Water Resources Professional Project Reports


Uday V. Joshi

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Water scarcity in southwestern United States is nothing new. It has been an issue since the southwest's earliest settlements. However, this problem has gained increased notoriety due to greater demands on the finite resource . Increasing population and competing demands on water resources require new solutions to water scarcity. The threat of surface and underground water depletion has even catalyzed another round of experimentation in cloud seeding, one method, no matter how far-fetched, for augmenting supplies. Conservation programs have reduced domestic water usage by minimizing inefficient water usage, but few address the realistic possibilities of increasing water supplies. Tree thinning will increase water supplies and will concurrently return the forest to their natural densities and ensure watershed productivity. National Forest lands represent 8 percent of the contiguous U.S. land area and contribute 14 percent of the runoff. In the eleven western states, an even greater percentage (20%) of the land area lies within the National Forests. Waters originating from Forest Service lands are of the highest quality, unaffected by many anthropogenic elements. In addition, these lands constitute the largest single source of fresh water in the United States. Furthermore, in the west, federal lands contribute more than sixty percent of the West's water supplies, and nearly eighty percent of that originates from National Forests. Locally, National Forest Service lands in New Mexico yield 29% of the total runoff flows in the state. However, overly dense stands are common on National Forest lands and impact those flows.

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Forest thinning--Environmental aspects--New Mexico--Santa Fe Region., Watershed management--Environmental aspects--New Mexico--Santa Fe Region., Forest management--Environmental aspects--New Mexico--Santa Fe Region.


A Professional Project Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Water Resources Hydroscience Option, Water Resources Program The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, May 2004.