New Mexico Water eNews


July 2021

Hailey Taylor, NMSU Anthropology MA student and Student Water Research Grant Award recipient.

NMSU Student Awarded Research Grant to Study Household Water Insecurity in Doña Ana County
by Marcus Gay, NM WRRI Student Program Coordinator

Household water insecurity (HWI) is the experience of living with limited access to water both in terms of quantity and quality. HWI is common in the colonias of Doña Ana County, New Mexico. Colonias are underdeveloped communities along the U.S.-Mexico border and often lack critical infrastructure, such as safe, treated, and piped water. In Doña Ana County, residents of these colonias have had to adapt and cope with inadequate access to quality water. Research has shown that HWI is a social determinant of health, which is reflected in multiple health disparities such as elevated mental distress and food insecurity. Therefore, the strategies that individuals living in these water-insecure households use to adapt and cope have the potential to impact the physical and mental health of colonia residents. An urgent need exists for a research project that focuses on HWI as a means to ensure community health and individual well-being. Research on individuals, households, and communities coping with water insecurity is critical to developing effective people-centered interventions.

In order to address the need for research concerning how people adapt their daily lives to HWI, Hailey Taylor, a master’s student at New Mexico State University’s Anthropology Department, has been awarded an NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant. The objective of the project entitled, Living with Water-Insecurity: How do people adapt and cope with poor water quality and access?, aims to determine how residents of colonias in Doña Ana County, who live with HWI, adapt and cope with inadequate water quality and/or access. The project also aims to explore the potential impacts HWI and related coping mechanisms have on individuals’ physical and mental health.

Read entire article by clicking here.

Mark Sheely, Program Coordinator from NM WRRI, and John Mumm, Lower Chama Water Master from NM ISC, explaining the benefits of the 50-Year Water Plan, and how key aspects will play a major role in NM WRRI's 66th Annual New Mexico Water Conference.

NM WRRI Participates Alongside NM ISC at 2021
Los Alamos ScienceFest

by Mark Sheely, NM WRRI Program Coordinator

On Saturday, July 10, the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (NM WRRI) participated in this most recent Los Alamos ScienceFest, joining several other exhibitors near Ashley Pond in downtown Los Alamos, New Mexico, to talk face-to-face—a first in 16 months—with those curious about the work of NM WRRI and New Mexico’s water future. Each year, the festival celebrates scientific contributions to our lives, STEM education, and local science heritage.

NM WRRI Program Coordinator Mark Sheely was joined by John Mumm of the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission (NM ISC) Water Planning Program in discussing and sharing information about the coordinated 50-Year Water Plan. Discussion of the plan and water resilience strategies for the future will be a key part of NM WRRI’s 66th Annual New Mexico Water Conference, scheduled for October 26-28, 2021, as a virtual event.

Concern for the future of local and state water resources was a common theme across many of the discussions with attendees. Between now and October, NM WRRI will host a series of community conversations using the New Mexico Dynamic Statewide Water Budget as a tool to discuss the current and future water resilience of different communities around the state. NM ISC will be conducting its own parallel outreach events to inform communities and stakeholders of the findings of their Climate and Water Leap Ahead Assessment and perform resilience assessments that will help to chart a path forward into New Mexico’s water and climate future.

Be sure to monitor NM WRRI’s events page for more information regarding these meetings, and the Annual New Mexico Water Conference. You can learn more about the 50-Year Water Plan at the NM ISC’s website.

Meet the Researcher

Anjali Mulchandani, Assistant Professor, The University
of New Mexico

by Jeanette Torres, NM WRRI Program Coordinator

This month, our spotlight researcher is Anjali Mulchandani, an assistant professor at The University of New Mexico (UNM) for the Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering Department. She taught Environmental and Water Resources Engineering this past spring, and in the fall she will be teaching Sustainable Engineering. According to Anjali, the most important aspect of her position is to train the next generation of engineers to think critically and compassionately about solving global environmental issues. She believes students must apply a holistic lens to problems they are solving by considering the preservation of the environment and its resources, as well as the communities those resources touch and the economics of developing and implementing new environmental resource sustainability technologies.

Mulchandani has mentored 16 students throughout her career, and currently has six students (one PhD, two MS, two undergraduates, and one high school student) in her research group. One of her MS students, Natalie Gayoso, recently received a New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (NM WRRI) Student Water Research Grant for her project entitled, Techno-Economic Analysis to Determine Cost of Atmospheric Water Capture Technologies. Anjali explains that this research will involve atmospheric water harvesting, an innovative decentralized technology that provides clean drinking water from the air by condensing water vapor in the atmosphere. The project's ultimate goal is to determine locations where this technology could be feasibly applied with an electrical energy grid or renewable energy source powering it. To read more details about this project, please visit the NM WRRI eNewsletter featuring Gayoso's research located here.

Read entire article by clicking here.

Infographic illustrating groundwater recharge trends and hydrological contributors in New Mexico between 1975-2015.

Researchers Investigate Long-Term Changes in Regional Groundwater Recharge in New Mexico
by Jeanette Torres, NM WRRI Program Coordinator

As an arid state in the southwestern U.S., New Mexico has long faced issues of water scarcity and the lack of surface water. It is no secret that water is an invaluable resource that sustains not only agricultural industry, but also naturally occurring ecosystems and human livelihood. Many New Mexican families have suffered from the effects of extreme, prolonged drought, and without a sufficient supply of water to meet demands, water use and conservation have become a topic of much debate over the years.

