Thursday, February 15, 2018

Santa Fe Community College Offers Next Generation Water Summit Workshops

Santa Fe Community College Offers Next Generation Water Summit Workshops April 25 through May 3, before and after the 2018 Next Generation Water Summit SANTA FE, NM – Santa Fe Community College announces its partnership with this year’s Next Generation Water Summit. As the education partner for the Summit, SFCC will host several water education workshops before and after the summit scheduled April 29 through May 1 at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. The workshops include: Greywater Basics, Rainwater Accredited Professional (ARCSA AP) Class, Water Efficiency Rating Score and Commercial Water Auditing among others. This is the first time several of these courses will be presented in New Mexico and are open to professionals and students. All courses will be taught at Santa Fe Community College, 6401 Richards Ave. For detailed information about the courses and to register, visit: or call 505-428-1866. Information about the 2018 Next Generation Water Summit can be found at: “It's a privilege to partner with the Alliance for Water Efficiency, the Santa Fe Green Chamber of Commerce, Green Builder® Coalition, the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association and the City of Santa Fe by serving as the education partner for the summit,” said Interim President Cecilia Y.M. Cervantes, Ph.D. “We are excited to offer these valuable and innovative water workshops, which complement the college’s already strong technology and building science offerings.” The Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS)® Verifier course, April 25 through 27, provides in-depth and practical experience in performing residential water assessments for new and existing homes. This class is required to become a WERS Verifier. The WERS Consultant course, April 25 and 26, is also being offered and plumbers, builders, irrigation professionals and water reuse professionals are eligible to attend this professional designation course. Greywater Basics, April 26 and 27, will cover how to build and maintain a Greywater system and includes a field trip to view working systems. The Rainwater Accredited Professional (ARCSA AP) Class, May 2 and 3, is an in-depth rainwater harvesting workshop required for those seeking a better understanding of rainwater catchment systems. The course tuition includes an ARCSA Rain Harvesting Planning Manual. Commercial Water Auditing, May 2 and 3, will cover the basics of performing a commercial water audit for many type of facilities. A sample audit will be performed as part of the class. Hosts of the Next Generation Water Summit are the Santa Fe Green Chamber of Commerce, Green Builder® Coalition, City of Santa Fe, the Alliance for Water Efficiency and the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association. Santa Fe Community College is the official education sponsor, and Green Builder® Media is the national media partner. The Next Generation Water Summit brings together the building and development community, water reuse professionals and water policymakers in a collaborative setting to share best practices and learn about innovative water conservation and water reuse techniques that can be used to comply with water conservation restrictions spreading across the Southwest. For more than 30 years, Santa Fe Community College has been the gateway to success for individuals and the community by providing affordable, high quality educational programs that serve the social, cultural, technological and economic needs of a diverse community. SFCC is designated a ”Best for Vets” and a “2015 Military Friendly” school. The college serves more than 15,000 students per year in its credit, noncredit and adult programs. For further information, visit or call 505-428-1000. Follow us: SFCC on Facebook, SFCC on Twitter, SFCC on LinkedIn.

Friday, February 9, 2018

List the Texas Hornshell Mussel as endangered

As some of you may already know, the US FWS has decided to list the Texas Hornshell Mussel as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The listing decision will take effect on March 12, 2018. If you have not already submitted an intent form for the CCA/A Program, please do so before March 12, 2018.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

New Tools to Improve Irrigation Management

New Tools to Improve Irrigation Management, Plant Health, and Water-Use Efficiency Cutting-edge chemistry for optimizing soil-plant-water relations February 15, 2018 | 1:00 PM CST Water management is one of the biggest challenges facing the agricultural industry, especially in regions where water supplies are limited by source or community environmental restrictions. Soil surfactants and amendments have traditionally been limited by inconvenient handling and application requirements. This webinar explores a new advance in chemistry that uses existing irrigation equipment to improve the precision of delivery while increasing water holding capacity for many soil types. REGISTER NOW! AT copy and paste to your browser, I could not copy the string

