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A compendium of worst-case scenarios, what-ifs, water heroes and wasters

June 8, 2011, 1:00 am

Water Wars

A lot of parents probably wish they could find a video game that would trick their kids into doing something useful. 

Intel Research scientist Tad Hirsch and Sandia National Laboratories scientist Vince Tidwell have done just that. Using immersive online gaming systems like Second Life and World of Warcraft as starting points, the two developed a game called Water Wars. Players tackle the challenge- and intrigue-filled scenario of, you guessed it, New Mexico water issues.

Instead of choosing an avatar who wanders the world killing trolls or just loitering in virtual reality, players opt to role-play farmers, developers or water management officials. True, it doesn’t sound as immediately alluring as wasting fools with a digital shotgun, but the game is already being tested locally and is, allegedly, more compelling than you’d think. As part of the Currents 2011: Santa Fe International New Media Festival (, Hirsch presents and discusses the project at the Santa Fe Complex.

Tad Hirsch Water Wars Presentation
10:30 am-noon Saturday, June 11
Free, register to attend at
Santa Fe Complex
632 Agua Fria St.

Bidder 70

Tim DeChristopher, aka Bidder 70, became something of a folk hero when he outbid oil and gas industry representatives for the exploration rights to 13 parcels of Utah land at a Bureau of Land Management auction in the waning days of the George W Bush administration. DeChristopher had no way to pay the $1.8 million he committed at auction, but his activism effectively tied up the parcels until the use of the land could be reconsidered under President Barack Obama.

On March 3 of this year, DeChristopher was found guilty of false representation and violating an onshore oil and gas leasing act. His prison sentence will be determined at a June 23 sentencing hearing. DeChristopher’s actions relate specifically to water because when natural gas is discovered and extracted, the industry practices typically utilized can be radically destructive to the water quality of underground aquifers.

Prior to his sentencing, New Energy Economy hosts a lecture and discussion with DeChristopher in Santa Fe.

Tim DeChristopher Lecture
6-8 pm Monday, June 13
$10 suggested donation
Greer Garson Theatre
Santa Fe University of Art and Design
1600 St. Michael’s Drive

Celebrando las Acequias

The Arid Lands Institute hosts the fourth annual Celebrando las Acequias event this week. The theme is Water Resilience and stems from both historic and contemporary perspectives on the use of acequias for irrigation and the community practice of managing precious resources.

In addition to a photography exhibition and live music, the three-day event includes a series of lectures and presentations aimed at water security, watershed management, farming, conservation and a host of other issues and ideas.

New Mexico’s historic acequia system established the use and conservation of water as a core community value, rather than a top-down bureaucratic management issue. Arid Lands Institute Event Director Estevan Arellano sees the potential for combining historical practices with modern conservation techniques to illuminate new regional strategies for water management.

Celebrando las Acequias
6 pm Friday; 9 am-9 pm Saturday; 9 am-3 pm Sunday, June 10-12
Mission Embudo
Hwy.75, Dixon

Santa Fe River Events

In the past year, the Santa Fe River has become the locus of community-oriented art events aimed at raising awareness about a healthy river and the importance of smart water policy.

In November of 2010, the Santa Fe Art Institute, in conjunction with, conducted Flash Flood, an event that involved hundreds of Santa Fe residents gathering in the dry riverbed and flipping up blue boards and tarps in a synchronous motion captured by satellite imaging. The action created a sudden “flood” in the river and corresponded to other actions carried out around the world at nearly 20 other locations.

On June 4, artists and community members, including Matthew Chase-Daniel, Don Kennell, Chrissie Orr, Rulan Tangen, Dominique Mazeaud, Bobbe Besold and Aimee Conlee performed water rituals and created temporary art installations for How’s The Water. The event was geared at raising awareness about the ever-dwindling and precious commodity.

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