Verhines directs the University of New Mexico’s Water Resources Program: UNM Newsroom


Faced with the threat of the Rio Grande drying up through Albuquerque this summer and increasing threats to the state’s water supplies, the University of New Mexico has appointed Scott Verhines as the next director of the UNM Water Resources Program.

A native of New Mexico, Verhines brings a lifetime of water management experience, culminating in 2011-2014 as New Mexico State Engineer and Secretary of the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission – the state’s top water management jobs.

“Scott has worked on water resource challenges in all parts of New Mexico for over three decades,” said Julie Coonrod, UNM dean of graduate studies who leads the program. “His experience ranges from public meetings with various stakeholders in rural areas to working as a state engineer whose office is responsible for managing the state’s water resources. Verhines’ focus on the community will continue to improve the water resources program. “

Founded in 1991, the Water Resources Program is a postgraduate program focused on improving sustainable water management in New Mexico and the west, primarily through training the next generation of water managers in the area.

The choice of Verhines expands the interdisciplinary approach taken by outgoing Director John Fleck’s program management over the past five years. Fleck, a water scientist, author, and former journalist, used his work and connections as a bridge to water management.

UNM economics professor Janie Chermak, a longtime water researcher who led the search committee, said Verhines was well positioned to expand that base. “Scott’s background and experience gives the program a dynamic that allows it to improve collaboration and forge new partnerships across the state while preserving the exceptional educational opportunities that the program has always offered WRP students,” she said.

Blot agreed. “Scott’s connections and experience in New Mexico water management will be an amazing asset to the university community, especially water resources students.”

Fleck, who wrote two books on the Colorado River during his membership in the Water Resources Program, is stepping down to work on a book on the past and future of water management on the Rio Grande.

In addition to his work in the state government, Verhines has a 44-year career as a civil engineer working on water resources, transportation, flood protection and drainage projects. He has represented New Mexico on the Western States Water Council and testified before the New Mexico Legislature and the US Congress on water issues. He holds a Masters of Science degree in Civil Engineering and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of New Mexico.

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