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


________________________________________ Meet the Researcher Caroline Scruggs, University of New Mexico by Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager Caroline Scruggs is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Planning at the University of New Mexico. She has BS and MS degrees in environmental engineering from Virginia Tech, and she worked as a consulting engineer for ten years before a particular project inspired her to go back to grad school. Scruggs says, “At the time, I was working on a large project in Las Vegas, Nevada, about how best to convey wastewater from the area’s three largest wastewater treatment plants into Lake Mead, which is the drinking water source for Las Vegas and downstream communities. This project included fascinating and important questions for me related to both potable water reuse and the effects of trace contaminants in wastewater on the environment and public health.” In 2012, she earned an interdisciplinary environment and resources PhD from Stanford University. She describes her dissertation as “focused on chemicals policy and smarter management of hazardous chemicals – thinking about the chemicals in consumer products that make their way into wastewater, the environment, drinking water, and living things.” Read more ________________________________________ NMSU PhD Student Studies Contaminant Movement in the Unsaturated Zone by Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager William Weaver, doctoral candidate in NMSU’s Department of Civil Engineering, received a 2017 NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant to study the mobility of contaminants in the unsaturated zone, the portion of the subsurface above the groundwater table. Working with his faculty advisor, Dr. Lambis Papelis, also of the Department of Civil Engineering, Weaver looked at strontium, a highly reactive chemical element, and chromate, a carcinogen known for its mobility in the environment, to investigate their movement in porous media following processes such as evaporation, rainfall, and irrigation. Project findings (available by clicking here) can be used by those involved in remediating contaminated sites to help them better understand the migration of contaminants in the unsaturated zone and the potential for contamination to spread away from the contaminated site. Weaver indicated that the student research grant provided him with funding to travel and conduct research on his experimental sample at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) at Stanford University. He said, “A personal highlight from conducting the study was a significantly positive experience performing research at Stanford University.” The grant also enabled him to purchase critical research equipment and supplies, and to travel to the American Geophysical Union Conference to present his project. Having earned a BS in chemistry from South Carolina State University, an MS in agronomy from Iowa State University, and an MS in environmental engineering from NMSU, Weaver plans to graduate in May 2018 with a PhD in civil engineering. Concerning his future plans, he said he wants to continue his career in a water-related field, working initially perhaps as a postdoctoral researcher and potentially as a faculty member of a research organization. NM WRRI Program Coordinator, Avery Olshefski (second from right) participated in a breakout group at the New Mexico Water Dialogue 24th Annual Meeting. ________________________________________ New Mexico Water Dialogue 24th Annual Meeting by Avery Olshefski, NM WRRI Program Coordinator The New Mexico Water Dialogue annual meetings bring professionals and the public together to discuss important water-related issues and to hear distinguished speakers’ perspectives on those topics. This year’s annual meeting was held at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, NM on January 11, 2018. The topic of the meeting was “Balancing Our Water Needs: Adjudication and Alternatives,” which evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of adjudications within the context of managing New Mexico’s water resources. The keynote speaker, Professor Reed Benson from UNM School of Law, touched on the purposes of adjudications and how they correlate with water management in New Mexico. He highlighted the fact that adjudications are done on a scale of decades, not years, and that alternatives to the adjudication process could benefit water management strategies for NM. On the other hand, Arianne Singer, Deputy General Counsel for the Office of the State Engineer, spoke about the benefits of adjudicating tribal claims because tribes and pueblos represent the greatest uncertainty for New Mexico’s water obligations. She also pointed out an example of how settling Navajo Nation tribal claims in the northwest corner of the state led to much-needed infrastructure and economic benefits for the region. Following the talks, there was a panel discussion about water management alternatives for the Lower Rio Grande and Clayton County, which were covered by Dr. Phil King and Dr. Kate Zeigler, respectively. After lunch, the attendees participated in breakout sessions that covered 11 topics that ranged from “Instream Flow and Wildlife” to “Shortage Sharing Strategies.” The annual meeting concluded with Lucia Sanchez, Interstate Stream Commission, and Kelsey Rader, New Mexico First, giving an update on the State Water Planning Town Hall that was held in December 2017. NM WRRI staff from left: Blane Sanchez, Sam Fernald, Catherine Ortega Klett, Jesslyn Ratliff, and Fernando Herrera. ________________________________________ NM WRRI Staff Attends AgFest by Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager Staff from NM WRRI took part in the annual AgFest expo in Santa Fe on January 23. The event, hosted by the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau, featured many exhibits that provide legislators and other visitors with program information. Institute staff prepared slides that were shown on large screen monitors featuring recent activities including reports, conferences, and research projects conducted by faculty and students from around the state. NM WRRI Program Specialist and Water Science & Management (WSM) Program Coordinator Jesslyn Ratliff provided information on NMSU’s WSM graduate student program opportunities. The event attracted over a thousand participants. ________________________________________ iEMSs Congress 2018, Fort-Collins: A Session on Socio-Ecological Modeling of the Rio Grande/Bravo Basin The 9th International Congress on Environmental Modeling & Software will be hosted at Colorado State University, in Fort Collins, on June 24-28, 2018. This year, the theme is focused on Sustainable Food-Energy-Water Systems. The Call for abstracts is now open. Session E4 “Methods and Approaches to Modelling Socio-Ecological Dynamics of the Rio Grande/Bravo Basin”, co-organized by social and environmental scientists from the University of Oklahoma and Oregon State University, will provide a forum for the international Rio Grande/Bravo Basin research community to present their current modeling efforts and engage in a discussion about theoretical and methodological findings that can help to solve complex environmental and social issues within the basin. The abstract submission deadline is February 15, 2018 (extended). For abstract guidelines, visit the iEMSs 2018 congress website at: All abstracts (250 words maximum) must be submitted online using the provided abstract form.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

