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Author: Emily Arasim

Acequia Career Day – March 4, 2021

Acequia Career Day!

Thursday March 4th, 2021 from 4:00-6:00pm

Online using Zoom or phone (registration link below)

New Mexico youth are invited to join an exciting ACEQUIA CAREER DAY event! This gathering will include presentations by inspiring experts and leaders who work in many diverse ways to protect NM acequia waters and acequia culture and traditions – such as acequia commissioners and mayordomos, historians, documentarians and storytellers, political advocates, lawyers, artists, musicians and poets, farmers and ranchers, herbal medicine makers and food business owners, scientists, caretakers of forests and soil, and more! List of featured presenters, coming soon.

After the main panel, youth participants will be able to choose which career and livelihood paths interest them, and go into small groups to ask questions, dig in deeper, and brainstorm about how they can get involved in this work now and in the future!

This event is designed for middle school, high school and college aged youth, but is open to all ages and to families.
Email emily@lasacequias.org or call (505) 995-9644 with questions.

Upcoming Event – Acequias and Science: A Community Conversation, January 14

Thursday January 14 6:00 – 7:30 pm
Online via Zoom or phone

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER AND RECEIVE CALL-IN DETAILS: https://forms.gle/CATcQwrvRJ1kqyU88
Join the New Mexico Acequia Association and New Mexico State University for a workshop connecting communities with acequia research to help mayordomos, commissioners, and parciantes understand scientific results and real-world implications.
The workshop will include research presentations about the newly released book “Acequias of the Southwestern United States: Elements of Resilience in a Coupled Natural and Human System” (click here to download the book), a Q&A, and a community-oriented discussion about future acequia research that can better address stakeholder need.

2020 Acequia Art & Photo Contest Winners!

Thank you to everyone who submitted fantastic art, photography, videos and poetry to the 2020 Acequia Art and Photo Contest! Special thanks go to the students from Peñasco Elementary, Middle and High School who joined the contest as part of their art class!

We are pleased to announce our winners!

Youth Photo:

1st Prize – Alyson Archuleta, Chamisal, Acequia de Abajo
2nd Prize – Joshua Roberts, Chimayo, Acequia Martinez Arriba
 
3rd Prize tie –  Ignacio Gonzales, Chamisal, Acequia del Monte
3rd Prize tie – Dominique Martinez, Peñasco
 

Youth Art:

1st Prize – Anastacia Santistevan, Canon de Taos, Acequia Madre del Sur del Río Don Fernando de Taos
2nd Prize – Lylie Vigil, Peñasco

3rd Prize tie – Elaine Mitchell, Peñasco
 
3rd Prize tie – Simona Santistevan, Canon de Taos, Acequia Madre del Sur del Río Don Fernando de Taos
 

Adult Photo:

1st Prize – Charles Gabaldon, Peralta, La Joya Community Ditch
 
2nd Prize- Miguel Santistevan, Canon de Taos, Acequia Madre del Sur del Río Don Fernando de Taos

3rd Prize – Arnold Vigil, Nambé, Acequia de la Comunidad

Adult Art:

1st Prize – Alessandra Ogren, Peñasco
-2nd Prize – Emilio Arellano, Taos, Acequia Madre del Rio Grande

3rd Prize- Floyd Archuleta, Arroyo Seco

Plan For The Future – USDA Programs For Your Farm Or Ranch

The NMAA is pleased to announce our Acequia Farmer and Rancher Outreach project which is a partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide support to farmers and ranchers with their operations; provide training workshops to new and beginning farmers and ranchers; and support more participation in USDA programs with one-on-one technical assistance. 

During the Fall and Winter, it is a good time for producers to plan ahead for next year in terms of improvements you would like to implement on your farms or ranches. These include conservation practices that can improve soil health, water conservation, and overall viability of your operations. USDA programs can also be used to fund season extension practices on your farm such as high tunnels (a type of greenhouse). This month, our focus is on conservation programs through the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). 

Do you want financial and technical support to:

– Enhance your soil and sequester more carbon?

– Improve your irrigation infrastructure?

– Extend your growing season with a high tunnel?

