Improved Irrigation Methods for Conserving Freshwater in Irrigated Pecans of the Desert Southwest U.S.
Subject: Irrigation Methods
Source: Girisha Ganjegunte, John Clark, Texas A&M AgriLife Research; W.L. Hargrove, UTEP; and Richard Heerema, NMSU
Date: Monday 8th January 2018
Abstract/Description: The Rio Grande Project area, covering far west Texas and southern New Mexico, is experiencing record water shortages due to prolonged drought conditions. Pecan (Carya illinoinensis) is a major crop grown the region. It is a water intensive and salt sensitive crop, which requires about 5 feet of irrigation per year. Border irrigation, a type of flood irrigation wherein water is applied from a field irrigation ditch at its upper end to leveled plots divided by earthen ridges, is the oldest and most common irrigation method used in the region. This method of irrigation can lead to over irrigation and wastage of precious freshwater. Pecan growers are generally reluctant to adopt alternative methods of irrigation because of the fear of salt accumulation in the root zone. This study evaluated drip and surface flooding irrigation methods effects on water use, in-shell nut yield and soil salinity.
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Middle Rio Grande Hydroeconomic Model for Policy Analysis: the Bucket Model
Subject: Hydroeconomic Modeling
Source: Frank A. Ward, New Mexico State University; Alex Mayer, Michigan Technological University; David Gutzler, University of New Mexico; Befekadu Habteyes, New Mexico State University
Date: Monday 8th January 2018
Abstract/Description: Growing evidence of climate stress continues to pose water resource sustainability challenges for people who live in the Middle Rio Grande Basin of North America. Technical innovations, policy measures, and market-based solutions all receive growing attention. To address that challenge a “three bucket” model has been under development since late 2015. Its intent is to integrate technical, hydrologic, legal, and institutional measures for adapting to long run patterns of growing climate stress in the Basin. It is designed to improve understanding of the hydrology, agriculture, climate, institutions, and economics and to guide and inform policy and management debates important to the Basin’s water stakeholders. The model in its current configuration is a constrained optimization model that uses Generally Algebraic Modelling System. The objective is maximization of discounted net present value of economic benefits summed over uses, locations, and time periods, while respecting relevant institutional constraints, including terminal period reservoir and aquifer sustainability requirements. Sensitivity analysis was also conducted to observe the responsiveness of 17 dependent variables for the percentage change of four major assumptions used. The current status of the model run indicates an important breakthrough for connecting stakeholder choices to the use of scientific approach to managing water scarcity.
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Spectral Signatures of Chile and Bean Crop Fields: A geospatial analysis applying NDVI to evaluate potential water use efficiency for Precision Agriculture
Subject: Geospacial Analysis
Source: Ana Laura Ruiz-Aragonez and Alfredo Granados-Olivas, UACJ/UADHE
Date: Monday 8th January 2018
Abstract/Description: Precision Agriculture is a science that has evolved in recent years. This technology focuses its scientific basis on the physical phenomenon of electromagnetism. In this project, spectral information of two cultivars, Chile and Beans, were generated through remote sensors. An eBee drone and a Sequoia multispectral camera were used to obtain Normalized Vegetation Index maps (NDVI) of the crops to evaluate their state of health in five different stages of vegetative development. NDVI maps and spectral signature graphs showing the NDVI values ​​and the percentage of area covered by each of the values ​​registered for the five stages of development, were obtained. Results show that the temporal evolution of the spectral values ​​of radiated energy can be spatially correlated with healthy plants distributed at areas in which the application of some agricultural input (i.e., irrigation) is needed to improve the conditions of the crop.
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Temporal Evolution of Static Water Levels in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua applying geospatial modeling
Subject: Geospatial Modeling
Source: Arturo Soto-Ontiveros and Alfredo Granados-Olivas, UACJ
Date: Monday 8th January 2018
Abstract/Description: Groundwater is a non-renewable resource indispensable for sustainable development. Urban expansion caused by demographic growth and lack of planning, generate impacts on groundwater levels. In this paper, we explore the decrease of static water levels that have caused a decline in the yield of wells, and a reduction in water quality during the years 1975, 1994 and 2014. Results show that the depth of static water levels under the urban area of Ciudad Juarez, has developed from 30m in 1975 to 140m in 2014, at some areas. Currently, the increasing demand for water resources has caused negative consequences such as overexploitation of the Hueco Bolson, which has affected communities, the environment, could have important economic impacts in the region and stress political situations, since decision-making does not follow adequate planning in the exploitation of groundwater resources.
