UNM’s Middle Rio Grande Water Data Dashboard: Status Report & What’s Next

Introduction and Vision: Prof. Ramiro Jordan, a University of New Mexico electrical and computer engineering professor and a founder of the International Peace Engineering Consortium, recruited me to instruct and mentor 32 ECE students to complete their semester class project. They are building a Middle Rio Grande Water Data Dashboard. 

Prof. Ramiro Jordan’s ambitious, badly needed project will provide the water data dashboard and an air quality/public health/public finance dashboard as our State flagship university’s contribution to its home. I am honored to help Prof. Jordan teach tomorrow’s electrical and computer engineers to learn and apply state-of-the-art tools for class credit and produce excellent public education materials. My Anglo face is one of few in the room. The students are learning a lot and engaging. It’s wonderful and fun and I am learning a lot, too.

The Water Data Dashboard will be online at the end of this semester as an interactive website prototype with integrated graphic views and drill-down features, illustrating where our water comes from, where it is going, and what we need to know but don’t. Students will produce the initial prototype this semester. A class next semester co-listed for senior and graduate credit will refine and extend it. Peter Coha and Barbara Gastian, Water Advocates, are volunteering their big data and water quality expertise. 

The Water Data Dashboard is a fortuitous answer to repeated requests to the Water Advocates to provide more basic water information and education. I believe the prototype will be a supercharged ‘Water 101’ detailed guide to the Middle Rio Grande Water Budget. Please see the glossary at the end of this status report for definitions of acronyms and technical terms.

The assembled data set will provide material for more advanced study understanding, analyses, and water planning. I see it as a useful visualization tool for Reclamation’s ongoing Rio Grande Basin Study. I also see it as instrumental to the formation of the Middle Rio Grande Regional Water Planning Council and the conduct of its work pursuant to Article 72-14A, NMSA 1978 (2023).

The Water Data Dashboard executive advisory committee currently includes;  

  • Barbara Baca, Bernalillo County Commission chair, ABCWUA board member, MRGCD board member 
  • Eric Olivas, ABCWUA board chair, Bernalillo County Commissioner 
  • Tammy Finkelkorn, ABCWUA board member, Albuquerque City Councilor 
  • John Kelly, MRGCD board member 
  • UNM’s new Engineering and Computing Dean Donna Riley, also a Peace Engineer 
  • Bruce Thomson; UNM Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Emeritus of NM Water 
  • Stacy Timmons; Assoc. Director, Water Programs, NM Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources and the state’s chief water data act implementer, and true Rio Grande and New Mexico water expert. 
  • Dagmar Llewellyn; Reclamation water official supervising all the water planning in the upper Colorado River region, and true Rio Grande expert water leader. 
  • Page Pegram, ISC Rio Grande chief and a NM negotiator of the LRG settlement with Texas 
  • Mike Johnson, USGS NM expert and former OSE Hydrology Bureau Chief 
  • Katie Zemlick, OSE Hydrology Bureau Chief 
  • Casey Brown, Univ of Mass. at Amherst civil engineering professor and developer of an AI model of the Rio Grande now used in Reclamation’s Rio Grande Basin Study, and  
  • Enrique Prunes, World Wildlife Fund Rio Grande Report Card project manager that commissioned Prof. Brown and his graduate students AI model for the Report Card analysis. 

All initial invitations were accepted. I will next reach out to consult with the six Middle Rio Grande pueblos and invite additional elected leaders representing the five Middle Rio Grande counties.

Technical Advisory Committee:  I am recruiting a technical advisory committee of major data providers staff to provide Dashboard development review and assistance. This STEM committee will be the nucleus of a Middle Rio Grande Water Data Users Group as suggested by the NM Water Data Initiative. The Middle Rio Grande Water Data Users Group will advise the NM Water Data Initiative, which by statutory direction will provide the best available data to the future Authority as the foundation of its planning and evaluation of solutions. 

Cooperation to provide data is outstanding: The executive advisory committee has fulfilled its first role; facilitation of the students’ access to data. All the most important actors are fully cooperating to provide extensive non-public and public digital or pdf water data set, including comprehensive sets of some daily, monthly, and annual data sets back to 2000. 

The committee’s next role is to provide feedback to students and instructors on the usefulness of the dashboard for improved public understanding of the Middle Rio Grande Water Budget, a technical phrase that means where our water comes from, where it goes, and whether our water spending is in balance with our water income. 

Outcomes to Date: We are finding the backbones and limbs of the data needed for the dashboard online.  We are aggregating massive amounts from several major on-line data providers in different formats. We received many ABCWUA spreadsheets the students are organizing and extracting data from.  OSE/ISC is providing water diversions spreadsheets soon.  Much more relevant data is online but in the form of pdf documents.  The students will apply or modify tools and scripts to scrape the data as needed to fully populate the integrated data set they are building as the foundation of the Water Data Dashboard.

Utility: The Water Data Dashboard will have great utility going forward.  The UNM Department of Engineering and Computer Engineering, Prof. Jordan, and his students, are preparing a tool of great value and many useful applications in 2024 and the years ahead.  With it, we will be able to see and understand both the forest of our water supply, the trees of our water consumption, and the streams of our return flows that are downstream water supply.


  1. ECE: Electrical and Computer Engineering
  2. UNM: University of New Mexico
  3. ABCWUA: Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority
  4. MRGCD: Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District
  5. Dashboard: A tool that visually tracks, analyzes, and displays key data points to monitor the health of a department, process, or business.
  6. Water Budget: An accounting of the inflow to, outflow from, and storage in a water-resource system or region.
  7. OSE/ISC: Office of the State Engineer / Interstate Stream Commission
  8. STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
  9. AI Model: Artificial Intelligence Model; a computational model that is designed to simulate human intelligence.
  10. Reclamation’s Rio Grande Basin Study: A study by the Bureau of Reclamation focusing on the water resource issues within the Rio Grande Basin.
  11. NM: New Mexico
  12. NMSA: New Mexico Statutes Annotated
  13. Prototype: A first, typical or preliminary model of something, from which other forms are developed or copied.
  14. Technical Advisory Committee: A group of experts providing advice and solutions on technical issues.

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