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New Mexico State University

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Consortium will focus on water desalination research

New Mexico State University has joined with two other universities and two municipal water systems in a partnership to conduct research, education and outreach programs related to water management and desalination technology.


embers of the Consortium for Hi-Technology Investigations in Water and Wastewater - CHIWAWA - are the University of Texas at El Paso, Texas A&M University, El Paso Water Utilities and the City of Alamogordo.

"Water will be the biggest single constraint on the economic, social and cultural development of our region," NMSU President Michael Martin said at a news conference Tuesday. "We are excited about this partnership and committed to building on this process."

Stephen Riter, UTEP's vice president for information services and planning, said desalination technology will be a crucial factor in the development of the Paso del Norte region. Several million people in the region, which comprises parts of southern New Mexico, west Texas and northern Mexico, get their water from underground aquifers and the Rio Grande, he said.

"We have a finite source of high-quality water but we have a lot of brackish water out there," Riter said. Finding ways to make that underground saline water usable will be one of the major goals of the consortium.

Desalination projects planned for the region include the Fort Bliss/El Paso Desalination Plant, the Alamogordo Municipal Desalination Plant and the Tularosa Basin National Desalination Research Facility.

"This is a great opportunity to link Texas and New Mexico institutions in a collaborative effort to address one of this region's - indeed the world's - most critical issues," said UTEP President Diana Natalicio. "We are delighted to join with our colleagues to establish the Paso del Norte region as an internationally recognized center of excellence for desalination research, education and training."

CHIWAWA's activities will include:
? Conferences, training programs, short courses and meetings on issues related to water treatment, conservation, water resource management and desalination.
? Joint research in desalination technologies, brine management and assessment of brackish water supplies.
? Educational outreach programs.

For more information, call Karl Wood, director of the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute at NMSU, at (505) 646-4337, or Bob Currey, associate director of the Center for Environmental Resource Management at UTEP, at (915) 747-6274.