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Integration of SWAT scenarios and geodata in a Web Map environment
Subject: Geospatial Visualization
Source: Hugo L. Rojas-Villalobos and Luis C. Alatorre, UACJ
Date: Monday 8th January 2018
Abstract/Description: Geospatial information distribution applied to scenario models is very common in meteorology, but scarce in the evaluation of water sustainability. This work joins the potential of the SWAT tool (Soil and Water Assessment Tool) to develop water availability scenarios and web map services (ArcGIS online). The generated SWAT data are read through a script in the programming language Python and are formatted to generate graphs and tables using Javascript to be published in Bootstrap 4. The geo-database is managed and processed using ArcGIS Desktop, later updated vector layers are added from ArcGIS Online. The graphs of the SWAT parameters as well as the scenarios are linked to pop-ups from the interactive map in ArcGIS Online. Water authorities and stakeholders can make better decisions using scenarios with updated data and improve the management of water resources during the dry season. Users need to read the disseminated data and the formats used easily. In this way, the visual impact is immediate and allows them to understand the processes, patterns, and geospatial relationships that the different elements of the water cycle have.
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On the Development of Hydrological Variables from the Hueco Bolson – Valle de Juarez basin, Using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT
Subject: Water Modeling
Source: Katya Esquivel, Hollman Salazar, Sergio Saúl Solís, Alfredo Granados, UACJ
Date: Monday 8th January 2018
Abstract/Description: Water resources are one of the main components for life and social development. Hence, sustainable management practices are imperative to ensure future availability for this resource, especially when climate change could have an impact on the hydrological cycles. As part of the research project: Sustainable water resources for irrigated agriculture in a desert river basin facing climate change and competing demands: From characterization to solutions, (https://water.cybershare.utep.edu/), the Mexican part of the study watershed has been modeled by a hydraulic mass balance approach, using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) program (see the link at http://swat.tamu.edu/). The analyzed area is comprised of six sub-basins, one main river (Rio Grande/Bravo), and two main aquifers (Hueco Bolson and Mesilla). Preliminary results from yearly and monthly averaged time steps for: 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013, for hydrological variables such as Evapotranspiration (ET), Precipitation, Percolation, Deep Aquifer Recharge, and Potential Evapotranspiration (PET) are presented. Specific trends were observed for these variables, particularly when drought conditions were experienced. Description of the detailed procedures for the construction of the cited models are also presented, specially the definition of the Hydrological Response Units (HRU), by the integration of land use and cover layers, digital elevation models, climatological and river and channel networks.
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Water Challenges for the Alternative Agriculture Sector: Initial Research Considerations
Subject: Water Sustainability
Source: Karen De Anda, UTEP
Date: Monday 8th January 2018
Abstract/Description: The purpose of this research project is to identify what issues with water futures the alternative agricultural sector in the Paso del Norte region faces in regards to water quantity and quality. Currently in its initial stages, this research aspires to better address the distinct phenomena surrounding “alternative agriculture,” including the definition and significance of that diverse term itself. Preliminary findings from interviews with producers identify a central concern in community-based agriculture with how to conserve water, climate change being a minor non-prevalent factor, and in New Mexico, pressure from “use-it-or-lose-it” water laws. In the matter of water conservation, initially there appears to be an axis of variation between those producers who conserve water because of value considerations and those producers who value it according to cost and productivity as a factor of production. The initial findings include water concerns that fit previous knowledge of the biophysical challenges that all agriculture faces, as well as issues rooted in the particular values and goals of diverse alternative agricultural producers.
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Water Matters: A Residential Rainwater Harvesting Demonstration in a Low Resource Community in Presidio County, Texas
Subject: Rainwater Harvesting
Source: Jesus Placencia, Michelle Del Rio, Jesus Baca, Miguel Fraga, and W.L. Hargrove, UTEP
Date: Monday 8th January 2018
Abstract/Description: A community near Presidio, Texas, including the colonia Las Pampas, relies on hauled water for everyday needs. Most of the residents are elderly and haul water 2-3 times a week. A Health Impact Assessment, revealed that hauled water was good quality, but the greatest health impact was stress and accidents associated with the process of hauling. A water infrastructure improvement plan that would deliver water to some of these residents is under development by City of Presidio. Because it will be 3-5 years before water is delivered, under best-case scenario, we proposed rain-harvesting systems as an immediate solution for the community to reduce hauling and associated health impacts. Constrained by very limited financial resources and leveraging whatever resources we could to complete two demonstrations of the water technology. CERM provided funding for construction materials, Coca-Cola Bottling Company in El Paso donated 27 275-gallon tanks, and a student organization at UTEP, Engineers for a Sustainable World, donated labor as a service project for their organization. The results were two rainwater-harvesting systems that can capture about 2,000 gallons for outdoor use and reduce at least one hauling trip per week. We demonstrate a low cost solution for a typical water problem that is found throughout colonias. Rainwater harvesting provides a “soft path to water” for low resource communities on the U.S./Mexico Border. The installation also provided a learning opportunity for the 20 students who participated.