33 recommendations have been submitted to the ISC

Dear Town Hall Registrant, New Mexico First and the Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) thank you for your attendance and participation at last month’s state water planning town hall. Due to your commitment to water policy, 33 recommendations have been submitted to the ISC for consideration and potential inclusion in the 2018 State Water Plan. We are now proud to announce the release of the State Water Planning Town Hall Final Report. The report details the processes and outcomes of the town hall – including all 33 of the recommendations with their perceived impact voting results. Please access the report here and at Sincerely, The New Mexico First Team 505-225-2140

Monday, January 8, 2018

New post on La Jicarita

New post on La Jicarita La Madera Water Watchers by lajicarita By KAY MATTHEWS Ike DeVargas was raised by his grandparents in a part of La Madera called El Llanito on the Rio Vallecitos. Here he hiked, fished, and hunted the river canyons north towards the llano of Los Ancones and south along the acequias that irrigated the fields of the village. That was almost 60 years ago. Today, on both sides of Llanito, concerns have arisen over the use of water: the traditional acequias, where newcomers have been developing properties, and the dryland llano, where a resort called Rancho de Vallecitos is being developed. Members of the La Madera community have organized a group called Acequia and Aquifer Water Watchers to monitor the developments and ensure a clean, safe, and adequate water supply that is distributed and used fairly and legally. None of this kind of activity is new to the villages of northern New Mexico as demographics change. The traditional caretakers of the acequias are growing older and their children are leaving home for better employment opportunities elsewhere. It remains to be seen if they will come back, as many of their parents and grandparents did after being forced to leave temporarily to find work. The querencia that inhabits their souls kept their land and traditions intact. But the more recent migrations have created a vacuum filled by those seeking a similar lifestyle (hippies, yuppies, and everyone in between) without the traditional knowledge—or desire—to maintain the delicate balance that keeps everyone afloat. Thus the land and water conflicts continue and at times escalate. “Your New Mexico Fly Fishing and Recreation Dreams Start Here.” That’s the billing on the Santa Fe real estate site promoting river front lots in Rancho de Vallecitos. The “ranch” owns about 50 acres on the east side of State Highway 111 along the Rio Vallecitos and 800 acres on the dry, west side that are being divided into building sites. On another real estate website it states that “only seventeen owners will ever share this pristine place . . . With lots that range from 5 to 76 acres.” The community is fenced and gated, some wells are in place, and two log cabin shells have been built. Structure on the riverfront properties On the plat for the riverside lots, it shows one lot sold, one pending, and three 5-acre lots that range in price from $225,000 to $235,000. The plat for the west side of the resort, which they are calling Plateau Ranches, shows four ranches sold (they’re all named) that vary in size from 48 to 76 acres and $160,000 to $300,000 in price (two of them have a cabin shell). Rancho de Vallecitos is classified as a "summary subdivision," which allows for a less stringent administrative review and public hearing process by the county: the Rio Arriba County Planning and Zoning Department’s public hearing in 2015, which was attended by several dozen residents of La Madera and neighbors in nearby villages, met those requirements. None of the subdivision is on irrigated land, although one map that Water Watch members Ike DeVargas and Deborah Begel saw in a New Mexico Legal Aid office referenced “Native American” water rights and usage in the distant past. According to DeVargas, “In all my years of hiking and fishing in that area, I never saw evidence of irrigation.” Plateau Ranches will be served by domestic wells, and the river front properties will be able to hook up to the Ancones Mutual Domestic Water Association water system. This water system, which according to documents at the Office of the State Engineer (OSE) did not divert any water during the years of 2013-2015, applied for funding from the state beginning in 2015. The Water Trust Board awarded the mutual domestic $499,990 for “Plan, Design, Contruct” in 2015 and an additional $717,831 in 2016 for “Construction.” In addition, the New Mexico Environment Department Construction Programs Bureau gave the mutual domestic $150,000 in 2016. The mutual domestic has also applied for 2017 funding from the Water Trust Board to fund “6,745 LF of 8 and 6 