Acequia cleaning 2017. Part II.

Photo copyright Miguel Santistevan 2017 and cannot be used without permission.

Every year is different in terms of the length of the irrigation season. We actually got some snow yesterday, March 24, and made me wonder if our scheduled acequia cleaning would be cancelled.  But like they say around here, “If you don’t like the weather, give it 5 minutes, it will change…”  The extent of our Springtime moisture makes me think that this year will be particularly good for irrigation, our river is running full blast from the runoff and recent precipitation (snow) events.

On March 25, 2017 was the official annual cleaning of Acequia Madre del Sur del Río de Don Fernando de Taos.  This cleaning continues a tradition of cleaning this acequia that is at least 221 years in the making.  This is a great time to reconnect with neighbors and rekindle fires of friendship and community.  It has been a year since I have seen many of my neighbors, the last time being at last year’s acequia cleaning.

The annual acequia cleaning is vital to the continuation of our acequia infrastructure, community, and culture.  We clear out the weeds, debris, and open up the channel for the water to flow in a few days.  The first flowing of the water is one of the most exciting times of the year and signifies the official start of our agricultural livelihood that depends on us working together.

Today was a great day under the leadership of our Mayordomo, who made sure that all of our ditches are clean and ready to deliver water.  As soon as the water comes and my own lateral ditches are ready, I will call the Mayordomo and ask for a turn at the water.  The two days I spent working to help clean the ditches pay off my water rights dues, but I will still have to pay a small fee to help with Mayordomo, postage, and Taos Valley Acequia Association costs.  The work and the fees are a small price to pay for the wealth gained in acequia participation as well the potential for agricultural production over the season.

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About Miguel

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