New Mexico Water eNews


September 2021

66th Annual New Mexico Water Conference:
Poster Abstract Submission Deadline Extended to Oct. 8th

by Mark Sheely, NM WRRI Program Coordinator

We extended our call for poster abstracts to October 8, 2021, to allow more interested students, researchers, and practitioners the opportunity to take part in the virtual poster session at this year’s conference. This Call for Poster Abstracts seeks abstracts on any water research or management topic. Notification of poster acceptance will be announced by October 13, 2021. This year’s online poster session, scheduled in two parts for Wednesday, October 27, and Thursday, October 28, will offer a wonderful opportunity for virtual networking with state and regional water experts.

To read the guidelines and submit a poster abstract, please click here.

As a reminder, free registration is open for the 66th Annual New Mexico Water Conference, taking place virtually October 26-28, 2021, with a virtual pre-conference field trip planned for Monday, October 25. The conference, titled Reality and Resilience: Planning for New Mexico’s Water Future, will focus on our state’s water and climate outlook challenges and share existing and future strategies for building resilience across New Mexico’s diverse hydrologic and cultural landscape.

Those who take advantage of our early registration will be entered into a series of giveaway drawings that will take place throughout the conference. So, don’t wait. Register now!

Click here to register!
ENMU Student Water Research Award master's recipient, Frank Rodriguez, posing with a Rio Grande cooter.

ENMU Student Awarded Research Grant to Study Rio Grande Cooter Nesting
by Marcus Gay, NM WRRI Student Program Coordinator

The Pecos River originates in the mountains of northern New Mexico and runs 926 miles through the Chihuahuan Desert before flowing into the Rio Grande on Texas' southern border. The Pecos River represents a major water resource and habitat for wildlife throughout Texas and New Mexico. This wildlife includes numerous species in diverse aquatic, riparian, and upland habitats. Anthropogenic alterations to the Pecos River, like dam construction and channelization, have contributed to altered flow regimes and increased salinity. As conditions across the watershed have changed, the biological diversity of the Pecos River has decreased.

One species of particular concern is a freshwater turtle called the Rio Grande cooter. Habitat degradation due to river flow alterations (e.g., dam construction, oil and gas extraction, etc.) can be a major threat to this species’ survival. The Rio Grande cooter's status is currently being reviewed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for potential federal listing under the Endangered Species Act. Still, there is a need for more research about this turtle species in the United States and New Mexico. The Black River, a tributary of the Pecos River in Eddy County, New Mexico, is one of the only systems where the Rio Grande cooter is found in relatively high numbers; however, there have been no reports on nesting behavior to date and no reports of Rio Grande cooter nests being found on the Black River. This illustrates a gap in knowledge about nest site selection and hatching success for this species.

Read entire article by clicking here.

NMSU professor, Dr. Frank Ramos, processing rock samples in the Johnson Mass Spectrometry Class 1000 Cleanroom located in Gardiner Hall on the NMSU campus.

Meet the Researcher

Frank Ramos, Professor, New Mexico State University
by Jeanette Torres, NM WRRI Program Coordinator

This month, our featured researcher is Frank Ramos, a professor at New Mexico State University (NMSU) in the Department of Geological Sciences. He has been affiliated with NMSU since 2008 and has held his current position since 2019. Ramos typically teaches four classes a year, including undergraduate-level courses such as Introductory Geology, Petrology, Geochemistry, and graduate-level Isotope Geochemistry and Analytical Geochemistry. He is currently advising five masters students performing thesis-related research and consistently works alongside two to five undergraduate researchers at any one time. Ramos believes in "training students to critically think, integrate information from different sources, and write clearly and concisely, done in an honest and ethical context. [He tries] to train students in a direct and honest fashion, not only to be able to act as ethical scientists but to also appreciate the world and environment in which they work and live."

Ramos has been involved with the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (NM WRRI) for several years as a key member in several research projects (i.e., Produced Water Chemistry in the Permian Basin), and as a student advisor to students funded through the NM WRRI Student Water Research Program. In 2020, he advised Lin Chen on a project entitled, Recovery of Rare Earth Elements and Potable Water from Produced Water. Ramos describes this project as being centered around creating a process to concentrate and extract Rare Earth Elements (REEs) while generating clean potable water from Permian Basin Oil and Gas extraction-related produced water in southeast New Mexico and west Texas. REEs are critical components used in creating cell phones and high-end ceramics, which makes them valuable commodities. The process of extracting REEs while also generating clean water for agricultural and industrial use could prove significant in potentially helping address some of New Mexico's unique water challenges. To read more about Lin Chen's research project, please click here.

