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Utton Center Participates in UNM's Grand Challenge

February 28, 2019

The Rio Grande Challenge

The University of New Mexico recently committed to improving lives in New Mexico by taking on three Grand Challenges that will require high levels of interdisciplinary research, community connection and scholarly innovation. UNM’s collaborative response to these Challenges will help shape New Mexico’s future for decades to come. During the spring semester, research teams for each of these challenges will refine their plans & goals, and further clarify their message.

The Utton Center is proud to be on the team that will be addressing sustainable water resource challenges in New Mexico.  Our goal is for the Rio Grande Watershed, by 2030, to serve as an international example of a vibrant and resilient trans-boundary watershed that supports a thriving economy, healthy landscapes and aquatic ecosystems, and vibrant communities that celebrate the region’s unique culture and heritage.

Water management in New Mexico has always been a grand challenge. We have the fifth largest landmass of all the states but the least amount of available surface water. Our surface water supplies are fully allocated and we mine groundwater across the State. Water supplies vary tremendously from year to year. Furthermore, climate change, wildfires, forest dieback, aquifer decline, and other stresses are degrading ecosystem services and hence the sustainability of our water supply. Despite these challenges, New Mexicans are resilient and innovative people and UNM is poised to catalyze an alternative path towards a sustainable water resources future. UNM faculty, including dozens of faculty distributed across campus, possess the talent and experience necessary to secure New Mexico’s water future.