– Implement any other improvements on your farm or ranch?

Some of the programs that are of most interest to acequia parciantes include:

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Through EQIP, NRCS provides agricultural producers with financial resources and one-on-one help to plan and implement improvements, or what NRCS calls ‘conservation practices’.  Using these practices can lead to cleaner water and air, healthier soil and better wildlife habitat, all while improving agricultural operations.  

Through EQIP, NRCS co-invests in these practices with you through a cost share program in which NRCS will reimburse the producer for a portion of the cost. Some common conservation practices include irrigation systems (gated pipe, subsurface irrigation, drip irrigation), leveling of fields, planting cover crops, planting pollinator-friendly crops, managing soil erosion, etc. Starting with the 2018 Farm Bill, acequias and land grants are both eligible for the EQIP program. You may apply as an individual or as an acequias. 

Resource Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). Also an NRCS program, RCPP is based on state or regional partnerships. In New Mexico, the New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts (NMACD) is the lead partner on an RCPP grant focused on acequias. Acequias apply directly to NMACD to participate in the RCPP program. RCPP funds can be used for acequia irrigation improvements. NMACD works with several partners, including the Interstate Stream Commission, local SWCDs, and the NM Acequia Association, to conduct outreach and encourage acequias to apply. RCPP will provide either technical assistance (for engineering design) or financial assistance (funding for construction). 

The NMAA is here to assist parciantes, especially those historically underserved by the USDA, to access on-farm improvements offered by the NRCS, or financial services offered by the FSA. Our team will help you navigate the process from application to implementation. Next newsletter, we will provide an overview of FSA programs. 

Please contact: toribio@lasacequias.org, serafina@lasacequias.org, or 505.995.9644

PRESS RELEASE: Acequias Gather in Response to Climate Change and Pandemic, Senator-Elect Ben Ray Lujan to Speak

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, December 7, 2020

MEDIA CONTACT

Paula Garcia, Executive Director, lamorena@lasacequias.org, 505-231-7752

Emily Arasim, Communications Coordinator, emily@lasacequias.org

Acequias Gather in Response to Climate Change and Pandemic, Senator-Elect Ben Ray Lujan to Speak

(Santa Fe, NM) – The first ever virtual Congreso de las Acequias, the annual membership meeting of the New Mexico Acequia Association (NMAA), will convene on Saturday, December 12, 2020 via Zoom.

Harold Trujillo, NMAA President said, “This year, the Congreso will capture an important moment in history with strategies for building stronger communities that will emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and that will adapt with lessons learned from ongoing drought.”

“The year 2020 has hit us hard in rural New Mexico with both drought and pandemic,” said Paula Garcia, Executive Director, “Our resolve to continue building food sovereign communities while adapting to climate change has grown during this time of adversity.”

The theme for the gathering will be “Unidos con Fuerza: Acequias Rising to meet the Challenges of our Time.” The gathering will honor the hard work of acequias to maintain the “essential work” of keeping water flowing to farms and communities throughout the pandemic. The agenda also addresses some of the most pressing issues facing acequias, such as climate change resilience, deepening youth engagement, and strengthening the ability of acequia-based farmers and ranchers to grow more food for their families and communities.

Some of the highlights include remarks from Senator-elect Ben Ray Lujan, who will discuss recent policy gains at the federal level with the Farm Bill and passage of legislation recognizing acequia and land grant traditional uses on lands managed by the US Forest Service. NMAA leaders will give a ‘State of the Acequias’ report which will highlight the ways that acequias responded to the drought and pandemic in 2020. A declaration on Water, Food, and Youth will summarize some broad strategies for building stronger communities through local, grassroots actions.

As is customary, the Congreso de las Acequias will feature music and poetry along with the  Bendición de las Aguas, or blessing of the waters. As means of adapting the regular in-person blessing, participants are invited to send pictures of themselves with their acequia or river to be shared during the gathering.

The Congreso will take place on Saturday, September 12th from 10am to 2pm with a lunch recess. Registration is free of charge and open at https://lasacequias.org/congreso/. For more information, call 505-995-9655.

