The purpose of the Acequia Governance Project is to strengthen acequia governance through community education, technical assistance, and legal assistance. The New Mexico Acequia Association achieves this purpose through regional acequia governance workshops and customized technical and legal assistance with individual acequias at the local level on the following topics:

Acequia Bylaws, Regulation of Water Transfers, Management and Operation of Acequia Water Banks, Open Meetings Act Compliance, Acequia Infrastructure Planning, and Acequia Mapping.

The project is currently staffed with technical assistance providers on bylaws, water rights, acequia mapping, one-on-one consulting, and a subcontract for legal assistance. The NMAA has managed this project through a Professional Services Contract with the Department of Finance and Administration, which has resulted in the creation of an Acequia Governance Handbook, the adoption or update of over 400 sets of acequia bylaws, and the completion of over 100 acequia infrastructure capital improvement plans (ICIP).

The Acequia Governance Handbook is the result of a collective effort on the part of many acequia parciantes and supporters with expertise in acequias, water rights, and local governance. It is also a work in progress.

The themes identified as sections in the Handbook resulted from acequia meetings around New Mexico. Our acequia community meetings are participatory with everyone sharing some part of their knowledge about acequias. Since 2002, over seventy five regional meetings, workshops, and listening sessions were held in addition to hundreds of individual acequia meetings during which NMAA staff and volunteers learned and shared vital information about acequia governance. The current version of the Acequia Governance Handbook (revised in April 2010) contains the some of the key areas that are of interest to parciantes based on the information shared at our many meetings.


For more information about this project, contact Janice Varela at

If you need legal assistance, contact New Mexico Legal Aid at 505-982-9886 or 1-866-416-1934; or you can email David Benavides at