Annual Congreso de Acequias
On May 21st, the Sangre de Cristo Acequia Association hosted the tenth Congreso de Acequias in San Luis, Colorado. Ninety-nine irrigators and community members along with numerous government agency and nonprofit representatives came together to celebrate Colorado’s cherished acequia heritage. Distinguished guests included Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg and State Senator Cleave Simpson, alongside many honored members of the acequia community.
Morning sessions of Congreso focused on how attendees can connect with and engage the next generation of local farmers. Shirley Romero-Otero and Dr. Devon Peña discussed how their organizations, Move Mountains and the Acequia Institute, are assisting youth to take ownership in their communities by providing opportunities to learn about and practice regenerative agriculture alongside local farmers. Similarly, Dr. David García and the New Mexico Acequia Association are working to engage families and young children in projects that affirm their cultural farming and food preparation heritage through the Sembrando Semillas program.
Students from Sierra Grande and Centennial School also joined in celebrating our land, water, and community through a poster contest. Contestants created posters on the subject of Querencia, a place where one feels safe and at home, or a place where one draws inspiration and strength. Many students expressed how their querencia was tied to acequias and the lands they irrigate. Over one hundred entries were received, and nineteen prizes were awarded for the most outstanding depictions of querencia. Congratulations to all our winners!
In the afternoon, Congreso sessions discussed opportunities to support and enhance acequias and their water rights. Enrique Romero discussed how acequias in New Mexico remain resilient in the face of drought, fire, and other pressures through traditional water sharing methods. In the Culebra watershed, Andrea and Greg Taillacq discussed the findings of the Watershed Assessment and resulting priority projects, a copy of which can be found by visiting www.costillaccd.org/current-projects/. Students from CU Law 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. Finally, Senator Cleave Simpson called upon attendees to make their voices heard not only in local affairs, but at the state level and beyond.
A feeling of querencia permeated the event thanks to a wonderful Blessing of the Waters ceremony, a moving performance by David García accompanied only by his shovel, and delicious homemade food prepared by Pepita’s catering. 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 Colorado Water Conservation Board, Costilla County Conservation District, and the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area. This Congreso would not have been possible without your support!
Click the links below to download PowerPoints from this year's Congreso:
Stay tuned for more information on the 2023 Congreso!