Image of Alexander "Sam" Fernald

Alexander "Sam" Fernald

Title: Professor of Watershed Management; Interim Director, Water Resources Research Institute
Major Field of Interest: Water quality hydrology
Email Address:
Office Phone: 575-646-1041

New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute
New Mexico State University
MSC 3167, P.O. Box 30001
Las Cruces, NM 88003
Ph: 575-646-4337, Fax: 575-646-6418


1997-2000 National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow, US EPA, Corvallis, OR
1993-1997 Ph.D., Watershed Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
1990-1993 M.E.M., Water Resources Management, Duke University, Durham, NC
1982-1987 B.A., International Relations, Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Courses Taught:

Watershed Management (RGSC 318)
Interdisciplinary Modeling (RGSC 618)
Watershed Methods and Measurements (RGSC 518)
Land Use and Water Quality (WS 319)
Forestry and Society (RGSC/HORT 302G)
Range Science Graduate Seminar (RGSC 515)
Application of Surface Water-Groundwater Interaction Simulation Models taught in Chile and Argentina during Fulbright Fellowships in 2000 and 2008

Research interests
Surface water-groundwater interactions
Integrated human and natural systems
Runoff and water quality processes
Forest management effects on water yield and watershed health
Ecohydrology of rangelands
Regional water budgets
Groundwater management institutions

Research support 2001-2017

The right water for agriculture in the Rio Grande Basin, USDA, (Co-PI)

Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Program, USGS, 2016-2018. (PI)

Produced water for water supply sustainability in NM, NMED, 2015-2017. (PI)

Drought in the west, USGS, $60K, 2015-2017. (PI)

New Mexico RII Energize New Mexico, NSF EPSCoR Track 1, 2013-2018. (Co-PI)

Administrative Support for Chihuahuan Desert Network. NPS. 2011-2017. (PI)

Desalination Cooperative Agreement R10AC80283, Bureau of Reclamation. 2008-2015. (Co-PI 2011-2015, PI beginning March 2015)

Groundwater Exploration, Assessment and Monitoring for Humanitarian Assistance in Ethiopia. US DOI/USGS 2013-2015. (PI)

Monitoring and Forecasting Climate, Water and Land Use for Food Production in Afghanistan, 2014-2016. (PI)

State of New Mexico Attorney General statewide water assessment, State of New Mexico consumer settlement fund, 2014-2017 (PI)

State of New Mexico water resources research institute funding (acquired in addition to base funding), State of New Mexico, 2013-2016, (PI)

Land use effects on runoff and water quality in upland watersheds and along stream corridors. USDA Hatch program. Hatch Act, 2002-2017. (PI)

State Water Resources Research Institute Program, US DOI Geological Survey 2011-2017 (PI)

Monitoring and Forecasting Climate, Water and Land Use for Food Production Afghanistan. 2008-2012. (PI)

Monitoring and Forecasting Climate, Water and Land Use for Food Production and Business

Development in Iraq. US DOI Geological Survey. 2010-2012 (PI)

Sustaining the Environment in the New Mexico-Chihuahua Border Region.NM Environment Department. 2010-2012. (PI)

Physical and Social Drivers of Water Sustainability in a Groundwater-Dependent Agricultural Region on the US-Mexico Border. Southwest Consortium for Environmental Research and Policy. 2010-2012 (PI)

University of Texas at El Paso Planning Grant. Southwest Consortium for Environmental Research and Policy. 2010-2012 (PI)

319 Paso Del Norte/Watershed Council; Task 18 and Task 16. Texas A&M University. 2010-2011 (PI)

Planning and Coordination of Renewable Energy Conference. US DOI Geological Survey. 2011-2012 (PI)

Salinity Studies in the Rincon and Mesilla Valley Basins. US DOI Reclamation, El Paso. 2010-2013 (Co-PI)

Acequia Water Systems Linking Culture and Nature: Integrated Analysis of Community Resilience to Climate and Land Use Changes. NSF CNH. 2010-2016 (PI)

Natural and Human Dynamics of Acequia Systems Innovation Working Group. NSF EPSCoR. 2009 (PI)

Climate Change Effects on New Mexico’s Mountain Sources of Runoff.NSF EPSCoR. 2008-2012 (Co-PI)

Instrumentation acquisition to analyze water, soils, and biomass for environmental research, monitoring, and assessment. NSF Major Research Instrumentation. 2002-2005.(PI)

Sacramento Mountains Watershed Project. Interstate Stream Commission and State of New Mexico through NM Technical Institute. 2007-2011 (PI)

Rangeland management effects on runoff and water quality in upland watersheds. USDA Rangeland Ecology. 2001-2007 (PI)

