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2017 Agricultural Census

Better data, better decisions: Upcoming census will capture a complete picture of New Mexico agriculture!   
In just a few months, America’s farmers and ranchers will have the opportunity to make a positive impact on their communities and industry by taking part in the Census of Agriculture. Conducted every five years by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the census captures a complete count of all U.S. farms and ranches and those who operate them.

Even the smallest plots of land and those raising only a few animals during the census year are counted.

The census helps tell the whole story of U.S. agriculture. Without the information collected, we wouldn’t know that 3.3 million U.S. farmers and ranchers – only one percent of our total population – provide food, fuel, and fiber to the other 99 percent. The census remains the only source of uniform and comprehensive agricultural data for every county in the nation.
Census of Agriculture questionnaires will be mailed in December. Responses are due by February 5, 2018. Producers are highly encouraged to complete their forms https://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Online_Response/index.php. Improved this year, the online census form is convenient and dynamic – it can be accessed on your mobile phone, tablet, desk- or laptop. It’s user-friendly and saves time by calculating totals automatically and skipping questions that do not pertain to your operation.
Your answers to the census help grow your farm’s future, shape farm programs, and boost services for you, your community and your industry.
For more information about the Census, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov or call 1-888-4AG-STAT (1-888-424-7828). The Census of Agriculture is Your Voice, Your Future, Your Opportunity.

2017 Acequia Needs Assessment Survey

West Sandoval Ditch Bank Stabalization Juanita Revak


Dear Acequia Commissioner or Mayordomo,
Thank you so much for your contributions to your local acequia. The New Mexico Acequia Association is conducting a statewide acequia needs assessment and we need your participation.
The New Mexico Acequia Association is a non-profit statewide organization of Acequias and Regional Association of Acequias. Our mission is to protect historic acequia water rights and strengthen agricultural traditions.
We are requesting your voluntary participation in filling out that attached Acequia Survey. Acequias are defined as local governments and the information requested is considered public information which would be shared with the state of New Mexico. Your participation supports acequias across the state.
Please note that every year we change and update many of the questions.
Please respond by December 11th at the latest.
Methods of response:
Call the NMAA office: You can dictate your responses to staff and be done!
Paper survey:

Complete the enclosed survey and mail, fax or scan it back to us Download and Print NMAA Acequia Survey 2017
Special Thanks to the Acequias Who Have Completed the Survey!
Acequia County Stream System
Pueblo Lateral Bernalillo Rio Grande
Tigner #1 Community Ditch Grant Mimbres River
Upper Gila Ditch Grant Gila River
Chosas Ditch South Lincoln Rio Hondo
Frank Allison Ditch Lincoln Rio Hondo
Acequia de La Joya Mora Naciemento/La Sierra
Acequia del Canon de Luna Mora Luna Canyon
Rainsville Norte Mora Coyote Creek
Tularosa Community Ditch Otero Tularosa Creek
Abeyta-Trujillo Ditch Rio Arriba Rio Chama
Acequia de La Plaza de Dixon Rio Arriba Río Embudo
Acequia De Los Barriales Rio Arriba Rio Las Tusas
Cordova-Martinez Acequia Rio Arriba Rio Capulin
Puerco Ditch Rio Arriba Coyote
Farmer’s Mutual Ditch San Juan Upper Colorado
Halford Ditch San Juan Animas River
Acequia La Rosa de Costilla Sandoval Las Huertas Creek
Acequia Agua Fria Santa Fe Santa Fe River
Acequia de los Ortiz de Nambe Santa Fe Nambe River
Acequia del Llano Santa Fe Santa Fe River
Potrero Ditch Santa Fe Santa Cruz
Monticello Community Ditch Sierra Alamosa Creek
Acequia De Cerro De Guadalupe Taos West Latir Creek
*If you have any questions or if there is any way we can assist your acequia please feel free to contact Toribio at 505-995-9644 orToribio@lasacequias.org.

Acequia Elected Officials: Who can serve in acequia leadership?

Commissioners in Seboyeta NM discussing acequia business- Photo taken by Maria Gallegos

By Enrique Romero, NMAA Staff Attorney

New Mexico law requires that an elected official of an acequia – commissioners or mayordomo – be an owner of “an interest in the ditch or the water therein”.  An “interest” in this case is a term of art and refers to a legal interest, or some form of property interest, in the water or the acequia.  The clearest example of having a legal interest is being the owner of land with water rights served by the acequia.  If your name is on a deed as the grantee and there is no reservation of water rights to the grantor, or if the deed is silent on the issue of ownership of water rights, most likely you are the owner of the land and the water rights appurtenant (belonging) to the land described in the deed.  As the owner of the land with water rights served by the acequia, you have a legal interest in the “ditch or the water therein” and have the right to hold office on that particular acequia.  Most acequias define membership in their respective bylaws in this exact way: members are those landowners with water rights served by the acequia, and may therefore vote and hold office.

