New Mexico Water eNews


October 2021

FY21 Faculty Water Research Grant awardees pictured clockwise from top left: Ricardo Gonzalez-Pinzon (Associate Professor, UNM), Caroline Scruggs (Associate Professor, UNM), Haoying Wang (Assistant Professor, NMT), and Zohrab Samani (Professor, NMSU).

USGS 104B Awards Announced by NM WRRI
by Carolina Mijares, NM WRRI Program Manager

NM WRRI announced its FY2021 faculty research grant program awards associated with the research grant, 104B State Water Resources Research Institute Program, between the U.S. Geological Survey and New Mexico State University. The 104B program focuses on providing water quality and quantity information, understanding water availability, addressing the influence of climate on water resources, and responding to water-related emerging needs. Director Sam Fernald is the lead principal investigator on the program.

In response to the NM WRRI 2021 Request for Proposals, four awards were made to the following faculty: Ricardo González-Pinzón of the University of New Mexico for the project titled, Quantifying the Longitudinal Propagation of Disturbances in Rivers; Caroline Scruggs of the University of New Mexico for the project titled, Understanding the Public’s Questions and Concerns Related to Potable Water Reuse: An Analysis of Survey Write-in Responses from Residents of Albuquerque, New Mexico; Haoying Wang of New Mexico Tech for the project titled, Informing Groundwater Management and Agricultural Crop Choice Using a Dynamic Discrete Decision-Making Model in the Eastern High Plains of New Mexico; and Zohrab Samani of New Mexico State University for the project titled, Using UAV for Precision Agriculture & Water Conservation based on Real-time Irrigation Scheduling. The projects began on September 1, 2021, and will culminate on August 31, 2022.

NM WRRI Hosts Virtual 66th Annual New Mexico
Water Conference

by Mark Sheely, NM WRRI Program Coordinator

The New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute once again welcomed participants from across the state and region to its annual New Mexico Water Conference, this year titled, Reality and Resilience: Planning for New Mexico’s Water Future. In collaboration with the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission to help develop and inform the state’s 50-Year Water Plan, the conference was a turning point from assessing the reality of the water and climate impacts likely over the next 50 years, to discussing and developing adaptation strategies to confront those impacts. Nearly 400 registrants and 30 speakers participated throughout the conference, sharing their perspectives on building and maintaining resilience within our water resources through 2070.

This year’s conference also featured a two-part virtual poster session in which 33 presenters from across New Mexico showcased their water research projects. Poster uploads and a selection of pre-recorded video presentations are currently available to conference registrants here. Conference video recordings and presentation slides will also be available online for the general public in the coming week.

NMSU PhD candidate, Rong He, processing water samples in the radiochemistry lab at the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center (CEMRC).

NMSU Student Awarded Research Grant to Study Sequential Isotopic Actinides in Water
by Marcus Gay, NM WRRI Student Program Coordinator

Clean water supplies are critical to supporting communities in arid and semiarid regions of New Mexico. Wildlife, agriculture, and recreational activities like fishing, boating, and swimming all depend on our limited surface water supplies; however, an emerging public health concern could potentially threaten the quality of some surface waters and drinking waters in New Mexico. The public health concern is the release of radiotoxic nuclides from waste repositories*. In southeastern New Mexico, the waste isolation pilot plant (WIPP) has radiotoxic nuclides that, if released, could have the potential to contaminate water. The WIPP is a deep geological repository for the permanent disposal of transuranic (TRU) wastes, byproducts of the nation's nuclear defense program. The release of radionuclides, especially actinides, into nearby water sources can cause contamination, which could harm the environment and human health. Therefore, there is a need to determine the radioactivity of water near the WIPP.

NM WRRI has awarded Rong He, a PhD student at New Mexico State University (NMSU), a Student Water Research Grant to work on a project entitled Sequential Isotopic Determination of Actinides (Plutonium, Americium, and Uranium) in Water. This project will develop a rapid and accurate method for determining the sequential separation of plutonium (Pu), americium (Am), and uranium (U) in water samples and explore the influence of interfering metal ions on the separation and determination of Pu, Am, and U.

