Hundreds of Parciantes Vote in Chimayo Acequia Meeting

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On January 7, 2007, Acequia de la Canada Ancha parciantes voted to enact new bylaws authorizing the commission to have decision-making power over water transfers. The meeting was attended by hundreds of parciantes of that acequia. The high attendance was partly as a result of a controversial flyer sent by Jerry Powers, who is not a parciante. In his flyer, he stated, “Your water rights are in danger!” in response by efforts by the acequia commission to have more control over water transfers at the local level. (See article from Rio Grande Sun, “Chimayo Residents Vote in Droves to Change Acequia Bylaws.”)

After a two hour long discussion, the parciantes voted overwhelmingly by a supermajority to approve the new bylaws. “The people have spoken,” said Commissioner Delbert Trujillo. Janice Varela, an NMAA staffer who provided assistance in drafting the new bylaws said, “The parciantes sent a message that tradition and culture are more important than money.”

A law passed by the state legislature in 2003 recognizes the power of an acequia to regulate water transfers. Prior to 2003, only the state engineer could decide whether to allow a water transfer. Because of his lack of consideration of acequia concerns, NMAA promoted the 2003 legislation to give acequias more of a say in the water transfer process. “Acequia officials are locally elected and have greater knowledge about the issues facing their communities. Having this power is an expression of self-governance.”

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