inch waterlines, 740 LF of HDPE waterline installed by horizontal directional drilling for river and wash crossings, gate valves, fire hydrants, appurtances, and water meters.” So far this funding from state coffers comes to a whopping $1,367,821. To hook up to a mutual domestic water system, well owners must dedicate their wells, which are limited to 1 acre-foot of water per year (afy). According to an El Llanito member of the mutual domestic, hook up fees range from about $1,000 to $1,500, and his family’s monthly water bill has risen from $10 to $30. There are approximately 15 families from his community who are members of the mutual domestic. He says he doesn’t drink the water, to be on the safe side, as it doesn’t yet run clear. With only five lots on the river front properties, I wondered if the subdivision had also applied for any water rights transfers to increase its water supply. According to the subdivision application filed in Rio Arriba County, the owners are listed as the Ybarra Family LLC, which owns many restaurants in Texas, with George Pelletier listed as the director of the Rancho de Vallecitos Homeowners Association. The OSE has no water rights application on file under either of those names. Gazebo on the river I contacted Pelletier to ask him about whether Rancho de Vallecitos had acquired any other water rights or was claiming that irrigation rights are attached to the property. He told me he had no interest in talking with a reporter and hung up the phone. I also e-mailed the president of the Ancones mutual domestic but he never responded. According to members of Water Watch, at the 2015 county hearing Pelletier said the new landowners inherited “Native” water rights, despite a lack of evidence that irrigation along the river has been continuous, which is required in New Mexico to maintain water rights. Another issue that raised the concern of the Water Watchers was in the village of La Madera when landowner Caroline (CC) Culver sought to transfer acequia water rights to a well to expand her farm’s capacity. This is a recent, dangerous trend that has been tried in other areas of el norte. Back in 2013, I reported on Blackstone Ranch’s (located in Taos) application to transfer just under 12 acre feet per year of surface water rights from the Alamitos Acequia to a groundwater well to irrigate landscaping around the “main-house,” a small orchard, gardens, greenhouse, and “fire-prevention pond”—which translates to 6 afy of groundwater. Their reason was quite obvious: the transfer would insure the ranch irrigation water when there wasn’t enough water in the acequia due to drought conditions. This, of course, sets a bad precedent: as surface water continues to dry up, more and more irrigators will want to pump groundwater instead. New Mexico is currently in litigation with Texas after farmers in southern New Mexico, dependent on Elephant Butte Irrigation District for irrigation, came up short and pumped groundwater to save their crops. In California, at the height of the recent drought, farmers started drilling so many wells that the ground started to subside. In Culver’s case, she applied to the OSE to transfer 6 afy of water rights from La Zorra Acequia to a domestic well to expand her irrigation on 1.6 acres of land on her Owl Peak Farm (her property is located on SH 519 near the confluence of the Rio Vallecitos and Rio Tusas, which form the Rio Ojo Caliente). The domestic well she had already drilled came up artesian, producing 100 gallons a minute (the average household flow rate is about 5 to 12 gallons per minute). Christopher Thornburg, Gallinas Water Master for the OSE, approved the well plan operation she submitted, but Rolf Schmidt-Peterson, the New Mexico Interstate Commission (NMISC) Rio Grande Basin Manager, wrote a letter to the OSE regarding the transfer application to the well that stated: “In particular, one of the NMISC’s concerns with the transfer application is that its approval at the full requested diversion amount could result in an increase in Rio Grande Basin depletions above pre-Compact [Rio Grande Compact] levels. More specifically, we are concerned that the actual historically-available surface water supply may have been insufficient to meet the full permitted surface diversion right should it be transferred to groundwater.” Acequia and Aquifer Water Watchers operates under the umbrella (or fiscal sponsorship) of Amigos Bravos in Taos, which also engages in water watching activities. The La Madera group sponsored two meetings to address Culver’s application to transfer the acequia water rights. Approximately 50 people attended the first, and about 30 people attended the second, which was held just before Culver’s initial water transfer hearing before the OSE was to occur. Water Watchers member Deborah Begel said, “That kind of attendance tells me