New Mexico faces complex water issues representative of many of the critical water issues around the world. In northern New Mexico, traditional irrigation-centered communities that rely on age old customs for water sharing are seeing their water management systems strained to the breaking point by land use change and water scarcity during drought. Along the Rio Grande in central New Mexico, agriculture versus urban water use issues confront Albuquerque and the surrounding landscape, forcing difficult choices in future water planning. In southern New Mexico, reliance on groundwater to maintain water uses during 15 years of below average surface water have caused regional planning conundrums to provide enough water for agriculture and other users while meeting interstate compact requirements. In southeast New Mexico without surface water, Ogallala aquifer fossil water is being exhausted and the region must make important tradeoffs between energy, agriculture, and water use. A common thread laced through all of these issues is the importance of agriculture as the major water user and the need to craft integrated solutions to solve complex water issues.
The New Mexico State University (NMSU) College of Agriculture Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) is seeking a scholar to address integrated agricultural water solutions through pursuit of a PhD in the Water Science and Management (WSM) graduate degree program. The science objective is to provide cutting edge integrative analysis and solutions to water issues that have so far been impervious to solutions through traditional approaches. To accomplish this, the operational objectives of the position are to: a) describe the main water issues facing different parts of NM through literature, experts, and stakeholder interaction; b) select one or more of the water issues for in depth analysis; c) characterize the key drivers using an integrative approach such as systems science; and d) identify specific approaches that could be pursued by ACES to make meaningful progress in solving the selected water issues. It is anticipated that the ACES contribution will include a team of researchers from various disciplines (hydrology, agriculture, economics, data science, systems science, etc.) that will also form the foundation of new integrative water-agriculture efforts in ACES.
The successful student will have a suite of applicable skills or interests. Foremost will be integrative skills such as system dynamics that will enable analysis of multiple disciplines. Technical proficiency will be a plus, such as econometrics, hydrologic modeling or another field that facilitates technical analysis. Ability to listen to various viewpoints and distill key information will be important. There will be flexibility within the project to build on the interests and aspirations of the PhD candidate while crafting a cutting-edge study and drafting innovative approaches to solving agricultural water issues.