New Mexico Water eNews


December 2022

NM WRRI Announces Fall 2022 Student Water Research Grants
by Carolina Mijares, NM WRRI Program Manager

Eight students from across the state will be conducting water research with awarded funding from NM WRRI. The one-year grants began December 15, 2022, and will support graduate students at NMSU, UNM, and ENMU.

Financial support for the program was made possible by State of New Mexico appropriations. The grants support the training of New Mexico’s future water experts and are intended to help students initiate water research projects or supplement existing student research projects in water resources research to improve water understanding and management in New Mexico. Grants of up to $7,500 were awarded. Students work under the supervision of a faculty advisor and provide the NM WRRI with a final project report. Projects also will be featured in the “New Mexico Water eNews” in the coming months. Grant recipients will be presenting posters on their research at the 68th Annual New Mexico Water Conference, which will be held next year in the fall of 2023.

Congratulations to all Fall 2022 NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant program recipients!

UNM Graduate Student, Tosin Olofinsao, during his field visit to the Southside Water Reclamation Plant in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

UNM Graduate Student Funded to Study the Reuse of Municipal Wastewater in New Mexico
by Marcus Gay, NM WRRI Program Manager

There are places in New Mexico where water scarcity is becoming an increasing concern. In some areas, due to the increased human population, demand for potable water, and specific land use trends, there are new threats to freshwater availability, delicate ecosystems, and agricultural production. One possible solution for water scarcity issues could be using treated wastewater for different agricultural and urban needs. NM WRRI has awarded a Student Water Research Grant to Tosin Olofinsao, a graduate student at The University of New Mexico, who is studying this topic.

The project Olofinsao is working on is titled, Reuse of Municipal Wastewater for Irrigation in Drylands: A Case of the Middle Rio Grande Basin (MRGB). Under the guidance of Olofinsao’s faculty advisor, Dr. Jingjing Wang, the project aims to develop a regional-level optimization model to maximize the net social benefits of using treated municipal wastewater across agricultural and urban sectors. According to Olofinsao, treated wastewater contains nutrients essential for crop growth that can be administered via fertigation. The objectives of the project are 1) to determine the optimal allocation of treated municipal wastewater for agricultural irrigation and urban irrigation in the MRGB; 2) to estimate the economic benefits of reusing treated wastewater for agricultural production, for producing different qualities of effluents, and for sales of effluents for agricultural and urban irrigation; and 3) provide policy recommendations for the reuse of treated wastewater.

According to Olofinsao, “by developing this regional optimization model and analysis, we will be able to evaluate the economic viability of the reuse of treated wastewater in the middle Rio Grande Basin. Also, we could establish if treated wastewater is a reliable source of alternative irrigation in the basin. This research will underscore the cost-minimizing strategy for producing effluents and ascertain the markets for treated wastewater in the basin.” Olofinsao presented this research at the 67th Annual New Mexico Water Conference.

Originally from Nigeria, Olofinsao plans to graduate with a PhD in May of 2024 from The University of New Mexico Department of Economics. After graduation, Olofinsao plans to work for the government or a research institute on matters relating to the environment, natural resources, and economics.

Be sure to register by January 13, 2023!

Registration is Now Open for New Mexico Early Input Workshop for the Nonpoint Source Management Program
by Mark Sheely, NM WRRI Program Specialist

The New Mexico Environment Department's (NMED) Surface Water Quality Bureau is beginning the process of revising New Mexico’s program for managing nonpoint source (NPS) pollution. The New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (NM WRRI), in cooperation with NMED, is planning a virtual interactive workshop to discuss and update the New Mexico Nonpoint Source Management Program. Section 319 of the federal Clean Water Act requires states to assess NPS pollution and develop management programs to control the sources identified.

The workshop conveners would like to invite water quality partners from around the state who are interested in discussing the current program, sharing experiences, and having collaborative discussions to identify resources, activities, and innovative solutions for improving water quality and updating the management program to join us virtually on Wednesday, January 18, 2023, from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM Mountain Time. Please register by January 13, 2023, at to join this virtual workshop.

