New Mexico Water eNews


November 2019

64th Annual New Mexico Water Conference Focuses
on Tribal Perspectives on Water Issues

by Mark Sheely, NM WRRI Program Coordinator

Nearly 250 participants from across the state and region gathered at the Pueblo of Pojoaque’s Buffalo Thunder Resort near Santa Fe, New Mexico for the 64th Annual New Mexico Water Conference on November 7-8. With the theme this year Common Water, Sacred Water: Tribal perspectives on water issues in New Mexico, this first-of-its-kind Annual New Mexico Water Conference addressed water issues facing the tribes, nations, and pueblos across New Mexico.

The day before the conference began, participants had the opportunity to attend one of two field trips. Santa Clara Pueblo hosted a morning field trip, demonstrating to attendees the forest restoration efforts in Santa Clara Canyon following the devastation of the 2011 Las Conchas Fire. Participants in this field trip also had the chance to visit the Puye Cliff Dwellings, the ancestral home of the Santa Clara people. Later in the day, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation staff gave participants a tour of numerous project sites associated with the Pojoaque Basin Regional Water System located within San Ildefonso, Pojoaque, Nambe, and Tesuque Pueblos. As authorized by the Aamodt Litigation Settlement Act, the water system will provide a firm, reliable supply of safe drinking water to residents of the Pojoaque Basin.

Read entire article by clicking here.

Meet the Researcher

Meet Bruce Thomson, Research Professor,
University of New Mexico 

by Jeanette Torres, NM WRRI Program Coordinator

This month for meet the researcher, we are focusing on Bruce Thomson, who has been with the University of New Mexico (UNM) for over 35 years. He was named professor emeritus in the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering after previously serving as Regents Professor of Civil Engineering. He also was the Director of UNM’s Water Resources Program from 2006-2013. Currently, Thomson serves as a research professor working on externally funded research contracts and continues to supervise graduate student research.

Thomson earned a BS degree in civil engineering from the University of California at Davis, and MS and PhD degrees in Environmental Science and Engineering from Rice University in Houston, Texas. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of New Mexico, and has been approached by many different sources for his input and knowledge. Over the course of Thomson’s career in environmental and water resources engineering, he has contributed to over 60 journal articles, multiple book chapters, and was the author/co-author of over 150 conference proceedings. His extensive work has received research support from multiple federal agencies, including The National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, and Environmental Protection Agency.

Thomson’s main research focus is on the chemistry and treatment of metals and metalloids in water. These include substances such as arsenic, chromium, selenium, vanadium and uranium. Much of this work has led to treatment of contaminated surface and groundwater. He has also participated in numerous projects dealing with management of water resources in the southwestern U.S. Thomson has served on many federal, state, and local committees involved in water management and the protection of water resources. He has served as a consultant for the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), numerous communities and utilities, and several national consulting firms. Recently, he assisted the NMED in developing technical guidance for direct potable reuse of treated wastewater. In April 2019, Thomson was appointed to the state’s Water Quality Control Commission by the Governor of New Mexico. He is one of very few engineers in the state who holds public office, having been elected to the Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA) in 2010 and re-elected in 2016. He proudly proclaims that he is among the last licensed engineers in New Mexico who knows how to use a slide rule.

Marcus Gay, Senior Student Program Coordinator
from NM WRRI, Receives “A” Mountain Staff Award

by Carolina Mijares, NM WRRI Program Manager

NM WRRI’s Senior Student Program Coordinator, Marcus Gay, was this year’s fall recipient of the NMSU “A” Mountain Staff Award. Marcus was nominated due to his exemplary service to NMSU, NM WRRI, Water Science & Management (WSM) Graduate Degree Program, and the NMSU Water Initiative project. The “A” Mountain Staff Award recognizes an NMSU staff member who represents the core values of NMSU which are leadership, excellence, access, diversity and inclusion, and student-centered. Marcus serves with great attentiveness a diverse group of students enrolled in the WSM program which includes students from 11 countries while supporting education and research within the institute.

As an undergraduate majoring in geography, Marcus worked as a student assistant in the NM WRRI geographic information system laboratory. Marcus continued his employment with NM WRRI while working on his master’s degree in secondary education with an emphasis in science. Shortly after, Marcus began full-time employment as the WSM Student Program Coordinator.

Marcus enjoys working with the students, staff, and researchers at NMSU. He plans on continuing his education by pursuing a PhD in educational leadership at NMSU. He is always eager to learn more about NMSU processes and enthusiastically seeks ways to help others.

His hobbies include watching football, exercising, spending time with friends and family, and hiking.

On behalf of NM WRRI, we congratulate Marcus for being nominated and chosen for this award.

Fiscal Year 2020
Request for Proposals

NM WRRI Faculty Water Research Grant Program

Closing Date: 5:00 p.m., December 20, 2019

RFP available at
FY 2020 NM WRRI Faculty Water Research Grant Program

The New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (NM WRRI) requests proposals for research expected to be funded by the U.S. Geological Survey as part of the 104B grant program. These funds will be made available through the Water Resources Research Act to support research that improves planning and management of the waters of the State of New Mexico. For Fiscal Year 2020, NM WRRI anticipates funding three-five projects in the range of $15,000-$30,000. The final number of awards and project dollar amounts awarded will be determined based upon availability of funds. Availability of funding is contingent upon the U.S. Department of the Interior disbursement of appropriations for FY20 104B RFPs.