Rangeland watershed research: Effects of stand density on runoff and sediment production from piñon-juniper rangeland ecosystems. Range Improvement Task Force, 2001-2015. (PI)

Ecohydrology of one seed juniper sapling suppression and recruitment. Joe Skeen Institute for Rangeland Restoration. 2006-2008. (PI)

The Natural Resource Development Center Collaborative Forest Restoration Project for Upper Mora Watershed. USFS through La Jicarita Community Enterprise. 2001-2005 (PI)

Time domain reflectometry monitoring of runoff, erosion, and sediment transport in Pinon-Juniper woodland watersheds. Sandia National Laboratories, Sandia University Research Program. 2002-2004 (PI)

Evaluation of burning and thinning effects on runoff, sediment yield, and vegetative cover in a northern New Mexico forest. NM Water Resources Research Institute. 2003-2004 (PI)

Mechanical Harvesting Impacts on Site Disturbance, Ground Cover and Runoff / Erosion on the Smokey Bear District of the Lincoln National Forest.USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station. 2004-2006. (Co-PI)

Effects of defoliation on soil moisture dynamics and understory herbaceous vegetation under dead and living juniper trees. Joe Skeen Institute for Rangeland Restoration. 2004-2006 (PI)

Effects of infrequent high intensity defoliation on herbaceous understory and soil moisture dynamics under dead and living one-seed juniper trees at Corona Ranch. Joe Skeen Institute for Rangeland Restoration. 2005-2006 (PI)

Collaborative Forest Management for Mora Watershed Health. USFS Collaborative Forest Management Program through La Jicarita Enterprise Community. 2006-2009 (PI)

Traditional irrigation system effects on surface water groundwater interactions in the Rio Grande Basin. USDA Efficient Irrigation for Water Conservation in the Rio Grande Basin. 2008-2011. (PI)

Hydrologic measurements for improved acequia water management. US Bureau of Reclamation Conservation Field Services Program. 2005-2008 (PI)

Irrigation ditch seepage effects on surface water/groundwater interaction along the Rio Grande river corridor. USDA Efficient Irrigation for Water Conservation in the Rio Grande Basin. 2001-2004 (PI)

Hydrologic budget impacts of seepage losses from flood irrigation. USDA Efficient Irrigation for Water Conservation in the Rio Grande Basin. 2004-2005 (PI)

Flow measurement for improved acequia water management. US Bureau of Reclamation Water Conservation Field Services Program. 2004-2006 (PI)

Riparian hydrologic controls on the fate of seepage from ditches and flood irrigation. USDA Efficient Irrigation for Water Conservation in the Rio Grande Basin. 2004-2007 (PI)

Effects of Ditch and Field Irrigation Seepage on Rio Grande Flow. USDA CSREES NRI Competitive Grants Program. 2005-2009 (PI)

Wireless sensor network for community ditch flow monitoring and management. Water Task Force 2005 NM Legislature Initiative. 2005-2006 (PI)

The Impacts of Land Use Change on Water Resources and Traditional Acequia Culture in North Central New Mexico. NMSU Research Cluster Mini-Grant Program. 2005-2006 (Co-PI)

New Mexico-Texas-Mexico border water issues. NMSU Mexico Grants Program. 2002. (PI)

Inventory and classification of wildfire occurrence in treated vs untreated forest stands on SW national forests. USDA Rocky Mountain Experiment Station. 2001-2003 (Co-PI)

Refereed Publications

Fernald, A., C. Ochoa, S. Guldan, J. Gomez-Velez, S. Rodriguez, J. Rivera and B. Turner. Systems modeling of human and hydrologic connections for resilience of traditional communities in irrigated agricultural valleys with shallow alluvial aquifers. Water Resources Research Socio-hydrology special issue (In preparation).

Hewitt, I.C., A.G. Fernald, Z. and A. Samani. Closed Chamber and Remote Sensing Estimates of Evapotranspiration in Northern New Mexico. Agricultural Water Management (In preparation)

Milana-Murcia, M., and A. G. Fernald. The U.S.-Mexico Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Program: Achievements, Cooperation with Mexico, and Current Efforts in the Mesilla Aquifer Basin. Natural Resources Journal (In preparation)

Senay, G, Z. Samani, I. Hewitt, F. Ochoa, and A. Fernald. Improving Evapotranspiration Estimation Using Remote Sensing Technology. Applied Engineering in Agriculture (In preparation)

Kuffour, Benjamin Nana O., Stringam, Blair L., Shukla, Manoj K., and Fernald, Alexander G., Water Table And Water Quality Variations With River Flow Along The Rio Grande Within Hatch-Rincon Valley. (In review)

