Glenwood Springs still facing challenge to water rights for new whitewater parks

Looking up the Colorado River as it flows through Horseshoe Bend, just east of downtown Glenwood Springs. The site is one of three where Glenwood Springs seeks to build a whitewater park. The city is now in the process of obtaining a water right for the parks but has yet to reach agreements with Aurora and Colorado Springs about the proposed water rights.
Looking up the Colorado River as it flows through Horseshoe Bend, just east of downtown Glenwood Springs. The site is one of three where Glenwood Springs seeks to build a whitewater park. The city is now in the process of obtaining a water right for the parks but has yet to reach agreements with Aurora and Colorado Springs about the proposed water rights.

By Brent Gardner-Smith, Aspen Journalism

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The city of Glenwood Springs is making progress toward securing a recreational water right for three potential whitewater parks on the Colorado River, but it has yet to come to terms with Aurora, Colorado Springs and the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

In kayaking terms, it could be said the city has greased close to a dozen Class II and III rapids so far since it started its run through water court in 2013. And it’s recently made it cleanly through a Class IV hole called “Denver Water.” But it is now facing two gnarly Class V rapids called “Homestake” and “CWCB.”

Aurora and Colorado Springs are co-owners of the Homestake Project, which includes a reservoir on Homestake Creek in the upper Eagle River basin that holds 43,300 acre-feet of water.

The water is stored and then shipped through the Homestake Tunnel to Turquoise Reservoir and on to the two Front Range cities, which also hold conditional water rights in the Homestake Project that could allow for development of more water.

The two cities, acting jointly as Homestake Partners, have told the water court and the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) that Glenwood Springs is claiming more water than it needs for a valid recreational experience.

And they say Glenwood Springs’ proposed water right for the parks would prevent the additional development of more water-supply projects in the upper Colorado River basin within Colorado.

“Glenwood’s proposed RICD [recreational in-channel diversion] would unilaterally foreclose development in the Colorado River basin above Glenwood, affecting users both in the basin and on the Front Range,” Aurora and Colorado Springs told the water court in June 2015. “This will result in further ‘buy and dry’ of agricultural water rights, and could in addition motivate West Slope users to make trans-basin diversions from other river basins, such as the Yampa and Gunnison.”

Looking up the Colorado River as it flows past the No Name rest stop on I-70. The site is one of three locations for potential whitewater parks that the city of Glenwood Springs is seeking a water right for.
Looking up the Colorado River as it flows past the No Name rest stop on I-70. The site is one of three locations for potential whitewater parks that the city of Glenwood Springs is seeking a water right for.

Seeking flow

Glenwood Springs has filed for a single water right tied to “three proposed boating parks” to be known as the No Name, Horseshoe Bend and Two Rivers whitewater parks. Each park would include two wave-producing structures.

The whitewater parks would be able to call for between 1,250 cubic feet per second of water from April 1 to Sept. 30, for 2,500 cfs between June 8 and July 23, and for 4,000 cfs for five days between June 30 and July 6.

The ability for Glenwood to call for 1,250 cfs doesn’t seem to be much of an issue in the case, as that’s the same amount of water that the Shoshone hydropower plant upstream of the proposed whitewater parks has been calling downriver since 1902.

But flows of 2,500 and 4,000 cfs are apparently a different matter.

“We see nothing substantiating that there is any demand for water-based recreational experiences beyond those that are already available in view of the current stream regimen,” wrote attorneys for Homestake in 2014.

Yet the city has so far managed to file signed stipulations in water court with Denver Water, Ute Water Conservancy District, Orchard Mesa Irrigation District, Grand Valley Water Users Association, Ute Water Conservancy District, Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge and Pool, Bureau of Land Management and Colorado Dept. of Transportation.

The most recent of those agreements approved in Div. 5 water court in Glenwood Springs was with CDOT on July 25 and with Denver Water on May 31.

The agreement with Denver Water includes a provision where Glenwood Springs will not oppose a future, and as yet undefined, project to develop an additional 20,000 acre-feet of diversions from the West Slope, as contemplated in the 2013 Colorado River Cooperative Agreement, or CRCA, which Glenwood Springs signed.

“We’ve just agreed that we’re not going to have our water right impede that project once it’s defined and agreed to by the signatories of the CRCA,” said Mark Hamilton of Holland and Hart, the attorney representing Glenwood Springs in the case (2013CW3109).