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SWAT Watershed Modeling Considering Auto-irrigation of the Agricultural Area in the Rincon Valley, New Mexico
Subject: Water Modeling
Source: Mingyi Huang, Sora Ahn, Shalamu Abudu, and Zhuping Sheng, Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center at El Paso; Ali Mirchi, William Hargrove and Maryam Samimi, University of Texas at El Paso; & Minki Hong, Texas A&M University
Date: Monday 8th January 2018
Abstract/Description: This study is to evaluate the applicability of Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model for auto-irrigation operation in Rincon Valley (2,466 km2), New Mexico. To predict the available water quantity of the watershed, the model was established by dividing the basin into 29 sub-basins as hydrologic unit codes (HUC12) and including 14 crops that spatial coverages derived from the crop data layer (CDL). The SWAT model was developed to incorporate irrigation of different crops using auto irrigation function with heat units applied to each crop. The SWAT was calibrated for the period of 2000-2002 and validated for the period of 2003-2005 using daily observed streamflow data. The evapotranspiration (ET), diversion water volume from the SWAT were verified for the period of 2000–2005 using monthly crop irrigation requirement data and diversions at Percha Dam. The average model efficiency, expressed as the coefficient of determination (R²), was greater than 0.85. The root men squared error (RMSE) during the calibration and validation periods was 1.3 mm/day at the watershed outlet. For the calibration results of streamflow, the average Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency (NSE) for the calibration and validation periods was 0.8 and 0.71, respectively. For the verification results of ET and diversion water volume, average R2 values were 0.84 and 0.95, the NSE values were 0.55 and 0.56, and the PBIAS were 21% and 15%, respectively. This study helps us to understand hydrological processes and irrigation in an arid watershed and provide guidelines for development of SWAT for other watershed with the Rio Grande Basin.
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Using Unmanned Aircraft System for Assessing Changes in Built Environment and Natural Systems
Subject: Change Assessment
Source: Wissam Atwah, Andrew Ellerson, Giselle Andrade, and Saurav Kumar
Date: Monday 8th January 2018
Abstract/Description: Unmanned aircraft system (UAS) has the capacity to monitor both Built Environment (BE) and Natural System (NS) is an efficient manner. This poster explains the arrangement of a UAS to acquire and process images with a five-band multispectral sensor (MicaSense ® RedEdge). The study area was limited to the UTEP campus and nearby areas. To assesses changes in BE and NS a weekly survey was conducted on Sundays near the solar noon. For these surveys, the UAV was flown at an altitude of 100m with a velocity of 8.5m/s. Pix4D Capture® iOS app was used to program the flight path. The data obtained was initially processed with Pix4D Mapper® for alignment of different bands, radiometric corrections using the downwelling sensor, and generating corrected ortho-mosaic. The ortho-mosaic where then analyzed in Python to detect changes/anomalies in spectral signature with machine learning algorithms. Experiments are ongoing to relate anomalies detected by the machine learning algorithms to observed changes in the BE and NS.
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Using a Bayesian Network based model to improve decision making for farms dealing with salinity.
Subject: Salinity Modeling
Source: Yohtaro Kobayashi, Andrew Ellerson, Wissam Atwah, Saurav Kumar, UTEP
Date: Monday 8th January 2018
Abstract/Description: Managing water resources is a perennial issue intensified with urbanization and rising population. While making decisions, it’s difficult to fully understand how factors that affect the water resources management are interconnected and what unintended consequences changes is policy may have on the system. There are methods and models that can be used to connect the dots, an expert is often required to explain the results. We are developing a Bayesian Network based model which, graphically, can show the interconnections between the various factors affecting the systems and allow users to understand how changes in one factor may affect other linked factors. We will present a model that is being designed for a hypothetical farm in El Paso. The model concentrates on salinity issues with irrigation and should help to improve the decision making particularly regarding salinity management. When applied to real farms, the model should help farmers choose alternative irrigation methods as well as seeing the long-term effects of their current methods.
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IWASM: The Integrated Water Sustainability Modeling Framework
Subject: Online Modeling
Source: Luis Garnica Chavira, Git Gud Consulting SAS; Jose Caballero, Deana Pennington, Natalia Villanueva-Rosales, UTEP; Frank Ward, NMSU Alex Mayer, MTU, David Guztler, UNM
Date: Monday 8th January 2018
Abstract/Description: Scientific models of complex water resource systems help us understand and experiment with the behavior of such systems. Nevertheless, most scientific modeling today requires the use of software that can be hard to understand, expensive to build and maintain, and present little online access. The Integrated Water Sustainability Modeling Framework (IWASM) is a software platform that enables the interaction of stakeholders with complex mathematical models through a web based graphical user interface and published webservices. Our latest release fully integrates with the Rio Grande Basin Hydroeconomic Model, also referred to as The Bucket Model, leveraging personalized customization of model runs based on: water supply scenarios, policy scenarios and user changeable parameters. Custom user scenarios are executed on the fly, whose results are presented in the form of dynamic data tables, charts and provenance visualizations.
