NMSU Graduate Student Studies Optimization of Nitrogen Application and Leaching in Pecan Orchards
by Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager

New Mexico now produces over 20 percent of the U.S. pecan crop, and most of that comes from the Mesilla Valley. Pecans need ample nitrogen during the nut enlargement and filling stages, along with lots of water. Since the latter is getting increasingly scarce, there is growing use of brackish groundwater for irrigation. But the salinity of such water reduces the effectiveness of the nitrogen fertilizers, so that higher application rates are needed. This increases the risk that some nitrogen and brackish water will quickly move below the root zone and eventually leach into the groundwater as contaminants. Of course, this risk depends also on the irrigation system and soil composition, stratification and texture, as well as the meteorological conditions of the growing season.

The implied overall need to construct a decision support system for proper management of orchards to ensure sustainable good yields while at the same time maintaining soil and groundwater quality is the subject of the research project of Esmaiil Mokari, PhD student of environmental soil physics in the NMSU Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences. In partial support of this goal, Esmaiil received a 2018 NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant entitled: Optimizing fertilizer application and leaching under abiotic stresses within and below the Root Zone of Pecan Orchards. In this effort, Esmaiil is working in collaboration with his faculty advisor in the same department, Dr. Manoj Shukla.

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Two Nations One Water Summit 2019 Held in Las Cruces
by Will Keener, NM WRRI contributing writer

Water is life. Water is for fighting.

Mindful of these two old adages in the water community, U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small suggested a newer refrain Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at the second annual Two Nations One Water Summit in Las Cruces. Her idea: “Water is about working together.”

Torres Small, a water attorney elected to represent New Mexico’s 2nd District in November, told audience members they needed to accept the available science but also be open to new challenges in negotiating solutions. “The best parts come when we work together,” she said. Torres Small cited the recent restructuring of an agreement among the Colorado River basin states to cope with an ongoing drought, as an example of the cooperation possible. “All participating states endorsed the agreement, Congress passed it, and the president signed it,” she said, proving that water entities can cooperate.

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UNM Researcher Studies Ecological Responses in a River with More and Less Water
Chama River unrepresentative system for natural water flow

by Steve Carr, University of New Mexico Communication & Marketing

University of New Mexico graduate student Monika “Mo” Hobbs has been conducting research along the Chama River and El Vado Dam in northern New Mexico to attempt to learn how the flow of water affects invertebrates and their environment.

Last year, Hobbs received $6,000 to help fund her research titled Ecological responses in a river with more and less water: a case study of highly-managed Chama River, New Mexico as a part of the Student Water Research Grants program through the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute.

The Rio Chama has several reservoirs and dams, including Heron Reservoir, El Vado Reservoir, and Abiquiu Lake that are essential for storing water for agriculture and residents of New Mexico, while also providing flood control services. Hobbs’ research focuses on the Chama River and the El Vado Dam and how that dam affects the physical and biological structure of a stream including the timing, magnitude, and frequency of stream discharge.

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At the IBWC Binational Summit on Groundwater at the U.S.-Mexico Border, John Hawley received a plaque commemorating his countless contributions to groundwater research
in New Mexico, including his legacy project on the hydrogeologic framework of the Mesilla Basin. From left: Gilbert Anaya, Sam Fernald, John Hawley, Bill Cunningham, Commissioner Salmón, and Commissioner Harkins.

U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission Hosts Binational Conference on Groundwater
by Ashley Page, NM WRRI Research Specialist

The U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (US IBWC) hosted the Binational Summit on Transboundary Groundwater at the US-Mexico Border on April 10 and 11, 2019. The meeting took place in El Paso, TX at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Desalination Plant’s (KBHDP) TecH20 Center. Attendees were able to participate in a tour of the KBHDP.

The summit-planning group consisted of members from IBWC, United States Geological Survey, University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center, Texas Water Resources Institute, and New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (NM WRRI). NM WRRI assisted IBWC with event logistics by creating the website, running registration and payment, and helping with planning and day-of coordination.

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NMSU environmental science design contest team from left: Michael Justesen, Dr. Pei Xu (advisor), Annie Carrillo, Kim Fetherlin, and Juliano Penteado De Almeida

NMSU Student Team Places First in Environmental Design Contest
by Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager

New Mexico State University’s student team including Juliano Penteado De Almeida, Annie Carrillo, Kim Fetherlin and Michael Justesen, supervised by Dr. Pei Xu, Department of Civil Engineering, presented their project “Enhanced Water Recovery and Membrane Scaling Mitigation for Desalination Using Innovative Electromagnetic Field (EMF) and 3D Printed Membranes” at the 29th WERC Environmental Design Contest. The event took place at NMSU in early April that included 21 teams and over a hundred students from across the country.
The NMSU team won the 1st Place Award for their bench-scale study that demonstrated significant water recovery enhancement without the use of chemicals (acid and antiscalant) during desalination of the challenging hard brackish water from the test site at the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility (BGNDRF) in Alamogordo. Based on this proof of concept study, a pilot testing system is under construction for testing in Santa Teresa and at BGNDRF for brackish water desalination. Funding for the project is provided by a Bureau of Reclamation-NMSU Cooperative Agreement and the College of Engineering.
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