By David Steinberg

Like many people, New Mexico author Jack Loeffler is deeply concerned about the water scarcity in the West. Not just in New Mexico, and not just in the Southwest.

“We’re in real trouble,” Loeffler said in an interview.

That concern underlies a five-part  discussion series that bear the overarching title – “Water Crisis in the West: Thinking Like a Watershed.” Loeffler is the series organizer and moderator.

The second panel discussion in the series will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 27 at the KiMo Theatre, Fifth and Central NW in Downtown Albuquerque. The topic is “Indigenous Perspectives: Native Americans.”

Panel members are author/lecturer Rina Swentzell of Santa Clara Pueblo, archaeologist Lyle Balenquah of the Hopi Nation, and Juan Estevan Arellano, a journalist and writer from Embudo who is known for his extensive knowledge of New Mexico’s acequias.

“This panel that’s coming up is to expose people to the indigenous thinking on not just water, but the relation of culture to habitat,” Loeffler said. “Each panel is designed to address a different aspect of the overall problem. The first panel (last Feb. 13) was to give an overview of the water crisis.”

The whole series is intended to evoke what he called a spirit of mutual cooperation rather than mutual antagonism among the various constituencies.

That, he said, will mean pushing for a shift “in the cultural attitude toward a more balanced ecological paradigm, rather than an economic-dominated paradigm.”

Loeffler’s phrase for that balanced paradigm is “restoration ecology,” in other words to try to bring ecosystems back together through restoring habitat.

The third panel, to be held at 7 p.m. April 24 at the KiMo, is “Rural Perspectives: Farmers & Ranchers.” Panelists are Carrizozo rancher Sid Goodloe, farmer/author Stan Crawford of Dixon

and Steve Harris, director of Rio Grande Restoration.

Among this panel’s discussion topics will probably include overgrazing and the growing likelihood of the scarcity of both surface and groundwater in New Mexico.

The 7 p.m. May 29 panel discussion at the KiMo, Loeffler said, will focus on the evolution of water in the American Southwest, including the Colorado River Compact and the Rio Grande Compact. Panel members are John Echohawk, director of the Native American Rights Fund, Bruce Frederick of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, and Em Hall, New Mexico author and water rights attorney.

Some of this panel’s discussion will focus on the competing interests of rural, urban and economically oriented best-use policies.

The fifth and final discussion in the series – “Privatizing Our Water Resources,” will be 7 p.m. June 26 at the KiMo. Panelists include author-editor Sonia Dickey; Albuquerque Journal science writer John Fleck, and Mike Hamman, area director of the federal Bureau of Reclamation.

Admission to all the discussions is free and open to the public. The series is made possible in part by the New Mexico Humanities Council.

The series subtitle is also the name of the 2012 book “Thinking Like a Watershed – Voices From the West” (UNM Press) which Loeffler and his daughter, Celestia Loeffler, edited. Some of the panelists in the series contributed essays that appear in the book.

Loeffler said he is currently writing a book on his reflections on the evolution of the environmental movement in the Southwest over the last 60 years. He is also the project director of the nonprofit organization Lore of the Land, Inc.