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The New Mexico Acequia Association – www.lasacequias.org

The mission of the New Mexico Acequia Association is to protect water and our acequias, grow healthy food for our families and communities, and to honor our cultural heritage.

2021 Los Sembradores Farmer Training Program – Now Accepting Applications!

NMAA is pleased to announce that we will be starting the fifth year of our Farmer-to-Farmer training program, Los Sembradores in 2021!

The program uses a hands-on approach and a 18-point curriculum created by our partners at ASFC, based on the successful farm model pioneered by Don Bustos. Training includes: farm and business planning, season extension, fertility and soil health, irrigation methods, maintenance of equipment and usage, planting and harvesting techniques, organic pest management, marketing, value added processing, seed saving, remedio making, processing of traditional foods, leadership training, and participation in different NMAA events throughout the season.

Program dates: Mid-Feb. to Mid-Dec. 2021

Must commit to 3 days a week for the full term of the training!

Work stipends provided!

*Our program is typically run on-site at Chicoyole Farm in Chamisal, NM – however we are committed to being covid safe and will be implementing a remote model as long as necessary for community health and safety. At this time, we are encouraging interested applicants from across the state to apply – preference will be given to applicants who have access (or strong prospects of access) to land in their own area to carry out their garden/farm work throughout the program. If/when it becomes safe to come together in person, apprentices may be asked to travel to Chamisal for certain program days.

Applications due January 4th, 2021

If you are interested in applying for the program, contact:

donne@lasacequias.org (505) 995-9644

Click here to DOWNLOAD A PROGRAM FLYER to share with friends, family and community!

Guidance for Acequia Annual Meetings during Covid

Many acequias are holding their annual meetings this Fall and have time-sensitive issues – including elections – that need to be addressed.  NMAA is providing some basic guidance to acequias for how to address the need for annual meetings and also protect your members from spread of COVID-19 by following the requirements of the public health orders issued by the Department of Health (DOH).

The most important requirement that affects acequia meetings is that any gatherings over five people are prohibited. The DOH public health order, which was updated November 5, 2020, prohibits “mass gatherings” which are defined as any public or private gathering that brings together more than five individuals indoors or outdoors. There are some limited exceptions and “mass gathering” does not include individuals who are public officials or public employees in the course and scope of their employment, and it does not include the presence of more than five people who reside together. In summary, the prohibition on mass gatherings includes acequia membership meetings. 

The Attorney General has provided a guidance letter for public bodies, such as acequias, during the COVID-19 State of Public Health Emergency recommending that public entities “follow the guidance of the Department of Health and other health officials to ensure the health and safety of both members of the entity and the public.” They also recommend the following:

  • Public bodies should not proceed with an in-person meeting at this time given that the current Public Health Order limits mass gatherings to 5 people even in an outdoor space.  
  • The best and most efficient way to comply with the Open Meetings Act and the current public health orders would be to postpone or cancel a public meeting
  • A virtual public meeting may be held if a public body has to address an issue that is “time-sensitive.”  Virtual meetings may be held through telephone conference, videoconference, live streaming, or similar technologies provided that the public is provided instructions on how to access the meeting. 

NMAA is available to assist acequias during this public health emergency. Some examples of services we can offer related to conducting acequia meetings include: 

  • Assistance drafting a meeting notice to include all the information necessary to ensure compliance with the public health order and the Open Meetings Act;  
  • An NMAA staff member can attend and help with the virtual or telephone meeting to ensure the meeting runs smoothly and is in compliance with the Open Meetings Act; and 
  • We can offer the use of our Zoom video conference platform or telephone conference line. Any acequia can request use of our Zoom link or conference call number. We ask that the request be made well in advance to manage schedule conflicts.  

We also understand that this is a very difficult time and many areas of the state do not have reliable internet service or phone service.  We are available to discuss additional options for you at this time to ensure all members of the community are safe and have an option to attend the meeting.  Please contact our office to discuss your options.

Elections.  If it is an election year for your Acequia, you may decide to hold a virtual meeting under the “time-sensitivity” standard.  Voting may take place either by conference call or via an online platform such as Zoom. On the other hand, the Attorney General’s guidance allows postponement until it is safe to hold a meeting in order to ensure maximum participation. 