Funding is intended primarily to support graduate students. Proposals must identify a significant water resources problem and conduct applied or basic research that will be part of the proposed solution. Principal investigators must hold a faculty position at a New Mexico university.

Shaker at Leyendecker Plant Science and Research Center during harvest.

Pecan Harvest Season Starts at Leyendecker Plant Science and Research Center  
by Jorge Preciado, NM WRRI Graduate Assistant

NMSU Leyendecker Plant Science and Research Center began harvesting pecans early this month. At the crack of dawn, farmers started up their machines to reap the long anticipated rewards of their labor. The planting season starts with a well-developed plan to control pests such as worms and pecan weevils among other detrimental problems. As pecans grow and develop, their husks split once they reach full-size and they begin dropping to the ground. This is a signal to farmers to gather their equipment and begin harvesting.

NMSU Leyendecker Plant Science and Research Center consists of 203 acres of land used for research in southern New Mexico. Pecan research being conducted at the center focuses on solute transport, deficit irrigation, estimation of recharge, etc. While the center conducts research on different crops, pecans are one of the main crops being studied at this facility. One of the research methods being used evaluates the water consumption to develop technology that could help farmers in the future develop better growing practices, which will also assist policy makers in creating guidelines that will provide incentives encouraging farmers to adopt those practices.

The Leyendecker Plant Science and Research Center uses specialized machinery to make the task of gathering pecans more efficient and reduces the labor involved. The process starts with a tree shaker - a machine that tightly grips each tree with rubber pads while the operator controls the power, shaking the tree so mature pecans fall onto the ground. Next, farmers use a pecan rake to sweep leaves, twigs, and pecans into a pathway to later be picked up by the pecan harvester. Using rubber fingers on a rotating metal drum, the harvester separates pecans from debris depositing them into a bin attached to the back of the machine. Pecans are then bagged and sent to factories to be cleaned, boxed, and distributed to be ready for the holiday season.

   Photo courtesy of Alireza Bandegi.

NMSU Student Receives NM WRRI Student Water
Research Grant

by Marcus Gay, NM WRRI Student Program Coordinator

Alireza Bandegi is a PhD student at NMSU in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering. In June, he received an NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant entitled, Electrochemical-assisted ultrafiltration membranes for simultaneous removal of As, Cd and Cr. The purpose of the study is to produce new types of electro-responsive membranes (ERMs) to electrochemically and reductively remove heavy metals from contaminated water.

The concentration of heavy metals has increased in many drinking water sources partially due to natural geological formations and also due to poor wastewater management practices. During the treatment of industrial wastewaters, toxic heavy metals of concern include cadmium (Cd), arsenic (As), and especially chromium (Cr). Cr (VI) is highly soluble and mobile because of its neutral pH, and due to the high toxicity of Cr (VI), the U.S. EPA set the maximum concentration level (MCL) for total chromium in drinking water at 100 ppb. The New Mexico state groundwater standard for total chromium in drinking water is 50 ppb. However, high levels of chromium (250 ppb, five times higher than state groundwater standard) have recently been found in a water source in New Mexico.

Read entire article by clicking here.

Dean Reddi, College of Engineering, presenting at the NMSU Research and Creativity Water Initiative Event.

NMSU Research and Creativity Water Initiative Event
by Marcus Gay, NM WRRI Student Program Coordinator

As a part of the NMSU Research and Creativity Week, which took place November 11th through the 15th, the NMSU Water Initiative and NM Water Resources Research Institute hosted an event to highlight NMSU graduate student water research. The purpose of the event was to learn about graduate students’ water-related research at NMSU, while also creating opportunities for NMSU faculty and graduate students to collaborate on water-related research and grant proposals.

There were 13 students who presented their graduate research from six departments across three colleges. Student presentations showcased graduate research being conducted in the departments of Chemical and Materials Engineering, Plant and Environmental Sciences, Water Science and Management, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Agricultural Economics and Business, and Sociology.

Several members of campus leadership attended the event. The Deans of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Science, Engineering, and the Associate Dean for Research of Arts and Sciences all spoke about the importance of water research and how collaborating across campus has benefited the projects that their colleges are working on. The NMSU Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School, Luis Cifuentes, gave the closing remarks and spoke about how NMSU is a regional leader in water research. Dr. Cifuentes also spoke about the increasing demand for water research and how NMSU is poised to solve the water research challenges of the future.

NMSU Corporate and Foundation Relations (CFR) and Research Administration Services (RAS) each gave a brief presentation about funding opportunities dealing with water. The NMSU Water Initiative works in close collaboration with CFR and RAS, and is making great strides in connecting water researchers with resources, collaborators, and the community.

Poster abstracts submitted by NMSU students can be viewed hereTo learn more about current water research taking place around NMSU, please visit the NMSU Water Initiative website.

On Giving Tuesday, please consider contributing to:

 Albert E. Utton Memorial Water Lecture Endowed Fund which supports the water lecture given at NM WRRI annual water conferences.

Bobby J. Creel Endowed Scholarship in Water Science and Education which provides graduate student support for water-related research
Learn more about these opportunities by visiting the institute’s website:
The Albert E. Utton Memorial Water Lecture Endowed Fund
Bobby J. Creel Endowed Scholarship

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