Lopez, S., Cibils, A. F., Smedly, U. R., Guldan, S. J., Fernald, A. Linkages between livestock-raising and acequia irrigation farming in rural communities of northern New Mexico: A preliminary assessment. Rangeland Ecology and Management (In revision)

Fernald, A.G., F. Gokbulak, H.R. Garduño, and D.M. VanLeeuwen, Soil water availability effects of treating juniper with herbicide in central New Mexico, USA. Rangeland Ecology and Management. (In revision)

Ashcroft, N.K., A.G. Fernald, D.M. VanLeeuwen, T.T. Baker. (2017). The effects of thinning trees and scattering slash on runoff and sediment yield within dense piñon- juniper woodlands in New Mexico, U.S.A. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. (In press, April).

Gutierrez-Jurado,Karina Y., Fernald, Alexander G., Guldan, Steven J., and Ochoa, Carlos G.2017. (2017). Surface Water and Groundwater Interactions in Traditionally-Irrigated Fields in Northern New Mexico, U.S.A.,Water, 9, 102; doi:10.3390/w9020102

Chen, Hang, Liu, Zhongyi, Huo, Zailin, Qu, Zhongi, Xia, Yuhong, Fernald, Alexander. (2016). Impacts of agricultural water saving practice on regional groundwater and water consumption in an arid region with shallow groundwater, Environ Earth Sci (2016) 75:1204

Turner, B., V. Tidwell, A. Fernald, J. Rivera, S. Rodriguez, S. Guldan, C. Ochoa, B. Hurd, K. Boykin, A. Cibils. (2016). Modeling acequia irrigation systems using system dynamics: model development, evaluation, and sensitivity analyses to investigate effects of socio- economic and bio-physical feedbacks. Sustainability 8(10).

Flores, A., M. Shukla, D. Danial, A. Ulery, B. Schutte, G. Picchioni, S. Fernald. (2016). Evapotranspiration changes with irrigation using saline groundwater and RO concentrate. Journal of Arid Environments. 131:35-45.

Elaksher, A., A. Fernald, F. Kapoko. (2015). Evaluating the use of GPS heights in water conservation applications. Survey Review. Published online April 2015.

Cram, D.C., T. T. Baker, A. G. Fernald, A.F. Cibils, and D.M. VanLeeuwen. (2015). Fuel and vegetation trends after wildfire in treated versus untreated forests. Forest Science 61 (online), 1-10.

Ramirez, H.G., A. G. Fernald, D.M. VanLeeuwen. (2015). Noncommercial thinning effects on runoff and sediment yield in a mixed conifer New Mexico forest. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 70 (1), 12-22.

Fernald, A., Guldan, S., Boykin, K., Cibils, A., Gonzales, M., Hurd, B. H., Lopez, S., Ochoa, C., Ortiz, M., Rivera, J., Rodriquez, S., Steele, C. (2015). Linked hydrologic and social systems that support resilience of traditional irrigation communities. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 19, 293-307.

Ochoa, C., Guldan, S. J., Cibils, A. F., Lopez, S. C., Boykin, K. G., Tidwell, V. C., Fernald, A. (2013). Hydrologic connectivity of head waters and floodplains in a semiarid watershed. Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education, 152, 69-78.

El-Sadek, A., Shukla, M. K., Bleiweiss, M., Fernald A., Guldan, S. J. (2013) Evaluating sensitivity analysis and auto-calibration of a semi-distributed hydrological model for two semiarid watersheds of New Mexico. New Mexico Journal of Science, 46, 65-88.

Link, T. E., Saito, L., Fernald, A. (2013) Introduction to Interdisciplinary Modeling, Research, and Education. Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education, 152, 1-3.

Saito, L., Link, T. E., Fernald A., Kohne, L. (2013) Lessons Learned From an Inter-Institutional Graduate Course on Interdisciplinary Modeling for Water-Related Issues and Changing Climate. Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education, 152, 4-13.

Guldan, S. J., Fernald, A., Ochoa, C., Tidwell, V. C. (2013) Collaborative community hydrology research in northern New Mexico. Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education, 152, 49-54., Date Submitted: June 2013, Item applies to Promotion and Tenure criteria: Outreach.

Ochoa, C., Guldan, S. J., Cibils, A. F., Lopez, S., Boykin, K. G., Tidwell, V., Fernald, A. (2013) Hydrologic connectivity of head waters and floodplains in a semiarid watershed. Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education, 152, 69-78.

Rango, A., A. Fernald, C. Steele, B. Hurd, and C. Ochoa. (2013) Acequias and the effects of climate change. Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education, 151, 81-94.

