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May 24, 2024

USGS scientists traveled to La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico, to conduct community outreach and field research on using low-tech, low-cost natural infrastructure in dryland streams (NIDS) as a nature-based solution to improve climate resilience in arid lands.


USGS scientists Dr. Laura Norman, Alma Anides-Morales, Barry Middleton, Natalie Wilson, and Dr. Miguel Villarreal, of the Western Geographic Science Center, and Jason Sorenson of the New England Water Science Center, traveled to La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico, in early 2024. 


USGS co-hosts children's water festival in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico

On March 11, 2024, USGS and partners hosted “Festival Caminos Del Agua” (Water Pathways) in El Sargento, Baja California Sur, Mexico. One hundred and fifteen students from the local middle and high schools took part in hands-on activities including: 

photograph of black board with colored chalk showing drawings of clouds, water drops, plants, flowers, and the Earth
A student chalkboard word cloud at the Caminos Del Agua Water Festival, Los Planes watershed, Baja California Sur, Mexico. (Víctor Sevilla Unda, Autonomous University of Baja California Sur)
  • Water quality
  • Aquifer recharge
  • Rock detention structures (NIDS)
  • Virtual reality accuracy and precision game
  • Word cloud
  • Contaminants in your body

These activities build on previous efforts to improve weather monitoring in the region, including DIY rain gauges with youth and the installation of new monitoring equipment.

Students explored how water moves in a watershed, compared rainfall data from different monitoring methods, and learned hydrology concepts. 

USGS worked with Kumutú STEAM, a program of the Ándale La Paz AC organization, Center for Renewable Energy and Environmental Quality (CERCA), Agua Viva International, and Pronatura, to organize the festival with help from professors and students in the Academic Department of Earth Sciences at the Autonomous University of Baja California Sur (UABCS). 

Participating USGS staff included Jason Sorenson from the New England Water Science Center and Dr. Laura Norman and Alma Anides Morales from the Western Geographic Science Center. 



Photograph of a person holding a white curved tube on a red reel in a silver well pipe on white sand with desert vegetation
USGS and Innovaciones Alumbra scientists monitoring a well in shallow groundwater in Los Planes watershed, Baja California Sur, Mexico. (Laura Norman, USGS) 


USGS is working with partners to understand the impacts of installing natural infrastructure in dryland streams (NIDS), structures made from rock, sandbags and wood, meant to slow the drainage of water from the landscape such that more of it can infiltrate and be used to facilitate natural physical, chemical, and biological processes in fluvial environments. Research is underway on a working ranch in the Los Planes watershed near La Paz, in southern Baja California Sur, Mexico. 

Areas of research include 

  • hydrogeological instrumentation, 
  • recording water budget observations, 
  • watershed and groundwater modeling, 
  • analyzing vegetation response and potential evapotranspiration, and 
  • documenting change in feedbacks between 
    • geomorphology, 
    • ecological processes, and 
    • hydrology



photograph tan loose ground with cactus and other desert plants under a partly cloudy blue sky
USGS scientists mapping vegetation and land use in the Los Planes watershed, Baja California Sur, Mexico. (Alma Anides-Morales, USGS) 


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