Recharge to groundwater in the Mesilla Basin Aquifer System from a flood irrigated alfalfa field.

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.


Efforts to Improve Models of Surface Water and Groundwater in the Transboundary Mesilla-Conejos Médanos Aquifer

The major investigators for this project are Kevin Perez (Program Specialist, NM WRRI), and Alexander Fernald (Director, NM WRRI).

This project combines previous modeling efforts of the Mesilla-Conejos Médanos aquifer and applies state-of-the-art knowledge in hydrological and groundwater flow in order to meet three objectives: 1) provide the NM WRRI the elements to improve the surface water and groundwater models in the Mesilla-Conejos Médanos Aquifer and, therefore, 2) to propose to the community stakeholders and TAAP research collaborators an in-depth discussion about which modelling paradigm should be used in the coming years in the US-Mexico boundary zone, and, 3) identify opportunities to merge the capabilities of both RGTIHM and system models (such as the DSWB model).


Isotopic Data Around the Rio Grande (US and Mexico)

The main researchers for this project are: Ana Garcia-Vasquez (graduate student, NMSU), Alexander Fernald (Director, NM WRRI), AJ Robertson (Hydrologist, USGS NM Water Science Center), and Alfredo Granados-Olivas (Professor of Research, UACJ).

This project brings together hydrogeochemical data from the Mesilla and Hueco aquifers shared between the US and Mexico. Studies from both aquifers provide hydrogeochemical data from the last 10 to 20 years that allow us to know the origin and movement of groundwater. The isotopic signature gives us the age of the water. The age of the water indicates the origin of the water, the geological structure, the salinization of the sources, and the possible recharging points. This information is an important part of water management that can help develop policies and maintain the sustainability of aquifers. A report using this hydrogeochemical and isotopic information will provide a complete international sketch of the shared aquifers.


Ethnographic Assessment of Agricultural Groundwater Use along the New Mexico/Chihuahua Border

The primary investigator for this project is Holly Brause (Research Scientist, NM WRRI).

This project uses ethnographic methods to examine the social, political, cultural, and economic frameworks that shape the use of shared groundwater in practice at the US/Mexico border. This social science is important in conjunction with binational water modeling projects that use a socio-hydrology approach since the hydrologic reality of the border is largely shaped by human factors. This project has the potential to identify the most important human drivers of this integrated human/natural system.


Using Remote Sensing to Develop ET Fluxes for the Mesilla Valley Aquifer

The principal investigators for project are Salim Bawazir (Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, NMSU), Alexander Fernald (Director, NM WRRI), Juan Solis (graduate student, NMSU), and Kevin Boyko (Research Assistant, NM WRRI).

This project assesses ET depletion estimates in the Valley using ground measurements and an energy balance process-based remote sensing model(s) (e.g., METRICTM and SSEB) using high-resolution satellite LandSat8 images (data). The remote sensing high-resolution ET estimates will be compared with ground measurements as verification for local conditions. The ultimate goal is to use remote sensing in combination with measured weather parameters on the ground to estimate ET depletion of the Valley and, therefore, the water budget for the basin.


Faculty and Student Water Research Grant Programs

NM WRRI provides support for water-related research through its Faculty Water Research Grant Program. Funds are made available through the institute’s federal base grant (Section 104B of the Water Resources Research Act – [Public Law 109-471]) and through state appropriations. These “seed money” projects allow New Mexico university faculty to pursue critical areas of water resources research while providing training opportunities for their students.

When funds are made available, usually through the New Mexico State Legislature, the NM WRRI supports the Student Water Research Grant Program. These awards support the training of New Mexico’s future water experts through grants to university students throughout the state for their water-related research projects.


Outreach and Technical Support

By organizing conferences and workshops such as the Annual New Mexico Water Conference—held each year since 1956—the Animas and San Juan Watersheds Conference, as well as an array of technical workshops, NM WRRI provides a forum to share water research findings, inform stakeholders, and ultimately address the pressing water issues facing New Mexico and the southwest.