Proxy voting.  Proxy voting may still be utilized during virtual meetings.  In order to implement proxy voting, your Acequia will need some clear procedures for your members to follow. If proxies are utilized, we encourage the commission to carefully review the Acequia’s bylaws to familiarize themselves with the Acequia’s unique proxy requirements. 

Some examples of how to manage proxies include setting a deadline for delivering written proxies to the Commission of the acequia and/or allowing proxies to be presented at the virtual meeting. The acequia may require that proxies be mailed to the Secretary of the Commission by a deadline in advance of the meeting. The acequia can also allow proxies to be presented at the virtual meeting provided that the written proxy be delivered to the commission within five days. Your acequia can determine your own procedures as long as you communicate it clearly with your members.  Please contact our staff to discuss the specific details related to proxy voting generally, and, in particular, how to effectively use proxies at virtual meetings held during the pandemic.

Bylaws amendments.  Also, we suggest that, if your Acequia is adopting or amending its bylaws at the annual meeting, you send the bylaws to parciantes ahead of the meeting and ask them to send questions or comments prior to the meeting to facilitate discussion during the meeting. 

Please contact NMAA staff if you have any questions in making a decision about whether to postpone or proceed with your meeting. We are also available to provide guidance on conducting your meeting virtually, attending your meeting to assist in using Zoom, or providing our teleconference number or Zoom meeting link. We are also available to assist with election procedures, including the use of proxies. Contact us at 505-995-9644. We are not working in the office, but we receive our messages daily and will respond to your request as soon as possible.

2020 Acequia Art & Photo Contest

2020 ACEQUIA ART AND PHOTO CONTEST – SUBMISSIONS DUE NOVEMBER 30th!

Submit your photos and art to the 2020 NMAA Acequia Art & Photo Contest and show us what acequia culture means to YOU! Prizes for ADULTS (19 years and up) and YOUTH (18 years and under)!

** ART CONTEST DETAILS **

  • Submit poems, videos, paintings, sketches, mixed media, models, and MORE! – showing us “What does acequia culture mean to you?” or “Why are acequias important to your family, culture, or community?”
  • Art participants are limited to one entry.

** PHOTO CONTEST DETAILS **

  • Send photos in any of these categories – Acequieros Working the Land; Digitally Altered Imagery; Regando; Food and Seed Traditions
  • Photo participants are limited to one entry per category!

** HOW TO APPLY! **

  • Art and photos must be submitted by November 30, 2020
  • Submissions must be sent in HIGH RESOLUTION/high quality format
  • Please email to emily@lasacequias.org OR mail to 805 Early Street Bldg. B, Suite 203 Santa Fe, NM 87505
  • Include: (1) Name of Artist (2) Town (3) Acequia Name (4) County (5) Art/photo description or title.

** MORE INFO **

  • You could win the following PRIZES: 1st Place: $60.00 & NMAA T-Shirt – 2nd Place: $40.00 & NMAA T-Shirt – 3rd Place: $20.00 & NMAA T-shirt (separate prizes for adult and youth submissions!)
  • Terms and conditions: Upon photo submission, you agree to the use of your work(s) in NMAA materials including but not limited to publications, calendar, website pages, and outreach materials. Photo credit will be given where appropriate.

Flyer images – 2019 winners Eluid Martinez (art, adult) and Miguel Santistevan (photo, adult)

September 3 – Vamos a Guardar la Cosecha: Food Preservation with the Acequia Harvest

You are invited to join us for ‘Vamos a Guardar la Cosecha: Food Preservation with the Acequia Harvest‘ – the fifth gathering in our series of seasonal garden pláticas!

** Thursday September 3rd from 6:00-7:30 pm **

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TO RECEIVE CALL IN DETAILS

Online using Zoom or your phone

Our featured maestras – Margaret Garcia (Taos Real Food, Sol Feliz Farm) and Juliet Garcia (Chicoyole Farms, NMAA Director of Operations) – will share their stories, experiences, and tips on how they preserve and save the harvest from their farms and gardens, including canning, drying, and fermenting. David Garcia will also join us to share canciones and reflections on the historic and cultural importance of preserving our own food.

