Middle Rio Grande Water Advocates (formerly the Water Assembly)


Desalination:  Silver Bullet or Pipe Dream?

Lake Superior has once again been found here in the desert

-- our water worries are over!  Or are they?

A forum on the promises and perils of desalination of saline or brackish waters

for producing drinking water.

Recently, new water supplies were declared to have been found in the Rio Puerco.  Deep, very mineralized water is now touted as the way to supply future growth.  In the 1970s, the aquifer under Albuquerque was declared to be another Lake Superior.  Twenty years later, we discovered that the geology was much more complex and the water was not as plentiful as hoped.  Ground-water levels have declined significantly.  The search is on for additional water.

What are the pros and cons of relying on brackish water for our future?  The Middle Rio Grande Water Assembly and UNM's Water Resources Program are sponsoring this public forum to discuss the issues surrounding desalination and deep wells.  The agenda includes perspectives by advocates for the development and use of such waters and by proponents presenting the limitations and risks.

Saturday, February 21, 2009
1:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
University of New Mexico
Continuing Education Center


  • Middle Rio Grande Water Assembly
  • UNM Water Resources Program



9:00     Welcome

  • Kevin Bean, Chair of the MRG Water Assembly  
  • Bruce Thomson, Director of UNM Water Resources Program (link to presentation)

9:10    Setting the Stage


9:20    What Is Desalinated Water?


9:50     What Is Being Proposed?  A Focus on Sandoval County's Project


10:15    Why Desalinated Water Matters?

  •  Sanford Gaines, Director of the Utton Transboundary Resources Center at UNM School of Law (link to presentation)


10:30   Break


10:45   In-depth Perspectives Panel

Regulatory and Legal Issues 

  • John D'Antonio, New Mexico State Engineer
  • Amy Haas, Counsel for Interstate Stream Commission (link to presentation)
  • Bart Faris, Environmental Scientist, Ground Water Quality Bureau, NM Environment Department
  • Dan McGregor, Hydrogeologist, Bernalillo County Public Works Division - Water Resources

Business Viewpoints

Economic Considerations

Environmental Impacts

Ethical Issues to be Considered 

  • Peter Pino, Tribal Administrator for Zia Pueblo


12:15   What Policies Might Be Needed?

  • Panel Question & Answer
  • Facilitated Discussion


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