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NMSU water program receives national award

The Rio Grande Basin Initiative, a program jointly run by New Mexico State University and Texas A&M University, received the 2007 U.S. Department of Agriculture Integrated Water Programs Team Award this week.

"We were in the right place with the right people at the right time," said Craig Runyan, Extension water quality specialist in the NMSU Extension Plant Sciences Department.

"We're in a place where water quantity is an issue at a time when resource management is important. Both NMSU and Texas A&M are showing the institutional capacity to deal with this problem," said Runyan who is also Water Task Force coordinator and state director of the Southern Region Watershed Resource Management Project.

Runyan said the award was given for their collaborative work to integrate research, extension and education.

The Rio Grande Basin Initiative began five years ago as a collaboration between NMSU and Texas A&M.

It is funded through Congress to conduct targeted research and Extension activities to help agricultural producers, urban landscapers, and irrigation districts achieve needed conservation.

"Most importantly, this is a team effort," said Runyan, complimenting what he described as the outstanding accomplishments and progress of the entire team.

The Rio Grande Basin Initiative breaks funding down into smaller projects, all directly related to water conservation and irrigation efficiency.

"At any given time, we'll have 15 to 20 research projects and another nine or 10 county extension projects focused specifically on water conservation and irrigation efficiency," said Runyan.

The award was presented at the USDA - Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service National Water Program awards in Savannah, Ga.