Join us for the 12th Annual Congreso de Acequias!

 

2024 Congreso Poster

 

 

Highlights from the 11th Annual Congreso de Acequias

On March 11th 2023, the Sangre de Cristo Acequia Association (SdCAA) hosted the eleventh annual Congreso de Acequias in San Luis, Colorado. The SdCAA is a non-profit organization representing Colorado’s acequias and their communities whose mission is to preserve acequias and acequia water rights. This year, one hundred and eleven irrigators and community members from Costilla and Conejos counties along with numerous government and nonprofit representatives joined the SdCAA in celebration of Colorado’s cherished acequia heritage.

The event began with a bendición de las aguas, a chance for participants to bring water from their acequia to be blessed and united with waters from across the region. From there, the morning consisted of workshops focusing on ways that attendees could promote farm and rangeland health, such as by enrolling in Colorado’s new STAR (Saving Tomorrow’s Agricultural Resources) soil health program. After a live demonstration by Cathy O’Neill of the NRCS on how water retention is linked to soil health, SdCAA board member and rancher Regan Velasquez gave an insightful look at his family’s own regenerative agriculture journey and the positive changes he has seen occur on his land in just a few short years.

Elementary students from Centennial, Sierra Grande and South Conejos Schools also joined in celebrating our land, water, and community through a poster contest. Contestants created posters on the subject of Regando el Futuro, watering the future. Students reflected on what the future of Colorado might look like if we took good care of our water resources. Sixteen prizes were awarded for the most outstanding depictions of the given theme. Congratulations to all of our talented winners!

Grade

First Prize

Second Prize

Third Prize

K

Kambreigh Martinez

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-

1

Kamry Maestas

Jasiri Quintana Acosta

Arelia Pacheco

2

Aryana Blankenship

Alma Felix-Duran

Anaiah Benton

3

Eli Ward

LaQuey Holmes

Brandon Thomas

4

Dariel Santillano

Wyatt Kiesel

Adele Rendon

5

Zenya Ayala

Mateo Pacheco

Jose Taylor

In the afternoon, Congreso sessions discussed opportunities to support and enhance the natural streams that support acequias and what irrigators can do to protect their water rights. Daniel Boyes of the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project shared an example of a successful restoration project along the Conejos River – a project that contributed both to the health of the natural environment and to improving agricultural efficiency. In the Culebra watershed, Andrea Taillacq gave attendees an update on of the Watershed Assessment and resulting priority projects, a copy of which can be found by visiting www.costillaccd.org/current-projects/. Gregor MacGregor, a professor at CU Law School and students from the school’s Acequia Assistance Project shared how their program provides free legal assistance for acequias and ditches seeking to draft by-laws and other governance documents. To close the event, Heather Dutton of the San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District shared with attendees how honoring the past and our shared connection to the San Luis Valley means making sure that our grandchildren will have a place to care for and call home as well.

El agua es vida! We are proud to represent and protect Colorado’s acequias and the unique way of life that they provide for. The Sangre de Cristo Acequia Association would like to thank all our presenters and partners who made this event a success. The Association would also like to thank the generous sponsors of the event including the Costilla County Conservation District, Trinchera Blanca Foundation, the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable, the Colorado Water Conservation Board, and the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area. This Congreso would not have been possible without your support!  

 

 

Cancion    Water Blessing    Contest

 

 

Stay tuned for information on next year's Congreso!