Legal Services Program

The NMAA is a grassroots, membership-based organization dedicated to the protection of New Mexico’s acequias and community ditches. The NMAA has over 30 years of experience providing direct services to acequias and their elected officials, advocating for policy changes at every level of government, and working directly with New Mexico’s acequia farmers with the goal of protecting and defending acequias and acequia water rights.

The goal of the New Mexico Acequia Association’s Legal Services Program (LSP) is to provide free or low-cost legal services to New Mexico’s acequias in furtherance of the NMAA’s mission of protecting New Mexico’s acequias.  The LSP program provides advice, brief service, extended representation, and legal education to acequias and their elected officers on a variety of community governance topics (see below) and other legal matters including water rights adjudications and water right transfer proceedings at the Office of the State Engineer.  The NMAA also has a long history of participating in litigation as amicus curiae, advising the court on potential legal and policy implications of its decisions.

The LSP provides guidance on acequia governance issues including the following:

  • Implementing acequia jurisdiction over acequia water transfers;
  • Complying with New Mexico’s sunshine laws, including the Open Meetings Act and Inspection of Public Records Act;
  • Reviewing, revising, and adopting acequia bylaws;
  • Protecting and affirming acequia easement rights;
  • Preventing interference or obstruction of acequias and community ditches;
  • Collecting acequia assessments;
  • Researching and mapping acequia water rights and acequia infrastructure;
  • Complying with financial reporting requirements of the Office of the State Auditor; and
  • Fulfilling other legal requirements related to acequias’ status as local governments and political subdivisions of the state.

Acequia Law Internship & Fellowship Program

The NMAA welcomes law students and recent law graduates to apply to the NMAA’s Acequia Law Internship and Fellowship Program. The program aims to introduce law students to the practice of Acequia Law through direct work with acequia clients supervised by a practicing attorney. Internships are available year round and are subject to the NMAA Legal Services Program’s current caseload and budget.
The NMAA invites all interested applicants to apply for the program by submitting a resume and cover letter describing the applicant’s interest in the program and in learning and practicing Acequia Law. The cover letter should also describe the applicant’s current knowledge of acequias, land grants and other land-based communities in New Mexico and explain their interest in public interest law generally.