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Assessing Evapotranspiration of Pecan Tree using Eddy-Covariance Measurements
Subject: Evapotranspiration
Source: Olga Rodriguez, Mingyi Huang, Zhuping Sheng, Shalamu Abudu, Mingdong Zang, Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center at El Paso
Date: Monday 8th January 2018
Abstract/Description: Evapotranspiration (ET) data is of critical importance in irrigation schedule and water resources management. In this study we assess ET of pecan trees based on the Eddy-Covariance measurements at a pecan orchard in Tornillo, Texas. The ET tower was equipped to record potential evapotranspiration, precipitation, radiation, wind speed and direction, temperature and relative humidity. The data for the period between 2011 and 2013 was first processed and verify with energy balance equation. The data gaps were then infilled with different methods: multiple linear regression, partial least squares regression, and artificial neural networks. The ET patterns were characterized with the corrected data. The ET results were further compared with the Penman-Monteith’s estimates. The results show very good correlation. It was also found that most effective variables to predict ET are minimum temperature, max wind speed, maximum and minimum relative humidity, and solar radiation. The study provides guidelines for interpretation of the measured ET data and parameters needed for assessment of water use efficiency.
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Linked SWAT and RiverWare Model for Monthly Flow and Salinity in Rincon Valley, New Mexico
Subject: Water Modeling
Source: Xiaole Kong, Mingyi Huang, Shalamu Abudu, So-Ra Ahn, Zhuping Sheng, Olga Rodriguez, and David Ruiz; Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at El Paso
Date: Monday 8th January 2018
Abstract/Description: In this study, we developed a monthly time step RiverWare model to simulate water quantity and salinity of the Rio Grande reach within Rincon Valley, and then linked it with a Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model by using local arroyos runoff outputs simulated in SWAT model as inputs to RiverWare model. The monthly measured flows, concentration and loads of dissolved solids in the mainstream and drains from 1980 to 1988 and from 1989 to 1995 were used to calibrate and validate the RiverWare models. Flow and salt exchange between the surface water and adjacent aquifer (groundwater objects in the RiverWare) were then computed, and the transport of salt through the system was tracked using discretized salt and post-process approaches in the RiverWare. The results indicate that the linked SWAT+RiverWare model performed better as compared to a single RiverWare in simulating flows and dissolved solids. The Nash-Sutcliffe model efficiencies (NSE) for flow difference and salt loads increased from 0.58 and 0.88 for the single RiverWare model to 0.66 and 0.90 for the linked SWAT+RiverWare model, respectively for the model verification period. The proposed approach delivers temporal and spatial flow and salt exchange patterns between the river and the underlying aquifer.
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Assessing Technology and Tools to Improve Water Management within the Rio Grande Basin
Subject: Water Technology
Source: Allen Berthold1, Juan Enciso2, Alexander Fernald3,4, Hatim Geli3,4, Charles Hillyer5, Robert Sabie3,4, Zohrab Samani4, and Qingwu Xue2 1 Texas Water Resources Institute, 2 Texas A&M AgriLife Research, 3 New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute, 4 New Mexico State University, 5 Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
Date: Monday 8th January 2018
Abstract/Description: Agriculture is a key economic activity throughout the Rio Grande Basin and requires substantial water resources. Growers continue to seek methods for improving irrigation scheduling and understanding irrigation requirements to maximize yields with efficient use of available water. Evapotranspiration (ET) estimates and crop coefficients are used in irrigation scheduling and are available through multiple sources (e.g., free websites, paid subscription, published literature). The accuracy of these products is not equal and, in some cases, is not known. In this project, growers will be surveyed so our group better understands data needs (e.g., timing of data, accuracy, precision, delivery mechanisms, and current tools used). We will compare different ET commercial tools and data sources with ground reference data to determine the accuracy. Remotely sensed imagery from both satellite and aerial platforms will be used to create high spatial/temporal resolution ET maps over three study locations representative of the geographic variability in the Basin and examine the relationship between ground measurements. This analysis will: 1) develop a decision support tool to help farmers select an appropriate ET product based on local conditions, cultural practices, and water availability, and, 2) illustrate the relationships between published and measured crop coefficients and yield verses ET.
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Normalized Simulated Streamflow Estimates for Inflows into Elephant Butte Reservoir
Subject: Water Modeling
Source: Nolan Townsend and David Gutzler, University of New Mexico
Date: Monday 8th January 2018
Abstract/Description: The Rio Grande provides a vital source of water for municipalities and agriculture. We investigate potential future surface water inflows into Elephant Butte Reservoir using streamflow projections corresponding to the San Marcial USGS gauging site. First, we collect average monthly simulated streamflow values based on the Bureau of Reclamation’s bias corrected CMIP5 model output for the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 scenario, initially using output from just one simulation, made by the Hadley Centre climate model. The simulated flows represent an entirely natural flow regime where dams, diversions and other human impacts do not exist along the Rio Grande. We compare the simulated flows to actual observations from a recent 20-year period, 1994-2013 to account for the difference between naturalized and observed flows. For both simulated and observed flows, a monthly average is computed over the entire 20-year baseline period, for each calendar month. Next, a normalization constant is computed for each month, for a total of 12 constants, using the following expression: Finally, the monthly normalization constants are applied to the entire simulated streamflow data set extending into future years. The goal is to force the values to mimic observed flows that feed into the Elephant Butte Reservoir. This, in turn, returns predicted values for future inflows into the NIFA project study area.
