Summer 2013: 6th annual Celebrando las Acequias, an exploration of land, water, and culture in the Lower Embudo Valley

July 6, 2013

Drought tests the limits of land, customs, patience, and trust.  It asks us hard questions, and demands that we take stock.  This year’s Celebrando focuses on the immediate challenges of extreme drought.

“As the summer grows longer and the supply of water trickles to an ebb, tempers flare; and what used to be good neighbors sometimes don't talk to each other.” —Estevan Arellano, Acequia Junta y Cienega, Embudo, NM

The Annual Celebrando Las Acequias, held each summer in Embudo/Dixon, NM, brings together farmers, scientists, artists, historians, musicians, poets, and policymakers to celebrate, examine, and renew acequia culture and the acequia landscape.

This year is different.   No music.  No awards.  No slide shows.  Just some hard questions:

  • ​How can acequia neighbors support each other in getting through this drought, using approaches old and new?

  • How can we work together to adapt the valley to be stronger in future droughts?

On Saturday, July 13th, parciantes, commissioners, mayordomos, and neighbors from the Lower Embudo Valley are invited to gather at the Mission Embudo for dialog and collaboration.


Morning Session, 9am - 12 noon:

The morning session focusses on the tensions and conflicts drought reveals, and revives discussion about the traditional practices designed to foster cooperation in the face of scarcity. Residents are invited to come together and respond to five questions whose answers might form a strong basis for getting through this drought together.  The questions, like the drought, are blunt:

  • Is it worth it?

  • What's not working?

  • What might work?

  • How can we find out more? and

  • What next?

Discussion of possible solutions and strategies will range from technical and physical approaches for sharing water to governance and cooperative practices with ancient roots.


Afternoon Session, 1:30pm - 5pm

The afternoon session will focus on climate adaptation planning.  The US EPA and the New Mexico Environment Department have recently green-lighted a watershed-based planning process for addressing urgent water and land-use issues for the Lower Embudo Valley.  The two-year process, funded by the federal Clean Water Act Section 319(h), is a direct outgrowth of ongoing efforts in the Embudo Valley community to form a long-term, collaborative program for ecological restoration and stabilization of soils, arroyos, acequias, and streams in the valley.  The objective is to produce, by 2015, an updated Watershed-Based Plan (WBP) for the lower Rio Embudo drainage.  The project is led by Peter Arnold, Director for Research, Arid Lands Institute; Estevan Arellano, Community Coordinator, Lower Embudo Valley; and Jan-Willem Jansens, Ecological Planner, Ecotone.

The afternoon session of Celebrando is devoted to launching the watershed planning process.  All interested individuals, acequia commissioners and parciantes are invited to join the process.  

The process begins by reviewing work to date, and asking basic questions that will direct the plan:  

  • What do you cherish most in the Valley?  

  • What's missing?  

  • What would you add or change, and where?  

  • Why?

We seek responsible community members wishing to contribute at any level, from participating in occasional workshops to serving as trained members of field sampling teams.

Please join us on Saturday July 13th, 2013.

RSVP to Community Coordinator Estevan Arellano:  505. 579 4027

RSVPs are required by 5:00 pm on Thursday, July 11, 2013.

PDF icon Celebrando Program_2013_07_13.pdf705.89 KB