Glenwood Springs has also reached conceptual agreements with the Colorado River District, West Divide Water Conservancy District and the town of Gypsum, but has yet to file signed stipulation agreements with the court.

Also in the case, but in support of Glenwood Springs’ application, are American Whitewater, Western Resource Advocates, and Grand County.

“We’ve made a really diligent specific effort to address a whole variety of concerns from a whole bunch of different people,” Hamilton said. “We’re making every effort to get there, but until Homestake and CWCB come to rest, we can’t assure anybody we still don’t need to have some kind of hearing in front of Judge Boyd.”

Judge James Boyd oversees water court proceedings in Div. 5 water court. The city’s application is still before the water court referee, who works with opposing parties to see if settlements can be reached before referring the case to the judge.

The referee has given the parties at least until Oct. 27 to see if agreements can be reached, but extensions of time are not usually hard to obtain.

Hamilton is set to meet on Sept. 8 with representatives from Aurora and Colorado Springs in another effort to reach an agreement. It will be the fourth such meeting since February.

Joe Stibrich, the water resources policy manager for Aurora Water and a member of the board of the Homestake Steering Committee, said last week he couldn’t discuss the ongoing settlement negotiations, but did say Aurora and Homestake Partners were working in good faith.

He also said, however, that the concerns already articulated by the two cities to the court and CWCB are still outstanding.

A view from the Pitkin County end of Homestake Reservoir, located on Homestake Creek, a tributary of the upper Eagle River.
A view from the Pitkin County end of Homestake Reservoir, located on Homestake Creek, a tributary of the upper Eagle River.

Carving out the MOU

Aurora and Colorado Springs are both parties to the Eagle River Memorandum of Understanding, which is tied to the Homestake Reservoir and Tunnel.

The 1998 agreement allows for a new water supply project in the upper Eagle River basin that would provide 10,000 acre-feet of water for a variety of West Slope entities and 20,000 acre-feet for Aurora and Colorado Springs.

Such a project is now being actively studied, and may include a new dam on lower Homestake Creek that would flood complex wetlands.

Hamilton put a clause in the draft water rights decree that Glenwood Springs “shall not use the RICD water rights as a basis to oppose” projects described in the Eagle River MOU.

“That’s something that we offered up without even having a settlement agreement with them,” Hamilton said. “It was my initial shot at trying to draft a ruling that I though would address their concerns. And so I would envision that any additional settlement terms would be laid on top of what we’ve already put in there.”

There is likely more than the Eagle River MOU of interest to Aurora and Colorado Springs.

In 2012, the two cities told the BLM and USFS, in comment letters regarding potential Wild and Scenic designation on a section of the Colorado River, that “as much as 86,400 acre feet of water supplies may be developed by completion of the Homestake Project” and that “Aurora and Colorado Springs plan to develop the remaining portions of Homestake Project.”

Looking up the Colorado River toward Glenwood Springs at Two Rivers Park, where the city of Glenwood may someday build a whitewater park. The city has been working since 2013 on securing a recreational water right for three such parks on the river.
Looking up the Colorado River toward Glenwood Springs at Two Rivers Park, where the city of Glenwood may someday build a whitewater park. The city has been working since 2013 on securing a recreational water right for three such parks on the river.

The CWCB

Even if an agreement can be worked out with Aurora and Colorado Springs, Glenwood Springs will still need to come to terms with the Colorado Water Conservation Board, which recommended in June 2015 that the water court deny the city’s RICD filing.

The CWCB is charged by the state legislature with reviewing proposed RICDs and then making a recommendation to the water court.

When it came to Glenwood’s filing, the CWCB board of directors concluded in an 8-to-1 vote that it would “impair Colorado’s ability to fully develop its compact entitlements” and would not promote “the maximum beneficial use of water” in the state.

The state agency also directed its staff to oppose Glenwood’s filing in water court.

It’s not clear at this point how Judge Boyd might handle the recommendation-to-deny from the CWCB, or if Glenwood Springs might be able to get the CWCB to change its stance opposing the proposed water right.

“If we reach settlements with Homestake it’s possible that the CWCB would then reconsider and change its recommendations,” Hamilton said.

When it comes to reaching terms with Aurora and Colorado Springs, Hamilton said he remains “optimistic.”

“There is diligent ongoing discussion on all sides and good faith efforts being made,” he said. “And if it fails, it fails, and we’ll go to Judge Boyd and start setting deadlines and dealing with things more formally. But I think everybody is giving it a fair shot and seeing if we can get there shy of that.”

