New Mexico Water eNews


July 2019

Graduate student Gabe Parrish and emeritus professor Fred Phillips scouting potential field sites on the Jornada Experimental Range.

USGS 104B Award Announced by NM WRRI
by Carolina Mijares, NM WRRI Accountant

NM WRRI announced its faculty grant award associated with the Research Grant between US Geological Survey and New Mexico State University, 104B State Water Resources Research Institute Program. The 104B program focuses on providing water quality and quantity information, understanding water availability, addressing the influence of climate on water resources, and responding to water-related emerging needs. Director Sam Fernald is the Lead PI on the program.

In response to the NM WRRI 2019 Request for Proposals, faculty receiving the new 104B award are Dr. Daniel Cadol, New Mexico Tech, and Dr. Talon Newton, New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources. Dr. Cadol describes the project below.

Evaluating focused aquifer recharge in arid regions using chloride profile analysis

Groundwater recharge is challenging to measure, yet it is the cornerstone of sustainable water use in semi-arid regions such as New Mexico. Aquifers that are not recharged represent economic time bombs: communities built on such finite resources have a finite lifetime. Accurately assessing recharge is fundamental to determining the stability of social-hydrological systems.

Read entire article by clicking here.

Thomas Lowry presents information about a new study at the Animas and San Juan Watersheds Conference held at San Juan College. Photo courtesy of Hannah Grover/Farmington Daily Times.

NM WRRI hosted the 4th Annual Animas and San Juan Watersheds Conference in Farmington, NM on June 18-22, 2019. Hannah Grover of the Farmington Daily Times covered conference presentations and the following is an excerpt of an article that appeared on Thursday, June 20, 2019.

Study Will Examine Water Use, Oil and Gas Development
in the San Juan Basin

by Hannah Grover, Farmington Daily Times

Researchers from Sandia National Laboratories are partnering with the Bureau of Land Management to study how oil and gas development could impact water supplies in the San Juan Basin. Thomas Lowry, a member of the technical staff at Sandia Labs, presented information on the study during the annual Animas and San Juan Watershed Conference on June 20 at San Juan College.

He said the study has just recently started, but is similar to work done in the Permian Basin near Carlsbad. Researchers will collect historical data, verify the data through field tests to ensure it is still relevant, and monitor water wells in the San Juan Basin.

Lowry anticipates researchers will take samples on a weekly basis over the upcoming months. He said tests will help show the availability of water and how it is currently being used. He anticipates the results will be available in September 2020. Lowry’s team will monitor water wells in portions of the San Juan Basin that are likely to see increased oil and gas development near them. He said the team is also partnering with the U.S. Geological Survey to monitor two wells in Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

Read entire article by clicking here.

From left: Adrian Oglesby, Pei Xu, and Robert Sabie develop a poster for a big data project.

Big Data for New Mexico’s Water is on the Rise
by Dan Carter, NM WRRI GIS Analyst

New Mexico State University, the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute, and the West Big Data Hub presented the Big Data for Water and Water Research Needs workshop on July 23, 2019 in Albuquerque, New Mexico at Hotel Chaco. The aim of the workshop was to bring together researchers and big data experts to discuss how to incorporate data science into water research and science-based water decision-making to meet the needs of New Mexico.

Big Data is characterized by datasets and systems so large and complex that traditional database management tools and data processing applications cannot handle the demands of data analysis and storage. The four V’s: Volume, Variety, Velocity, and Veracity, are used to describe Big Data.

Read entire article by clicking here.


NMSU Graduate Student Synthesizing Highly Porous Monoliths to Adsorb Chromium Ions from Groundwater
by Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Senior Program Manager

Last year, Zahra Abbasian, a graduate student in the NMSU Department of Chemical and Material Engineering, received an NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant entitled: Recyclable Monolithic Aerogels as Efficient Adsorbents for Chromium VI Removal from Rural Ground-Water Resources. The award was funded through the Bureau of Reclamation-NMSU Cooperative Agreement, Center for the Development and Use of Alternative Water Supplies. Zahra is working under the guidance of her faculty advisor Dr. Reza Foudazi, Associate Professor of Chemical and Material Engineering at NMSU. She presented her student grant research in Las Cruces at NM WRRI’s 63rd Annual New Mexico Water Conference in October 2018 and commented, “Attending the conference gave me a great opportunity to interact with local water experts in person.” She added that she has become more connected with relevant academic research being conducted in the area and has been able to share research challenges and ways to tackle her research project.

