By Olivia Romo, NMAA Staff
On April 14th, 2016 the NM Acequia Association traveled to communities in Southern NM to give workshops, attend meetings, and have visits with local leadership to discuss and better understand water issues in the region. We began by visiting the magical Mimbres where we engaged the community with a Pathways to Funding – Financial Compliance workshop. NMAA staff and Chris Garcia, from the Office of the State Auditor, gave presentations about how to apply for funding and report expenditures when utilizing state and federal dollars for infrastructure projects.
After this workshop, NMAA met with local leaders and discussed their local issues in the acequia community, such as metering and district-specific regulations by the OSE. After reviewing their area issues the leaders gathered determined to organize themselves into a regional acequia association to better represent the needs of acequias and increase their influence when entering dialogue and decision making with other water entities including the State of NM.
Then on Friday, April 15th NMAA traveled to the beautiful town of Reserve for the Acequia and Community Ditch Meeting, which was hosted by Catron County. Irrigators and elected officials from seven acequias attended to learn about the technical assistance NMAA can provide including assisting acequias navigate funding and educational opportunities. There were many discussions around governance and David Benavides from NM Legal Aid answered many legal questions relating to water rights. Howard Hutchinson also gave an update on the Arizona Water Rights Settlement.
Lastly, NMAA traveled to Datil to meet with the San Augustin Plains Coalition who is in the process of fighting one of the largest water transfers in the State. An estimated 50,000 acre feet of water is being proposed to be sent to the Middle Rio Grande to supply water for new development. Such a transfer would not only be detrimental to the water users in Datil but potentially to the tributaries and users of the Gila river.