New Mexico Water eNews


September 2018

The 63rd Annual New Mexico Water Conference will take place on October 17-18, 2018 at the Las Cruces Convention Center, which is located next to the New Mexico State University campus. We are expecting 250-300 participants this year.

This year’s theme is “At the Tipping Point: Water Scarcity, Science, and Policy” and our program promises to be informative and thought provoking. We have a diverse group of speakers from stakeholders to agency staff to academicians to journalists. Top-notch water experts will address a host of important and timely water issues such as agriculture and groundwater use, climate change, drought, fire, economics, adjudications and settlements, alternative water supplies, and regional and state water planning.

In addition to engaging plenary sessions, a field trip to the Hatch and Mesilla Valley is planned for the afternoon before the conference begins. There will be two luncheons with speakers, and a poster session highlighted by over 50 posters, many of which will be presented by New Mexico university students.

The registration fee for the conference is only $95 before October 2. Students can attend for $25, and students with accepted posters will not be charged a registration fee.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to network with your friends and colleagues in the water community, and visit southern New Mexico during the always beautiful Fall.

Check out the conference website, which includes links to the preliminary program and registration at:

UNM Researcher Delves into Water Politics Affecting
Our State’s Most Beloved Crop

by Katie Williams, University Communication & Marketing, UNM

Doctoral student Holly Brause packed her trunk this summer and hit the road for a lengthy drive down south. While most students travel for fun and to relax, Brause made the trip to roll up her sleeves and get to work on understanding how water issues are affecting New Mexico’s most treasured, above ground, resource.

“New Mexican agriculture depends on irrigation. Irrigation is a political process, and, like all political processes, is contested by different stakeholders,” said Brause. “This project examines the everyday politics of agricultural water use in the context of an uncertain future.”

The uncertain future Brause is focusing on is that of agricultural production here in the state, with a special emphasis on the chile industry. With agriculture being the single biggest water user in the U.S. and here in New Mexico, she hopes to understand how water is used to grow crops in southern New Mexico, but most importantly for a cultural anthropologist, how the precious resource is administered.

Read entire article by clicking here.

NMSU Student Will Study Effects of Anticipated Climate Change on the Hydrology of Watersheds
by Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager

Khandaker Iftekharul Islam is a PhD student in the Water Science and Management Program at NMSU, and a recipient of a 2018 NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant entitled: An Efficient Forecasting of Hydrologic Extremes Under Climate Change. The problem of water scarcity in the Southwest is expected to be exacerbated by a long-term continuance of global warming. A great deal of international effort has been expended in order to estimate the extent of future warming under various scenarios of projected increases in greenhouse gases. To this end, very complex numerical global climate models have been developed and used to run simulations of the likely future climate. Khandaker will make use of some of these climate scenarios, adjusted for the local context by dynamic downscaling of the results of the general circulation models, to estimate the resulting hydrologic effects on watersheds. In this effort, he will be assisted by his faculty adviser, Dr. Christopher Brown of the Water Science and Management Program (Affiliated), and the Department of Geography.

Read entire article by clicking here.

Meet the Researcher

Becky Bixby, University of New Mexico
by Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager

In 2007, Dr. Becky Bixby joined the University of New Mexico’s Biology Department as a research assistant professor. Becky hails from the Great Lake state of Michigan where she grew up one mile from Lake Michigan. This early exposure to vast freshwater bodies has shaped her interests in all things wet and soggy! Becky is an aquatic ecologist who is inspired by the multi-faceted nature of freshwater ecosystem research in terms of policy and outreach. As a result, Becky also serves as the Associate Director of the interdisciplinary Water Resources Program at UNM, and holds a position as a research associate with both the Museum of Southwestern Biology and New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

Becky received a BA in biology from Albion College (Michigan), an MS from the University of Cincinnati studying the formation of lakes in northern Alaska, and a PhD in natural resources from the University of Michigan. Her dissertation focused on microscopic diatom systematics and ecology in high elevation rivers. Becky did post-doctoral work at the Institute of Ecology at the University of Georgia where her NSF-supported research examined landscape-scale patterns of diatom communities in rain forest streams.

Read entire article by clicking here.

In Memoriam
John Whitlock Hernandez, Jr.
August 17, 1929 – June 28, 2018

Dr. John Hernandez was a longtime colleague and friend of the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute. Upon arriving at New Mexico State University in July 1965, John’s presence was felt as he worked across departments and colleges on water-related projects and issues. His first institute publication dated back to 1975 – a paper on the National Safe Drinking Water Act. Even after his retirement from NMSU in 1999, John continued to work on water projects and, in 2006, he co-authored a report on the water conservation potential of the Tucumcari Project. John attended most of the institute’s annual water conferences, speaking at many including at the 50th anniversary conference where he paid tribute to the first director of the NM WRRI, Dr. Ralph Stucky. In 2008, John was honored with giving the Albert E. Utton Memorial Water Lecture at the annual conference. John’s love for storytelling, especially related to the history of water in New Mexico, was evident in his talk, “100 Years of Water Management in New Mexico – Stories about the People Involved.” John was also the driving force behind the book, “One Hundred Years of Water Wars in New Mexico 1912-2012,” which we worked on together. - Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager

A celebration of Dr. John Hernandez’s life was held on September 22, 2018 at Hernandez Hall on the New Mexico State University campus. John’s colleague in the College of Engineering, Dr. David Jauregui, honored John with the following tribute:

Read entire article by clicking here.

NMSU WS&M degree recipient, Dr. Sarah Acquah, is now a post-doctorate fellow at the Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation.

WSM Graduate Profile – Sarah Acquah
by Marcus Gay, NMSU Water Science & Management Program Coordinator

Sarah Acquah began her studies at New Mexico State University in the Water Science & Management Program (WSM) in the Fall of 2014. With help from her faculty advisor, Dr. Frank Ward of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business, Sarah quickly progressed through the program, and graduated in the Fall of 2017, earning her PhD in only three and a half years.

After graduating from the WSM Program, Dr. Acquah was appointed to a postdoctoral research position at the Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI), under the Sustainability Theme. The CABBI is housed at the Institute for Genomic Biology, which is an interdisciplinary facility for genomics research at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign campus. As a postdoc, Dr. Acquah is responsible for developing a water quality model to assess the impact of biofuel/energy crop on the Mississippi river basin. She will also write grants and oversee the preparation of graduate student project reports.

Dr. Acquah says she is enjoying her work at CABBI and gradually getting familiar with the city. She is a great example of someone who was able to apply their graduate degree from the NMSU WSM Program to a job they enjoy in a field related to their interests. Not only did Dr. Acquah find a position she likes, her work is making an important contribution to the study of the environment and its impact on humanity. The WSM Program is proud of all of its graduates and the significant work they do all over the world.

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