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Bureau scientist co-leads Water Data Workshop

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Stacy Timmons speaks at the Water Data Workshop.
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Workshop participants work in groups to seach for available water data to address a challenge. Participants then provided feedback on the experience.

Socorro, NM
— October 29, 2019

On October 24th, Bureau Associate Director of Hydrogeology Programs Stacy Timmons led the Water Data Workshop as part of the implementation of the New Mexico Water Data Act. The State Legislature passed the Water Data Act (House Bill 651) in 2019, legislation co-sponsored by Representatives Melanie Stansbury, who attended the workshop, and Gail Armstrong, and Senator Antoinette Sedillo Lopez. The goal of the act, which is a multi-year initiative, is to develop an integrated approach to collecting, sharing, and using water data and information from various state, federal, and nongovernmental agencies. The Bureau of Geology is the convener of the directing agencies named in the Water Data Act, which includes the NM Interstate Stream Commission, Office of the State Engineer, NM Environment Department, and Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. The effort of this group is to make water data more findable, accessible, interoperable, and useful through an integrated water data service, which is currently being constructed with the help of the University of New Mexico’s Earth Data Analysis Center. Water data are the measurements of the basic properties of water related to water management and planning, including water quantity, water quality and water use. Data may include streamflow, precipitation, reservoir and irrigation system operations, groundwater use and level, municipal and industrial water use, water rights, water diversions, and ecological data, such as data about aquatic and riparian systems. The goal of the Water Data Workshop was to get input on the actual water data needs that are perceived by the data users of the state and develop plans to prioritize them.

Following welcoming remarks from Representative Stansbury, Timmons provided information about the Water Data Act to workshop attendees, and presented an update on progress achieved thus far toward its implementation. During the course of the workshop, experts and non-experts involved in water in New Mexico worked in groups to address Data Discovery Challenges. For example, groups included “Water Quality,” “Agricultural Water Use,” and “Watershed Restoration.” The groups were presented with a data challenge and got to experience the search for a variety of water data to try to address the challenge. Participants then reported on the experience, what worked and what did not, when they were trying to locate the data they needed. They also reported on how they would like to be able to find water data in the future. The results of the workshop are going to be used to set priorities on key water data and how users want to interact with the water data service. The Water Data Initiative underway now will provide data necessary to support future water management and water planning decisions in New Mexico, as well as help make data searches more efficient for a range of data users. For more information, contact Stacy Timmons at stacy.timmons@nmt.edu.