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Recent developments in sub-models in the Middle Rio Grande Water Balance Model: Urban evapotranspiration, Reservoir evaporation, Groundwater-surface water interactions, and Groundwater elevation model
Subject: Water Modeling
Source: Jessica Alger, Marjan Monfarednasab, Tristan Odekirk, and Hannah Weeks; Civil and Environmental Engineering, Michigan Technological University; and Sara Alian, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Texas at El Paso
Date: Monday 8th January 2018
Abstract/Description: The Middle Rio Grande water balance model is a simple reservoir, aquifer, and river reach model. The model is calibrated at an annual time step to observations of river flows, reservoir storages and aquifer groundwater elevations, using a historical time period of 1994-2013. While river flows were calibrated successfully, the groundwater models need improvement before being used in further simulations. In addition, since the water balance model will be used to simulate future climate conditions, evapotranspiration sub-models need to be improved. Urban evapotranspiration sub-models are developed for each major urban area, based on analysis of time series of remotely sensed images of vegetation and open water. A model for direct evaporation from Elephant Butte and Caballo reservoirs is calibrated to historical climate station data. Historical groundwater elevations in monitoring wells are analyzed to choose representative wells for use in pumping-groundwater elevation regressions. A coupled, one-dimensional Rio Grande channel-alluvial aquifer model is developed to dynamically estimate aquifer-channel exchanges along river reaches.
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A Comparison of Evapotranspiration Between a Natural and Engineered System in an Arid Basin Along the Rio Grande-Bravo River
Subject: Evapotranspiration
Source: Thiemann K.; Gutzler, D.; Mayer, A.; and Teasley, R; Michigan Tech, University of New Mexico, and University of Minnesota-Duluth
Date: Monday 8th January 2018
Abstract/Description: In this study, we estimate hydrologic fluxes and storages in an arid basin featuring a narrow ribbon of intensive irrigated agriculture and urban use. The study basin, (36,988 km2), comprises the middle portion of the Rio Grande-Bravo, covering portions of New Mexico, Texas, and Chihuahua, Mexico. A recent 20-year period (1993-2013) is used to represent present day conditions and to calibrate a model that is made to simulate a naturalized system over the same period that is created using a hydrometeorological dataset that excludes human water use and infrastructure (Livneh et al. 2015). Preliminary results Show that evapotranspiration averaged over this period is 1.13 times greater than the naturalized system, attributable to irrigation (64% of overall ET increase), reservoir surfaces (32%) and urban use (4%). Since surface water fluxes and storages are insufficient to meet increased water demands associated with the increase in ET, the majority of the ET increase occurs at the expense of groundwater storage.
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Analyzing Water Bank Success Markers for the Rio Grande Compact Region
Subject: Water Banking
Source: Sarah Sayles, NMSU
Date: Monday 8th January 2018
Abstract/Description: In spite of persistent drought and possible changes in annual flows due to climate change, the state of New Mexico has a specific duty of water to the farmers in the Elephant Butte Irrigation District - a duty that is complicated by groundwater pumping, growing municipal and industrial needs, and changes in the legal water rights between pecans and other regional crops. Previous work has looked at farmer willingness to participate in water banking in the region, as well as the many ways in which a water bank might be implemented in hypothetical situations. However, water banking scholarship generally only provides a one-size-fits-all solution. The needs of a local water community tend to be characterized by more complicated problems than these simple solutions can resolve. The objective of this study is to provide an analysis of the success markers for real-world water banks in use across the western United States, and to outline different types of water banks used in regions with similar hydrologic, economic, or environmental concerns. By defining the success markers that individual water banks have established for themselves, an analysis of what constitutes a successful bank has emerged, with implications for the Rio Grande Compact region.
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Monitoring Impacts of Long-Term Drought on Surface Water Quantity and Quality in Middle Rio Grande Basin Reservoirs Using Multispectral Remote Sensing and GIS
Subject: Drought Impacts
Source: Stanley T. Mubako and William .L. Hargrove, UTEP
Date: Monday 8th January 2018
Abstract/Description: The Elephant Butte and Caballo dams form the largest surface water reservoirs in the Middle Rio Grande basin. The basin supports more than 2 million people, including the major urban centers of Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, El Paso, Texas, and Las Cruces, New Mexico, plus more than 70,000 ha of land with water rights for irrigated agriculture. However, this region has experienced severe droughts and growing water demand over the past few decades. This study applied GIS and remote sensing techniques to (1) quantify the shrinking and expansion of the reservoirs for the 44-year period 1973-2017; (2) demonstrate the use of multispectral satellite imagery for qualitative assessment of reservoir water turbidity; and (3) investigate and compare annual and seasonal variability of reservoir temperature. The study contributes to a better understanding of anthropogenic and climatic impacts on reservoir surface area fluctuations, water quality and quantity impacts due to evaporation and consumptive use, and provides historical and baseline data for future water management decisions.
