ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The National Science Foundation has awarded the University of New Mexico a $6 million grant for water resources research. UNM will partner with the Nevada System of Higher Education and the University of Idaho to create a western consortium dedicated to advancing watershed science, education and workforce development.

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the grant this week. The New Mexico Democrat says the money will help researchers better understand and address the environmental challenges facing New Mexico. In light of three years of severe drought and recent wildfires, she says the project is more important than ever.

The researchers expect to create better models to understand how factors such as climate change, precipitation, vegetation growth, fires and runoff effect water storage, flows and water quality.