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May 2024

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RECAP: proposed Questa-area Acequia Association

Proposal to unite acequia associations through northern Taos County discussed at May 2 meeting.

Representatives from the Questa Economic Development Fund (QEDF), Chevron, and the Taos Valley Acequia Association gathered in the Village of Questa Administration Building on May 2 to discuss a proposed acequia association for the purpose of increased communication and more effective advocacy for the acequias throughout northern Taos County.

No definitive actions were taken at the gathering, the intent was to inform the public on a new non-profit organization fighting for the benefit of the broader Questa community.

QEDF Director Lynn Skall opened the meeting with an introduction making it clear that the purpose of this proposal is not to take over duties from any other acequia, it is simply for the purpose of practical, collective representation.

“Over the past few years we’ve had issues with water… drou ght and so this idea of creating a Questa-area acequia association came up and the Questa Economic Development Fund is just facilitating the beginning of it,” explained Skall.

Chevron’s State Government Affairs Representative Christian Isely spoke to the crowd of about 15 people after Skall and praised New Mexico’s rich history regarding the acequia water system.

“One of the things that really struck me,” said Isley on his fascination with New Mexico, “was the acequia culture. This culture that is very unique to New Mexico of managing water resources in a very scarce environment, a very arid environment, and a combination of managerial innovations, technical innovations over the centuries, has created a really strong culture of strong water management.”

Isley made intentions from Chevron clear to the crowd: that this is an effort meant to help people in Questa retain water rights. The non-profit will not take over management of any of the individual acequias here, it is simply for collective representation for water rights adjudication. One particular fight on the horizon that was mentioned by Isley was the intended water rights package held by Chevron as a gift to the Village of Questa that the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer is saying are not valid.

While the water rights issue isn’t about adjudicating our water rights. All Chevron local water rights are adjudicated. It’s about retaining these water rights in the Questa area for the benefit of the local community. Apart from technical, grant, and legal assistance, the acequia non-profit would help advocate for the retention of all local water rights for their owners.A recording of this meeting can be found at the following web address: https://tinyurl.com/3bey7cb4