Editor’s note: Aspen Journalism and the Aspen Daily News are collaborating on coverage of rivers and water. The Daily News published this story on Monday, Sept. 5, 2016.

Happy Labor Day

Workers pose in front of the Boston and Colorado Smelter at Argo Photo Colorado Historical Society
Workers pose in front of the Boston and Colorado Smelter at Argo
Photo Colorado Historical Society

From the Denver Public Library:

On March 15, 1887, Colorado’s Sixth General Assembly passed a law designating the first Monday in September as a holiday honoring workers. Less than a month earlier, Oregon had been the first state to create an official labor holiday. President Grover Cleveland signed legislation that made Labor Day a federal holiday on June 28, 1894.

#ColoradoRiver: Trying to forecast Lake Powell’s water levels #COriver

Lake Powell via Aspen Journalism
Lake Powell via Aspen Journalism

From The Arizona Daily Star (Tony Davis) via Tuscon.com:

…a new study warns that the lake could virtually dry up in as few as six years if the region gets a repeat of the dry spell it experienced from 2000 to 2005.

That could cripple the ability of the Colorado River’s four Upper Basin states to deliver river water to the Lower Basin states of Arizona, California and Nevada, as they’re legally obligated to do.

And it would increase the likelihood of cutbacks in river water deliveries to Arizona, in particular.

The state already is on the edge of shortages for its $4 billion Central Arizona Project.

During the 2000-2005 drought, Lake Powell lost 13 million acre-feet of water and dropped almost 100 feet.

Today, the lake has about 13 million acre-feet left, said Eric Kuhn, general manager of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, which is helping to oversee the study.

The study was financed by the district, which is based in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, along with the Southwestern Water Conservation District in Durango, and four water groups in Western Colorado that represent various interests.

The lake avoided serious problems during the drought because, in 1999, it was almost full.

“Today it’s about half full,” Kuhn said. “You can’t go into a drought like that today if it’s half full. Things will have to change in how we do business.”

The first warning sign would come if a drought pushed the lake below 3,525 feet, almost 85 feet below where it is now. At that point, Upper Basin states would start delivering water from their other reservoirs to Powell.

If levels dropped below 3,490 feet, there wouldn’t be enough water flowing through Glen Canyon Dam’s turbines to generate power.

The study is aimed, in part, at trying to help guide efforts at devising a contingency plan, “to keep things from getting out of hand,” Kuhn said. The four Upper Basin states — Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — are devising a “three-legged stool plan” to protect Lake Powell.

One leg would involve reducing water demand by farmers and cities in the Upper Basin. The second would step up cloud-seeding programs to try to boost snowfall in the region. The third would transfer some water stored in the smaller Upper Basin reservoirs to Lake Powell.

Officials managing the effort say computer models show that taking these steps would reduce the risk of catastrophically low levels to near zero.

Brad Udall, a water researcher at Colorado State University who’s not involved with the contingency plan, is less optimistic. He says such measures “can help, for sure. With modest reductions in flow, they would be meaningful.”

But if the region’s dry period repeats itself, he said, “you’ll need fundamental change.” His uncle, Stewart Udall, voted to create Lake Powell as an Arizona congressman in 1956 and shepherded construction of the Glen Canyon Dam that holds back the lake while he was interior secretary in the early 1960s.

“We can not, unfortunately, say that these kinds of potentially catastrophic events will not occur under climate change,” he said. “Such is the nature of the climate change beast that we have unleashed.”

STORAGE IS POWELL’S PRIMARY PURPOSE
Lake Powell has many functions, one of them as a major recreation center for fishermen, houseboaters and other tourists. But its fundamental purpose under the federal law that created it is to serve as a water insurance policy for the Colorado River Basin.

Every year, it stores water that flows downstream from the four Upper Basin states. When it’s needed it’s released to Lake Mead and the three Lower Basin states.

For the Upper Basin states, the reservoir storage has ensured they’ll be able to meet their legal requirement under the 1922 Colorado River Compact to deliver 75 million acre feet to the Lower Basin every 10 years. The Lower Basin’s legal share is 7.5 million acre feet a year.

In an average year, Lake Powell gets enough water that it can release a bit more — 8.23 million acre-feet a year. In a wetter year, it will release 9 million acre feet to Mead.

“Lake Mead and Lake Powell rise and fall together,” said Chuck Cullom, the Central Arizona Project’s Colorado River programs manager.