There are a few conclusions we can draw from this analysis.  First, landowners that do not have water rights served by an acequia, but whose property the acequia traverses, are welcome to attend meetings of that acequia but do not have the right to vote or hold office.  Likewise, family members of landowners with water rights who themselves do not own land with water rights served by that acequia may not hold office on that acequia, and may only vote on behalf of a landowner through a valid proxy vote.  One cannot hold office via proxy.

We know, however, that it is not always easy to determine whether an individual is member of the ditch or not.  Not everyone can readily prove up a deed showing that he or she is the current owner of the land and along with the land the water rights appurtenant to it.  And we know that in some cases land is held jointly, or provisionally, in an estate; or after the death of landowner land may have to be probated; or – and hopefully this is rare – a deed has not been recorded with the county clerk.  In each of these situations, the burden should be on the individual who wants to vote or hold office to prove up his or her “interest” in the acequia.  Most acequia bylaws require members to provide updated information to the acequia for this very reason.  Considering the difficulty acequias face in recruiting new officers, the last thing anyone wants is for someone who is sincerely interested in acequia governance to be denied the ability to hold office because there is no record of ownership in the acequia’s official records of that person being an owner of an interest in the acequia.  Therefore, locate your deeds or other legal paperwork and provide copies to the acequia – and to the State Engineer to be really thorough – to avoid any confusion on election day, or any other day when you want your vote to count.

Open Meetings Act Compliance for Acequias

Grandfather’s Ledger -Photo taken by Sarah Rivera-Cordova from Socorro, NM

As political subdivisions, acequias are required to follow the Open Meetings Act, which is intended to allow the public access to decision-making by elected officials. The Open Meetings Act requires that meetings of the acequia be open to the public and that such meetings can only be held after reasonable notice.

Each acequia should consider adopting an Open Meetings Act resolution that specifies the time and method for providing notice. NMAA has provided a template at:


The template resolution includes:

  • The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has determined that minimum reasonable notice is public posting at least 10 days prior for regular meetings, at least 3 days prior for special meetings, and at least 24 hours (1 day) prior for emergency meetings (additional notice optional such as email, snail mail or as specified in your bylaws).


  • The agenda should be posted or available (the notice should specify how to obtain a copy of the agenda) within 72 hours of the scheduled meeting time.


  • It is especially important that any action items be identified on the agenda prior to the meeting.


  • The acequia must keep written minutes of all meetings, which include at a minimum the date, time, and place of the meeting, the names of commissioners in attendance and those absent, the substance of the proposals considered, and a record of any decisions and votes taken that show how each commissioner voted. Draft minutes must be prepared within 10 working days after the meeting and approved, amended or disapproved at the next meeting where a quorum is present. They are official only after they are approved.  All minutes are open to public inspection.


  • For more information about compliance with the OMA, contact the NMAA at 505-995-9644.

NMAA is available to attend acequia meetings by invitation. Please let us know if you would like NMAA staff to attend or to give a presentation on a range of topics related to water rights or acequia governance.  It is best if we could have a two week notice of your meeting.


East Rio Arriba YCC Acequia Mapping Project

The YCC Crew started two years ago, during those two years they have inventoried and mapped 31 acequias in the East Rio Arriba Soil and Water Conservation District.


Name of Supervisor: Marcos Valdez, East Rio Arriba SWCD District Manager
Names of YCC Crew: Caitlin Ortega, Deandre Velasquez, Michael Purdy, and Chavela Trujillo.
This project engaged local youth in conservation by applying technology to the importance of soil and water conservation in our communities of Eastern Rio Arriba. Acequias are vital to the sustainability of agricultural producers in our area and it is with the help of technology and engaging youth we can create improvements and infrastructure to areas that are in need.
The youth involved in this project used GPS devices to map out Acequias within our conservation district. They learned basic GPS along with conservation resource inventory skills. The youth partnered up and documented areas of concern, irrigation turnouts, and took photos along the Acequia. The waypoints taken from each Acequia will be turned into shape files and will be given attributes.
After all the data collection takes place, the youth will create maps and reports for each Acequia they work on. The shape files will be entered into a data base to collaborate with Acequia groups for future conservation planning.

