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Noted Hydrologist Leads Nov. 13 NMSU Water Lecture Series

LAS CRUCES - A radical idea for using groundwater along the Rio Grande's many basins for industrial and municipal use will highlight an upcoming special New Mexico State University water lecture series Nov. 13.

John Shomaker, president of Albuquerque-based Shomaker and Associates (11/06/2003) Shomaker and Associates

John Shomaker, a nationally recognized hydrologist, will speak at 1 p.m. in Room 105 of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's new Jornada Experimental Range building, located on the western edge of NMSU.

"There is a tremendous volume of groundwater in storage in these basins that really can't be used," said Shomaker, president of Albuquerque-based Shomaker and Associates, a consulting firm specializing in water planning, ground water supply and water rights. "Today, that water is inaccessible because pumping would effect the flow of the Rio Grande," he said. "In affect this vast body of water is just there to hold up the river."

Shomaker said one possible, but highly controversial method, might be to pump the water out of the basins for industrial and municipal supplies so that roughly half the water would eventually go back through industrial wasterwater treatment plants as return flow.

"As it turns out, you can pump a constant amount out of the wells, put some amount of it to use and return the rest to the river," he said. "Ultimately, the whole system comes into equilibrium." The premise, which Shomaker describes as simply food for thought, is based on charging for the water that is pumped.

Shomaker will present a free, public seminar on how to use stored groundwater without depleting a fully appropriated stream as part of a water lecture series from NMSU's Water Task Force, civil and geological engineering department and the Water Resources Research Institute.

Shomaker does consulting work for many New Mexico communities, in addition to utilities, mining and industrial organizations, said Craig Runyan, water quality specialist with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service and the university's Water Task Force coordinator.

NMSU formed the task force in 2000 to supply objective, scientific data about water issues in New Mexico. Pulled from across NMSU, this group of specially identified faculty and staff members are experts in water-related issues, Runyan said. They provide rapid responses to public requests for studies, white papers, expert testimony at public hearings and proposed solutions to water problems, he said.

Shomaker has provided expert testimony in hearings involving a broad range of governmental agencies, including the State Engineer's Office, New Mexico Water Control Commission and the U.S. Supreme Court, Runyan said. He is the author or editor of more than 40 water-related publications.

Shomaker served as a hydrologist with U.S. Geological Survey's Water Resources
Division, in addition to working at the New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources. He received bachelor's and master's degrees in geology from the University of New Mexico, and a doctorate in hydrogeology from the University of Birmingham in England.

For more information, or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate in the meeting, please contact Leeann DeMouche at (505) 646-5254 or ldemouch@nmsu.edu before the event.