New Mexico Water eNews


October 2016

Where Does All The Water Go? History, Hydrology and Management of New Mexico’s Scarce Waters
61st Annual New Mexico Water Conference

by Blane M. Sanchez, NM WRRI Program Manager

This year’s annual New Mexico Water Conference was held in Silver City for the first time. Perfect weather was abundant for the NM CAP Unit, Kayak the Gila, and Monitoring the River—Tracking the Changes tours. The first day ended with a reception at the Murray Hotel where conference participants gathered and exchanged their tour experiences. This year’s conference attendance was 180 plus with a mixture of academic, professional, government, stakeholder, and student participants. The poster presentations filled a room and adjacent hall with 40 of the latest New Mexico water research projects of which 23 were by students.

The New Mexico Central Arizona Project (CAP) Unit tour was very well attended with about 25 participants that caravanned to the Grant County Fairgrounds where they met Anthony Gutierrez, NM CAP Unit Executive Director. Mr. Gutierrez provided an overview of the NM CAP Unit background and current project status before heading out to the field. Stops included the Turkey Creek Road vantage point where a sweeping view of the Cliff-Gila valley could be seen and the proposed Spar Canyon off-stream storage site was pointed out. Read more

  October 2016

  Accessing Produced Water Data in New Mexico:
  Improving and Updating the NM Produced Water Quality
  Database and Web Site

  WRRI Miscellaneous Report No. 375
  Martha Cather
  Cristobal Gallegos
  Dongyi Chen

Schematic of the microbial capacitive deionization cell (MCDC)


   New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute
   New Mexico State University
   MSC 3167, P.O. Box 30001
   Las Cruces, New Mexico 88003-8001

(575) 646-4337 email:


NM WRRI Technical Completion Report on a Database for Produced Water in New Mexico Now Available
by Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager

A report entitled: Accessing Produced Water Data in New Mexico: Improving and Updating the NM Produced Water Quality Database and Web Site has been published this month by NM WRRI. It summarizes work performed by Petroleum Recovery Research Center (PRRC) Senior Scientist Martha Cather and graduate assistants Cristobal Gallegos and Dongyi Chen, both of the Computer Science Department at NM Tech. The project was funded as part of the NM WRRI’s Statewide Water Assessment initiative and also received financial support from the New Mexico Environment Department through the NM WRRI by way of the PRRC. This effort was heavily based on prior work funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. NM WRRI Technical Completion Report No. 375 is available on the institute’s website and by clicking here.

Water produced as a byproduct of oil and gas production represents a large potential alternative water source in southeastern New Mexico. For example, in 2015 the industry reported the production of almost 900 million barrels of produced water. This significant volume of water is a very dispersed, largely uncharacterized, and extremely variable water source. Almost all of it is reinjected, partially for pressure maintenance and improved oil recovery, but mostly as a means of disposal. A significant amount of this produced water could potentially be diverted to other uses if economic, regulatory, and technological hurdles could be overcome. Read more

Posters Again a Highlight of Annual Conference
by Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager

Every year since the NM WRRI began hosting a poster session at its Annual New Mexico Water Conference, many attendees have extolled the presentations as a highlight of the conference. NM WRRI’s 61st Annual New Mexico Water Conference in Silver City this year was no exception. Forty posters were presented on Friday, October 7 on a broad range of water-related topics with 23 of those posters presented by university students from around the state. Poster topics included research on issues such as evapotranspiration, water quality and quantity web-mapping, water budgets, use of alternative waters for agriculture, desalination, watershed manage-ment, and climate change impacts on water availability in New Mexico.

Posters were presented by a diverse group of faculty, students, researchers, and practitioners from around the state. New Mexico universities were well represented at the session with students from NMSU, UNM, NM Tech, ENMU, and NMHU. The NM Office of the State Engineer along with federal agency U.S. Geological Survey, and programs such as the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program and the Canadian River Riparian Restoration Project participated. Several posters were presented by the private sector including Hawley Geomatters, NV5 Inc, Swanson Geoscience, and Tetra Tech, Inc.

Sandia National Laboratories has been very generous in its financial support of the poster session over many years and NM WRRI is grateful for their continued sponsorship.

Click here to view poster abstracts of research presented at the NM WRRI annual water conference.

  October 2016

  Arsenic Removal from Water by Porous Polymers
  WRRI Miscellaneous Report No. 374
  Reza Foudazi
  Ryan Zowada

  Anna Malakian

Typical images of a polyHIPE Polymer. a) Optical microscope image before
polymerization. b) Scanning electron image after polymerization.


   New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute
   New Mexico State University
   MSC 3167, P.O. Box 30001
   Las Cruces, New Mexico 88003-8001

   (575) 646-4337 email:


NM WRRI Publishes Report on Removal of Arsenic from Drinking Water in New Mexico
by Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager

NMSU Assistant Professor Reza Foudazi, Research Assistant Ryan Zowada, and Graduate Assistant Anna Malakian, all of the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, have carried out environmental remediation research that was funded through the NM WRRI. Their project is entitled: Arsenic Removal from Water by Porous Polymers, and their final report has been published as part of NM WRRI’s Technical Completion Report Series.

Heavy metal contamination of water is a widespread problem, and according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it has been confirmed in New Mexico by the presence of arsenic in some brackish groundwater sources. The ingestion of water contaminated with arsenic is known to carry the potential for serious adverse effects on the human body, including an increased risk of many types of cancer. This has motivated the authors to explore a new method of arsenic removal using highly sorbent polymers.

The researchers focused on the synthesis of interconnected porous polymer structures known as polyHIPE polymers, which are materials with up to 99% porosity. Furthermore, they have tuned the chemistry of these polymers so that it has been possible to incorporate hydrated iron oxide nanoparticles into the polymer matrix in order to improve the physisorption of arsenic by polyHIPE. The results provide a more efficient method than conventional coagulation and membrane filtration ones by allowing rapid through-put of contaminated water through a porous structure. Their experimental analyses have demonstrated the proof of principle of their methodology. Further research to investigate and improve the performance of produced polyHIPEs under conditions of lower levels of arsenic contamination levels is underway.

Click here to view the report in its entirety.

(Left) Ian Hewitt uses a bulk density soil sampling kit; (Top right) extracted soil sample; (Bottom right) Tools, maps, and GPS units are used to collect field data.

Soil Sampling in Mesilla Valley Underway
by Ian Hewitt and Francisco Ochoa, NM WRRI Research Assistants

Recently, Ian Hewitt and Francisco Ochoa of the NM WRRI have been performing soil sampling on about 85 acres of alfalfa located just south of the NMSU campus. The purpose of this field work is to better estimate the soil heat flux density at the soil surface, denoted by G, which is one of several variables in an equation used to calculate evapotranspiration, or ET, (total water losses to the atmosphere). Better G data will help NMSU professor Dr. Salim Bawazir obtain high quality ET data from this field throughout 2017, with the end goal of improving calibration of the Regional Evapotranspiration Estimation Model (REEM). The REEM model is being produced locally at NMSU by Dr. Zohrab Samani. It is anticipated that this model, which employs satellite data, will be sufficient to estimate yearly water losses from every field in the Mesilla Valley; if successful, this will eliminate the need for laborious on-site ground measurements in the future. Having better estimates of ET will ultimately allow for improved knowledge of water use and groundwater recharge in the Mesilla Valley. The work is supported by the Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Program and the Statewide Water Assessment, two initiatives underway by NM WRRI.

The researchers want to give special thanks to Willie Joe Koenig, who farms the land on which the research is being conducted and has given them access to his land. The research will provide him and other farmers in the area a better understanding of the local hydrology.

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