Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on February 12th 2016 that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and partners across the nation together will direct up to $720 million towards 84 conservation projects that will help communities improve water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability. These projects make up the second round of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) created by the 2014 Farm Bill.
For New Mexico, the proposed NRCS investment is $3 million thanks to NM Association of Conservation Districts lead partner, the NM Acequia Association, and NM Interstate Stream Commission. New Mexico has a rich history of community acequias supporting agriculture with approximately 800 acequias and community ditch associations serving many farmers or "parciantes" who make all, or part of their livelihood from farming and ranching. The majority of these farmers depending are minorities in under served communities.
The objective of this project is to facilitate and promote surface water conservation, increase irrigation system efficiency/effectiveness and improve water quality on agricultural lands and for downstream purposes. Water quantity and quality will also be improved by restoring historic acequias on agricultural lands supporting local families and communities.