December 2022 eNews

UNM Graduate Student Awarded NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant for his Work Studying the Reuse of Municipal Wastewater in New Mexico

UNM Graduate Student Awarded NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant for his Work Studying the Reuse of Municipal Wastewater in New Mexico

By Marcus Gay, NM WRRI Program Manager

There are places in New Mexico where water scarcity is becoming an increasing concern. In some areas, due to the increased human population, demand for potable water, and specific land use trends, there are new threats to freshwater availability, delicate ecosystems, and agricultural production. One possible solution for water scarcity issues could be using treated wastewater for different agricultural and urban needs. NM WRRI has awarded a Student Water Research Grant to Tosin Olofinsao, a graduate student at The University of New Mexico, who is studying this topic.

The project Olofinsao is working on is titled, Reuse of Municipal Wastewater for Irrigation in Drylands: A Case of the Middle Rio Grande Basin (MRGB). Under the guidance of Olofinsao’s faculty advisor, Dr. Jingjing Wang, the project aims to develop a regional-level optimization model to maximize the net social benefits of using treated municipal wastewater across agricultural and urban sectors. According to Olofinsao, treated wastewater contains nutrients essential for crop growth that can be administered via fertigation. The objectives of the project are 1) to determine the optimal allocation of treated municipal wastewater for agricultural irrigation and urban irrigation in the MRGB; 2) to estimate the economic benefits of reusing treated wastewater for agricultural production, for producing different qualities of effluents, and for sales of effluents for agricultural and urban irrigation; and 3) provide policy recommendations for the reuse of treated wastewater.

According to Olofinsao, “by developing this regional optimization model and analysis, we will be able to evaluate the economic viability of the reuse of treated wastewater in the middle Rio Grande Basin. Also, we would be able to establish if treated wastewater is a reliable source of alternative irrigation in the basin. This research will underscore the cost-minimizing strategy for producing effluents and ascertain the markets for treated wastewater in the basin.” Olofinsao presented this research at the 67th Annual New Mexico Water Conference.

Originally from Nigeria, Olofinsao plans to graduate with a PhD in May of 2024 from The University of New Mexico Department of Economics. After graduation, Olofinsao plans to work for the government or a research institute on matters relating to the environment, natural resources, and economics.