Acequia Culture: Water, Land, and Community in the Southwest

By José A. Rivera | Go to book overview

SIX
The Future of the Acequia Institution:
State Policies and Acequia Action Strategies

Tensions in the Taos Valley did not end with the conclusion of the "Condo War" at Valdez in 1982. During the 1990s, acequia parciantes from the Valdez ditches continued to protest impacts caused by the development associated with the world-class ski resort near Taos. "The Taos Ski Lodge, with its thousands of day skiers at the peak of the season, acts as a magnet for explosive growth in the Valdez area, resulting in land values of up to $35,000-$40,000 per acre lots," reported David Arguello in the summer of 1996. 1 Addressing a team of researchers studying acequia-based family farms in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico, Arguello noted that environmental damage to the acequia infrastructure and intrusions on water quality in the ditch had been on the rise as a result of development in the area. Road runoff to the ditches had increased, he stated, contaminating the irrigation waters, which were then diverted into the fields and gardens downstream at Valdez. Sedimentation on ditches had increased as had the pollution of ditch waters. Heavy trucks, hauling cement, adobes, and other construction materials to land subdivision sites, crossed over ditch culverts that were not designed to support them, sometimes crushing the culverts and requiring their replacement. 2

The sources of these impacts are subdivisions being built on what was once historic land-grant property. The road in question passes through the village proper. Historically, the road had served as a common road for use by the heirs of the upper Río Hondo Land Grant and other local villagers. In recent years, however, developers had bladed and widened the road to provide access to sixty or more condominium units built on the mountain slope overlooking Valdez. The owners of these dwellings claim

-187-

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Acequia Culture: Water, Land, and Community in the Southwest
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Documents vi
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xvii
  • Chapter One - Irrigation Communities on the Río Grande 1
  • Two Evolution of the Acequia Institution 25
  • Three Acequia Governance and Administration 49
  • Four Water Democracies: the Acequia Papers 77
  • Five Contemporary Status of Acequias: Development Vs. Sustainability 147
  • Six the Future of the Acequia Institution: State Policies and Acequia Action Strategies 187
  • Notes 205
  • Acequia Glossary 227
  • Selected Readings 233
  • Index 237
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