ACEQUIA GOVERNANCE PROJECT

The purpose of the Acequia Governance Project is to strengthen acequia governance through community education, technical assistance, and legal assistance. We work directly with acequias and parciantes to address questions regarding the role of acequias as local institutions of government. We also advise acequias on securing state and federal funds for acequia construction projects. Additionally, NMAA staff are familiar with various USDA programs available to individual land owners and, although we don't provide technical assistance for federal programs, NMAA can refer parciantes to appropriate agencies. 

The NMAA hosts a number of workshops every year for acequia elected officials and parciantes on various topics including water rights, acequia bylaws, acequia easements, among others. Our workshops provide valuable information that’s pertinent to acequias. They follow a format intended to honor and uphold traditional, cultural practices while also providing a space for acequia stakeholders to engage in dialogue about current challenges facing acequias. Through workshops, one-on-one consultation, and customized technical and legal assistance with individual acequias at the local level, we assist acequias on the following topics: 

  • Acequia Bylaws
  • Regulation of Water Transfers
  • Management and Operation of Acequia Water Banks
  • Open Meetings Act (OMA) and Inspection of Public Records (IPRA) Compliance
  • Office of the State Auditor Financial Compliance
  • Department of Finance and Administration Financial Compliance
  • Acequia Recordkeeping and Financial Management
  • Acequia Infrastructure Planning
  • Acequia Mapping.

The Acequia Governance 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 manages this project through a Professional Services Contract with the Department of Finance and Administration, which has resulted in the development 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. 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 Spring 2014) contains some of the key areas that are of interest to parciantes based on the information shared at our many meetings; as well a new information gained through meetings and conversations with different state and federal agencies with respect to local government compliance acts such as the State Audit Act and the Open Meetings Act. FOR A COPY OF THE ACEQUIA GOVERNANCE HANDBOOK CLICK HERE

For more information about this project, contact Janice Varela at organizer@lasacequias.org. 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 davidb@nmlegalaid.org