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Partial root zone drying in field-grown pecans: is water use efficiency programmable?
Subject: Water Use
Source: Curt A. Pierce, Blair L. Stringam, and Richard J. Heerema, NMSU
Date: Monday 8th January 2018
Abstract/Description: With water supplies under increasing pressure from over-utilization and climate change, innovations in irrigation techniques have become the targets of new research. Partial root zone drying (PRD) is an irrigation method that utilizes alternating, directed-water applications to produce a staged, simultaneous, wet/dry cycle between the two halves of a root system in order to stimulate a drought response, even as the plant receives adequate amounts of water to sustain photosynthesis. While PRD has increased water use efficiency (WUE) and improved yields in certain plants, to date there has been no research-grade work on its potential for pecan production. Although recent studies on the effects of PRD in other crops have identified phytohormone signaling and the resultant partial stomatal closure as a leading driver of increased WUE, adapted microbial activity in the rhizosphere must also be considered. This study investigates the primary effects of a PRD regimen on field grown pecans and additionally seeks to identify possible roles microorganisms in the rhizosphere may play in improved nutrient mineralization, availability, and uptake at the plant/soil interface under this irrigation regime.
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Middle Rio Grande Land-use/Land-cover Change Detection 1994-2004
Subject: Land Use
Source: Omar Belhaj, Carlos Reyes, and Stanley Mubako, UTEP
Date: Monday 8th January 2018
Abstract/Description: The Middle Rio Grande Basin has experienced land use/land cover change in the last few decades. Fast growing metropolitan areas on the U.S.-Mexico border have influenced changes in land use practices, leading to multiple environmental issues that include loss of agricultural and native land to urban development, and growing competition for water between urban and agriculture sectors. In this ongoing study, we apply geographical information systems and remote sensing technologies to identify and measure land use/land cover change, focusing on the years 1994 and 2004. Preliminary results indicate increased urbanization and decrease in agricultural land and native vegetation during this decade. The study provides baseline information and insights into how land use/land cover change is impacting scarce water resources and altering ecological systems in the study region.
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Towards an Integrated Water Modeling User Interface for Stakeholders
Subject: Online Modeling
Source: Luis Garnica Chavira, Deana Pennington, Natalia Villanueva-Rosales, UTEP
Date: Thursday 5th January 2017
Abstract/Description: Scientific models enable a better understanding in the composition and behavior of environmental systems, nevertheless the expertise required for their use complicates the sharing of findings and results with stakeholders involved in decision and policy making.
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Leveraging Self-contained Web Services for Specification, Execution and Storage Of User-defined Scenarios of Scientific Models
Subject: Modeling Cyberinfrastructure
Source: Luis Garnica Chavira, Jose Caballero, Natalia Villanueva-Rosales, Deana Pennington, UTEP
Date: Thursday 5th January 2017
Abstract/Description: Scientific models are currently created using domain specific software tools that might be difficult to install, configure and use. The outputs generated from these tools are usually in specific or proprietary formats. Consequently, model outputs need to go through a manual process of data curation before they can be read or manipulated by other software tools. In order to tackle these issues, we present the Water Modeling Distributor, a self-contained Web Service acting as a middleware between the user and third party modeling software – the glue between Water Modeling tools.
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Utilizing NetCDF Data in Raster Form as a Means of Flux and Storage for Bucket Modelling on the Middle Rio Grande Basin
Subject: Scientific Modeling
Source: K. Thiemann, A.. Mayer, Michigan Tech University; R.Teasley, University of Minnesota Duluth; F. Ward
Date: Thursday 5th January 2017
Abstract/Description: The goal of the project is to create a middle Rio Grande basin water balance, or “bucket” model to (a) simulate hydrologic storage and flux components using NetCDF data, (b) gain a first-order understanding of the relative importance of flux components to surface and groundwater availability and (c) allow stakeholders to understand interactions between choices of water supply sources and allocations on water availability in the context of a changing climate and water use patterns. The bucket model extends from the inflow to Elephant Butte reservoir (EB) in New Mexico to the Presidio International Bridge at the Texas-Chihuahua, Mexico border. The RG main channel is divided into six reaches. Inflows and outflows from each reach are calculated. Water storage components include the EB-El Caballo reservoir and three aquifers, including an alluvial aquifer that interacts with the overlying RG main channel reaches. Fluxes include surface water inflow and outflow at upstream and downstream boundaries, precipitation, evapotranspiration, surface runoff, baseflow, RG channel-alluvial aquifer exchanges, surface water diversions, and groundwater extractions. Surface water diversions and groundwater extraction are categorized by water use and consumptive use and return flows are estimated for each diversion and extraction. Data sets for fluxes and parameter values that control changes in storage in the surface water reservoirs and groundwater aquifers are derived from literatures values.