In July 2017, the Los Alamos National Laboratory detected chromium, Cr, in their sole source regional groundwater aquifer at a level that was five times the amount designated as safe according to the groundwater standards for New Mexico. This was due to the presence of the highest oxidation state of chromium ions, Cr(VI), which is a highly toxic carcinogen.

Read entire article by clicking here.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Black, NM WRRI.

NM WRRI Hosts Border Water Resources Research Workshop
by Ashley Page, NM WRRI Program Specialist

Approximately 50 attendees from the United States and Mexico participated in the Innovative, Multidisciplinary Water Research to Address the Needs of the US-Mexico Border Corridor workshop at New Mexico State University (NMSU) on June 11, 2019. NMSU and the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute hosted the event in collaboration with colleagues at the Autonomous University of Chihuahua.

The event began with a welcome address from NMSU Vice President of Research, Dr. Luis Cifuentes. Researchers with expertise in a variety of disciplines presented talks on critical border water issues; their presentations framed the afternoon’s small group discussions. Five small theme groups, based on the interests of attendees, were established. The small-theme groups – transboundary aquifers, water quality, watersheds, water education, and urban water – each brainstormed an innovative research project that met the multidisciplinary strengths of their team. The groups then presented their research project ideas to expert panelists for feedback. Teams will use this feedback to revise their proposals in the coming months to ensure their objectives are fundable and best meet the needs of the border region.

Read entire article by clicking here.


Accolades for Cathy
by Sam Fernald, NM WRRI Director

This month, instead of “Meet the Researcher,” we are doing an article on Catherine Ortega Klett. Cathy, Senior Program Manager, is retiring on August 1. Cathy has been an incredibly important part of the NM Water Resources Research Institute and New Mexico State University since 1987. Through the terms of four different directors, Cathy has been the glue that holds together NM WRRI. She starts each day with greetings to staff and continues the days reaching out to the water research community in New Mexico and beyond. She has been responsible for managing, overseeing, and supervising the daily operations and staff at NM WRRI. Cathy has been crucial in delivering work from NM WRRI. She has been instrumental to the success of 33
NM Annual Water Conferences! Cathy has provided NM WRRI much needed specialized expertise and experience to its operation and mission. She has led review of 151 technical completion reports and miscellaneous reports, as well as 27 proceedings from the annual water conferences. She edited One Hundred Years of Water Wars in New Mexico: 1912-2012, a New Mexico Centennial History Series book and helped with many manuscripts. Just in the last five years, Cathy has coordinated about 21 faculty grants and 83 student grants.

Beyond being incredibly productive, Cathy helps other people with their water research endeavors. With students, she is encouraging and helpful, always advocating for small grants to help students have a stake in developing and communicating their own work. With faculty, she is friendly and persistent, able to create a bit of healthy guilt to go with the smile and make researchers really want to turn in their reports and reviews. After leading the planning of conferences and workshops, she is there at the meeting to make sure everything runs smoothly. She stays out of the spotlight while making sure everyone else is ready for the spotlight.

NM WRRI greatly appreciates Cathy’s years of service and dedication. She will be sorely missed. We wish her the best in her well-deserved retirement. Cathy will be spending more time with her family including grandkids in San Diego, traveling, enjoying longer swim and exercise sessions, playing the piano, brushing up on her Spanish, and just simply enjoying her morning tea and catching up on reading.


November 6-8, 2019
Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino
Pojoaque, NM


NM WRRI 64th Annual New Mexico Water Conference
Co-sponsored by Pueblo of Pojoaque



Common Water, Sacred Water:
Tribal perspectives on water issues in New Mexico


Field Trips
Poster Session


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