Ochoa, C., Fernald, A., Guldan, S. J., Tidwell, V. C., Shukla, M. K. (2013) Shallow aquifer recharge from irrigation in a semi-arid agricultural valley in New Mexico. Journal of Hydrologic Engineering, 18, 1219-1230.

Fernald, A., V. Tidwell, J. Rivera, S. Rodri­guez, S. Guldan, C. Steele, C. Ochoa B. Hurd, M. Ortiz, K. Boykin, and A. Cibils. (2012) Modeling water, environment, livelihood, and culture in traditional irrigation communities and their linked watersheds. Sustainability, 4(11),2998-3022.

Fernald, A., J. Gallegos, D. VanLeeuwen, and T.T. Baker. 2012. Evaluation of litter hydrology in ponderosa pine and mixed conifer stands in northern New Mexico, USA. New Mexico Academy of Science 4:121-136.

Ochoa, C.G., A.G. Fernald, and S.J. Guldan. 2011. Caracterización del balance hi¬≠drico y la recarga por retorno de riego en un valle agricola de una región semiárida de los Estados Unidos de America. Estudios en la Zona no Saturada del Suelo. Vol. 10.

El-Sadek, A., M. Bleiweiss, M. Shukla, S. Guldan and A. Fernald. 2011. Alternative climate data sources for distributed hydrological modelling on a daily time step.Hydrological Processes. 25(10): 1542-1557

Ochoa, C.G., A.G. Fernald, and S.J. Guldan. 2011. Deep percolation from surface irrigation: Measurement and modeling using the RZWQM. In M.K. Shukla (Ed.), Soil Hydrology, Land Use and Agriculture: Measurement and Modeling. CABI, Wallingford, UK.

Fernald, A.G., S.J. Guldan, and C.G. Ochoa. 2010. Hydrological impacts of traditional community irrigation systems in New Mexico. Rural Connections 4(2):33-36.

Fernald, A.G., S.Y. Cevik, C.G. Ochoa, V.C. Tidwell, J.P King, and S.J. Guldan, 2010. River hydrograph retransmission functions of irrigated valley surface water groundwater interactions. Journal of Irrigation Drainage and Engineering. 136 (12).

Arumi, J. L., D. Rivera, E. Holzapfel, P. Boochs, M. Billib and A. Fernald, 2009. Effect of irrigation canal network on surface and groundwater connections in the lower valley of the Cachapoal River, Chile. Journal of Chilean Agricultural Science. 69(1):12-20.

Mason, G. J., T. T. Baker, D. S. Cram, J. C. Boren, A. G. Fernald, and D. M. VanLeeuwen. 2009. Mechanical fuel treatment effects on vegetation in a south central New Mexico dry mixed conifer forest. Forest Ecology and Management. 257:868-875.

Garduno, H., A. Cibils, D. VanLeeuwen, and A. Fernald. 2009. Response of understory vegetation and soil moisture to infrequent heavy defoliation of chemically thinned juniper woodland. Journal of Arid Environments. 74(2): 291-297.

Ochoa, C.G., A.G. Fernald, S.J. Guldan, and M.K. Shukla. 2009. Water movement through a shallow vadose zone--A field irrigation experiment. Vadose Zone Journal. 8(2):414-425.

Helmus, A.M., A.G. Fernald, D.M. VanLeeuwen, L.B. Abbott, A.L.Ulery, and T.T. Baker. 2009. Surface water seepage effects on shallow ground-water quality along the Rio Grande in northern New Mexico. Journal of the American Water Resources Association. 45(2):407-418.

Ramirez, H, A. Fernald, A. Cibils, M. Morris, S. Cox, and M. Rubio. 2008. Variation in herbaceous vegetation and soil moisture under treated and untreated one seed juniper trees. In: Restoration of Southwest Ponderosa Pine and Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystems. U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station Technical Report. RMRS-P51, 2008, 81-86.

Ochoa, C., A. Fernald, and V. Tidwell. 2008. Rainfall, soil moisture, and runoff dynamics in New Mexico pinon-juniper woodland watersheds. In: Restoration of Southwest Ponderosa Pine and Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystems. U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station Technical Report. RMRS-P51, 2008, 67-74.

Seedang, S., A.G. Fernald, R.M. Adams, and D. H. Landers. 2008. Economic analysis of water temperature reduction practices in a large river floodplain: an exploratory study of the Willamette River, Oregon. River Research and Applications. 24(7):941-959.

Ortiz, M.A., C. Brown, A. Fernald, T. Baker, B. Creel, and S. Guldan. 2007. Land use change impacts on acequia water resources in northern New Mexico. Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education. 137:47-54.