This virtual workshop will be an excellent opportunity for you to provide your valuable input through facilitated discussions after brief presentations, interactive polls, breakout groups, and online feedback opportunities. Workshop topics will include: Program Overview; Improving and Protecting Water Quality; Building Climate Resiliency; Environmental Justice Considerations; Cooperating with other Agencies and Tribes; Priorities for NPS Pollution Control; and more. Attendee input will be summarized into a report provided to NMED, who will use the information to make revisions to the 2024 management plan.

The current New Mexico Nonpoint Source Management Program is described in the 2019 Nonpoint Source Management Plan, available at

If you are interested and able to attend the virtual workshop on January 18, please register by Friday, January 13! If you have any questions about the workshop registration, please contact NM WRRI Program Specialist Mark Sheely at or (575) 646-1195.

Register Here

Meet the Researcher

Jay Lillywhite, Assistant Dean, Professor, & Co-Director, New Mexico State University
by Jeanette Torres, NM WRRI Program Coordinator

Dr. Jay Lillywhite is a professor for the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business, and co-director for the Center of Excellence in Sustainable Food and Agricultural Systems at New Mexico State University (NMSU). He recently accepted an Assistant Dean position for the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. Lillywhite’s research focuses primarily on consumer preferences, demand and business feasibility, and economics. Within these fields, Dr. Lillywhite states that keeping agriculture profitable, increasing agricultural productivity while maintaining natural resources, and making economically wise decisions regarding how food and fiber are produced are items of concern. To address these issues, he works closely with stakeholders to find solutions. Lillywhite considers it a great opportunity to work with them directly to identify real-world problems facing agriculture. Through this partnership, he is able to provide stakeholders with pertinent information to assist them in making more informed decisions.

Dr. Lillywhite has collaborated with NM WRRI researchers in the past and is currently a Co-PI on the project, Expanding Organic Systems To Reduce Water Demand And Increase Agricultural Resilience In The Southwest. In this project, Dr. Lillywhite is working with Sam Fernald, Connie Maxwell, and other team members to discover ways to use organic systems to increase agricultural resiliency while reducing water demand. Dr. Lillywhite states his contribution to the team “is to help identify potential crops that can be organically grown, that are efficient water users, and that have significant market potential. To this point in time, we have focused on medicinal herbs. We recently conducted a national survey to understand better consumer use and preferences for these herbs and their willingness to pay for herbs grown in the southwest.”

Read entire article by clicking here.

Marcus Gay collecting GPS points in Northern New Mexico in 2015.

Farewell to NM WRRI/NMSU Water Science and Management Program Manager Marcus Gay
by Robert Sabie, NM WRRI Research Scientist

After over six years at NM WRRI, program manager Marcus Gay is leaving for a new position. Marcus began his time at the Institute as a student research assistant in 2015, developing geospatial data layers in the Institute’s GIS laboratory for acequia research conducted under a National Science Foundation grant. Later, Marcus was involved in a review of United States Geological Survey drought research in the western United States. He also coordinated a session at New Mexico State University (NMSU) on water for agriculture, which led to more opportunities for researchers from different departments and colleges to collaborate on water research.

In the fall of 2018, Marcus’ talents in coordination were recognized as he was promoted into the role of Student Program Coordinator for NMSU’s Water Science and Management (WSM) degree program. In that role, Marcus helped grow the WSM program and helped usher in the success of dozens of master’s and PhD students. His attention to detail and his relentless commitment to students led to Marcus earning the 2019 NMSU ‘A’ Mountain Staff Award given each year to one outstanding NMSU staff member. Marcus’ most recent role as the NM WRRI/WSM program manager contributed to the coordination, development, and successful submission of proposal applications.

NM WRRI is thankful for the years of Marcus’ service and wishes Marcus the best as he furthers his career at the University of Texas at El Paso.

The application process is currently open for the WSM Student Coordinator position. For students needing assistance with the WSM program, please email

Tweet Tweet
Forward Forward
Follow us on Twitter! Follow us on Twitter!
NM WRRI website NM WRRI website
Copyright © 2022 New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute, All rights reserved.
eNews design by Peggy S. Risner

subscribe  unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute · PO Box 30001 · MSC 3167 · Las Cruces, NM 88003-8001 · USA