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eNews September 2019

Community Science Initiative in a Northern New Mexico Drainage

By Lily Conrad, NM WRRI Research Graduate Assistant

In the month of September 2019, Andrew Black (NM WRRI), Omar Coronado Ramos (WSM MS student), and Lily Conrad (WSM MS student) traveled to northern New Mexico to begin installing cellular telemetry equipment at acequia monitoring stations throughout the Rio Hondo Valley, a drainage northwest of Taos. The goal of this study is to provide near-real time water quantity data that will be accessible to irrigators and acequia commissioners through a web interface. After a meeting with acequia mayordomos and commissioners, the study will be designed to help support the Valley’s acequia water sharing agreement over a trial period of the next two irrigation seasons.

The equipment will be installed in several sites throughout the Valley, between the communities of Valdez and Arroyo Hondo, periodically collecting water stage (elevation or height) and temperature data to be remotely sent to the interface via cellular towers. Community members and NMSU researchers plan to collaborate on site maintenance, data quality control, and analysis of system impact on water management.

Before the installation of this equipment, commissioners drove up and down the Rio Hondo manually checking flow values once per week. Once the new system is in place, each commissioner or shareholder will be able to independently have access to the same water resource information. As a result, the data will be used to create a database to assist with decision making for local needs and/or concerns. A more precise and consistent understanding of water quantity may help with water management decisions during low-flow periods.