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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU to host water resource technician training for Native Americans

New Mexico State University will host this year's Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Water Resource Technician Training June 2-27.

eight Native American participants will learn the broad aspects of water resource management in this intensive four-week training, said Phil King, associate professor of civil and geological engineering. They will learn basic concepts and processes such as flow measurement in rivers, quality sampling and analysis and other forms of data collecting and analyses. Participants will do field work in the mornings and analyze and discuss field techniques and work with various computer applications in the afternoons.

Participants get the opportunity to view a large-scale water management system during a tour of the Rio Grande Project, including the Elephant Butte Dam and Irrigation District. They can also network with the several federal agencies that work with them in the program, such as the United States Geological Survey, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of Surface Mining, King said.

Each year, BIA sends announcements to Native American tribes nationwide about the training program. Tribes are invited to choose an interested individual they wish to endorse to participate in the training. After training and certification, participants are guaranteed water management jobs on their reservations for one year.

"Those who do not have a job with their reservations before the training go back with a voucher to cover their first year of employment," King said.

The purpose of the BIA Water Resource Technician Training is to support tribal self-determination by training members of Native American reservations to maintain their own water resources. About two-thirds of program graduates go on to be employed at their reservations for a significant amount of time or continue their formal education in water management, King said.