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  • Writer's pictureTaos Acequias

Río Fernando Visita

Parciantes' primary concern is river pollution and its effect on water quality in the acequia, private wells, and the community water system.

On Sunday, June 25, the Taos Valley Acequia Association held a stream-wide community Visita for the parciantes of the Río Fernando, at the Brethren Church building in Cañon. The event began at 2:00 PM and concluded around 4:15. Forty-three people signed in, although one count estimated the peak crowd at about 60, including children and Leadership & Education Committee members who may not have signed the sheet. Most attendees were parciantes of the Río Fernando system. Town Councilor Fritz Hahn was also there, as well as Kristina Ortez, Executive Director of the Taos Land Trust, and several TVAA Board members as well as the L&E organizing committee.

Refreshments included lemonade, ice tea, water, homemade biscochitos, and plates of cut fruit. Aerial maps belonging to the Cañon Mutual Domestic Water Association that show acequias, buildings, roads, and fields were posted on a wall. There was also an informational table with a comment box and handouts on water banking and other matters of interest.

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.

Pollution and failures in monitoring emerge as primary concerns

By far the most frequently mentioned concern was river pollution and its effect on water quality in the acequia, private wells, and the community water system. People mentioned numerous sources: highway salt, pumice, cement, pharmaceuticals, E. coli from organic waste, fertilizers, poisons, unmonitored septic seepage, upstream development, trash.

Another major concern was failure of the town, county, environmental division, and state highway department to monitor and prevent construction, pollution, and other violations of proper easements to protect and buffer acequias.

Other concerns included:

  1. Upstream damming on river and reduced flow

  2. Delincuencias, non-irrigation, non-participation, drying of land

  3. Knowledge and skill loss

  4. Labor hard to find

  5. Need to involve youth

  6. Need for acequia education

  7. Legal assistance for acequias

Parciantes offer suggestions for next steps

Among the top suggestions offered were:

  1. Legislation needed to require realtors to disclose delincuencias and include in cost

  2. Fence signage to indicate an acequia

  3. Form letter for realtors

  4. Mayordomo and others must patrol the acequia

  5. Program to match volunteer elders with youth to help maintain acequias

  6. Walking paths along acequias

Finally, a number of opportunities for collaboration with aligned projects were identified, including:

  1. Restoration of the Vigil y Romo Acequia

  2. Restoration of Baca Park

  3. Rio Fernando Restoration Project

  4. Revitalization of Town acequias

  5. Proposed Town ordinance to protect encroachment and obstruction of acequias


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