January 2014

The Acequia Movement in New Mexico

Acequia Movement Map
1. Taos Valley Acequia Association: Established in the 1980s when leaders fought gentrification and land subdivisions in acequia villages such as Valdez. Organized for united defense of acequias in the Abeyta adjudication for 55 community acequias. Reached a negotiated settlement with Taos Pueblo and other parties in 2012. The Taos Valley is also one of the three sites for a NMSU acequia multidisciplinary research project funded by the National Science Foundation. Acequias are prevalent in other areas of Taos County along the Río Pueblo, Ojo Sarco, Chamisal and others.

2. Río Pojoaque Acequia and Water Well Association: Also one of the oldest regional acequia associations, the Riíamodt settlement with the Pueblos of San Ildefonso, Nambé, Pojoaque, and Tesuque. Elsewhere in Santa Fe County, acequias are active in the City of Santa Fe, La Cienega, La Bajada.

3. Río Quemado, Río en Medio, Río Frijoes, Río Santa Cruz Acequia Association: Established in the 1980s for collective defense of about 40 acequias in water right adjudication proceedings. About 30 of those acequias are part of the Santa Cruz Irrigation District created in the 1920s to improve water supply for irrigation.

4. La Asociacion de las Acequias del Valle de Mora: Representing over 30 acequias in the Mora Valley, AAVM was created about 10 years ago to protect acequias from upstream illegal diversions of water. Since then, they have established a Family and Community Gardening Project.

5. Río de las Gallinas Acequia Association: Established for collective defense in water right adjudication, RGAA represents about 16 acequias. Best known for fighting a 50 year legal battle against the City of Las Vegas over the concept of an “expanding water right.”

6. Río de Chama Acequias Association: One of the oldest regional associations, the RCAA (about 27 acequias) has been very engaged in adjudication, water management along the Río Chama, and education and outreach to its members. Recently was involved in a basin-wide water sharing agreement with upstream La Asociación de las Acequias Norteñas del Río Arriba.

7. Las Nueve Acequias del Río Grande: Comprising nine acequias along the Río Grande near Alcalde and Velarde, Las Nueve was first established to resist a plan to build a large dam which would have flooded acres of farmland. In recent years, Las Nueve has focused on acequia governance and infrastructure improvements. Local acequia leader Alfredo Montoya, chair of the Río Arriba County Commission, passed an agricultural land protection ordinance and enacted one of the most strict oil and gas county ordinances in New Mexico. Alcalde is also one of the three sites for a NMSU acequia multidisciplinary research project funded by the National Science Foundation.

8. Embudo Valley Acequia Association: Organized mainly around the activities related to water sharing, the acequias of the Embudo Valley are renowned for their produce. The Valley is the site of the annual Celebración de las Acequias in June of each year.

9. La Asociación de las Acequias Nortenas del Río Arriba: Comprising of nearly two dozen acequias on the upper tributaries to the Río Chama, Acequias Nortenas was also established for united defense in water right adjudication. Acequia leaders of the area were vocal in opposing oil and gas drilling in the upper watersheds where their acequia waters originate and advocated for strict controls. The Acequias Nortenas leadership negotiated a historic water sharing agreement with the Río Chama Acequias Association during the dry summer of 2013.

10. Questa/Cerro/Costilla: Although very distinct communities, this area completed the adjudication on the Red River and succeeded in restoring water rights to hundreds of acres that had been omitted in the first survey of water rights. Recently, Questa acequias and the Village of Questa have protested a water transfer to the Taos Valley. Acequias along the Rio Costilla share a border with Colorado and are carefully administered to meet an interstate water compact.

11. Jémez River Basin Coalition of Acequias: About 16 acequias in the area have united for common defense in the Abousleman adjudication involving the Pueblos of Zia and Jémez. The coalition was the first in the state to work together to prioritize infrastructure needs for Capital Outlay and they united behind one package each year highlighting the needs of one or two key projects. Additionally, Sandoval County has numerous acequias in the Nacimiento Basin in the communities of Cuba, Ponderosa and others.

12. South Valley Regional Association of Acequias: Although the Middle Río Grande Conservancy District absorbed much of the operation of irrigation in the Middle Valley, historic acequias persist. Making a comeback to maintain historic farmlands in irrigation, seven acequias have reorganized in recent years. Acequia leaders are currently protesting a water transfer from the South Valley to Santa Fe. In addition to the South Valley acequias, Bernalillo County, east of Albuquerque, historic acequias in Carnuel and San Antonio continue to be active.

13. El Rito Acequia Association: About 14 acequias in El Rito and surrounding areas organized themselves for common defense in adjudication. The Association has been active in outreach and community education in the area and is one of the three sites for a NMSU acequia multidisciplinary research project funded by the National Science Foundation

14. La Joya: A single acequia in the Middle Rio Grande excluded from the Middle Río Grande Conservancy District has been instrumental in high profile water transfers including a protest against Intel Corporation and another against the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Authority.

15. Upper Hondo Water Users Association: A network of acequias in Lincoln County has vigilantly worked to protect local water rights from diversions and transfers by the City of Ruidoso and Ruidoso Downs. Local acequia leader, Jackie Powell, chair of the Lincoln County Commission, enacted a moratorium on subdivisions because of the scarcity of water.

16. Mimbres Valley: Water rights in the Mimbres Valley were adjudicated several years ago and are one area where the State Engineer has sought to administer water rights using meters. Local leaders scrutinized metering agreements are working to retain autonomy over their own diversions while complementing administration of water rights by the State Engineer.

17. Monticello, La Cuchilla, Reserve: Acequias in this area protested a water transfer to Los Lunas and are involved in the protest of an application to appropriate water from St. Augustine Plains to the Middle Río Grande.

18 and 19. Acequia organizations have also organized in Gallina/Capulin, Ojo Caliente/Río Las Tusas, Truchas areas to provide for a unified defense of water rights in their respective water-right adjudication suits.

20. Community ditches in the northwest part of the state, the San Juan Water Users Association, are also organized and advocate for the community ditch water rights of the area.

21. Acequias in the western part of the state, in the Grants and San Fidel area, have been involved in that adjudication for several years.

22. Tularosa Community Ditch: A unique community ditch in the town of Tularosa runs through the residential streets and on the outskirts irrigating farms and gardens.

23. Guadalupe County is home to acequias in the villages of Tecolitito, La Loma, Anton Chico, Dilia, and Puerto de Luna.




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