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Annual New Mexico Water Conference to present proposals for dealing with water scarcity

Despite the return of monsoon rainfall this summer, New Mexico continues to be immersed in a prolonged drought, and the state's limited water resources will continue to be squeezed.

Following last year's New Mexico conference on water scarcity issues, the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute, located at New Mexico State University, will focus this year's 58th annual conference on solutions to dealing with the state's limited water supply. "New Water Realities: Proposals for Meaningful Change" will take place at the Embassy Suites Albuquerque Nov. 21-22.

Building on recommendations outlined in last year's Water Conference Report, this conference will take another step toward adapting to the ongoing drought, a situation many consider "the new reality" after decades of relative water abundance in New Mexico and the region. Reduced supply coupled with population growth and increased consumption, have led to a crisis point for our water resources. Each speaker at the conference has been asked to bring to the table at least one proposal or strategy for addressing the impact of water scarcity in New Mexico.

NM WRRI Director Sam Fernald said, "Water scarcity impacts the full spectrum of economy, community, and environment in New Mexico. This year's water conference goes beyond describing the water scarcity problems in New Mexico and brings together an exciting gathering of perspectives on actual solutions."

The formal program will begin at 8:20 a.m. Thursday with an introduction by Fernald. He will be followed by New Mexico State University's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences Dean Lowell Catlett, who will kick-off the conference with his views on the future of water in New Mexico.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall will make opening remarks via video recording.

The luncheon on Thursday will feature native New Mexican Tanya Trujillo, as the 2013 Albert E. Utton Memorial Water lecturer. The lecture honors the memory of a lifelong friend of the New Mexico Water Community. Utton served New Mexico for more than 35 years as a distinguished member of the UNM's School of Law, a 25-year member of the NM Interstate Stream Commission, a valued adviser to the NM WRRI, a worldwide authority on transboundary issues, and a recognized leader in conflict resolution.

Trujillo, who served for five years as general counsel to the NM Interstate Stream Commission from 2004 to 2009, worked on many New Mexico water issues including the long-running Aamodt case, the Pecos, San Juan Basin/Navajo Nation, and Gila settlements, and the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Pipeline project. She is now serving as executive director for the Colorado River Board of California.

Trujillo will be speaking on "Hope for the Colorado River Basin - Recent Successful Agreements with the Republic of Mexico."

The water conference features New Mexico and western water experts and will include a poster session on Friday morning, where students, faculty, agency personnel, and private sector presenters will showcase their research. Topics include new desalination techniques, river and watershed management research, agricultural practices, water storage, climate change, water quality, and many other water-related issues.

For a preliminary program, visit the conference website at http://2013.wrri.nmsu.edu/ or call the NM WRRI at 575-646-4337.

Sponsors include NM WRRI, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Elephant Butte Irrigation District and Sandia National Laboratories.

Those interested in attending should register online at http://2013.wrri.nmsu.edu/registration.

The regular registration fee is $125; students with identification are $25. The fee includes both luncheons.