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NMSU Water Project Extends Length, Client List

LAS CRUCES - A two-county water quality project in southern New Mexico is adding small agricultural producers and rural homeowners to its list of clientele.


The Dona Ana/Sierra County Hydrologic Unit started working with large-scale producers five years ago, teaching nutrient, pesticide and animal waste management practices through New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service.

A three-year extension to the project will enable unit specialists to teach the same practices to small-scale producers in the Mesilla and Hatch valleys, said Craig Runyan, unit leader and Extension water quality specialist.

"We'll continue serving larger producers," Runyan said. "But some practices would also help the smaller growers in this area, such as fertilizer timing and placement. We also can teach them when and how to properly apply pesticides to avoid arbitrary spraying when they think they've got a problem."

The project began in 1990 with a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Water Quality Initiative. Its main thrust has been in educational demonstrations for farmers and ranchers. Those programs will now extend beyond an agricultural audience" Runyan said.

"Many rural dwellers have their own home drinking water wells and sewer septic systems," he said. "There are a lot of management practices for wellhead protection and septic system maintenance that can go a long way toward protecting our groundwater."

For more information about the project, call Runyan at (505) 646-1131.