New Mexico Water eNews


April 2015

Monthly PRISM Climate Data in New Mexico for July of 1991: Aggregated Precipitation (left) and Mean Temperature (right)

NM WRRI Acquires PRISM Climate Data
by Steve Walker, GIS Coordinator

Before the advent of reliable geographic information systems (GIS), official, 30-year average, hand-drawn climate maps for the U.S. were produced by expert climatologists. Weather station observations were plotted on maps and contours of temperature and precipitation were subjectively interpolated between the observations. The process was tedious and time-consuming. Most official precipitation maps for many states were up to 30 years out of date. Statistical algorithms were available to interpolate values between point observations, but they produced unrealistic maps. They could not ‘understand’ how physiographic features, such as mountains and coastlines, affected climate patterns.

In 1991, a design team led by Chris Daly, a Ph.D. student at Oregon State University, wrote an algorithm program that mimicked the thought processes that expert climatologists use to create climate maps. Elevation was known to be one of the main contributors to precipitation patterns. On a pixel by pixel basis, a local statistical relationship, called a regression function, was developed to predict precipitation at the elevation of each pixel. At first, the relationship between precipitation and elevation did not predict accurately across all landscapes, because of rain shadows. Areas on different sides of mountains have very different precipitation values, even at the same elevation. Afterward, the algorithm was adjusted to divide terrain into slope facings (N, NE, E, etc.) and observations were grouped according to those facings. The system was eventually named PRISM (Parameter-elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model).

Researchers at NM WRRI plan to use PRISM data to determine up-to-date precipitation and temperature values for all water planning regions and counties in New Mexico and all catch basins entering and within the state. These values will serve as one of the primary components of the comprehensive water budget for the New Mexico Statewide Water Assessment.

Max Baymiller is in the lab, pouring an aliquot of Tris-EDTA DNA-preserving buffer to be used in aptamer binding experiments.

New Mexico Tech Undergrad Developing Sensor to Detect Drinking Water Contaminants
by Catherine Ortega Klett, Program Manager

The potential for contamination of New Mexico’s drinking water supplies has increased as we rely more heavily on surface water resources to meet increasing demands. Endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) are a class of contaminants that are known to be widespread in urban drinking water. Biology undergraduate Max Baymiller is developing a method to cheaply and quickly identify the most common EDCs.

Under the supervision of New Mexico Tech Professor Snezna Rogelj, Max will use a DNA aptamer (short biological polymer) to develop a low-cost, easy-to-use sensor that could be used on-site at water treatment facilities. The sensor could detect one of the most common EDCsBPA (bisphenol-A), which are known to have significant detrimental impacts on animal health and development at low concentrations.

Dr. Rogelj recently said, “Some 80,000 different man-made chemicals are being used and ultimately discarded into our environment; eventually they end up entering our water supply and the bodies of all living things. Humans are known to have, in their blood, tissues and urine, about 100 entirely new, biologically super potent organic compounds that simply did not exist just a few human generations ago. At a few parts per billion, measuring just one in water is very difficult, time-consuming, expertise-requiring and expensive; imagine the challenge of detecting that in a complex mix that might well have cumulative and cross-reacting effects! With EDCs only accumulating in quantity and diversity, it is imperative that we start systematically measuring their presence in our drinking waterboth for the sake of our children and the rest of the living Earth that humanity so intimately depends on. We hope that the development of these DNA-based molecular sensors will bring the detection of EDCsand our attention to themjust a little closer to where it absolutely needs to be ASAP.”

Max will provide the results of his study in a final report in June 2015 that NM WRRI will post on our website.

About 30 officials from U.S. and Mexico government agencies attended the annual meeting of the New Mexico-Chihuahua Rural Task Force, part of the U.S.-Mexico Border 2020 program. The program is designed to improve environmental conditions along the U.S.-Mexico border region and is funded by both U.S. and Mexican governments.

Water Quality Captures the Attention of U.S. and Mexican Officials
by Erin Ward, Project Manager, Border Outreach and Coordination

The Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI) participated February 13 in the annual Border 2020 meeting of the New Mexico-Chihuahua Rural Task Force, held this year in the Mexican border community of Palomas.

Erin Ward, who administers WRRI’s border projects, provided a presentation on regional water quality, highlighting the need to address concerns about rising concentrations of arsenic and fluoride in Palomas’ municipal supplies. Recent laboratory tests have identified concentrations of arsenic and fluoride that exceed both the U.S. and Mexican standards.

