Dr. Kate Zeigler is owner and senior geologist at Zeigler Geologic Consulting, LLC, a small woman-owned business in Albuquerque. She earned her Bachelors from Rice University in Geology and Anthropology and her M.S. and Ph.D., both in geology, from the University of New Mexico in 2002 and 2008 respectively. Kate went on to become a consulting geologist and found her calling in using her skillset to work with agricultural producers and rural communities to understand groundwater resources. She also serves on the executive boards of the NM Water Dialogue, El Llano Estacado RC&D Council, NM Chapter of the American Institute of Professional Geologists and the NM Geological Society Foundation.
Developing Community-Led Efforts to Stem Groundwater Depletion in Rural Agricultural Areas
In northeastern New Mexico, there has been little research done on the aquifer systems that currently sustain the rural agricultural communities in the area. Building on efforts started by members of the Northeastern SWCD in Union County, our team has worked to build multiple data sets that tell us a little more about groundwater resources in the region. Contrary to the popular belief that everyone in the area is using the Ogallala aquifer and there are “oceans of water down there,” the aquifer systems of northeastern New Mexico are complex and partitioned. In addition, hydrogen isotope data suggest there is little to no modern recharge entering the system. In working directly with producers and teaching them our understanding of geohydrology, we’ve seen producers take ownership of this data and make significant changes in crop and range management plans to take into account a depleted and non-renewing resource.