Balancing Rain Appreciation & Flood Frustration: Disaster Assistance for Acequias

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Monsoon rains over the Jemez Mountains. Photo by Quita Ortiz.
Although much of the state is still in the middle of an intense and long term drought, the 2014 irrigation season has been marked with the blessing of much needed monsoon rains. Many have hoped for the past few years, and it's apparent that New Mexico has finally transitioned into an El Niño cycle which is characterized by above average precipitation in the U.S. Southwest due to fluctuations in ocean and atmospheric temperature in the Pacific region. In recent months the state has received a tremendous amount of moisture, at least by desert standards. Parts of New Mexico have received record rainfall. According to the National Weather Service, last month Albuquerque experienced its third wettest July on record.

Our crops haven't been left wilted by the intense summer heat that was prevalent the past few years. And although the late spring and summer rain gave our forests a much-needed reprieve from parching wildfires, it hasn't come without hardships. Torrential downpours are accompanied by severe flooding episodes and, unfortunately, acequias are not exempt from the damages caused by such flooding. Many acequias are currently grappling with damage to infrastructure and copious accumulation of silt in ditches, valleys, and culverts. Additionally, some farmers have even reported crop damage from summer hail.

Acequias may be eligible for emergency funding available for recovery and repairs resulting from the recent flooding. Acequias officials should communicate with the emergency manager from their county as soon as possible to let them know the extent of the damage to their acequia. A list of contacts, by county, at the NM Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Management can found HERE. The Application for State Disaster Assistance is available on our website. 

Visit the following websites to view interactive maps, tables, and charts for information about drought, recent precipitation accumulations and river stream-flow information: