My Turn

Opinion: Learn more about protecting rivers, wetlands at these events

By Rachel Conn
Posted 10/17/19

Through several collaborative efforts across the state, Amigos Bravos has been partnering with acequias groups to protect water quality and to promote acequia infrastructure.

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My Turn

Opinion: Learn more about protecting rivers, wetlands at these events

Posted

Through several collaborative efforts across the state, Amigos Bravos has been partnering with acequias groups to protect water quality and to promote acequia infrastructure.

Working to promote acequias goes hand in hand with our work to protect the waters of New Mexico. Like the headwaters wetlands that Amigos Bravos works so hard to preserve and restore, acequias can serve to recharge shallow groundwater and create more consistent flows in our rivers throughout the year.

This ecosystem function of acequias becomes all the more important in the context of a changing climate where we expect to see more intense and rapid spring runoff. Flood irrigation can serve to mitigate the effects of early and rapid spring runoff by storing and then slowly releasing water back into the rivers.

Some studies show only 7-8 percent of diverted water is lost to evapotranspiration with the remaining water returning to rivers either through return flows or groundwater recharge pathways. This delayed discharge to rivers can serve to even out the hydrograph and provide better river flows during low flow periods.

Acequia traditions also create deep-rooted bonds both at the individual and community level to specific watersheds and to watershed protection more broadly. Young people who experience irrigating with their family can clearly see and experience directly the connection between clean water in our rivers and clean water for growing crops. Children who experience direct engagement and interaction with nature are more likely to be stewards of the land and water as adults.

Some studies have even shown that childhood experiences that involve taking, eating or building in nature, as opposed to only looking and learning, are more likely to result in environmental stewardship behavior later in life. Translation - this means that experiences like gathering mushrooms, hunting, fishing, berry picking, building forts, and flood irrigating are all activities that can create a strong and lifelong environmental ethic.

As an organization, Amigos Bravos continues to learn and grow in our work and in our collaborative relationships. We are by no means done with this learning process, and we invite the broader community to join with us and challenge us to think creatively and act with integrity in our work to protect and restore the waters of New Mexico. Three upcoming opportunities for joining with us and giving us your feedback include:

Oct. 22, 5-7 p.m. - Kit Carson Electric Co-op boardroom - Carson Forest Plan Comment Writing Night - Join with us to push back on the Carson's proposal to remove Wild and Scenic protections from 63 rivers, support the Carson's proposed Valle Vidal Management Area and urge them to protect the Carson's wetland jewels. Pizza provided.

Nov. 14, 5:30-7:30 p.m. - Juan I. Gonzales Agriculture Center - Río Fernando Revitalization Collaborative Meeting - Share your ideas for improving water quality, improving acequia systems and connecting people to the river. Dinner and child care provided.

Nov. 18 - Río Fernando Watershed Based Planning Meeting - time and location to be determined. Come learn water quality sampling results for the Río Fernando and give us your feedback and ideas about potential projects to address contamination.

For more information on any of these meetings or our work, visit our website: amigosbravos.org.

Rachel Conn is projects director at the Taos-based Amigos Bravos.

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