Cram, D.S., T.T. Baker, A.G. Fernald, A. Madrid, and B. Rummer. 2007. Mechanical thinning impacts on runoff, infiltration, and sediment yield following fuel reduction treatments in a southwestern dry mixed conifer forest. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 62(5):359-366.

Mason, G.J., T.T. Baker, D.S. Cram, J.C. Boren, A.G. Fernald, and D.M. VanLeeuwen. 2007. Mechanical fuel treatment effects on fuel loads and indices of crown fire potential in a south central New Mexico dry mixed conifer forest. Forest Ecology and Management 251:195-204.

Ochoa, C. G., A.G. Fernald, S.J. Guldan, and M.K. Shukla. 2007. Deep Percolation and its Effects on Shallow Groundwater Level Rise Following Flood Irrigation. Transactions of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers 50(1): 73-81.

Fernald, A.G., T.T. Baker, and S.J. Guldan. 2007. Hydrologic, Riparian, and Agroecosystem Functions of Traditional Acequia Irrigation Systems. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture 30(2):147-171.

Fernald, A.G., D.H. Landers, and P.J. Wigington, Jr. 2006. Water Quality Changes in Hyporheic Flow Paths Between a Large Gravel Bed River and Off-Channel Alcoves in Oregon, USA. River Research and Applications 22:1-14.

Madrid, A., A.G. Fernald, T.T. Baker, and D.M. VanLeeuwen. 2006. Evaluation of silvicultural treatment effects on infiltration, runoff, sediment yield, and soil moisture in a mixed conifer New Mexico forest. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 61(3): 159-168.

Smith, L. and A. Fernald. 2006. The Ineffectiveness of Using the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 to Implement Environmental Enhancement in the Rio Grande Canalization Project. Reviews in Fisheries Science 14(1-2): 139-167.

Fernald, A. and S. Guldan. 2006. Surface Water-Groundwater Interactions Between Irrigation Ditches, Alluvial Aquifers, and Streams. Reviews in Fisheries Science 14(1-2): 79-89.

MacDonald, L.H. and A.G. Fernald. 2003. Managing Forests and Woodlands for Increasing Water Yield: In: Johnson, P.S., L.A. Land, L.G. Price, and F. Titus [eds.], Water Resources of the Lower Pecos Region, New Mexico: Science, Policy, and a Look to the Future. New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, Socorro, NM. pp. 93-97.

Landers D.H., A.G. Fernald, and C. Andrus. 2002. Off-channel Habitats. In: Willamette River Basin Trajectories of Environmental and Ecological Change: A Planning Atlas. The Pacific Northwest Research Consortium, Oregon State University Press. Eugene, OR. pp. 24-25.

Fernald, A.G., P.J. Wigington, Jr., and D.H. Landers. 2001. Transient storage and hyporheic flow along the Willamette River, Oregon: model estimates and field measurements. Water Resources Research 37(6): 1681-1694.

Stednick, J.D. and A.G. Fernald. 1999. Nitrogen dynamics in stream and soil waters. Journal of Range Management 52(6): 615-633.

Frasier, G.W., M.J. Trlica, W.C. Leininger, R.A. Pearce, and A. Fernald. 1998. Runoff from simulated rainfall in 2 montane riparian communities. Journal of Range Management 51(3): 315-322.

Professional Activities

2016-present West Big Data Innovation Hub Steering Committee, Water Task Force
2011-present National Institutes of Water Resources (NIWR), Board member since 2013, President-elect 2017
2012- 2014 Agricultural water consortium of the land grant universities of the Colorado River Basin
2011- present NMSU Council of Associate Deans of Research (CADRe)
2011- present Lower Rio Grande Water Users Association
2011- present Consortium of Higher Investigations for Water and Wastewater
2011- present South-Central New Mexico Stormwater Management Coalition
2011- present Paso del Norte Water Task Force
2011- present South-Central Consortium for Watershed Excellence
2005- present University Research Council

International activities

Transboundary US-Mexico groundwater management
Helped establish NMSU-China Agric. Univ. Joint Water Sci. and Eng. Research Center
NMSU internationalization delegations to Costa Rica, Chile, and Ethiopia
Long term ongoing collaboration with researchers in Chile and Argentina
Graduate student advisor with New Mexico-Chihuahua Partnership for the Sierra Tarahumara
Host visiting professors from Mexico, Chile, Turkey, China
IQC-II member for US AID-funded response to developing country water resource issues
Workshop in Mexico to promote collaboration with Autonomous University of Chihuahua Investigated New Mexico-Texas-Mexico water issues in Rotary International Study Exchange