By Mark Sheely, NM WRRI Program Coordinator
Over the course of two weeks, two different events sent NM WRRI staff to two different states of Mexico to help grow binational collaboration efforts in addressing border water issues that affect both the United States and Mexico.
From August 8-9, 2019 the Healthy Borders, Healthy Waters Educational Curriculum Development Workshop was held at the Juriquilla campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) just outside of the city of Querétaro. This workshop connected the National Science Foundation Research Coordination Network CE3SAR to ongoing Border Solutions Alliance activities. The goal of this workshop was to facilitate binational discussions to foster collaborative partnerships that could ultimately lead to the development of a foundation for a “Water for Healthy Borders” curriculum. Throughout the two-day workshop, attendees made up of faculty and grad students from across the Southwest and Mexico identified key drivers to water issues on the US-Mexico border that could be distilled into online course modules intended for a high school or early post-secondary audience. The module frameworks developed by four breakout groups examined topics such as consumptive water use amongst different social actors, using a forensic crime scene framework to teach students about basic hydrogeologic concepts, illustrated shared water management strategies through a case study of border cities sharing the same water, and examined water conservation practices through the lens of water equity.
Several faculty of UNAM Juriquilla’s Geosciences Center presented on and demonstrated the hydrogeological research being carried out in central Mexico. The first day’s session also ended with a tour of the Geosciences Center’s lab facilities. Attendees also had the opportunity to visit the historic city centers of Querétaro and nearby San Miguel de Allende.
The following week, on August 15, 2019 a delegation from NM WRRI departed early in the morning for the five-hour drive to Chihuahua City to represent New Mexico State University at the Expo Agro Internacional Chihuahua / Foro de Agua in Chihuahua City. Amidst stands dedicated to Chihuahua’s agricultural products, equipment manufacturers, and governmental organizations, prospective students thronged the stand shared by NMSU’s Water Science and Management graduate degree program and the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences to learn more about requirements and offerings of different degree programs from PhD student Jorge Preciado. The location of the expo in Chihuahua also made it possible for NM WRRI staff to visit Border Solutions Alliance collaboration partners from the Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua (UACH). UACH faculty treated NM WRRI Director Sam Fernald and Program Coordinator Mark Sheely to a tour of their university’s new chemistry department, part of a larger project to build a new campus on the edge of the city to eventually replace the original UACH campus in the city center. Throughout the meeting, continuing collaboration efforts were discussed in regards to the Border Solutions Alliance proposal and convocation in Washington D.C. in February 2020.