To gain insight into how to improve management and protection of land and water usage around New Mexico, Dr. Xiaojie Li, Dr. Alexander (Sam) G. Fernald, and Dr. Shaozhong Kang, have performed a study exploring the changes in groundwater recharge (RE), precipitation, surface water inflow, outflow, diversions, returns, and surface water and groundwater evapotranspiration in five New Mexico counties (Taos, Torrance, Doña Ana, Eddy, and Lea) during the years between 1975-2015. Monthly and yearly data used in this study were downloaded from the New Mexico Dynamic Statewide Water Budget (NMDSWB) model on the NM WRRI website, which combines observed baseflow water data and hydrological modeling methods to calculate RE based on the water budget approach (RE equals groundwater recharge).

Read entire article by clicking here.

NM WRRI Technical Completion Report No. 393 is now available online.

Researcher Develops Remote Water Control Method
by Carolina Mijares, NM WRRI Program Manager

NM WRRI announces the publication of Technical Completion Report No. 393. Blair Stringam, College Professor of Plant and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University, has completed his study entitled, Developing a Practical and Robust Feedback Control System for Open Water Channels to Deliver the Correct Amount of Water to the Intended User at the Desired Time.

Stringam received a grant for his research project through NM WRRI’s Faculty Water Research Grant Program and funds were made available through state appropriations. NM WRRI Technical Completion Report No. 393 is posted on the institute’s website in its entirety and can be found here.

The report abstract summarizes the project:

The majority of irrigation districts in the U.S. and throughout the world deliver water to their users using open channels. Supplying water in this manner presents a number of complications that usually results in the loss of water. Many of these complications occur because of sediment accumulation and vegetation growing in the channel. These complications impede accurate and timely water deliveries.

To deliver the correct amount of water to the right place at the right time, water managers must determine when to start the water diversion and determine the travel time to deliver the water at the required time. The delay time makes this a difficult task because the delay time varies over the growing season due to the vegetative growth and sediment accumulation. It is very difficult to determine the time delay change and subsequently make an adjustment to delivery procedures.

In recent years, a number of irrigation districts have installed automation equipment to provide water deliveries in a timely manner. This equipment consists of water-level sensors, gate-position sensors, gate actuators, onsite computer control units and data communication radios or phones. These automation systems are normally programmed with routines that provide remote monitoring, data collection and remote movement of the water delivery gates and structures. The majority of software is simple and provides limited operation of these sites and subsequently limited water savings ability. This project has taken further steps and developed software that will operate these remote water control sites and provide timely water deliveries. The program was implemented on an actual canal reach. A recently developed open channel flow control method that is reported by Stringam and Wahl (2014) was used to develop this program.

This project also developed a prototype soil moisture sensor to help irrigators track crop water use and order accurate water deliveries in a timely manner. This prototype sensor has been programmed to communicate directly with the farmer’s cellphone to provide timely soil water information. The light-based sensor is proving to provide accurate measurements for the soils that we have tested thus far. Providing an accurate sensor to irrigation farmers will help them order water for irrigating more precisely. This will make the canal feedback control software more effective for district managers who work to deliver water to water users.

NM WRRI Technical Completion Report No. 394 is now available online.

Rio Grande Cooter Technical Completion Report Now Available
by Carolina Mijares, NM WRRI Program Manager

NM WRRI announces the publication of Technical Completion Report No. 394. Thanchira Suriyamongkol, a Master of Science in Biology graduate from Eastern New Mexico University, and Ivana Mali, Associate Professor of Biology, have completed their study entitled, Trophic and Dietary Overlap Study Between Threatened and Common Riverine Turtles in Southeast New Mexico Using Stable Isotope Analyses.

The researchers received a grant for their research project through NM WRRI’s Faculty Water Research Grant Program and funds were made available through state appropriations. NM WRRI Technical Completion Report No. 394 is posted on the institute’s website in its entirety and can be found here.

The report abstract summarizes the project:

Aquatic turtles represent important biotic components of freshwater ecosystems. The Pecos River watershed is inhabited by six turtle species, including the widespread Trachemys scripta (Red-eared Slider) and a species of conservation concern, Pseudemys gorzugi (Rio Grande Cooter). We assessed isotopic niche widths of the Rio Grande Cooter and niche overlap where it co-occurs with the Red-eared Slider in the Pecos River tributaries, New Mexico, USA. We used carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) stable isotope analyses of blood and claws. Our results showed niche partitioning among populations of P. gorzugi and among sex classes. At sites where both species occur, we documented niche overlap, especially for δ15N values. Although stable isotopes showed niche overlap between T.scripta and P. gorzugi based on the ellipse area overlap (SEAB), the distribution of prey items in the diets of P. gorzugi and T. scripta revealed the differences in resource selection. We observed that differences in P. gorzugi diets among populations correspond to resource availability, suggesting opportunistic foraging behavior of P. gorzugi. Our study aids in understanding the ecology and natural history of P. gorzugi. Moreover, our study provides insights into interspecific relations of T. scripta in their native range.

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