By Harold Trujillo, NMAA Presdient
"As I reflect on my first year as president and as cofounder of the New Mexico Acequia Association, I see that much has been accomplished and much work remains to preserve our Acequia water rights and ways of life. My goals are to preserve the work of our ancestors, strengthen the organization and strengthen our family farms."
Maintain and improve our infrastructure.
Acequias have a very high value from an infrastructure and environmental point of view. Acequias provide a significant environmental service by creating green islands in an arid environment for wildlife, crops, livestock and our families. In addition, the replacement value of our diversions, flumes, farm head gates and easement are probably worth several 100's of thousands of dollars or more.
We need to start developing long range plans to maintain, renew and improve our Acequias. We need to make our systems easy to operate and more water efficient. We already see this plans (asset management plans) being requested for applications to the Water Trust Board or for our ICIP plans to request funding. We also need to look at our internal resources with our Acequia parcientes who have equipment and skills that can improve our Acequias. Our ancestors did not depend on the state or federal government to build and maintain our Acequias.
To strengthen the NMAA by increasing the capacity of our regional associations, creating new regional associations and becoming more self-sufficient.
Regional associations can help their local Acequias resolve water issues or inform them of statewide issues that will affect them. For example, regional associations can help develop capital outlay projects and prioritize needs. We currently have the Jemez region that develops, prioritizes, coordinates and implements projects funded by the legislature.
We also need to voice our concerns for our water rights and way of life from all parts of the State where we have Acequias. We need to create regional associations in areas that are not represented. We have Acequias all over the state, not just in the northern part of the state.
We also need to become more self-sufficient. Currently, less than 10% of the funding for the services we provide by NMAA comes from our membership.
We need to strengthen our family farms.
We are facing pressure from our communities, cities, developers and others who want water rights for their own needs and ventures. We need to look at improving the crops we grow and trying new more valuable crops and more efficient irrigation systems. We also need to restore our traditional methods and spend time in the field to guide and shepherd the water to prevent over-watering and waste. Our traditional system of water allocation by time (datas) is inherently water efficient because it encourages us to irrigate the most we can with our time allocation.
I welcome your suggestions and hope for your support to implement these goals.
Harold Trujillo, President
New Mexico Association