15th Annual Congreso de las Acequias

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"Poco a poco se anda lejos: Honoring Centuries of Acequia History & Celebrating 25 Years of Acequia Advocacy" will be held on Saturday, November 15th at the Sagebrush Inn (1508 Paseo Del Pueblo Sur, Taos, NM 87571) where NMAA will be celebrating its 25th anniversary! The Congreso de las Acequias is the largest gathering of ace­quia members and supporters in New Mexico. CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE PROGRAM.

Following the customary Bendición de las Aguas, a water blessing that's meant to set the tone for the day's activities by honoring the life-giving sacredness of water, will be a full day of information, celebration, entertainment, and remembrance. 

This year, we lost three widely respected acequieros including Tomas Atencio, Facundo Valdez, and Estevan Arellano; and the NMAA will take the time to pay homage with a tribute that honors their legacies.

NMAA Concilio member, Don Bustos, will lead a presentation and ceremony recognizing a New Mexico acequia delegation that recently attended a conference in Valencia, Spain where the NMAA was presented a Medal of Honor for preserving "Nuestras Acequias Vida, Cultura y Tradicion." 

The program will also include informational/education presentations by acequia leaders from various regions of New Mexico. Toby Martinez of the Acequia Madre del Rio Grande in Taos will discuss ways to prevent sharp increases in property taxes with respect to the special valuation method for agricultural land in Taos County. Johnny Reed, mayordomo of the Ancheta-Galaz Community Ditch in southern New Mexico, will share the story about the issues his community is facing surrounding acequia water metering in the Mimbres Valley. Virginia Necochea of the Center for Sustainable Social Systems, will update attendees on the status of the proposed Santolina Development in Albuquerque's south valley. Presiliano Torrez, Commissioner of Storm Ditch in Lincoln County, will give a presentation on the importance of due process in water transfer leases.

The Acequia Awards Ceremony, which honors and celebrates acequias leaders and advocates, will take place during the luncheon. Antonio Medina will be presented with the Acequia Lifetime Achievement Award, which is NMAA's highest honor. Lifelong sheep farmer Fermin Torres, an 87 year old Arroyo Seco resident, will be presented the Mayordomo of the Year Award; Felix Santistevan, lifelong resident of Las Colonias will receive the Farmer-Rancher of the Year Award; Santiago Maestas, community leader in Albuquerque's South Valley will be presented the Acequia Advocate of the Year Award; and Dr. Jose Rivera will receive the first ever Acequia Scholar Award for his years of academic service to acequias.  

Event entertainers will include local Taos poet, Olivia Romo, and an original song performances by students from Questa-based Roots and Wings Community School. Acequiero, David Garcia, will serenade the attendees throughout the day with his original, culturally vibrant music. 

Following the luncheon, attendees will be given a presentation on NMAA's Sembrando Semillas intergenerational project. The 2014 Sembrando Semillas season supported a network of intergenerational groups in Chamisal, Mora, Abiquiu, Servilleta, South Valley, Peñasco, and the Española Valley. 

Finally, the event will be rounded out with concurrent sessions. The Congreso de las Acequias, made up of regional delegations, will meet to review and vote on resolutions that drive NMAA's policy efforts. Concurrently, a workshop will be presented by Taos Soil and Water Conservation District Manager Peter Vigil, "Acequia Funding 101: How to Stop the Runaround."

The event is co-hosted by the Taos Valley Acequia Association and the Taos Soil and Water Conservation District. Event sponsors include NRCS-USDA, FSA-USDA, Taos Soil and Water Conservation District, Trader Joe's, American Friends Service Committee, Rancho de Chimayo Restaurant, Los Alamos National Bank, Santa Cruz Farm, and La Asociacion de las Acequia del Valle de Mora.  

The Congreso will take place at the Sagebrush Inn (1508 Paseo Del Pueblo Sur, Taos, NM 87571). If you're interested in lodging, there is a block rate available if you mention the NM Acequia Association when you call to make arrangements. Also, we'd like to remind participants to bring water from your respective regions to participate in the Bendición de las Acequias. Children 12 years and under are free. Online registration will remain open until Thursday, November 13th at 4:00pm. We hope to see you there. ¡Que vivan las acequias!