Water Research Takes Center Stage at Annual Symposium, Aug. 8, 2008

By Thomas Guengerich

SOCORRO, N.M. — Water experts from around the state and west Texas will share their research about one of the region’s most vital resources next week.

New Mexico Tech is hosting the 7th Annual New Mexico Water Research Symposium on Tuesday, August 11, in Socorro.

“Water is our most precious resource in New Mexico and the desert Southwest,” New Mexico Tech hydrology professor Robert Bowman said. “We needed a forum to discuss research about water, as opposed to policy and politics of water.”

With each passing year, water issues become more topical in New Mexico and beyond. Scientists and researchers in the state are taking the lead in researching water issues that are important to the state and relevant to other regions and countries.

“The demand for water in the future will certainly exceed the supply,” Bowman said. “There is constant tension about water use and balancing agricultural, urban and environmental needs. We’re mining the groundwater and how to minimize that is a continuing issue. All projections show that water issues will become more pressing.”

The symposium includes more than two dozen formal presentations about water research and 32 posters. The symposium is divided into several categories, such as remote sensing, modeling of subsurface flow, ecosystem issues and resource management.

“This symposium has proven to be a valuable forum for people who usually can’t get together to discuss water research in the state,” Bowman said. “The genesis of the symposium is that there’s a lot of research about water by universities, government agencies and independent groups. … This symposium gives us the opportunity to share our research about the quality and quantity of water in New Mexico.”

The event attracts 125 to 150 participants many of whom are presenters. Bowman said about one-third of the presenters are students. The three research universities are well represented — New Mexico Tech, New Mexico State and University of New Mexico. Also, students from the University of Texas-El Paso and students working at the water research station in Isleta, Texas, participate.

“For students, this symposium is good opportunity to get experience presenting their research in a fairly formal setting,” Bowman said. “In general, the symposium helps everyone be aware of current research and helps people of similar interests make connections.”

The sponsors of the symposium include Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratories, the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, the American Water Resources Association and the state universities.

Registration is $20 for the daylong conference. Call Cathy Ortega Klett at (575) 646-1195 for more information.