In case of a drought like that of 2000-2005, Lake Mead would get 7.48 million acre-feet, worsening the “structural deficit” that is already causing Mead to drop by up to 12 feet a year due to the Lower Basin states’ chronic overuse of river water compared to supply.

The new study’s analysis is consistent with the studies and analyses CAP has been doing — and is part of the reason it’s been focusing on trying to protect Lake Mead, Cullom said.

The Lower Basin states have already agreed on two short-term programs to reduce their take of water from Mead. They are trying to negotiate a three-state deal that would reduce water deliveries even further, he said.

Whether the six-year cycle of 2000-05 repeats itself “is anybody’s guess,” said Pat Tyrrell, Wyoming state engineer who has been involved in the Upper Basin water talks. Kuhn’s analysis is “the worst case,” said Pat Tyrrell, Wyoming state engineer who has been involved in the Upper Basin water talks.

If that does come to pass, Tyrell said he is “fairly confident we can deal with worst case scenario if it ever happens.”

It’s impossible to even guess the odds of the Colorado Basin getting another six-year arid spell any time soon, said Udall and another longtime Colorado River researcher, Connie Woodhouse, a professor in the University of Arizona’s School of Geography and Development.

Given today’s changing climate, led by continued warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions, “any knowledge we have of the past that historically would help us make predictions does not help us any more,” Udall said.

UNPRECEDENTED CLIMATIC EVENTS
The new Lake Powell study looks at the likelihood of lesser shortages in water availability for the Upper Basin as well as the possibility of the lake completely drying.

Applying data from three droughts from a 25-year period starting in 1988, it predicted that even with little new growth in that basin, a moderate drought would trigger shortages of 350,000 to 500,000 acre-feet.

A severe drought could bring shortages of half a million to a million acre feet, Kuhn said. A drastic drought could bring shortages of one to 1.5 million acre feet, he said.

The study’s computer models didn’t factor in rising temperatures expected in this region due to climate change.

“I haven’t shown the climate change hydrology because it just scares everybody,” Kuhn told his district’s governing board in June, according to an account of the meeting published in the Aspen Daily News.

The Upper Colorado Commission’s computer models have shown that if the Upper Basin states take the precautionary measures they’re talking about, the risk of Powell falling to dangerously low levels is “near zero” — even if the basin gets another 25 years of weather like it did from 1988 through 2012, said Don Ostler, executive director the Upper Colorado River Commission. Even if nothing is done, he believes the risk “quite low. I would say less than 20 percent,” Ostler said.

During those 25 years, the river’s annual flow averaged 13.2 million acre feet — a bit less than what the Bureau of Reclamation’s studies have predicted it would carry by 2050 thanks to warming weather and other climate changes, Ostler noted.

The river carried an average of 14.7 million acre feet from 1906 through 2015.

Udall questioned the validity of using the years before 2000 because the years 1990 to 1999 were very wet and not representative of the weather we see now.

“After seeing 30 inches of rain in one day in Louisiana, 20 inches in Houston, unprecedented drought in California over the last 5 years, not to mention the flow reductions in Colorado River,” Udall said, “I think we need to seriously consider water-related climatic events that have no historical precedent.”

Acequia primer

Here’s a in-depth look at acequias from Gerald Zarr writing for AramcoWorld. Click through and read the whole article and for the great photographs. Here’s an excerpt:

Derived from the Arabic as-saqiya (“that which gives water”), acequias are gravity-flow irrigation ditches that evolved over 10,000 years in the arid regions of the Middle East. Especially from the ninth through the 16th century, control of the movement of water—hydrology—was one of the most important technologies developed from Mesopotamia and Persia to Arabia, North Africa and Spain. When the Spanish colonized the New World, they brought with them their acequia technology. (Acequias have subterranean cousins from the same regions, known variously as qanats or falajs.)

My own visit to New Mexico started in Albuquerque with a tutorial on acequias in bravura style by José A. Rivera of the University of New Mexico and author in 1998 of Acequia Culture: Water, Land and Community in the Southwest. Acequias, he explained, have not just history, but also culture, governance and issues of sustainability. He pointed me to the nearby Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, where a recent exhibit featured artworks and 130 objects relating to digging and maintaining the waterways. One painting in the exhibition showed water from an acequia seeping through the ground to recharge the aquifer below. Other exhibits included a wooden headgate to open and shut the acequia’s flow (perhaps of a type Nichols had imagined for Mondragón); a pair of overalls and rubber boots worn by a mayordomo, or water master; and the rusted back end of an early 1950s Dodge pickup, displayed as a typical mode of transportation to and from acequias. A bumper sticker proclaimed, “Our Acequias: Life, Culture, Tradition”—fighting words in a region where it’s not just The Milagro Beanfield War but real communities, government authorities and property developers that are cooperating and contesting the water rights that mean the difference between feast and famine, endurance and eviction.