that the community is very concerned about usage of groundwater for irrigating — no doubt because it’s a finite supply. And any transfer of water from an acequia diminishes its integrity, especially La Zorra ditch, which has so few parciantes.” In fact, if Culver were to give up her water rights and membership in the ditch, it would cease to exist. She and two other parciantes fulfill the New Mexico requirement that a ditch must have at least three members. Begel, along with other members of the group, filed protests of Culver’s transfer application with the OSE. At the second community meeting on April 25, 2017, Water Watch member Ann Futch asked Culver why she wanted to transfer the water rights, noting rumors that Culver planned to bottle it. It seemed strange that the well had been drilled on the east side of the Tusas River, not very close to either the house or fields of Owl Peak Farm. According to Futch, Culver answered that she had planned to bottle it, but the next day, April 26, she withdrew the transfer application. I called the Water Rights Division of the OSE to see if anyone there had followed up on the status of the well. According to an official, the OSE issued Culver a permit for a domestic well, limited to 1 afy, but doesn’t require that she submit a meter reading with a 1 afy water limit. Culver bought her first property in the La Madera area in 2006 and divides her time between New Mexico and a luxury estate in Dobbs Ferry, New York. She subsequently bought and developed several other large properties, one of which is on the former Dora Gallegos land watered by La Cueva Acequia on the south side of La Madera, where she also grows crops. She built a greenhouse and two-story commercial-size building that remains empty. Culver's empty building and greenhouse In 2014 she also bought the 120-acre property known as Statute Springs located on the llano above La Madera. On her blog it is described as a "sister property to Owl Peak Farm." The property, which cannot be seen by other residents of the village, has a swimming pool fed by hot springs. According to the blog, Culver has dug and filled a pond and installed an irrigation system to grow buckwheat, barley, peas, and native grasses. There is a natural spring on the property with a flow rate of 30 gallons per minute. In addition to her agricultural enterprises, Culver runs another business through Owl Peak Farm called the “/Shed,” which sponsors gourmet dinners at various locations described on the website this way: “/ Shed is a small scale nomadic, wild plant based dinner project celebrating nature and the fleeting of time here in Northern New Mexico. An exploration of the land we inhabit and the roots of growing up in the high desert. Carrying on the tradition of bringing people together through food.” The December 2017 dinners scheduled in La Madera were all sold out at $95 per person. The address given is that of the Owl Peek Farm on SH 519. A concerned neighbor alerted the county to the /Shed business and a code enforcement officer visited La Madera in April of 2017 but was unable to locate Culver. In November the officer called Culver and left a message inquiring about the business, but when I spoke with her in December she hadn’t received a reply. According to the county, there is no business application on file for the /Shed. Neighbors have also questioned whether Culver has developed new wells on the Gallegos property, although she’s a member of the La Madera Mutual Domestic. That membership usually requires an owner to give up well rights. The OSE well filings on Culver did not include listings for the Gallegos property. I contacted Culver to ask her what her plans are for the new building but she never responded. People in the La Madera area support Owl Peak Farm’s contribution to growing food, including some interesting new varieties, but they want Culver and other newcomers to play by the rules and maintain the underground aquifer for current and future generations of residents. The fact that neither Culver nor Pelletier would speak to me to answer questions about their water use now and their plans for the future is troubling. It doesn’t bode well for future transparency. And when it comes to both the quantity and the potability of future water supplies, decisions about how individuals and developers tap and use water will remain issues of concern. lajicarita | January 8, 2018 at 12:33 pm | Tags: / Shed, Acequia and Aquifer Water Watchers, Ancones Mutual Domestic Water Assoiation, Caroline Culver, George Pelletier, La Madera, Owl Peak Farm, Rancho de Vallecitos, Rio Arriba County, Water Trust Board | Categories: Acequias, Agriculture, Commons, Development, Farming, Groundwater, Hispano culture, Ike de Vargas, New Mexico Office of the State Engineer, sustainability, water and acequias | URL: Comment See all comments

