New Mexico Water eNews


May 2021

Pictured here are nine out of eleven 2021-2022 Student Water Research Grant recipients.
First row: Lakshani Abeykoon (NMSU), Naomi DeLay (UNM), Francisco Rodriguez (ENMU). Second row: Ethan Williams (NMT), Natalie Gayoso (UNM), Hengameh Bayat (NMSU). Third row: Rong He (NMSU), Hailey Taylor (NMSU), Stephen Earsom (UNM).
Not pictured: Laramie Mahan (ENMU), Saman Mostafazadeh-Fard (NMSU).

NM WRRI Announces 2021 Student Water Research Grants
by Carolina Mijares, NM WRRI Program Manager

Eleven students from across the state will be conducting water research with newly awarded funding from NM WRRI. The one-year grants started on May 20, 2021, and will support graduate students at NMSU, UNM, NM Tech, and ENMU.

Financial support for the program was made possible by State of New Mexico appropriations. The grants support the training of New Mexico’s future water experts and are intended to help students initiate water research projects or to supplement existing student research projects in water resources research to improve water understanding and management in New Mexico. Grants of up to $7,500 were awarded. Students work under the supervision of a faculty advisor and provide the NM WRRI with a final project report. Projects also will be featured in the “New Mexico Water eNews” in the coming months. Grant recipients are strongly encouraged to present posters on their research at the 66th Annual New Mexico Water Conference, which will be held virtually in October 2021.

Congratulations to this year’s NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant program recipients.

NMSU Student Water Research Award PhD Recipient, Paramveer Singh, installing a Neutron Probe Access Tube.

NMSU Student Studies Water Conservation with Circular Grass Buffer Strips
by Marcus Gay, NM WRRI Student Program Coordinator

Water security is a monumental challenge for semi-arid regions around the country, including eastern New Mexico. The Ogallala Aquifer’s dwindling groundwater reserves threaten the area’s agricultural production, economy, and rural livelihoods. The transition from irrigated farmland to dryland farming in this area has already started in the form of partial pivot circles, where only a portion of the pivot (generally 2/3) is under full irrigation and the rest is kept dry. Semi-arid conditions and low rainfall severely impacts this kind of dryland production. Increasing irrigation water use efficiency and improving the use of rainwater on crop fields would allow farmers to reduce irrigation without significantly affecting crop yield, and as a result would help sustain the aquifer. Research has shown that this region is receiving an increasing amount of its rainfall in large rainfall events. The current annual cropping system is unable to effectively capture rainwater from these high intensity, short duration precipitation events. A major portion of the rainwater from these storms is lost as surface runoff, which also washes away topsoil and nutrients. An innovative strategy that conserves more of this rainwater is needed to increase water efficiency.

NM WRRI has awarded New Mexico State University PhD student Paramveer Singh a Student Water Research Grant to work on a project that offers several benefits, including improving the efficiency of rainwater. Under the guidance of his faculty advisor, Dr. Sangu Angadi, Singh is working on a simple and cost-effective strategy that rearranges the dryland portion of partial pivots to improve multiple ecosystem services. The project is entitled, Improving Green Water Use Proportion in a Center Pivot Irrigation System by Using Circular Grass Buffer Strips, and studies the novel concept of rearranging the dryland portion of partial pivots into circular buffer strips of native perennial grasses growing 3-4 ft tall and alternating with irrigated crop strips.

Read entire article by clicking here.

Meet the Researcher

Holly Brause, Research Scientist, New Mexico State University
by Jeanette Torres, NM WRRI Program Coordinator

This month for Meet the Researcher, we had the pleasure of featuring Holly Brause, who is a Research Scientist for the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (NM WRRI) at New Mexico State University. She has been in her position since 2019, and states that she has three main roles at NM WRRI, which include 1) managing NM WRRI’s participation in the Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Program, 2) collaborating with NM WRRI faculty and staff on grant-funded interdisciplinary research projects, and 3) carrying out research and publishing efforts to meet WRRI initiatives. In 2018, Holly was a recipient of the Student Water Research Grant given from NM WRRI to fund part of her dissertation research entitled, The Everyday Politics of Irrigated Agriculture and an Uncertain Future, and it is here that she attributes the beginning of her working relationship with the Institute.

When asked about her work at NM WRRI, Holly believes that she brings a very different perspective to the Institute due to her training as a social scientist and anthropologist. The field of anthropology has a long history of working with communities, and is accustomed to thinking critically about the politics of representation and issues of power in collaboration. Through her research and communication practices, Brause feels she is able to bring this perspective to the forefront when networking and managing relationships with stakeholders and local communities.