Read entire article by clicking here.

   NM WRRI Technical Completion Report No. 396 is now available online.

Researchers Complete Analysis of the Current Regulatory and Legal Frameworks of the Produced Water Act
by Carolina Mijares, NM WRRI Program Manager

NM WRRI announces the publication of Technical Completion Report No. 396. Stephanie Russo Baca, staff attorney, and legal research assistants Ambrose Kupfer and Sarah McLain from the Utton Transboundary Resources Center at The University of New Mexico School of Law have completed their study titled, Analysis of the Relationship Between Current Regulatory and Legal Frameworks and the "Produced Water Act."

The researchers received funding through NM WRRI's NM Universities Produced Water Synthesis Project, which initiated Year 1 projects in January 2020 with researchers at NM WRRI, NMSU, NMT, and UNM. NM WRRI's NM Universities Produced Water Synthesis projects are funded through state appropriations for a statewide water assessment. The Year 1 objective of this project was to stimulate discussion about the legal and regulatory aspects of produced water reuse and how the Produced Water Act requires changes to the current regulations. NM WRRI Technical Completion Report No. 396 is posted on the Institute's website in its entirety and can be found here.

The report abstract summarizes the project:

An overview of the 2019 Produced Water Act is provided with an update on its implementation.

As demand for water in the state of New Mexico continues to rise, produced water reuse or recycling to reduce the impact on freshwater supplies is now encouraged by the Produced Water Act. New Mexico currently has several agencies that regulate produced water: the Oil Conservation Division (OCD) of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD), the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), and federally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Office of the State Engineer (OSE) regulates water rights for all other types of water.

The New Mexico Environment Department held public meetings in October and November 2019, along with representatives from the New Mexico Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department and the Office of the State Engineer, to provide stakeholders with information on produced water and the upcoming rulemaking process. The Produced Water Act provides jurisdictional and legal clarity over produced water use in New Mexico. Furthermore, the new law encourages oil and gas producers to reuse produced water, when possible, rather than to rely on freshwater sources for oil and gas extraction.

Dr. Alfredo Granados-Olivas (UACJ) and Dr. Sam Fernald (NM WRRI/NMSU) introducing the Commissioner for the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission, Dr. Maria-Elena Giner, at the virtual Two Nations One Water 2021: Binational Water Conference for Chihuahua, New Mexico, and Texas.

NM WRRI and UACJ Coordinate Three-Day Virtual Binational Water Conference with Over 300 Attendees
by Mark Sheely, NM WRRI Program Coordinator

From September 28-30, 2021, over 300 registrants, including 32 speakers, participated in theTwo Nations One Water 2021: Binational Water Conference for Chihuahua, New Mexico, and Texas. Co-hosted by the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (NM WRRI), New Mexico State University, and the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juarez. This conference represented the third in a series of events, previously held in 2018 and 2019, that have brought together trusted water researchers and experts from the U.S. and Mexico to share research and explore ways of furthering binational water research collaboration and cooperation.

The first day of the conference kicked off with a series of remarks from dignitaries, including Assistant Secretary for Water and Science at the U.S. Department of the Interior, Tanya Trujillo; Director General of the Río Bravo (Rio Grande) Basin for the National Water Commission of Mexico (CONAGUA), Dr. Luis Carlos Alatorre; and recently appointed Commissioner for the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission, Dr. Maria-Elena Giner. The conference’s first panel introduced a new international network of networks connecting hydrology, social science, data science, and systems science to establish a novel transboundary groundwater resiliency research approach. This NSF-funded Transboundary Groundwater Resiliency Research Network, lead by NM WRRI, is open to anyone who would like to join. Those interested can learn more about the network and sign up for future updates and events here.

Subsequent conference sessions included a survey of different regional projects related to agricultural uses of water, as well as research and management projects that look to future sustainability and development needs. Additionally, a technical session focused on research to characterize the hydrogeology and water quality of two aquifers along the U.S.-Mexico border, the Mesilla Bolson/Conejos-Médanos and the Hueco Bolson, that are shared between New Mexico, Texas, and Chihuahua. A conference roundtable discussion finale broadened the scope of transboundary groundwater discussion, welcoming an array of experts from this field to discuss both management challenges and development opportunities for water resources shared between the U.S. and Mexico border.

Conference video recordings and presenter slides will be available soon.

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