Concerns about acequia conditions emerge as top priority
The Taos Valley Acequia Association held a Visita for parciantes of the Río Pueblo on Sunday, August 27, 2017 in the Kit Carson Electric Co-op Board Room. The meeting began around 2:20 and ended at 5:00 PM.
Forty-seven people attended, not including six members of TVAA's Leadership and Education Committee. The majority of attendees were RP parciantes, although several vocal participants were from Arroyo Seco.
The purpose of the meeting was to consult with mayordomos, commissioners, and parciantes regarding concerns about their acequias; to stimulate stream-wide conversation about common issues; and to help inform the TVAA as it charts its future post-Abeyta path of service to the Taos Valley acequias.
Parciantes reported different experiences and outcomes: many were satisfied and believed their acequia was well-run while others expressed concern about governance, lack of transparency, and inconsistent access to water.
Differing views on acequia conditions
Several speakers took the opportunity to voice their concerns about the Abeyta Settlement and mitigation wells, which some mistakenly believed was the purpose of the meeting. Others expressed at length their feelings about Mother Earth, the transcendent beauty of water and acequias, or the evils of water privatization.
A number of concerns about acequia conditions did emerge, listed below in order of frequency:
Need for greater participation
Governance and management issues, including inadequate notice of meetings, transparency, availability of Bylaws
Loss of water rights through abandonment or transfer
Need for more information about acequias
Development and urbanization
Low youth involvement
Need to protect springs
Obstruction of laterals
Invasive plant and animal species (prairie dogs)
Right of way
Tracking ownership changes
Also mentioned were the Town’s current initiatives to repair acequia infrastructure, secure volunteer labor that will need some kind of liability coverage, and to institute a protective ordinance for acequias inside municipal boundaries. The Town is a parciante.
After a robust discussion, several suggestions were made that will help move the conversation forward toward action. Those suggestions included:
Newsletter with acequia reports
Better coverage in the Taos News
Regular TVAA Board communication to their constituents
Use of technology & social media
Information about land and water ownership transfers
Legislation for realtor education and accountability to acequia associations