New Mexico Water eNews

December 2020

Letisha Mailboy working on her research project in the Upper Pecos River.

NMHU Student Awarded NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant to Establish Monitoring Sites in the Upper Pecos River
by Marcus Gay, NM WRRI Student Program Coordinator

In New Mexico, the Upper Pecos River originates in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and flows through the Pecos Wilderness, Santa Fe National Forest, as well as private and public land before entering the Fort Sumner reservoir. The river corridor contains a historic lead-zinc mine from the early 1900s that has been in the reclamation phase for about the last twenty years. The New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division is currently reviewing a proposal from a company named Comexico LLC that would like to conduct exploratory drilling for gold, copper, and zinc in the Pecos Mountains. As the New Mexico Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department considers this proposal, it is important to establish the Upper Pecos River's baseline water quality conditions before any exploratory drilling or extraction.

To better understand the Upper Pecos River's water quality conditions, Letisha Mailboy at New Mexico Highlands University (NMHU) has been awarded an NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant for a project entitled, Environmental Chemistry of the Upper Pecos River; Understanding Natural and Anthropogenic Influences on Water Quality. Under the guidance of her faculty advisor Dr. Jennifer Lindline, Mailboy’s project will establish five monitoring sites along a stretch of the Upper Pecos River. There will be one monitoring site upstream from the historic mine site, two at tributary confluences near the proposed exploratory hard rock drilling site, and two at high-use recreation areas. The project will collect water samples at each of the sites every two weeks from June 2020 to May 2021 and analyze the samples for basic anion-cation concentrations. The data will be used to characterize the hydrogeochemistry of the Upper Pecos River and examine spatial changes in water chemistry.

Read entire article by clicking here.

Meet the Researcher

Omar Holguin, Associate Professor, New Mexico State University
by Jeanette Torres, NM WRRI Program Coordinator

This month for Meet the Researcher, we had the opportunity to interview Omar Holguin, an Associate Professor for the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences (PES) in the College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University (NMSU). He currently mentors seven PhD students and one MS graduate student alongside teaching classes on sampling and analysis of environmental contaminants, and an undergraduate seminar. Omar teaches other courses, as needed, such as the principle of genetics and intro to organic chemistry. Holguin has expressed that student mentoring is one of the most important aspects of his position, and “it is important to provide an environment where students can achieve their greatest potential while allowing them to become independent thinkers and researchers.”

Omar received his professional education entirely from NMSU. He obtained his BS in Environmental Science specializing in environmental chemistry (2002), an MS in Agronomy focusing on natural product isolation (2005), and a PhD in Plant and Environmental Sciences with an emphasis on mass spectral analysis of plant metabolism (2012). Before reaching his current position as Associate Professor, Holguin served in various other roles at NMSU during his research career. He was hired as a Senior Research Associate at the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety Chemical Analysis and Instrumentation Laboratory (2010-2012), Metabolomics Laboratory Manager for PES (2007-2010), and The Counter Terrorism Chemical Technologies Laboratory Director at the Physical Science Laboratory (2005-2007). Holguin has held several other NMSU administrator appointments.

Read entire article by clicking here.

NMSU Presents Outstanding Graduate Award to Connie Maxwell for Doctorate in Water Science and Management
by Carolina Mijares, NM WRRI Program Manager

NM WRRI congratulates Connie Maxwell, who recently earned her PhD in the Water Science and Management program, for receiving the New Mexico State University Alumni Association’s Outstanding Graduate Award in the Graduate School. During NMSU’s fall 2020 commencement, Connie was recognized for her exceptional academic achievements, leadership skills, and extracurricular commitment to the university and community. During Connie’s PhD coursework, she held a research graduate assistantship at NM WRRI, where she collaborated with stakeholders on furthering watershed restoration planning and project design for the Hatch and Mesilla Valley and the Rincon Arroyo watershed within the Valley. Connie was instrumental in organizing the NM WRRI Water and Community Collaboration Lab. The lab aims to foster links between the best science, communities, and stakeholders to inform water decision-making. During Connie’s tenure at NM WRRI, she also played a vital role in obtaining four grant proposals. She plans to continue managing, coordinating, and conducting research as a postdoctoral researcher at NM WRRI. Again, congratulations to Connie Maxwell on earning the NMSU Alumni Association’s highest honor.

Sam Fernald, New Mexico State University professor in the Department of Animal and Range Sciences, and Director of the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute, reviews data while studying the Rio Hondo acequia. Fernald was the principal investigator in a 10-year study of three acequia systems in northern New Mexico. Seventeen researchers from NMSU, University of New Mexico and Sandia National Laboratory present their findings in a new NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences publication. Photo courtesy of Jane Moorman.

NMSU Publication Culminates 10-year Study of Acequia Systems
by Jane Moorman, NMSU Marketing and Communications

LAS CRUCES - An in-depth study of centuries-old community acequia systems in northern New Mexico reveals why they have been resilient.

Since 2010, researchers from New Mexico State University, University of New Mexico, and Sandia National Laboratory have studied hydrology and cultural aspects of the of El Rito, Rio Hondo and Alcalde acequia systems.

“We wanted to understand the many facets involved in the operation of these systems and what contributes to their resiliency, not just the hydrology,” said Sam Fernald, professor in NMSU’s Department of Animal and Range Sciences. “I think we found out some of those, including the importance of the culture of the community.”

Fernald is the principal investigator of “Acequia Water Systems Linking Culture and Nature: Integrated Analysis of Community Resilience to Climate and Land Use Changes,” a research project funded by a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

All around the world, community-based flood irrigation systems, owned and managed by self-organized farmers, deliver the natural resource of water to sustain agriculture during scarce or uneven yearly rainfall. The New Mexico Acequia Association estimates 640 small-scale systems exist throughout New Mexico.

Read entire article by clicking here.

Zowada’s prize-winning poster from NMSU’s Research and Creativity Week.

Ryan Zowada Presents Prize-Winning Poster at NMSU’s Research and Creativity Week Agriculture Poster Competition
by Marcus Gay, NM WRRI Student Program Coordinator

Congratulations to Ryan Zowada for his prize-winning poster at New Mexico State University’s Research and Creativity Week! As a student presenter, Zowada won second place in the agriculture topic area for his poster based on his research project entitled, Biodegradable Porous Hydrogels Designed for Soil Water Retention, partially funded by an NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant. To watch Zowada’s presentation, please visit here.

 Research and Creativity Week (RCW) is a group of events hosted by NMSU’s Office of the Vice President for Research, Graduate School, and University Research Council, which celebrates all aspects of scholarly research and creative activity at New Mexico State University. This year’s RCW took place virtually from November 10th through November 13th.

Zowada was also featured in NM WRRI’s eNews August newsletter as a Student Water Research Grant recipient. To learn more about Zowada’s research project, please find the link to the article here. 

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