New Mexico Water eNews


September 2017

Clockwise from upper left: Water conference participants learned about Bureau of Reclamation river rehabilitation projects; the conference provided time to network
with colleagues; another field trip took participants to the San Agustin Plains; poster presenters described their current water-related research.

62nd Annual New Mexico Water Conference
Hosted at NM Tech

by Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager

New Mexico Tech President Stephen G. Wells gave the opening address at this year’s NM WRRI annual water conference. Dr. Wells welcomed water conference participants to the campus, which was hosting the conference for the first time in its 62-year history. Dr. Wells presented a talk on The Landscape of Water – Past, Present, & Future. We are fortunate to have a New Mexico university president, with his expertise in geology and geomorphology, discuss the hydrologic cycle and water issues in New Mexico.

During the day-and-a-half conference, over 180 participants listened to several panel discussions and talks covering a broad range of water issues linked to the theme of Hidden Realities of New Water Opportunities. Topics included the tradeoffs that come from developing new water across New Mexico, the management aspects of farmland retirement, innovations in watershed management, underground storage and recovery projects in the state, the hydrogeology of the San Agustin Plains, and brackish water and desalination efforts in New Mexico.

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      NMSU graduate student Tyler Wallin points out a launched temperature logger in
      Diamond Creek in the Gila Wilderness, NM. Tyler assembles a Stream Temperature
      Intermittency and Conductivity Logger (STIC) and housing (upper right).

NMSU Student Uses NM WRRI Grant to Monitor Native Fishes in the Gila and Mimbres River Basins
by Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager

Tyler J. Wallin is a master's student at NMSU in the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Ecology, and a 2017 NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant recipient. Tyler has made use of this grant to begin the establishment of a stream temperature and intermittency-monitoring network throughout watersheds containing native fishes of conservation concern in the Gila and Mimbres drainages in southwestern New Mexico.
This work has been carried out in collaboration with his faculty advisor,
Dr. Colleen A. Caldwell, Unit Leader and Affiliate Professor in the same department at NMSU. Further development and maintenance of the monitoring network beyond the period of initial support provided by this grant will be achieved by sharing responsibilities with multiple partners, including the Gila National Forest, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS),
and state agencies. To this end, additional support for Tyler, who expects
to complete his master's studies in 2019, is provided by a graduate assistantship from the USFWS.

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Meet the Researcher

Ethan Mamer, New Mexico Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources
by Catherine Ortega Klett,  NM WRRI Program Manager

Ethan Mamer is a hydrogeologist for the Aquifer Mapping Program at the NM Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources (NMBG). Since starting with the NMBG, he has worked on a variety of projects covering many parts of the state including Tularosa Basin, Jornada del Muerto, San Juan Basin, and the Animas River in northwest, NM. These studies have required use of a broad range of hydrogeologic tools, such as GIS-based aquifer and water-level surface interpolation, geochemical analysis of groundwater and surface water, and groundwater modeling. The groundwater models Ethan works with are typically 2D representations of groundwater flow, conceptual models, and coupled groundwater and temperature flow models. Ethan’s role as a hydrogeologist provides him with a range of experiences in the Aquifer Mapping Program, from field sampling and well water level measurements, to data analysis and batch data processing, and ultimately developing and writing about interpretations of the geologic influences on hydrology.

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UNM engineering student Chase Stearnes just completed a small-scale study looking at how algae responds to different surfaces.

Arsenic and Algae: Finding Sustainable Water
Purification Systems

Undergraduate student awarded NM WRRI research grant

by Rachel Whitt, UNM Communications

A University of New Mexico undergraduate engineering student thinks algae could solve the problem of arsenic contamination in water.

Chase Stearnes says he got the idea after hearing about researchers who were able to use algae to collect and harvest gold from water samples.

“I heard about that research and thought ‘ok, what else can we do with that?’ and I’m interested in rural communities and developing water resources,” Stearnes said. “So, I combined those two into the idea of creating an algal biofilm treatment system that could possibly help communities in places like India and Bangladesh.”

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NM WRRI Staff Member Presents Poster at Water Meeting in Mexico
by Francisco Ochoa, NM WRRI GIS Analyst

New Mexico State University and New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (NM WRRI) were invited to attend the Congreso Internacional del Calidad del Agua in Chihuahua, Mexico. The congreso focused primarily on the quality of water available to the people of Chihuahua and Mexico and the development of their state water plan to better manage their water resources. Scholars from the borderland presented their work on water quality and highlighted the importance of having access to clean drinking water.

I presented a poster on evapotranspiration to help researchers and stakeholders better understand its role in the water cycle. Giving the poster in Spanish enhanced communication with the Mexicans in attendance. Along with Rod McSherry of NMSU’s College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES), I displayed materials at a booth that relayed information to Mexican students about the opportunity to earn masters and doctorate degrees at NMSU in water science and management. We hope to continue building cooperation and ties to our southerly neighbor, Chihuahua. After all, we share the same ecosystem and in some places, the same resources. By building cooperation, we can better understand and manage our water.

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