In 2016, the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute teamed up with communities, researchers, agencies, and industry to complete a project focused on the potential reuse of produced water. The purpose of this Project was for the NM WRRI to provide public water systems and communities in Lea and Eddy counties information that could potentially improve the sustainability of water supplies by understanding the available volumes of water produced during oil and gas extraction, commonly referred to as produced water, as a source of water to offset use of freshwater. In locations such as southeastern New Mexico, water users are heavily dependent on aquifers with low to insignificant recharge rates. In these locations, expanding the use of produced water offers the possibility of reducing demand for freshwater and reducing aquifer depletion rates, thereby improving water supply sustainability and protection of potable water sources.
The principal investigators for this project are Kevin Boyko (Research Assistant, NM WRRI), Salim Bawazir (Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, NMSU), and Alexander Fernald (Director, NM WRRI).
The purpose of this project will be to process soil moisture data, analyze applied irrigation, and use previous TAAP study year measured ET data to estimate recharge for 2018 and 2019 and compare with 2017 results. Each of these years from 2017 to 2019 varied greatly in water availability to farmers.
NM WRRI is collaborating with the Texas Water Resources Institute, New Mexico State University, and Texas A&M is a multi-goal project to identify opportunities for ensuring thriving agriculture in throughout the highly productive Rio Grande Basin watershed. NM WRRI is working specifically with NMSU’s Physical Science Laboratory to fly a crewed aircraft with multispectral and thermal sensors to investigate emerging remote sensing technologies for measuring evapotranspiration.
NM WRRI has a long history of being at the forefront of improving human and natural systems approaches to hydrologic research. The Institute actively pursues and supports work that recognizes the interconnectedness between New Mexicans and our water resources.
The NRCS has awarded the Doña Ana County and its Flood Commission the first Planning/NEPA phase of a Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Operations Program for the Rincon Arroyo Watershed. Partners to the project include the NM WRRI, BLM, EBID, and the Caballo Soil and Water Conservation District. This phase aims to create a watershed plan to address the root cause of flooding, vegetation loss in the uplands that scour soils and transport sediment, which in turn clogs downstream riparian areas and over 19 miles of agricultural infrastructure, and overwhelms downstream flood control infrastructure.
The NM WRRI Water and Community Collaboration Lab (WCC-Lab) aims to foster links between the best science, communities, and stakeholders to inform water and environmental decision-making. The WCC-Lab’s goals focus upon collaboratively developing and testing innovative and feasible approaches to the complex issues of water supply and usage in New Mexico. Results of our pilot projects in the Hatch and Mesilla Valley and the Rincon Arroyo watershed within the Valley, have led to funding of several projects by grants that are highlighted on this website
Elephant Butte Irrigation District (EBID) was selected for award for the Reclamation WaterSMART Drought Response Program. The project entitled, EBID Drought Resiliency Priority Projects: Watershed-scale Stormwater Monitoring and Capture proposes to address program tasks of a) increasing the reliability of water supplies through infrastructure improvements, through stormwater capture and aquifer recharge and b) projects to improve water management through decision support tools, modeling, and measurement, through increased system monitoring and a model decision support tool. NM WRRI will lead the development of an integrated system dynamics model decision-support tool, which will assess the systems’ water balance and related socio-economic data that allows for long-term future trend projection of the effect of stormwater supplies and a scenario of watershed-scale stormwater harvesting.
The NM WRRI has been selected for award by the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) for a Watershed Implementation grant funded by EPA Clean Water Act Section 319 funds. The Rincon Sub-basins 319 Project implements a watershed restoration plan with the primary objective to reduce sediment transport including E. coli to the impaired reach of the Rio Grande through small-scale, low impact restoration practices. This project will also inform future project proposals within the larger Rincon Arroyo Watershed.