New Mexico Water eNews


January 2021

Meet the Researcher

April Ulery, Professor, New Mexico State University
by Jeanette Torres, NM WRRI Program Coordinator

 For this month’s Meet the Researcher, we had the pleasure of interviewing April Ulery, a professor of Soil and Environmental Science for the Plant and Environmental Sciences Department (PES) at New Mexico State University (NMSU). April teaches several classes on soil science in addition to an emergency response to hazardous material incidents course. She also serves the NMSU research community by leading the Environmental Soil Chemistry Laboratory, which helps researchers and students obtain metal, salt, and nutrient analyses of their soil, water, and plant samples. Each year, she typically mentors 15 to 20 undergraduate environmental science students, and two to five soil science students. Currently, she is mentoring one PhD student, and three MS students in their field of study. According to Ulery, teaching students and assisting other faculty members is greatly rewarding for her, and being able to create lasting collaboration opportunities with her colleagues is an essential aspect she enjoys.

 Ulery completed her BS in Geology (1980) from the University of Redlands in Redlands, California. She obtained both her MS (1985), and PhD (1992) in Soil Science from the University of California (UC Riverside) in Riverside, California. In addition to her current position, April has held numerous positions throughout her career including Interim Department Head for the Agricultural and Extension Education Department (AXED) at NMSU, Environmental Soil Scientist for Komex H20 Science Environmental Consultants, and postdoctoral research scientist for The U.S. Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service Salinity Laboratory at UC Riverside.

Read entire article by clicking here.

Kyle Stark, PhD student at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, installing new equipment at the Pinos sediment monitoring facility.

NMT Student Awarded NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant to Monitor Sediment Transport
by Marcus Gay, NM WRRI Student Program Coordinator

Measuring sediment transport in arid environments presents some unique challenges. Ephemeral channels have sandy, porous bed sediment and are disconnected from the water table. High-intensity storms are required to produce sediment runoff in these channels. When flooding does occur, high rates of sediment are carried down these dryland channels and sediments are routed from the hillslopes to perennial trunk rivers, like the Rio Grande.

This sediment runoff can become problematic for river managers who are tasked with safely and efficiently moving water downstream. Sediment input from tributaries can cause sediment plugs, which prevent water flow. Sediment flow is also important for aquatic species, including endangered species like the silvery minnow whose habitat consists of gravel and woody debris, both of which are transported into the Rio Grande from ephemeral tributaries.

Read entire article by clicking here.

Acequias & Science workshop organizers and presenters. First row from left to right: Emily Arasim (NMAA Acequia Program, Assistant & Youth Education Coordinator), Sam Fernald (NM WRRI, Director & NMSU, Professor), and Adrienne Rosenberg (NMSU Sustainable Agriculture Science Center in Alcalde, Editor). Second row from left to right: José Rivera (UNM, Professor Emeritus), Serafina Lombardi (NMAA, Director of Education and Outreach), and Andrés Cibils (NMSU, Professor). Third row from left to right: Vincent Tidwell (Sandia National Laboratories, Distinguished Member of Technical Staff), Steve Guldan (NMSU Sustainable Agriculture Science Center in Alcalde, Superintendent), and Carlos Ochoa (OSU, Associate Professor). Fourth row from left to right: Lily Conrad (NMSU, Graduate Research Assistant), Sylvia Rodriguez (UNM, Professor Emeritus), and Paula Garcia (NMAA, Executive Director).

Acequias & Science: Highlights from a Collaborative Workshop Connecting Acequia Communities with Research
by Lily Conrad, NM WRRI Graduate Research Assistant

In an era of changing climate, socio-economic dynamics, and water rights allocations challenging the resilience of acequia networks throughout New Mexico, there is a need to address gaps in scientific and community knowledge to prepare these irrigation networks for the future. To do this, researchers and communities must establish a foundation of transparent, mutually respectful communication and collaboration. On the evening of January 14th, New Mexico State University (NMSU) and the New Mexico Acequia Association (NMAA) hosted a collaborative workshop connecting traditional irrigation communities with acequia research. The workshop presented highlights from a newly released book by the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University entitled, Acequias of the Southwestern United States: Elements of Resilience in a Coupled Natural and Human System. The workshop also included question and answer sessions, and a discussion about how to direct future research to better address community needs.

The workshop attendance of over 100 participants reflects community interest and the justification for more workshops of this nature. The evening highlighted three blocks of research found in the newly published acequia book. First, Dr. Sylvia Rodriguez and Dr. José Rivera highlighted critical social and historical elements of acequias. The speakers and discussion emphasized the need for acequia research to be mostly interdisciplinary to encapsulate community relationships to the land and culture that promotes resilience. The second block of research presentations highlighted hydrologic and natural science-related findings from Dr. Carlos Ochoa and Dr. Andrés Cibils. These presentations spurred follow-up conversations surrounding on-the-ground implications and how these findings might inform changes in ditch or land management. The final portion of the presentations featured Dr. Vincent Tidwell and Dr. Sam Fernald tying together the previous topics with themes of connection, integration, and resilience. In the conversation that followed, researchers opened the floor for community members to voice their questions, concerns, and needs for the future resilience of acequias. As the workshop conversation concluded, facilitators and attendees were already looking forward to the next discussion to continue addressing more topics. In true NMAA fashion, the meeting ended with singing, celebration, and appreciation of acequias.

Please click here to register to view the Zoom recording, and here to view the Facebook livestream.

NM WRRI Technical Completion Report No. 388 is now available online.

NM WRRI Publishes Technical Completion Report
by Carolina Mijares, NM WRRI Program Manager

 NM WRRI announces the publication of technical completion report no. 388, a collaborative publication prepared for the Bureau of Reclamation and its Desalination and Water Purification Research Development Program (Report No. NMSU005). In 2017, New Mexico State University (NMSU) faculty member Dr. Kenneth C. Carroll (Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences) received funding through a cooperative agreement between Reclamation and NMSU. The cooperative agreement is a collaborative project that aims to increase scientific knowledge and research expertise in the area of alternative waters for water supply sustainability in New Mexico and the western U.S.

 An Integrated Geochemical Approach for Defining Sources of Groundwater Salinity in the Southern Rio Grande Valley of the Mesilla Basin, New Mexico and West Texas, USA by Christopher Kubicki, NMSU Water Science and Management alumnus, Kenneth C. Carroll, James C. Witcher, and Andrew Robertson is available in its entirety on the NM WRRI website by clicking here.

Read entire article by clicking here.

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