AIRE presents at Xeriscape Conference

Slide1On February 19  I had the opportunity to give a presentation at the Land and Water Summit of the Xeriscape Council of NM.  Visit their website here or at the website xeriscapenm.com.  The conference was awesome.  Peter McBride, a photographer for National Geographic, chronicled the challenges posed to the health of the Colorado River.  Excellent photography and narrative shed light on the critical issues of conserving the integrity of the Colorado River flows.  Many cities and agricultural areas depend on water from the Colorado River and now the river water does not even reach the ocean.  He shared a story where river flow was restored all the way to ocean and he showed photos of his team following that process.

Another excellent presentation was given by Dr. David Gutzler, Climate Scientist with the University of New Mexico’s Earth and Planetary Sciences Department.  Dr. Gutzler shared much data from the last years and even up to the recent month to show the difficulty in predicting water flows from snowpack and what those numbers mean for reservoir and flow levels in the Rio Grande.  The most interesting aspect of his presentation to me was the question of what defines a drought.  Apparently we are getting, on average, the same amount of annual precipitation but the precipitation is not coming as snowpack as in the past, but in rainfall during the Spring, Summer, and Fall.  Precipitation that comes as snowpack can be stored in reservoirs for future use but rainfall does not allow the same kind of storage.

My presentation started with the form and function of the acequia system in the watershed and moved on to contemporary issues in acequia management in the face of drought, water policy, and community involvement.  The image above is from one of my slides which lists the issues around water administration in the Taos Valley.  At some point I will have to flesh out a full article on my perspective with these issues, but perhaps the slide gives some food for thought.  It is possible that more information from my presentation is available on the Xeriscape website, check if you are interested or send me a comment with your questions…

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About Miguel

Miguel Santistevan is a researcher, educator, and advocate for traditional agriculture crops and systems.
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