incorporating topographic information into baseflow recession analysis and will improve the watershed storage-discharge relationship that is used in the recharge estimation model. NM WRRI Technical Completion Report #381 is available online via the NM WRRI website.

Research results from the project were published in December 2018 in Water Resources Research 54(12): 10,131-10,338. The article, The Importance of Capturing Topographic Features for Modeling Groundwater Flow and Transport in Mountainous Watershed, was written by Chao Wang, Jesus Gomez-Velez, and John L. Wilson.

Gomez-Velez is currently a faculty member at Vanderbilt University. Wang is continuing his PhD studies at New Mexico Tech and expects to graduate in about a year.

Register Now!
It's time to build relationships and trust, to exchange ideas,
and to explore adaptive water strategies for managing drought
at the triple point of New Mexico, Texas, and Chihuahua.

Join 250-300 Attendees and speakers at the two-day conference.
Academic institutions • Local, federal, inti. agencies • NGOs • Border communities • Professional consultants • Field engineers • Farmers • Researchers • Water planners & managers • Private industry

Agenda topics include:
Climate change and the Rio Grande • Understanding transboundary aquifers • Innovative technologies for new water supplies • Lessons from experiences throughout the West • Embracing One Water • Water policy to address change • Managing salinity

Confirmed and invited keynote speakers:
John D'Antonio, New Mexico State Engineer • Luis Cifuentes, NMSU VP for Research • Pat Gordon, Rio Grande Compact Commissioner • David Gutzler, UNM • Jane Harkins, IBWC Commissioner • Mike Hightower, UNM & NM Desal Assn. • 40+ panelists and presenters

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