Southwestern willow flycatcher keeps 'endangered' status

Southwestern willow flycatcher keeps 'endangered' status The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service announced the southwestern willow flycatcher would keep its protection under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service announced the southwestern willow flycatcher would keep its protection under the Endangered Species Act. Jim Rorabaugh/USFWS via Wikimedia Commons Posted Friday, January 5, 2018 6:00 am By Cody Hooks Ranching organizations in New Mexico that asked the federal government to remove a small bird from its list of endangered speeches received some disappointing news last week. On Thursday (Dec. 28), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service announced the southwestern willow flycatcher would keep its protection under the Endangered Species Act. The New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau and New Mexico Wool Growers Inc. filed a petition in 2015 to have the bird removed from the federal list of at-risk species. The New Mexico organizations were joined by a building industry organization in California and represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative law firm that has also litigated to overturn jaguar habitat designations in Southern New Mexico. The groups challenged that the southwestern willow flycatcher is not a valid subspecies and argued that the bird no longer faced a variety of threats that put it on the endangered list. "An exhaustive review of the best available scientific information... led to the conclusion that the southwestern willow flycatcher is a subspecies protectable under the [Endangered Species Act]," according to the Thursday press release from the wildlife agency. While some populations of the bird have made progress toward recovery, the bird and its habitat "are experiencing substantial threats." The bird populations have "declined because of removing, thinning, or destroying riparian vegetation; water diversions and groundwater pumping which alter riparian vegetation; overstocking or other mismanagement of livestock; and recreational development," according to the agency. Taos County is home to habitat for the southwestern willow flycatcher, including along the Río Grande del Rancho. "The habitat is degraded but has potential to be high quality," read a Carson National Forest review of wild and scenic eligible rivers released in September. None of the subspecies have been observed in that habitat since 2014. "We are disappointed," Caren Cowan, executive director of the cattle growers' association, told The Taos News Wednesday (Jan. 3). "This is an issue we've been involved with since 1997. Most of the damage has been done," Cowan said. "The [endangered status] decision was made based on the habitat, which is a means of control of lands and people and not necessarily addressing the bird itself."