New Mexico Water eNews


July 2018

NM Tech student Angelica Cave uses a serological pipette to fill glass culture tubes with growth media that were used to grow bacterial cultures for antibiotic testing.

NMT Biology Grad Student Examining Antibiotic Resistance Genes in Wastewater
by Thomas Guengerich, NM Tech Office of Communications and Marketing

New Mexico Tech graduate student in biology Angelica Cave recently landed a grant from the New Mexico Water Resource Research Institute to support her study of antibiotic resistant bacteria in wastewater treatment.

Her proposal is titled “Antibiotic resistance in wastewater treatment: the effects of different treatment methods on the differential survival of antibiotic resistant pathogens over non-resistant bacteria through the treatment process of two different wastewater treatment plants.”

Cave, along with her advisor Dr. Linda DeVeaux, will collect and examine samples taken from in-coming sewage, the aerobic digester, and the treated wastewater, as well as from the channel the wastewater is discharged into, both upstream and downstream from the Socorro Wastewater Treatment Plant. In addition, collaborators in South Dakota will be providing similar samples for analysis from the Rapid City Wastewater treatment plant, as both areas have similar “interference” from agriculture and livestock, but slightly different treatment processes during the summer months.

“I hope to find out if bacteria carrying antibiotic resistance genes have a better chance of surviving the treatment processes used in the two wastewater treatment plants,” she said. “We’ll be looking primarily at two panels of genes – 7 pathogenicity genes and 10 genes for resistance to beta-lactam antibiotics.”

Read entire article by clicking here.

Meet the Researcher

Sarada Kuravi, New Mexico State University
by Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager

In August 2014, Assistant Professor Sarada Kuravi began her career at New Mexico State University as an Assistant Professor of Renewable Energy in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE). Prior to this appointment, she held an Assistant Professor position at the Florida Institute of Technology. Before joining Florida Tech in August 2012, Kuravi worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow (advisor Prof. Yogi Goswami) at the Clean Energy Research Center, University of South Florida, where she worked on one of the foremost efforts involving the development of high temperature thermal energy storage systems for concentrating solar power plants.

Dr. Kuravi obtained an MS in 2006 and PhD in 2009, both in mechanical engineering from the University of Central Florida. Her research expertise is in the study and analysis of flow and heat transfer in renewable/alternative energy, concentrating solar power, thermal and thermochemical/hydrogen storage, water desalination, combined heat and power, advanced heat transfer fluids, and thermal systems applications. Dr. Kuravi’s research at NMSU in renewable energy was/is funded by Reclamation/NM WRRI, Department of Energy/National Center for Hydrogen Research (Florida Tech), National Science Foundation, and New Mexico Space Grant Consortium. She teaches a senior elective course on alternative and renewable energy in the Department of MAE at NMSU.

In 2017, Dr. Kuravi received a two-year grant through the NMSU/Reclamation Cooperative Agreement, which is administered by the NM WRRI. She, and her NMSU research colleagues, Pei Xu, Krishna Kota, Huiyao Wang, and Young-Ho Park, are working on the project entitled, Low Cost, Low Energy Concentrate Water Desalination using Heat Recuperative Solar Still with Concentrating Solar Technology. The objective of the research is to explore and develop innovative solar collection and heat transport/management approaches in a bottom-up thermal process design for realizing a scalable, low cost, low energy solar still with rapid desalination capability for reverse osmosis (RO) concentrate management and energy recovery. When the project is completed next year, a final report will be posted on the NM WRRI website.

Figure 5. Wildfire contribution to streamflow (1986–2015) expressed as a fraction of total streamflow.

Former NM WRRI Grant Recipient Publishes Article on the Impact of Wildfires on Watershed Streamflows
by Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager

Michael L.Wine, former NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant recipient and now Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellow at Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva, Israel, has just published a research article under the aegis of the American Geophysical Union entitled: Nonlinear Long-Term Large Watershed Hydrologic Response to Wildfire and Climatic Dynamics Locally Increases Water Yields. Coauthors include two of his colleagues at New Mexico Tech, namely Daniel Cadol (Earth & Environmental Science) and Oleg Makhnin (Mathematics Department).

The objective of this study was to predict wildfire impacts on streamflow across ungauged watersheds in seven ecoregion divisions within the western United States over a three-decade period (1986–2015). To accomplish this objective, Michael and his co-authors first used empirical data on wildfire occurrences to estimate their impact on water retention within watersheds. It turns out there is also a standard model for watersheds, called Fuh’s equation, that connects water retention, in a nonlinear fashion, to a wetness index defined as the ratio of precipitation to evapotranspiration, and the streamflow runoff coefficient, defined as the ratio of streamflow to precipitation. This equation can also be used to estimate water retention, given data on the other two variables, obtained without the consideration of wildfires. Then from these resulting two estimates of water retention, Fuh’s equation can be used again in a forward direction to compare the predicted streamflow runoffs, thereby providing an estimate for the impact of wildfires on streamflows.

The authors found that long-term annual water yield across the western United States predicted by Fuh’s equation improved when wildfire characteristics were included in estimates of watershed water retention capacity. They also show that, although wildfire contributions to streamflow at the large watershed scale over the past three decades have typically been small, large impacts that rival or exceed predicted near-term climate change impacts, namely a 10% to 20% wildfire contribution to streamflow, associated with large cumulative area burned during the study period (>35%), and with wetness index less than unity, and low water retention capacity, have been demonstrated by this study. As the climate warms, wildfire prevalence increases, and wetness index values decrease, wildfire impacts on water yields may rival those of climate change over larger swaths of the western United States. Finally, the authors suggest that their methods to interrogate ecological disturbance impacts on runoff coefficients may also be used to investigate other effects of climate change, or other disruptions of the ecosystem, such as large-scale tree harvest operations.

NM WRRI Welcomes Karen Hancock
by Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager

Karen Hancock joined the NM WRRI staff this month as an administrative assistant. She is very familiar with NMSU practices and procedures having worked on campus for ten years. Before joining the institute, Karen worked as an administrative assistant for the Department of Computer Science.

In her role at NM WRRI, Karen will assist the entire staff with scheduling, travel, purchasing, conference planning/coordination, and generally making its operations run smoothly. Karen said, “I’m looking forward to working with a great group of people at NM WRRI.”

NM WRRI also wants to wish former administrative assistant Annette McConnell well. Annette retired in June after working at the institute for ten years. She plans to enjoy long visits with her two children and their spouses, and with her two grandchildren, all of whom live in Alaska.

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