Infrastructure Planning: Step by Step Process Overview

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Acequia in Chamisal NM-Unknown Photographer 


By Serafina Lombardi, NMAA Staff

Repairing infrastructure provides acequias with opportunities beyond the physical improvements. The work completed may increase the availability of water in the ditch, this can in turn increase parciante participation in irrigating and in the acequia's business, which may increase folks actively paying dues. Approaching an infrastructure project can be an exercise in building community and involvement in the ditch as the commission rallies members around a project.
There are four stages for a successful infrastructure project. NMAA stands at the ready to assist your acequia on any or all of these phases.
  1. Assessment-What are the infrastructure issues interfering with the effective functioning of your ditch? What are the concerns of the mayordomo and parciantes?
  • Are these fixes that can be done internally? Do regular repairs continue to fail and require a longer term remedy?
  • Once you have an internal handle on your concerns we recommend contacting NMAA for a referral to the New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts (NMACD).
  • An NMACD expert will walk the areas of concern with you to evaluate solutions and help you prioritize areas of work.
  • NMACD will develop a cost estimate with general details of each project.
  • It is highly advisable to bring the proposed projects to a vote at a membership meeting to create buy-in early on and avoid confusion or controversy later. Explain the benefits of the project to the parciantes, listen to and weigh concerns and impact

    • This is particularly important as you may need to raise dues temporarily to raise funds for the project.
    • A large scale project (ie diversion dam in a larger water way) will be referred to the Army Corp of Engineers.
    • For large scale projects it is particularly vital to engage the parciante and wider community in evaluating the potential impacts of the project

2. Planning and Design

    • Create an Infrastructure and Capital Improvement Plan (ICIP) through NMAA.


    • The ICIP is a planning tool where we will identify priority projects and funding sources.


    • Funding a design is a crucial step. There is limited funding for designs. Once your acequia has a design funded the construction phase can proceed. Sources of funding for designs include, the acequia's internal funds, Capital Outlay, Regional Conservation Partnership Project (RCPP) or Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) and some local Soil and Water Conservation Districts.


    • Procurement Code must be followed when putting a design project out to bid.


    • Submit applications to appropriate funding sources for construction funds. Call NMAA for a complete listing.

3. Construction and Inspection

    • Once a design is complete and funding is secured for construction the acequia will follow procurement code in putting the project out to bid (generally ISC offers this technical assistance).


    • If using RCPP funds NMACD will provide an inspector before and after the construction phase.


    • ISC will do final inspection of any projects it funded.

4. Financial Reporting and Audits

    • Consider starting construction at a time when all project monies can be spent in 1 calendar year (if your acequia operates on a calendar year), this helps elevate the reporting burden.


    • Before you embark on a new project be sure you are already in compliance with state, this is a requirement of all funding sources.


    • Anticipate Financial reporting. As political subdivisions of the state we must do detailed reporting of any annual revenue over $10,000 to the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA).


  • Preliminary and final approved budget with a resolution (using a DFA template)
  • Quarterly budget reports
  • Budget amendment resolutions when the budget changes
  • Report project expenditures online through the Capital Project Monitoring System (CPMS).
  • Office of the State Auditor (OSA) requires a modified audit based on the tier system once expenditures are complete. Register online with OSA-Connect ahead of time.
  • The Agreed Upon Procedures (AUP) or modified audit will come at a cost to the acequia. Consider saving money for this and applying with the OSA for financial assistance, usually in July of each year.
Don't forget NMAA staff is here to support you every step of the way. The above is meant to give you an overview of what to expect, or a reminder to reference. We want to work closely with you to ensure a successful project. Good Luck!