Read entire article by clicking here.

Click Here to Listen Now!
This AccelNet project connects hydrology, data science, systems science, and social science networks to set the foundation for Transboundary Groundwater Resiliency Research.

Award Funded by the National Science Foundation
for Transboundary Groundwater Resiliency Research

by Ashley Atkins, NM WRRI Research Scientist

A team of researchers at the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (NM WRRI) and the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) received an award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to create a new, international network of networks that connects hydrology, social science, data science, and systems science networks to establish a novel transboundary groundwater resiliency research (TGRR) approach. The network will provide leadership, volunteer, and engagement opportunities for all its members, especially students and early-career researchers.

The virtual Kickoff Event for the TGRR Network will take place on November 16, 2021, from 9:00-10:00 AM MT. Click here to register for the Kickoff. An in-person TGRR Networking Event will take place in Glasgow from 15:00-17:00 local time on November 3, 2021, during the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference. Click here to learn more about TGRR. You can find more information about all past and upcoming TGRR events here.

Read entire article by clicking here.

Meet the Researcher

Laura Crossey, Distinguished Professor, The University
of New Mexico

by Jeanette Torres, NM WRRI Program Coordinator

Laura Crossey, a Distinguished Professor at the University of New Mexico (UNM) for the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, has been teaching for 35 years, and researches low-temperature geochemistry with application to hydrochemistry, geomicrobiology, and sedimentary diagenesis. Crossey feels her role as a geoscientist has several intertwining aspects that must be appropriately balanced. These aspects include performing research to publish peer-reviewed papers on topics concerning her specialty areas and teaching/mentoring students. She has successfully mentored over 37 students to degree completion and is currently advising two PhD, two MS, and two BS student researchers. Crossey thoroughly enjoys working with college students of any grade level and finds fulfillment in her teaching opportunities.

One of her graduate students, Naomi Delay, was recently awarded a New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (NM WRRI) Student Water Research Grant for her project, titled Hydrogeochemical Analysis of Springs in the Cibola National Forest: Implications for Springs/Wetlands Sustainability & Geochemical Response to Forest Fire. The project will focus on the impacts of wildfire on local hydrology and understand the sustainability and hydrogeological framework of arid-land springs. Crossey remarks that “the WRRI student grant opportunity is truly one of the most powerful programs for graduate students working on water-related topics in the state,” and that “several [of her] former graduate students who received support through the WRRI grant process gained valuable experience and have since gone on to be faculty members themselves in other locations (e.g., Dennis Newell, now at Utah State University; Matthew Kirk, currently at Kansas State University; and Jon Golla, who is completing his PhD at the University of Illinois).”

Read entire article by clicking here.

NM WRRI Technical Completion Report No. 397 is now available online.

NMSU Researchers Study the Impact of Irrigation with Brackish Groundwater and Reverse Osmosis Concentrate
by Carolina Mijares, NM WRRI Program Manager

NM WRRI announces the publication of Technical Completion Report No. 397, a joint publication with the Bureau of Reclamation and its Desalination and Water Purification Research and Development Program (Report No NMSU008). In 2017, NMSU faculty member and principal investigator Dr. Manoj K. Shukla from the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences received funding through a cooperative agreement between Reclamation and NMSU titled, “Center for the Development and Use of Alternative Water Supplies.”

Irrigation with Brackish Groundwater and Desalination Concentrate: Effect on Soil Microbial Properties, Plant Uptake, and Ion Deposition in Soil by Manoj K. Shukla, NMSU Professor; Akram Ben Ali, NMSU Research Assistant Professor; Sarah Cerra, NMSU Water Science and Management graduate student; Brian Schutte, NMSU Associate Professor; Geno Picchioni, NMSU Professor; and Charlotte Gard, NMSU Associate professor, is available in its entirety on the NM WRRI website here.

Report Abstract:

Surface water for irrigation is getting scarce, and brackish groundwater is increasingly used to supplement the shortfall. This project analyzes the impact of irrigation with brackish groundwater and reverse osmosis (RO) concentrate (both from the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility (BGNDRF)) on soil physical, chemical, and microbial properties important for maintaining soil health.

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