The New Mexico Acequia Association does the following work for communities throughout New Mexico:
Workshops: We host a number of workshops every year for acequia elected officials and parciantes (landowners) on various topics including water rights, acequia bylaws, acequia easements. 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.
Technical Assistance: Through our Acequia Governance Project, 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 can refer parciantes to appropriate agencies.
Communications and Outreach: We publish a quarterly newsletter and send email alerts with event announcements and important updates/deadlines that are relevant to acequias, as well as feature stories on acequia farmers, ranchers, and cultural pieces that balance new techniques with traditional knowledge and practices. The NMAA also distributes valuable information via social networking through our Facebook and YouTube pages.
Intergenerational Mentoring: The Sembrando Semillas Project supports a network of communities enaged in youth mentoring. Youth gain leadership skills and learn hands-on traditional acequia farming and ranching alongside their community elders, while NMAA faciliates networking between project participants in different communities. Our Mayordomo Project seeks to affirm the important role of the mayordomo, or “ditch boss,” in water sharing customs. In addition to learning traditional acequia farming and ranching, the youth are engaged in leadership development activities.
Leadership Development: Our Escuelita de las Acequias project serves as a vehicle for community organizing. Participants from various acequia communities attend encuentros, gatherings intended to build relationships around common values and share ideas and strategies around community needs. Additionally, participants carry out tareas, community service projects in their respective communities.
Policy Advocacy: The annual meeting, Congreso de las Acequias, is NMAA’s governing body. It’s the largest gathering of acequia members and supporters in New Mexico. NMAA’s policy efforts stem from the direction of its regional leaders who serve as delegates to the Congreso. Delegates draft resolutions that are voted on at the annual meeting, and NMAA then builds upon passed resolutions to engage in policy advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels. To date, NMAA has been a strategic in the passing of state legislation that has helped to protect acequia water rights.