Three days later I was driving north out of Santa Fe following the Rio Grande through the Espanola Valley on New Mexico State Road 68, also known as the “River Road to Taos.” Soon I was in real “Milagro Beanfield” territory, for the film was shot at Truchas, just 30 kilometers east. This road began as the northern leg of the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (Royal Road to the Interior Lands), Spain’s 2,400-kilometer route of conquest from Mexico City that reached north to Taos. On this road in July 1598, Capitan General Don Juan de Oñate brought the first Spanish settlers to New Mexico and established one of the earliest European settlements in what is now the United States.

Four hundred colonists and soldiers, and several hundred Indians from what is now Mexico, came with 83 creaking wagons, 1,000 horses and 7,000 head of livestock in a procession six kilometers long that moved as fast as the cattle walked. Oñate settled his headquarters about 50 kilometers north of present-day Santa Fe in a town he called San Gabriel (today’s Chamita). Water was so essential he ordered construction of acequias even before the town’s houses, public buildings and churches were finished. It was easy to understand why: Settlers were carrying buckets of water hanging from yokes across their shoulders. In Acequia Culture, Rivera described how the settlers diverted water on one of the might-iest stretches of the Rio Grande and built an acequia:

[They built] dams made of logs, brush, rocks and other natural materials…. Using wooden hand tools, the digging of earthen ditches and laterals would follow the construction of the main diversion dam…. [T]hese irrigation works included the acequia madre (mother ditch or main canal), compuertas (headgates), canoas (log flumes for arroyo crossings), sangrias (lateral ditches cut perpendicular from the main canal to irrigate individual parcels of land) and a desague channel, which drains sur-plus water back to the stream source.

The acequia network channeled the swollen flow of springtime mountain snowmelt into community fields and gardens that blossomed with jalapeño peppers, blue corn, squash, lettuce, cabbage, peas, garbanzos, cumin seed, carrots, turnips, garlic, onions, artichokes, radishes and cucumbers. More than 400 years later, these same crops are grown in the Espanola Valley, some still watered by acequias.

In 1610 Oñate’s successor, Pedro de Peralta, moved the capital to Santa Fe. Once again, building acequias was the first order of business. On each side of the Santa Fe River, an acequia madre was dug, and eventually dozens of ace-quias sustained the growing population. Today, although the city’s acequias no longer serve primarily for agriculture, they are a treasured part of the urban scene: One of Santa Fe’s prettiest streets is the narrow, winding street named Acequia Madre.

In following years, acequias were built also across much of the Southwest in lands that became Texas, Colorado, Arizona and California, but it is in New Mexico that the system proved most durable. Today New Mexico boasts some 800 active acequias, all survivors of political, legal and administrative changes through the Spanish (1598-1821), Mexican (1821-1848) and Territorial (1848-1912) periods, as well as us statehood, to the present day. After New Mexico, Colorado comes next with an estimated 150 active acequias in the four southern counties of Costilla, Conejos, Huerfano and Las Animas.

By contrast, in the other states, most colonial-era acequias were abandoned or supplanted by private mutual ditch companies, water-user associations, irrigation districts or conservancy districts. Few remain in Arizona, California and Texas—although San Antonio has preserved one near Espada Dam southeast of the city.

Rivera explained that the word “acequia” refers not only to the physical trench in the ground, but also, and just as importantly, to the system of community self-governance. “You don’t just have a ditch; you belong to an acequia,” he explains, emphasizing that the word also means the co-op of farmers who share the water and govern their own use of it. So important are the organizations that the state of New Mexico recognizes acequias as political subdivisions.

The acequia elects its own mayordomo, whose role has antecedents in the Moorish sahib al-saqiya, or “water giver,” who assesses how much water is available daily and prescribes times for each farmer to water his crops.

Acequia water law also requires that persons with irrigation rights in the acequia participate in an annual, springtime ditch cleanup. This is when, all along the upper Rio Grande, the sound of rakes and shovels brings a bustle to largely tranquil hills, as members scoop and scrape whatever has settled in the ditch over the winter. “It’s a tradition,” says Rivera. “The annual cleanup bonds the community.”

