Acequia Named as Resiliency Model

December 15, 2013
The New Mexico Acequia Association (NMAA) has named the Acequia de La Plaza de Dixon its Restoration and Resiliency Model Acequia for 2013-2014.  Building on work conducted in collaboration with ALI since 2009, acequia commissioners David Valdez, Leroy Leonard, and Yolanda Jaramillo will work with NMAA staff to continue needs assessment and long-term development goals.  Acequia President David Valdez cites ALI's involvement, foresight and long-range planning as contributing to "the preservation of our ecosystem while not losing our cultural and traditional way of life." 
ALI began working closely with the Acequia de la Plaza in 2009, with support from HUD's Office of University Partnerships.  ALI's HUD grant, “Planning and Design Assistance for Water- and Energy-Wise Communities,” supported the first-ever high-resolution mapping and assessment of Embudo Valley acequias.  ALI teams of students, interns, and faculty systematically mapped threats and impairments to physical infrastructure (erosion, invasive species, sedimentation, dumping, blocked easements, and aging hardware) and worked with commissioners and parciantes to prioritize objectives.
Those studies positioned the Acequia de la Plaza's commissioners to apply successfully for over $165,000 in infrastructure improvement funds since 2010:  $10,000 in 2010 Capital Outlay Funds from the New Mexico State Legislature;  $55,000 in support from Ecotone and Santa Fe Watershed Alliance; $2,600 from the Northern New Mexico Soil/Water Conservation District to purchase nylon reinforced lining in 2011; $80,000 in 2012 Capital Outlay Funds from the state legislature. In June 2013, New Mexico's Inter-State Stream Commission invited the Acequia to apply for $20,000 from the New Mexico Water Trust Board for continued planning and infrastructure improvements. Those funds have been approved, though not yet distributed.
"Sustainability is now probable rather than possible due to new agricultural concepts, ideas and practices introduced to our community by ALI and others with the desire to preserve historical and cultural traditions," says Commissioner Valdez.  "ALI's  contributions to our acequia system have instilled in our commission the commitment to push forward toward assuring that our traditions, culture and historical practices survive."
ALI is proud to be one of a constellation of collaborators working alongside citizens of the Lower Embudo Valley to design a resilient future.  ALI's work builds on the Watershed Management Plan of 2007, facilitated by Environmental Health Consultants; the Rio Arriba County Comprehensive Plan, 2008; erosion control and restoration studies conducted by Earth Works Institute and the Embudo Valley Acequia Association, 2009-2010; the Forest Guild NEPA planning initiative in the Trampas watershed, 2011-present; and the River Ecosystem Restoration Initiative led by the Santa Fe Watershed Alliance and Ecotone, 2011- 2013.