From the Albuquerque Journal (Kathaleen Roberts):
“El Agua es Vida: Acequias in Northern New Mexico” merges art, science and culture at the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico. Based on a multidisciplinary study conducted by UNM, New Mexico State University, New Mexico Tech and Sandia National Laboratories, the exhibition will be up through May 31, 2015.
Acequia irrigation and agriculture created the northern New Mexico landscape we see today.
Unique to New Mexico – except for parts of southern Colorado and Texas – acequias originated in Spain. Spanish explorers brought them to the state in 1539, curator Devorah Romanek said.
Every colonial settlement that took root between 1600 and 1847 required the construction of ditches to direct water for crops and livestock. These hand-dug, gravity-fed trenches lure mountain snowmelt through the state’s narrow furrows and valleys and into community fields, orchards and gardens.
Before acequias veined the landscape, Pueblo, Apache and Navajo people developed their own irrigation systems as part of their farming methods. They also based their water management on community responsibility and participation.
About 42 percent of acequia-carried water recycles back into the aquifer, feeding the state’s rivers, Romanek said. These handmade ditches play a vital environmental role in a state where water is an increasingly scarce and precious resource.
“So it’s really the best way to manage the water here in New Mexico,” she explained. “And it also has these incredible cultural and traditional ties.”
The show features artwork and 130 objects relating to the digging and maintaining of acequias, as well their end products in farming and cooking.
If you go
WHAT: “El Agua es Vida: Acequias in Northern New Mexico”
WHEN: Through May 31, 2015
WHERE: Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, University of New Mexico
HOW MUCH: Free. Call 277-4405 or visit maxwellmuseum.unm/edu