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acequia

A traditional acequia runs through the Village of Jemez Springs. Photo by Judith Isaacs, 2015.

Following practices brought from Spain and Mexico, early farmers irrigated through the use of a community ditch. Under New Mexico’s complicated and controversial water rights laws, the first people on the land are awarded rights to the water (in this case the Jemez River) in perpetuity based on when they arrived. The Jemez Springs acequia system has a priority date of 1865; in this area, only Jemez Pueblo has a prior right. A portion of the original ditch for Jemez Springs, much renovated over the centuries but still in use, can be seen in the heart of the village near the Jemez Stage Stop Café and other segments are in use throughout the village. It is governed in the traditional way by a ditch boss, or major domo, who determines who gets water when. All those using the acequia, the parcipientes, are expected to respect the rules and help to maintain the ditch.

Historic acequia runs through Casa Blanca property in Jemez Springs. Photo by Roger Sweet.