Attention Acequia Commissioners and Mayordomos:
Guidance on Acequia Meetings during the COVID Pandemic (updated 12/21/21)
Covid case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths are on the rise nationally. In response to the new Omicron variant, the CDC has strengthened its recommendation saying, “The recent emergence of the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and prevention efforts needed to protect against COVID-19.” Acequia communities are vulnerable because of our elder population and because our health care system and hospitals are strained.
Prevention efforts include the following:
- Avoid large, indoor gatherings.
- Wear masks.
- Maintain social distancing.
- Wash or sanitize hands frequently.
Many acequias have asked for direction on whether to hold their annual membership meetings. It is important to point out that although acequia statutes state specific dates for scheduling of annual meetings, there is also language that allows for meetings to take place “as soon as practicable thereafter.”
Also, an Attorney General memo from 2020, advised during the state of emergency declared by the Governor, that local governments could postpone meetings or could hold them virtually.
Therefore, NMAA is offering the following guidance. This is not legal advice. If there are any specific questions, you may contact our office or consult with your own attorney.
- Avoid indoor meetings.
- Membership meetings CAN be postponed until pandemic conditions improve.
- If there is urgent business, such as deadlines for funding applications or project management, commissioners can hold special commission meetings provided that the meetings are compliant with the Open Meetings Act.
- Membership meetings should be held virtually via online platforms provided that meetings are compliant with the Open Meetings Act until current conditions related to the pandemic improve.
- Consider outdoor meetings if weather allows provided that the meetings follow the Open Meetings Act.
The NMAA can provide assistance in hosting online meetings via Zoom including technical assistance with the online meeting and ensuring the meeting is OMA compliant.
If you have general questions, contact Serafina: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like NMAA support in hosting a online/phone meeting, contact Emily: email@example.com