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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU Plans Public Meeting in Santa Fe To Examine Water Issues

ALBUQUERQUE - New Mexico State University's new Water Task Force will hold a public meeting Jan. 31 in Santa Fe to identify and prioritize water-related issues.

Nearly 400 water-related experts and organization representatives from around the state have been invited to attend the event, which will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Santa Fe County Fairgrounds Pavilion at 3200 Rodeo Road.

"This is a public stakeholders' input meeting that will provide an opportunity for experts and organizations involved in water affairs to help us begin to narrow down the research agenda," said Craig Runyan, a water quality specialist with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service who is coordinating the task force. "A huge number of issues need careful examination, so we hope to identify the most critical concerns and prioritize them."

About 75 NMSU research and teaching faculty are participating in the task force, which NMSU's College of Agriculture and Home Economics organized in late 2000 to supply objective, scientific data about water issues in New Mexico. The task force will provide studies, white papers, expert testimony at public hearings and proposed solutions to water problems.

Participants at the Santa Fe meeting will be asked to identify prospective advisory committee members for the task force. The nominees will represent a wide variety of water interests, including U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies, water use organizations, environmental and interest groups, irrigation districts and water commissions.

"We need a representative group of individuals who are recognized and respected authorities in various water areas to commit time in an advisory capacity," Runyan said. "Once formed, the advisory committee would meet periodically to help outline the Water Task Force's work plan and operations."

A six-member steering committee is guiding the task force, matching public requests for specific research and information with experts who range from economists and freshwater biologists to hydrologists and riparian specialists. The committee has identified six general areas that require task force attention: drought, watershed management, surface and groundwater hydrology, consumptive uses, and ecology and water policy.

The stakeholders' meeting will help assure that the task force's efforts clearly reflect public needs and concerns. "We want to get the stakeholders engaged in the debate from the very start," said Joel Diemer, an NMSU agricultural economist and associate professor who will help facilitate the meeting.

For more information, contact Runyan at (505) 646-1131.