Acequia Mesa del Medio Seeks Legal Assistance

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By Toby Velasquez

Astride the rural community of Mesa Poleo, near Coyote in Rio Arriba County, the Acequia Mesa del Medio meanders from its subterranean diversion at Rito Resumidero below the San Pedro Parks Wilderness to bring life – "El Agua es la Vida" – to approximately 430 acres of irrigated farmland, as it has for over 132 years since the Acequia was established in 1880.

In 1948, the Acequia del Medio took legal action to defend its priority water right against a junior water right holder who was depriving the community through excessive diversions at a point upstream. This resulted in the eventual adjudication of the Rio Puerco de Chama stream system by the District Court in 1962. Over the last 50 years, there have been many attempts to usurp the enduring method of water distribution known as the "derecho system" historically employed by the Acequia, in favor of water distribution strictly based on adjudicated acreage. This is tantamount to an unlawful redistribution of "Ditch Rights."

For over a year now, the Acequia has been locked in a legal battle brought on by one of its members, threatening survival of an important cultural and traditional resource. The goal of this lawsuit is to unravel the customs and traditions, which have been in practice for well over a century, by having a judge determine the way in which our acequia water is distributed.
Left unchecked, the outcome of this lawsuit will encourage water right holders across New Mexico who seek to have existing "ditch rights" redistributed in their favor; all without just compensation to the historic owners.

The Acequia Mesa del Medio is respectfully requesting your assistance to prevent this injustice from transpiring. A benefit drawing for a new ATV has been organized to assist in the legal costs associated with this case. Tickets may be purchased ($50) at the NMAA office in Santa Fe or by sending a check made out to:

Acequia Mesa del Medio
P.O. Box 137
Coyote, NM 87012

Please provide an address and phone number so that ticket delivery can be arranged. The New Mexico Acequia Association and the Acequia Mesa del Medio thank you in advance for your generosity and support that will go a long way in safeguarding a very important aspect of our collective agricultural heritage!


Grand Prize: Honda Rancher ES 4×4 NaturalGearTM Camo 2012, Model TRX420FE12, MSRP: $6,699.00

Second Prize: $1,000.00 Cash

Third Prize: $ 500.00 Cash

Drawing to be Held Immediately after the Annual Meeting of the Acequia Mesa del Medio on February 23, 2013, Coyote, New Mexico. Need Not be Present to Win. Winner of ATV is responsible for all applicable Taxes, Title, & License Fees.

Tickets: $50.00 ea.