Read entire article by clicking here.

NMSU Student Water Research Award PhD Recipient, Sergei Shalygin, preparing to load cyanobacterial biomass and water samples into a UPLS-MS instrument.

NMSU Student Studies Cyanobacterial Harmful Algal Blooms in New Mexico
by Marcus Gay, NM WRRI Student Program Coordinator

Nutrient loads from agricultural fields, wastewater runoff from industry, and high temperatures due to climate change can cause specific environmental conditions that cause intense growth of microorganisms called cyanobacteria. These events are called Cyanobacterial Harmful Algal Blooms (cHABs) and they are an ecological problem in freshwater lakes and rivers. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), cHABs and their toxins can harm people and animals. In New Mexico, cHABs caused several recreational lakes to shut down in the summer of 2019. In response to the detection of these large blooms in 2019, additional research concerning cHABs in New Mexico needs to be conducted to mitigate against future blooms. As a state with an already limited supply of freshwater, it is important to investigate threat of cHABs to New Mexico’s aquatic ecosystems, water supplies, and the agricultural economy.

NM WRRI has awarded a Student Water Research Grant to New Mexico State University (NMSU) PhD student Sergei Shalygin to help fund a project which will collect and monitor water samples in the lakes, rivers, and reservoirs of New Mexico. The project entitled, Assessment of the cyanobacterial Harmful Algal Blooms (cHABs) and toxins in the blooming water bodies of New Mexico, aims to monitor endogenous cyanobacterial toxic species in the Rio Grande and detect cyanobacterial toxins with mass spectrometry from both water samples and biomass.

Read entire article by clicking here.

NM WRRI Hosts Workshop Focused on Building Water Capacity for Tribes, Pueblos, and Nations
by Mark Sheely, NM WRRI Program Coordinator

On Wednesday, May 19, 2021, over 150 people attended a virtual workshop hosted by the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (NM WRRI) focused on bringing together both Tribal and non-Tribal water resource managers, and researchers to further understand pressing tribal water issues and help to foster future research collaborations that will help build the capacity of Tribes, Nations, and Pueblos within New Mexico. The Workshop, Building Tribal Capacity with Water Research Partnerships, originated with NM WRRI’s 64th Annual New Mexico Water Conference, Common Water Sacred Water: Tribal perspectives on water issues in New Mexico. Through planning and reflection upon this conference, NM WRRI and the conference planning members recognized a broader need to continue engagement that would address tribal water challenges.

In touching on the workshop objectives in his welcome remarks, NM WRRI director, Sam Fernald, explained how planning this workshop had given him additional insight into the value of tribal perspectives and collaboration in water management. “On the subject of promoting water research that supports tribal capacity, I’ve started to see the ways that traditional knowledge can contribute to water research in New Mexico.” he said. “I think this improved research will better represent the hydrological diversity of New Mexico and improve water management.”

Read entire article by clicking here.

FY2021 104g USGS Request for Proposals Now Available!

Please see the announcement below for the U.S. Geological Survey National Competitive Grants Program. The closing date for proposals is June 24, 2021, 5:00 pm EST. Applications including the full proposal must be submitted to by NM WRRI. If you are interested in submitting a proposal, please contact NM WRRI Director Sam Fernald (575-646-4337; or Carolina Mijares (575-646-7991; The proposal and budget must be received by NM WRRI at least one week before the closing date no later than June 17, 2021.

RFP available at:

The U.S. Geological Survey has published fiscal year 2021 requests for 104g applications for the Water Resources Research Act Program. The National Competitive Grants Program supports research on the topics expanding and enhancing the use of hydrologic monitoring data to support advanced modeling tools, exploration and advancement of our understanding of changes in the quantity and quality of water resources, development and evaluation of processes and governance mechanisms that advance the science of ecological flows, and exploration and advancement of our understanding of harmful algae blooms (HABs). Any investigator at an accredited institution of higher learning in the United States is eligible to apply for a grant through a Water Research Institute or Center established under the provisions of the Water Resources Research Act of 1984, as amended (

Proposals involving substantial collaboration between the USGS and university scientists are encouraged. Proposals may be for projects of 1 to 3 years in duration and may request up to $250,000 in federal funds. Successful applicants must match each dollar of the federal grant with one dollar from non-federal sources. Applications (including complete proposals) to the National Competitive Grants Program Announcement FY2021 must be submitted to no later than 5:00 PM Eastern Time, June 24, 2021, by the university at which the Institute or Center is located. Funds have not yet been appropriated for this program for FY 2021. The Government's obligation under this program is contingent upon the availability of funds.

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