The renewed flow of water that followed the work marked a festive time. “Kids would run ahead yelling, ‘the water is coming!’” wrote New Mexico historian and former mayordomo Juan Estevan Arellano in Enduring Acequias: Wisdom of the Land, Knowledge of the Water, published just before his death in 2014.

Arellano spent much of his life as an acequias advocate. In his book he took the reader to his farm at the confluence of the Embudo and Río Grande Rivers, about halfway between Santa Fe and Taos on the Camino Real, which had been in his family since 1725. He wrote that he lived on “a combination experimental farm and recreational site that I call my almunyah, from the classical Arabic word meaning ‘desire.’

[…]

In New Mexico acequia water was historically treated as a community resource that irrigators had a shared right to use and a shared responsibility to manage and protect. With statehood, however, came the Doctrine of Prior Appropriation. Based on the principle that water rights are not connected to land ownership, it meant that water—from any source—could be sold or mortgaged like other property. This gave rise to the populist Southwest adage, “water flows uphill to money”—or, more simply, water ends up being owned by the rich and powerful.

G. Emlen Hall, author in 2002 of High and Dry: The Texas-New Mexico Struggle for the Pecos River, explains that real- estate developers often try to secure water rights for new projects by buying irrigated land served by acequias. Then, he says, they try—often against local opposition—to transfer those rights to new, distant developments. “This, of course, would have picked the acequias apart, tract by tract, and eventually destroyed them,” he notes, “These battles over water are continuing, and they can be intense.”

Rivera agrees. “One water transfer at a time erodes the function of a community ditch. Eventually there is a tipping point if too much water is taken out of the ditch,” he says. “Beyond the tipping-point threshold, reached after many such sales and transfers, the acequia institution and governance collapse.”

Starting in the late 1980s, there was a burst of “acequia activism” in New Mexico that culminated in 1988 with the establishment of the statewide New Mexico Acequia Association (nmaa) and, around the same time, farmers formed regional acequia associations. In a major legislative victory for the groups, the New Mexico Legislature enacted a law in 2003 allowing acequias to block water transfers outside the physical acequia if detrimental to it or its members.

Although some developers disparage acequias as water-guzzlers, the claims are disproved by recent research. Studies by hydrologist Alexander “Sam” Fernald, professor of watershed man-agement at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, show that traditional earthen irrigation ditches offer hydrologic benefits beyond simply delivering water to crops.

His data show that, on average, only seven percent of the water diverted from the Rio Grande into a north-central New Mexico acequia is lost to evapotranspiration—the sum of evaporation from all sources, including water vapor released by plants. The remaining 93 percent returns to the river, 60 percent as surface water from irrigation tailwater and 33 percent as groundwater. Acequias also help build healthy aquifers by filtering the water that percolates underground: Aquifers are key sources of drinking water. Furthermore, they bene-fit livestock, which can drink directly from acequias rather than going to the river. “Most people are unaware of these positive effects of acequias,” says Fernando.

17th Annual Congreso de las Acequias, “Nuestra Agua, Nuestro Futuro: Acequias Rising!”, Nov. 19

congresodelasacequiasflyer11192016

Click here for all the inside skinny and register. From the website:

The NMAA is preparing for the annual Congreso de las Acequias as we celebrate another growing season and the bountiful late summer rains. The Congreso is the only statewide gathering of acequia leaders where we share knowledge and create strategies for protecting our precious acequias and the water that flows through them. Our theme this year is Nuestra Agua, Nuestro Futuro: Acequias Rising. Please join us as we celebrate our traditions, make plans for our collective future, and work together to keep acequias flowing and our communities strong!

This year, the Congreso de las Acequias will take place on Saturday, November 19th at the Sagebrush Inn and Suites in Taos, NM from 9:00am to 5:00pm. $25 registration fee at the door, or take advantage of our Early-bird registration rate and pay $20 until Nov 14th!

Click here to register online for the Congreso de las Acequias!

The Congreso de las Acequias is the state-wide governing body of the NMAA, comprised of regional delegates from across the state. The annual meeting is held in the fall of each year to pass resolutions that guide the strategic direction of the NMAA, and to elect the eleven-member Concilio. Every year, we’re drawing in more and more folks who are dedicated to the cause. The NMAA is working to continue building the movement throughout the state, protecting our land and water resources for future generations of acequia farmers and ranchers. Click here to view the 2015 resolutions.