Clean Drinking Water Technology

Dr. Antonio Lara and the Clean Drinking Water Team from New Mexico State University establish technologies for the treatment of heavy metals and pathogens from scarce and contaminated water sources, surface and ground, to produce potable water. Investigation results show that clay ceramic pellets effectively treat and help solve the intractable problem of water contaminated by uranium in New Mexico. The technologies convert polluted water to potable water inexpensively and are usable worldwide.


NM Universities Produced Water Synthesis Project

Produced water is a multifaceted phenomenon with complex hydrologic, social, economic, and environmental implications for human-natural systems. To better understand such implications, we need to equip ourselves with sophisticated analytical and computational tools that take such complexities into account. In this project, we will explore the possibility and usefulness of developing a hybrid, multi-method dynamic simulation modeling approach that considers both aggregate feedback and heterogeneous nature of the produced water problem. We will then identify potential questions that could be addressed exclusively by the hybrid method.


In January of 2020, NM WRRI initiated Year 1 of the NM Universities Produced Water Synthesis Project (NMUPWSP) with researchers at NM WRRI, New Mexico State University, New Mexico Tech, and The University of New Mexico (UNM). This collaboration is funded through state appropriations for a statewide water assessment. The project’s Year 1 goal was to synthesize information on produced water science and management. NMUPWSP has now completed Year 1 projects, resulting in the publication of the first two technical completion reports. The project is ongoing and has an overall goal of bringing together experts in the areas of treatment technology, geochemistry, seismology, hydrogeology, policy, data management and analysis, stakeholder engagement, and system science to provide an independent understanding of the broad implications of produced water management decisions on regional water budgets.

–(eNews Edition March 2021)

University EffortFull TitleTR #Publish DateAuthorsKeywords
New Mexico Water Resources Research InstituteDevelopment of a Multi-method Dynamic Simulation Model: Exploring Opportunities for Produced Water ReuseTR-3912021-03-01 00:00:00Langarudi, S.P.;
Sabie, R.P.;
Bahaddin, B.;
Fernald, A.G.
Produced Water Management, Hybrid Modeling, Simulation, System Dynamics, Agent-based Modeling, Geospatial Analysis, Cross-scale Complexity
University of New MexicoAnalysis of the Relationship Between Water, Oil & Gas in New Mexico: Investigation of Past and Future TrendTR-3902021-02-01 00:00:00Thomson, B.M.;
Chermak, J.M.
Hydrofracturing, Produced Water
New Mexico Institute of Mining and TechnologyBuilding a Produced Water Budget for New Mexico: Phase I - Database ConstructionTR-3952022-08-21 00:00:00Cather, M.;
Gallegos, C.;
Chen, D.
New Mexico Institute of Mining and TechnologyMonitoring of produced-waters-related seismicity and surface deformation in a three-dimensional geologic context in the Permian Basin, New MexicoTBDComing Soon!Rinehart, A.;
Litherland, M.;
Grigg, J.;
Grapenthin, R.;
New Mexico State UniversityCharacterization of Produced Water in the Permian Basin for Potential Beneficial UseTR-3982022-02-22 00:00:00Xu, P.;
Zhang, Y.;
Jiang, W.;
Hu, L.;
Xu, X.;
Carroll, K.C.;
Khan, N.
Utton Transboundary Resources Center (University of New Mexico)Analysis of the Relationship Between Current Regulatory and Legal Frameworks and the "Produced Water Act"TR-3962022-08-21 00:00:00Russo Baca, S.;
Kupfer, A.;
McLain, S.

Community Hydrology Program

  • Acequia irrigators in northern NM – surface water and groundwater data on the web
  • Ranchers in central NM – soil moisture and forage growth
  • Irrigators in southern NM – stakeholder co-developed irrigation and crop planning
  • Community planners in the Rincon watershed – restoration to recharge groundwater