Commissioners, do your Acequia bylaws need to be updated?

Manzano Acequia Association Annual Meeting
Dear Commissioners,
The New Mexico Acequia Association (NMAA) is dedicated to strengthening acequias and protecting acequia water rights. As part of our Acequia Governance Project, NMAA assists acequias in developing and implementing bylaws. Bylaws are the governing document of the acequia and an essential legal document that every acequia should have and be familiar with. Some of the important protections bylaws provide are assuring local autonomy over water transfers and establishing a water bank to protect against claims of non-use. Even if you have adopted some version of NMAA’s template, we recommend periodic reviews and updates to address changes in law or changes on the acequia.
Keeping in mind NMAA’s mission to provide quality technical assistance to as many acequias as possible that request it, the organization has decided to implement an application process whereby we will choose 20 acequias to assist during the remainder of this fiscal year (8 months) in reviewing and updating their respective bylaws. Acequias not chosen this fiscal year will be waitlisted for next fiscal year. The application is short and requires a minimal amount of information to help us project our bylaws-related workload during this fiscal year.
The deadline for commissioners submitting the application is October 23, 2017. 
Please email or call Enrique Romero, NMAA Staff Attorney if you are interested in updating your bylaws this fiscal year

2017 Acequia Photo & Art Contest Winners

NMAA would like to recognize all the participants in the 2017 Acequia Photo & Art Contest. Thank you for all your beautiful submissions that honor acequia culture, traditions, and practices.

We will honor our winners at the Congreso de las Acequias on

Saturday, November 4th.
Acequia Madre del Sur del Rio Don Fernando Summer Miguel Santistevan


Ethan Vigil Irrigating in San Fidel NM San Jose de la Cienega Marty Vigil


Mayordomo repairing headgate T Hamm Nacimiento Community Ditch Cuba NM


Braids of Our Mothers Food and Seed Kateri Pena Santa Clara Pueblo


This is our family harvesting corn for chicos and irrigating the garden Anastacia Maz Garcia Santistevan



By Maya Pena

Follow your gaze

Across lighting split skies creating nitric oxide,

Percolation reaching roots that in turn will help life reach for light.

Rows of water obey shovel’s petitions,

Performing a symbiotic cycle of water and farmer.

Commissioning heirloom seeds to feed another generation,

Memories of famine and starvation fading with every basket of corn.

Pride is palpable as relatives present gifts of harvest,

In that moment The Earth is Our Earth,

Because life is a consequence of collaboration,

And land is our most faithful partner.

2017 Youth Acequia Art Contest

Sembrando Semillas Atrisco Site -Photo taken by Travis Mckenzi  

Youth Acequia Art Contest
For ages 4 – 18 years
“What does acequia culture mean to you?
“Why are acequias important to your family, culture, or community?”
Get Creative! Submit photos, poems, videos, paintings, sketches, mixed media, models, and MORE!
You could win the following prizes:
1st Place: $75.00 & NMAA T-Shirt | 2nd Place: $50.00 & NMAA T-Shirt | 3rd Place: $25.00 & NMAA T-shirt
*Winners will be recognized at the 2017 Congreso de las Acequias!
Acequias & Irrigation
This category will give artists an opportunity to depict the beauty, ingenuity and operation of acequia and irrigation techniques in your family or community. Use this category to display the beautiful water flowing through a headgate or field.
Cultural Traditions
This category can allow artists to highlight the planting of seeds, the harvest, spiritual or community gatherings around food and agriculture. Seasonal activities that celebrate food, water, and land.
Food Preservation
Get inspired by your taste buds and food staples. Use art to highlight special crops, food and preservation techniques used in your community! Matanzas, canning, making chicos, ristras or grinding atole! The options are endless!
Animals, Gardens, & Family
Honor your garden, livestock, and family working hard in their field. Use this category to depict beautiful landscapes or people working the land.
Art must be submitted by October 13, 2017
Submissions must be sent either by mail or electronically, in high resolution jpeg format. Please mail to NM Acequia Association 805 Early Street Bldg. B, Suite 203 Santa Fe, NM 87505 or email to olivia@lasacequias.org along with the following information:
Name of Artist
Acequia Name
Art description or title
*Participants are limited to one entry per category.
Terms and conditions: Upon photo submission, you agree to the use of your photo(s) in NMAA materials including but not limited to publications, calendar, website pages, and outreach materials. Photo credit will be given where appropriate.