NM WRRI Hosts Hybrid 67th Annual New Mexico Water Conference

NM WRRI Hosts Hybrid 67th Annual New Mexico Water Conference

by Mark Sheely, NM WRRI Program Specialist, & Jeanette Torres, NM WRRI Program Coordinator

The New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute hosted its 67th Annual New Mexico Water Conference last week in a hybrid format at the Las Cruces Convention Center on October 26-27, 2022. With the theme this year, Our Interconnected Communities—and Interconnected Waters, this hybrid Annual New Mexico Water Conference addressed water issues facing New Mexico communities. Over the course of a day and a half, water experts discussed a host of important and timely topics, such as connecting diverse communities, conservation programs, management strategies, and water budgets. Just over 320 total registrants and 27 speakers participated in the conference.

The day before the conference, on Tuesday, October 25, James Narvaez and Patrick Lopez of the Elephant Butte Irrigation District graciously hosted more than 20 conference participants on a field trip to numerous irrigation and stormwater management sites around the district, beginning at the Leasburg Dam near Radium Springs, New Mexico, and ending at Mesilla Dam.

The first day of the conference on Wednesday, October 26, featured recorded opening keynote remarks given by Melanie Stansbury from New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, followed by an update from Mike Hamman, the New Mexico State Engineer. Presentations throughout the rest of the morning centered around groundwater in the determining decade, collaboration needs to address intense flooding challenges, and research efforts to inform and enable management strategies for a secure water future. Wednesday’s luncheon featured a lecture titled Lessons and Visions, by Laura Paskus, Journalist and Correspondent for Our Land: New Mexico’s Environmental Past, Present, and Future on NMPBS. Lunch was followed by presentations on agricultural and managed aquifer recharge projects, water conservation in the Middle and Lower Rio Grande, and a collaboration between the New Mexico Water Data Initiative and the Pecos Valley Artesian Conservancy District.

The second day of the conference began with a presentation by Blane Sanchez, 2nd Lieutenant Governor of the Pueblo of Isleta, highlighting the Pueblo’s perspectives on their water resources, including water rights settlement agreements and restoration plans. To highlight the importance of binational collaboration in water resources research and management, a well-rounded panel shared presentations concerning recharge in the Mesilla/Conejos-Médanos aquifer and potential management approaches for transboundary aquifers.

After this first slate of morning presentations, attendees had the opportunity to converse with water researchers at the in-person poster session in which 37 presenters from across New Mexico showcased their water research projects. Collaborators from over 20 universities, agencies, and private entities were represented during this session. Accepted abstracts and all submitted posters are currently available to conference registrants here. To wrap up the last day of the conference, two presentations related to the Draft New Mexico 50-Year Water Plan were given, followed by a panel detailing the community resilience conversations project led by NM WRRI to contribute to the 50-Year Water Plan, as well as ongoing efforts from this project to implement  research pilot projects for future water resilience across several New Mexico communities.

Conference video recordings and presentation slides will be available online for the general public in the coming week.