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Provenance of Integrated Water Modeling Workflows Using Design Patterns and Controlled Vocabularies
Subject: Provenance
Source: Smriti R. Tamrakar and Natalia Villanueva Rosales, UTEP
Date: Thursday 5th January 2017
Abstract/Description: Water models are extensively used to perform simplified abstract analysis of problem domain. In any scientific model, researchers are required to access, analyze and compute data to produce useful information to the scientific community. It is challenging for another scientist to understand and replicate similar water model due to insufficient expertise and unknown dependencies between workflow components.
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Principles Guiding the Design of Water Banking for Shortage Adaptation in the Middle Rio Grande River Basin
Subject: Water Banking
Source: Sarah Sayles, NMSU
Date: Thursday 5th January 2017
Abstract/Description: Drought combined with future climate threats are important indicators of future agricultural water shortages which might be expected in the Middle Rio Grande region of southern New Mexico, West Texas, and Mexico. While adjudication of water rights has been undertaken, the process remains incomplete, even though adjudication could simplify the administration of future supply shortages. Previous work in the region has explored water banking activities which local farmers would accept for adapting to shortages. However, progress in implementing such a system has been limited. This work identifies a structure for a water banking program suited to protect and sustain both regional water supplies and irrigated agriculture. This solution could allow water to move from low value senior rights holders to high value junior rights holders while incentivizing conservation. During summer 2016, the first wave of individual interviews was conducted with farmers to identify guiding principles to sustain water use in the region. Preliminary survey results have shown great interest in water banking as a method of marketing, conserving, and sustaining water. A remaining challenge will be to create a workable mechanism by which such a banking program may be implemented within the current framework of water supply and administration.
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Small Utilities Facing Drought and Water Quality Issues
Subject: Water Sustainability
Source: Marlene Flores and Josiah Heyman, UTEP
Date: Thursday 5th January 2017
Abstract/Description: Research on water services for low income consumers in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands have previously focused on households without piped potable water or sanitation. Small community utilities are an important improvement for such consumers. However, such utilities and their customers also face significant vulnerabilities. We report on preliminary results of on-going research on accomplishments and challenges of small utilities in poor, geographically marginal communities in the border region. Our initial research propositions identify water quality (arsenic, salinity, etc.) and water quantity challenges in the context of drought/aquifer draw-down, and the fiscal “scissors” of infrastructure investment and maintenance with broadly low income customers.
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Water Matters: A Health Impact Assessment (HIA) in a U.S.-Mexico Border Rural Community Lacking Piped Water
Subject: Health and Water
Source: Jesus Placencia, Michelle Del Rio, Amit Raysoni, and W.L. Hargrove, UTEP
Date: Thursday 5th January 2017
Abstract/Description: We conducted an HIA around a proposed expansion of water infrastructure in Presidio, TX. The extension of the city’s water system would provide water for the first time to residents and businesses north of the city along Hwy 67, including the colonia Las Pampas. Currently residents and businesses rely on hauled water for their use. Our methodology included interviews of key informants, a water quality survey, a household survey of residents and businesses in the area, and focus groups with residents and businesses. Results showed that the quality of water, even after hauling and storing, was very good. The biggest health impacts related to hauled water included stress from fear of running out of water; the inconvenience, time, and stress associated with hauling water; the risk of accidents; and for businesses, worker safety. Extending water service to the area would also promote economic growth and development. Both residents and businesses are willing to pay the cost of connection and the monthly cost of piped water. Since delivery of water from Presidio is not within sight, we designed a rainwater harvesting system as a pilot demonstration to at least provide residents with water for small scale agriculture and landscaping.
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Feasibility of partial root zone drying for water conservation in southwestern pecans
Subject: Water Sustainability
Source: Curt A. Pierce, Blair Stringham, and Richard J. Heerema, NMSU
Date: Thursday 5th January 2017
Abstract/Description: Pecan production in New Mexico and Arizona continues to expand amidst persistent drought and reduced water resources. With flood-irrigation enduring regionally as the most widespread irrigation practice on pecans, there exists an immediate need to investigate more water efficient alternatives. Partial root zone drying (PRD) is an irrigation method that utilizes alternating, directed-water applications to produce a staged wet and dry cycle between two sides of a root system. On the drying side, phytohormone signaling helps modulate stomatal conductance, increasing the water use efficiency of some plants. The practice has led to substantial water savings and improved yields in grape production, with similar or promising results in other crops such as apple. To date, no research grade work has experimented with this method of water conservation on pecans. This research will investigate the effects of PRD on field-grown pecans, both producing and immature, to assess its potential in the pecan industry.
