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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Symposium Teaches Water-Saving Techniques for Urban Landscapes

LAS CRUCES - Horticulturists and water specialists from throughout the Southwest will discuss the latest technologies and landscape designs for saving water in arid urban areas during a regional symposium in Las Cruces on Feb. 23-24.

Rolston St. Hilaire examines Indian Hawthorn grown at New Mexico State University's Fabian Garcia Agricultural Science Center as part of a research project to measure irrigation requirements for low-water-use plants. Researchers will discuss water-wise plants like these at a regional symposium on conserving water in urban landscapes on Feb. 23-24 in Las Cruces. (NMSU Agricultural Communications photo by J. Victor Espinoza)

The event, organized by New Mexico State University's College of Agriculture and Home Economics, aims to bring researchers, policy makers and industry professionals together to share information about water-wise irrigation and landscaping in urban zones, said Rolston St. Hilaire, a plant physiologist and associate professor at NMSU.

"As urban populations grow, the demand for water to irrigate landscapes is increasing," St. Hilaire said. "Given the ongoing drought, it's urgent that we address this issue. This is an opportunity for scientists and professionals to compare research and experiences from different states and discuss the best ways to save water without sacrificing our lawns and gardens."

The symposium is sponsored by the Rio Grande Basin Initiative, a joint project with Texas A&M University to study and teach about water conservation and quality along the Rio Grande corridor.

The conference will focus on four broad issues: the latest technologies for landscape irrigation, low-water-use plants and turf, public perceptions that influence urban landscapes and municipal and state policies that affect landscape irrigation.

David Zoldoske, who directs the Center for Irrigation Technology at California State University at Fresno, will kickoff the conference on Feb. 24 with a keynote address on water-efficient irrigation systems and new technology.

Dennis Pittenger of the University of California at Riverside and Dale Devitt of the University of Nevada will talk about water-wise irrigation systems that they use in their respective states.

NMSU engineer J. Phillip King will discuss agriculture's effect on water availability in cities and how transferring water rights from rural to urban areas might impact landscapes. Ursula Schuch of the University of Arizona will present irrigation requirements she compiled for low-water-use ornamentals grown in Tuscon and the potential for planting those varieties in other southwestern cities. Mike Arnold of Texas A&M at College Station will present research on irrigating with waste water, and Raul Cabrera of Texas A&M at Dallas will examine how differences in water quality can affect plant production.

Virginia Lohr of Washington State University, Chris Martin of Arizona State University and NMSU agricultural economist Brian Hurd will talk about public attitudes that affect urban landscapes, such as preference for colorful gardens or misconceptions that only rock gardens constitute low-water-use landscapes.

John Longworth of the New Mexico State Engineer's office will review laws and ordinances that restrict water use in urban areas. Kelly Cook, a landscape architect from Midland, Texas, will suggest ways to maintain colorful landscapes despite municipal water restrictions.

The conference runs from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 24 at NMSU's Corbett Center. A welcome reception and educational exhibit will take place at NMSU's Golf Course Club House on Feb. 23 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Registration is $100. Students can purchase a $65 group rate for up to five people. To register, visit the conference Website at http://spectre.nmsu.edu/water.

For more information, or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, call conference coordinator Jeanine Castillo at (505) 649-0501, or e-mail her at rjeanine@nmsu.edu.