Contemporary Issues (WR 571)

Currently taught every fall semester (cross listed as ECON 546)


Albuquerque North Valley ditch, John Fleck, July  2020

There’s Less Water. What Do We Do?

You care about water. So do we.

There will be less of it. We have to figure out what to do about that.

Whether it is coursing down the bed of the Rio Grande flowing through the center of our city, or drifting down the irrigation ditches onto a newly planted field, or flowing from our tap, or carried in a tank in the bed of a pickup to our home, it is central to our lives. That preciousness requires careful attention – now, and for the bequest package we pass to future generations.

This course will begin your journey to learn the skills to describe, analyze, and evaluate our water, and to gain a better understanding of the tradeoffs needed to successfully manage this scarce resource.

This interdisciplinary graduate course is the first in the core sequence for the University of New Mexico’s Water Resources Program, leading to the Masters in Water Resources [MWR] degree. The course’s interdisciplinary nature has also made it popular with graduate students from a broad range of disciplines, from Engineering, Biology, Earth Sciences, and Geography and Environmental Studies, to Community and Regional Planning, Law, and Economics in the social sciences.

It is taught by Robert Berrens and John Fleck, an economist and writer, respectively. The pair are both former UNM Water Resources Program directors, they have been co-teaching the class for a decade, and they are the co-authors of the forthcoming University of New Mexico Press book Ribbons of Green: The Rio Grande and the Making of a Modern American City.

For questions, contact Robert Berrens ( and John Fleck (