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Campus News
WaterWise
University of New Mexico experts work to solve regional water issues
August 16, 2004

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Economists tackle water management

By Steve Carr

The Center for the Sustainability of Semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas (SAHRA) is a science and technology center addressing interdisciplinary water management issues in semi-arid environments.

SAHRA was established in 2000 through a five-year National Science Foundation grant.

UNM Economics Professors David Brookshire, Janie Chermak and Kate Krause are collaborating with professors from several institutions, including the University of Arizona, which was awarded the initial $16 million grant to establish the center.

SAHRA will advance the understanding of semi-arid hydrology and focus on practical problems of water resources policy, management and operational decision-making.

“If SAHRA is successful, it will have a tangible impact on public policy,” Brookshire said. “It will provide a better set of tools for managing water in semi-arid climates and riparian areas.

“We would like for people to know what we are doing, and we are looking for feedback from those responsible for public policy. Interest in what we’re doing is growing within the state.”

Questions addressed through SAHRA research include: What is the impact of vegetation change on basin scale water balances? What are the costs and benefits of riparian restoration/preservation? Are water markets or water banking feasible?

An indication that SAHRA is on the right track is its success in gaining leveraged support.

A new UNM collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories led to more than $240,000 over three years for UNM’s Chermak, Brookshire and Kristine Grimsrud, who will develop integrated water models and a socioeconomic institutional framework.