Forget a year, we need A Decade To Water

January 27, 2019

Our community lends its voice to the outstanding My View article (“A Vision for water in New Mexico,” Jan. 13) by Paula Garcia, executive director, New Mexico Acequia Association.

Garcia did an excellent job in explaining the scope and complexity of water issues facing New Mexico. For rural farming communities such as La Cienega, water is the lifeblood of the agricultural traditions that go back to the 1600s for the Spanish and before that for the Pueblo people, the first farmers to manage the water to raise crops. There is nothing more important than protecting our water resources and preserving the centuries-old agricultural traditions of our valley.

Several years ago, there was the proclaiming of The Year of Water that did little to address any of our state’s water issues. The Santa Fe River Traditional Communities Collaborative, a group working to address the broad water issues in the Santa Fe Watershed, is initiating an effort to declare, A Decade to Water. We believe that period is the time needed to fully understand and respond to the water challenges before us. The water issues that Garcia so clearly outlined in her article are an excellent starting point in identifying those challenges.

It is of great importance that the new state engineer has an appreciation of New Mexico’s rich agricultural history and a commitment to preserve and protect that history. We want the staffers in the Office of the State Engineer to share that commitment, but they must have the necessary funding and resources to address, among other things, the backlog in water rights adjudications. The office also needs to be able to take advantage of state-of-the-art water-modeling technologies so we can have clear understanding of our available water resources.

We hope you will join us in dedicating A Decade to Water.

Carl Dickens is co-chairman of the Santa Fe River Traditional Communities Collaborative. He also serves as the president of the La Cienega Valley Association.