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Acequia del Medio de la Plaza Community Diversion Project

The following is an excerpt from a story written by Kenny Salazar, illustrating how the coupling of patience and unwavering determination among acequia leaders in Cordova lead to the completion of a project that will serve its community for many years to come.

After the workshop ended, three gentlemen approached me and introduced themselves as the Romeros (Frankie, Roy, and Benny) from Acequia del Medio de la Plaza in Cordova. They were very impressed with the workshop and admitted that their acequia needed a lot of help. I gave them my business card and told them to contact me and I’d assist them as much as I could.

Well, the next day the phone rang and it was Frankie. “Our acequia needs bylaws”, he told me. I quickly got started using the NMAA template after he delivered the old version they had been using. The acequia description section needed a lot of work so I called Frankie. He told me he would have a written description delivered ASAP to the Santa Cruz Irrigation District (SCID) office. The following afternoon, his wife delivered the written description to SCID since Frankie had to go to work. Then and there I knew these guys were serious. I met with the acequia commissioners a few times in the course of a month and a bylaw draft was ready for presentation to the parciantes. They didn’t waste time organizing a bylaw parciante meeting either. A parciantes-approved set of bylaws were approved in short order making sure the Open Meetings Act provisions were followed. I thought it was going to end there.

A week later, Frankie called me again asking, “We’d like to show you our acequia on Saturday if you have the time”. How could I turn down such enthusiastic Commissioners? I went to Cordova and they showed me their point of diversion on the Rio Quemado. It consisted of large rocks, boards, anything that had weight and could divert water. They definitely needed a diversion structure.

I told them that the first thing they needed to do was to get the diversion engineered so they could then seek the funding. I advised then to contact the Santa Fe/Pojoaque Soil and Water Conservation District’s NRCS conservationist. They did and were told the waiting list was long and that it would be at least 3 years before NRCS could get to their acequia.

As luck would have it, at this crucial time I received a phone call from a childhood friend, Floyd Archuleta, who was now a consultant for Portage, Inc., an engineering firm. Floyd told me that Portage’s contract with LANL required community service and he knew I was in the acequia business. I immediately thought of the acequia in Cordova and so Floyd, Ray Schwaller (Portage Engineer) and I went to the Acequia del Medio de la Plaza’s diversion to look at the possibility of assisting them with the engineering.

 

The full version will be featured in NMAA's winter issue of Noticias de las Acequias in January.

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