During the meeting, officials from Chihuahua’s State Environmental Agency announced that improving the quality of Palomas’ water is ranked among the agency’s highest priorities. Currently, researchers at the Center for Research in Advanced Materials (CIMAV) in Chihuahua City are conducting tests to identify a cost-effective method to remove arsenic and fluoride from groundwater that is pumped for human consumption.

Graduate student Lu Lin prepares fibers for a photoreactor.

NMSU Graduate Student Lu Lin Receives Regional Award to Present Research
by Catherine Ortega Klett, Program Manager

Congratulations to civil engineering master’s student, Lu Lin, for receiving a 2015 NIWR Powell Region Conference Award. As New Mexico’s recipient of the award, Lin will present results of her research at the UCOWR/NIWR/
CUASHI annual meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada in June. Lin’s research was awarded a 2015 NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant, and she has already submitted a paper on her research to the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology A: Chemistry.

Reclaimed water provides a drought-proof, environmental-friendly, and economical water resource for augmenting local water supplies. However, with the increased reliance on water recycling, there are potential risks for public health and the environment due to the accumulation of persistent micropollutants. Lu Lin is trying to develop highly effective photocatalysts and investigate their efficacy in an innovative continuous-flow photoreactor for the purpose of degrading environmental contaminants like dyes and pharmaceuticals, and at the same time disinfect reclaimed water.

The novel photoreactor, which would use solar energy (natural sunlight) to drive the photocatalytically enhanced oxidation processes to cleanse reclaimed water, would be very cost effective and could thereby potentially make photocatalysis a critical technology. Accordingly, it may have broad applications for safe drinking water, especially for those living in remote areas with limited resources. The NM WRRI will post Lu Lin’s final report on its website this summer.

EPSCoR\NSF Funds Water Research in NM
by Ian Hewitt, Graduate Research Assistant

Currently the National Science Foundation (NSF) is funding efforts to provide New Mexico with a brighter future through better science. NSF’s “Energize New Mexico” program of New Mexico’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) includes six major areas of research: bio-algal energy development, geothermal energy, osmotic power development, solar energy, uranium transport and site remediation, and the social and natural science nexus. NM WRRI Director Sam Fernald leads the social and natural science nexus along with Janie Chermak of UNM and Vince Tidwell of Sandia National Laboratories. From the water perspective, the social and natural science nexus aims to connect New Mexico’s water resources, energy, economics, and environment. The result is a collaborative effort that will leverage intellectual capital in the state and utilize the most current technology and science.

The Statewide Water Assessment projects currently underway at the NM WRRI will complement this research and provide policy makers with highly valuable information about our water resources. Knowing exactly how much water is in the state, its spatiotemporal distribution, and how these are affected by climate and use on a yearly basis are crucial to the future of the state. Better knowledge of these will allow water to be used for maximum benefit to all residents of the state, highlight areas where population and economic growth may be possible, and ultimately create a more resilient state.

Water Science and Management Graduate Working
in Barbados

by Desa Daniel, Water Science and Management Coordinator

New Mexico State University (NMSU) alumnus Abdelaziz A. Gohar graduated in 2012 with a PhD in Water Science and Management (WSM). Dr. Gohar is now doing postdoctoral research at the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Sciences at the University of West Indies located in Barbados. Dr. Gohar reports the WSM degree as well as the faculty at NMSU helped him secure his postdoctoral position at the University of West Indies and says, “Many thanks for the program faculty members for their support.” Dr. Gohar’s advisor in the WSM program was Professor Frank Ward, faculty member in NMSU’s Department of Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business.

NM WRRI Receives State Funding to Continue Institute Initiatives
by Catherine Ortega Klett, Program Manager

The New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute is pleased to announce that it will receive $800K in additional state funds for FY16. Of this new funding, $300K will be recurring monies added to its base annual appropriation, and $500K of non-recurring funding will support various institute efforts to improve water management in New Mexico. The state appropriation was made possible by the outstanding leadership and support of Senator Mary Kay Papen. The legislation was co-sponsored by Representative Terry McMillan and approved by Governor Martinez. The institute extends thanks to the leadership and the myriad other supporters from throughout the state during the 2015 New Mexico Legislative Session.

New Mexico Water eNews will announce updates on NM WRRI programs associated with the funding in the coming months. Again, NM WRRI expresses sincere thanks for the support.

Copyright © 2015 New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute, All rights reserved.
eNews design by Peggy S. Risner


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