Three New Projects Funded by WRRI – Additional Funding Becomes Available

In the last issue of the Divining Rod, we described two new water quality projects that were selected to receive funding through the 1999 New Mexico WRRI Seed Money Research Program. Hyperfiltration-Induced Precipitation of Sodium Chloride under the direction of New Mexico Tech investigator Michael Whitworth and Ultrafiltration Based Detection of Viruses and Cryptosporidium Oocysts from Environmental Water Samples led by NMSU Professor Kevin Oshima were announced as projects slated for funding.


  • Because FY99-00 state funding has now been made available, three other projects also will be funded through the 1999 Program. Janie Chermak and Kate Krause of UNM’s Department of Economics will receive funding for their project entitled, Impact of Heterogeneous Consumer Response of Water Conservation Goals. The researchers will identify statistically significant consumer characteristics that are factors of demand for water through a series of economic experiments and surveys. They will then test consumer response to wide ranges of pricing options and econometrically model water demand incorporating the significant consumer characteristics into the model. Finally, they will design a conservation incentive program that allows individuals to choose their own best conservation alternatives while achieving the conservation program goals.
  • Detection of Groundwater through Ultrasensitive Magnetic Measurements with Ultra-short Pulse Lasers will be conducted by Jean-Claude Diels of UNM’s Department of Physics. This project will explore the possibility of new, unknown sources of groundwater, and monitor the growth and decay of large aquifer layers. New methods of magnetic sensing will be employed. If successful, the final phase of the research will be to conduct an aerial survey to identify patterns associated with large bodies of surface water and search for signs of large underground bodies of water.
  • Eric Small of NMTech’s Department of Earth and Environmental Science will receive funding for his project entitled, Soil Moisture-rainfall Feedbacks in New Mexico. To improve upon precipitation prediction systems, it is necessary to understand the different mechanisms that produce rainfall variability. Precipitation anomalies may be generated by the conditions of the land surface, including soil moisture, vegetation and snow cover. This project investigates how soil moisture, via land-atmospheric interactions, contributes to summertime precipitation anomalies in New Mexico. If springtime soil moisture conditions influence summertime precipitation in New Mexico, then observations of soil moisture during spring could be used to help predict the amount of precipitation that would accumulate during summer.

These one-year projects will serve as preliminary studies that will hopefully provide the foundation for more extensive work that will attract additional funding.