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Projected Streamflow Changes in the Middle Rio Grande Basin
Subject: Water Sustainability
Source: Justin Norris, David Gutzler
Date: Wednesday 4th January 2017
Abstract/Description: The Rio Grande is an important source of water for much of the Southwest US and Northern Mexico. Rio Grande surface flow provides the upstream inflow boundary condition for water models being developed for the NIFA project. As climate continues to change, Rio Grande flow upstream from Elephant Butte Reservoir is expected to be impacted. This presentation describes steps toward the development of streamflow projections for the Rio Grande in New Mexico, for use by NIFA project models downstream. Through the use of the BoR’s downscaled CMIP5 model data, we examine simulations of streamflow out to the year 2099. Average annual streamflow is projected to shrink by 55 (1.4%) cubic feet/second (cfs) every decade, with a slight increase in spring flows of 29 cfs (0.7%), and a much larger summer decrease of 172 cfs (4.3%) per decade. Additionally, peak streamflow is projected to occur earlier in the year, from May/June to April/May. Change in snow water equivalent in the Rio Grande headwaters is shown to be the leading driver in decreasing streamflow, with precipitation and temperature being the lead drivers of the snow water. We are currently still analyzing these variables to determine which is most important.
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Urban Demand Forecast Modeling: A Systematic Approach to Modern Modeling and Forecasting in El Paso
Subject: Forecast Modeling
Source: Tallen Capt, W. Shane Walker, and Ali Mirchi, UTEP
Date: Tuesday 15th October 2019
Abstract/Description: Modern day water management operators make decisions based on understanding future demands in the short, medium, and long-term time frames. The application of the many sociological, environmental, and policy driven components to how water is used in a city can be disaggregated into individual components using a multi-method modeling approach. Using mechanistic models that can display this information can enhance the understanding of complex water consumption trends and allow for improved future water management strategies. For the city of El Paso using this methodology, water predictions can be made with a R2 value of .94 and .98 for predicting on a daily time scale and monthly time scale 5 years into the future. With the ability to predict water demands into the future pressure forces can be applied to the system to observe changes. System pressures include changes to amount of precipitation, temperature fluctuations, policy changes, cost of water changes, and sociological stresses. After applying these stresses, a 5 year prediction of peak day demand, daily demand, and monthly demand can be made to assists in expansion, modification, and long term planning of water treatment facilities.
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Combining geochemical tracers with geophysical tools to study sources of groundwater salinity in the Mesilla Bolson aquifer of the semi-arid Rio Grande watershed
Subject: Groundwater Salinity
Source: Lin Ma1, Matthew Hiebing1, Sandra Garcia1, Anna Szynkiewicz2, Diane Doser1 1 Department of Geological Sciences, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX 79968 2 Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996
Date: Tuesday 15th October 2019
Abstract/Description: Mesilla Bolson is an important alluvial aquifer of the semi-arid Rio Grande watershed. It is one of major groundwater sources for El Paso, Texas and is also extensively used for agriculture irrigation in this region. However, high concentrations of total dissolved solids in some areas significantly impact groundwater quality in this aquifer. For example, an increase in groundwater salinity is generally observed from north to south within the aquifer. The salinity change is possibly due to 1) runoff and recharge from agricultural activity; 2) natural upwelling of deeper brackish groundwater. In order to better characterize major salinity sources, we sampled ~50 wells of the Mesilla Bolson in 2015-2016 for determination of uranium (234U/238U), boron (11B), and sulfur (34S) isotope compositions. In addition, we applied a geophysical gravity survey to determine the possible influences of faults on groundwater quality. Our results suggest that the groundwater resources of this alluvial aquifer have been already impacted by human activities such as runoff and recharge from agricultural irrigation and municipal discharges. Natural upwelling is likely responsible for the salinity increases near some faults, which act as conduits for saline groundwater affected by dissolution of evaporites within the deeper basin.
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Changes in the water delivery system in a desert wetland and its effects on macroinvertebrate communities
Subject: Water Delivery Effects
Source: Anna Piña, Viridiana Orona, and Dr. Vanessa Lougheed, University of Texas at El Paso
Date: Tuesday 15th October 2019
Abstract/Description: The relatively rare freshwater ecosystems in the arid southwestern United States are highly vulnerable to climate change. Thus their understanding and protection is critical. The Rio Bosque (RB) wetland (El Paso, TX) was created in 1997 and has been without a perennial water source since that time. In 2016, substantial improvements to the water delivery system allowed the delivery of water to two wetland cells for the entire summer, resulting in the flooding of more than 30 acres and the development of diverse wetland vegetation. This project aimed to examine how aquatic macroinvertebrate communities at the RB were improved through the provision of a year-round water source. Samples of invertebrates were collected from two different sites at the RB in summers of 2014 and 2016, and 4 different sample sites in 2017. The specimens were then identified to genus or species-level. In 2014, samples were from a small vegetated channel flooded by groundwater, whereas wetland ponds receiving treated wastewater were sampled in 2016 and 2017. Dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata) were the predominant aquatic species, followed by dipterans, ephemeropterans and coleopterans. Multivariate analysis (NMDS) indicates that the community composition was different among the 3 sampling years, although there appeared to be no difference in the occurrence of sensitive species. 2016 and 2017, while similar, remained separated on the NMDS; possibly due to dramatic changes in vegetation between the two years. These results will be compared with data collected from other sites throughout the region to determine how this created wetland contributes to regional diversity.
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