eNews November 2016

Can an Innovative Strategy of Flood Control on Ranching and Farming Lands Begin to Refill Our Aquifers? (continued)

Maxwell began with a pilot study on the Rincon Arroyo watershed that has historically flooded the town of Rincon, just downstream of Hatch in Doña Ana County. In a collaboration with the South Central New Mexico Stormwater Coalition, Maxwell is attempting to quantify the flood control, aquifer recharge, agricultural, and ecological benefits of land practices and flood control interventions that slow water down and spread it to increase infiltration. This pilot study involves assessing remotely sensed data, creating a hydrologic flow model, and modeling the water budget at both this finer-scale as well as on the larger Hatch/Mesilla basin-scale. She is adapting a system dynamics model originally created by an interdisciplinary team to assess the resiliency of traditional irrigation communities in northern New Mexico (Fernald et al., 2012).

With the results from this pilot study and from other concurrent NM WRRI ground-truthing and modeling studies, Maxwell will then analyze the effects of scenarios of similar strategies extended throughout the larger Hatch/Mesilla basin area. The findings and method for applying these scenarios to different locations will then feed into and assist in projecting scenarios in NM WRRI’s New Mexico Dynamic Statewide Water Budget (DSWB) model. Future surveys by land managers will also provide desired and feasible land management practices for scenarios that can increase water storage. Anticipated results include identifying areas that may provide the greatest potential water storage benefits from optimized management. The study’s overall goal is to assess the potential for a system of increased agricultural recharge to align social investment with sustainable management goals.

Fernald, A., V. Tidwell, J. Rivera, S. Rodríguez, S. Guldan, C. Steele, C. Ochoa, B.  Hurd, M. Ortiz, and K. Boykin. 2012. Modeling sustainability of water, environment, livelihood, and culture in traditional irrigation communities and their linked watersheds. Sustainability, 4(11), 2998-3022.

South Central New Mexico Stormwater Coalition. Website accessed 2016.