We know many community members also have important ideas to share – so please also join us to share your own expertise and techniques!

Questions? Contact: donne@lasacequias.org – This special community gathering is presented by the NMAA Los Sembradores Farmer Training Program, as part of our Semillas Pa La Gente project.

PRESS RELEASE: New Mexico Groups Appeal EPA’s Dirty Water Rule

FOR  IMMEDIATE  RELEASE

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Contacts

Rachel Conn, Projects Director, Amigos Bravos, 575.770.8327

Charles de Saillan, Staff Attorney, NMELC, 505.819.9058

Paula Garcia, Executive Director, New Mexico Acequia Association, 505.231.7752

Allyson Siwik, Executive Director, Gila Resources Information Project, 575.590.7619 

New Mexico Groups Appeal EPA’s Dirty Water Rule

Yesterday, three New Mexico based organizations – Amigos Bravos, the New Mexico Acequia Association, and Gila Resources Information Project – joined together to appeal the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers so called Navigable Water Protection Rule (“2020 Rule”).  The 2020 Rule, which went into effect yesterday, drastically shrinks the number of New Mexico waters that are protected under the Clean Water Act. The groups filed their appeal with the US District Court for the District of New Mexico.

“The Trump administration has opened the pollution floodgates,” said Rachel Conn, Projects Director with Amigos Bravos. “This 2020 Dirty Water Rule protects the interests of polluters over the interests of the public who rely on clean water for drinking, agriculture, recreation, and cultural values.”

New Mexico is disproportionately affected by the 2020 Rule because of the large number of small streams in the state that flow only during wet times of the year. These smaller ephemeral streams have historically been protected by the Clean Water Act but under the new rule they are left unprotected.

“We are deeply concerned that many of our streams and rivers would lose protections under the 2020 rule. We rely on clean water to grow crops and raise livestock, to provide locally grown food for families, and to support agricultural livelihoods in our communities,” said Paula Garcia, Executive Director of the New Mexico Acequia Association.

Unlike federal rollbacks in other areas of environmental protection, New Mexico’s waters do not have state protections to fall back on. New Mexico is one of just three states that does not have delegated authority from the EPA to regulate discharges of pollution into rivers, streams, and lakes. There is now no entity with regulatory authority to manage existing discharges from the wastewater treatment plants, mines, federal facilities, and other polluters that currently discharge into these smaller New Mexico streams.

According to Charles de Saillan, Staff Attorney at the New Mexico Environmental Law Center. “This federal rule all but nullifies the protections of the Clean Water Act over many streams and wetlands in New Mexico.  It reverses nearly fifty years of interpretation of the Clean Water Act by EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the courts.  As this regulation is implemented, permits will not be necessary for discharging pollution into many rivers, lakes, and streams.  Water quality will become degraded.  Our clients will suffer because they rely on clean, unpolluted water for their businesses, irrigation of crops, watering of livestock, and recreation such as fishing, river rafting, and kayaking.”

Even some of our larger iconic rivers such as the Gila River in the south and the Rio Costilla in the north are threatened by this rule. The rule removes automatic protections for interstate waters – both  the Gila and Rio Costilla are interstate waters – and because both of these rivers run dry before meeting up with larger downstream rivers, it is uncertain if under this new rule they will remain protected.

“It is horrifying that a New Mexico river as important as the Gila is left unprotected by this rule,” said Allyson Siwik, Executive Director of Gila Resources Information Project. “Irrigators and the growing recreation-based economy of southwestern New Mexico are dependent on clean water flowing in the Gila.”

The New Mexico Environment Department has estimated that as much as 96% of the surface waters in the state could lose protection under the new rule.

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Photo caption: Several acequias downstream from the Village of Ruidoso, including Acequia de Ambrosio Pablo Chavez, are faced with water quality issues due to effluent from the wastewater treatment plant. The regulatory permits along streams that are ephemeral or intermittent would be at risk under the 2020 EPA rule on Waters of the US which only protects “navigable waters.”