September 25, 2019
Las Vegas, N.M. – New Mexico Highlands University students are conducting more water quality research, thanks to a donation of scientific instruments from the State of New Mexico Department of Energy Oversight Bureau.
“This equipment is instrumental for our students and faculty to be able to do surface and groundwater sampling in our streams and lakes,” said Julie Tsatsaros, a Highlands natural resources management professor. “The equipment will be extremely useful for our surface and groundwater classes, hydrology classes, and research our students and faculty are undertaking.”
Tsatsaros said the state donated two multiparameter water quality instruments that measure four parameters: dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature and dissolved substances in the water.
“These instruments give a good overview of general water quality conditions that can be taken in all seasons of the year, from small streams to large lakes. This equipment is exciting because it gives students the opportunity to look at water quality data taken in real time. The data can then be used to analyze water conditions, which might be affected by humans and naturally occurring processes,” Tsatsaros said.
This semester, Tsatsaros teaches courses in Aquatic Ecology and Water Sciences at Highlands that have already used the water quality instruments at nearby Storrie Lake and the Gallinas River.
“We’re very grateful for the state’s generosity,” Tsatsaros said.
Steve Bustos is a conservation management senior at Highlands who is taking Tsatsaros’ Aquatic Ecology class and said it was valuable to use the water quality equipment.
“I learned about how all the components of water quality are interrelated, such as chemistry and biological organisms,” Bustos said. “I also learned how to use and calibrate the equipment to analyze water quality in relation to ecological function and drinking water standards.”
Bustos, a retired park ranger, said his new knowledge will help him with his goal of becoming a naturalist writer.
Tsatsaros said the State of New Mexico Environment Department’s bureaus have worked with Highlands students in the university’s water classes to teach them how to use water quality instruments and state protocols for taking water samples.
“This partnership with state agencies also gives our students the opportunity to meet agency personnel and learn about potential job opportunities and internships in New Mexico,” Tsatsaros said.
Tsatsaros joined the Highlands University faculty in 2016. She earned her Ph.D. in water resources from James Cook University in Queensland, Australia. Her research focuses primarily upon water resources, water quality issues, and involving communities to improve water conditions.