Parciantes Protest Abeyta-Taos Pueblo “Water Settlement” details

By: Contributor
5 December, 2017

Today, December 5, from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm at the Taos Convention Center, El Taoseño room, 120 Civic Plaza Dr, TVAA (Taos Valley Acequia Association) will hold a follow-up meeting to the April 24th, 2017 meeting with the BOR (Bureau of Reclamation).Though attendance was restricted at the last meeting, a multi-stakeholder group made up of parciantes of the Arroyo Hondo Acequias, Arroyo Seco Acequias, and citizens of Taos County, the Town of Taos, and Taos Pueblo were present at the doors to voice their opinions.

(Editor’s Note: The implementation of the “Water Settlement” hinges on funds allocated by the state and federal governments as well as agreements by parciantes of the Taos Valley Acequia Association to absorb “extraordinary” costs associated, partially, with “Acequia Storage Recovery” wells, a process where winter surface water is pumped into underground “acequias” then, in spring, pumped back up for seasonal irrigation. Part of the settlement includes “deep water” mining of underground acequias more than a thousand feet deep, which concept has not been thoroughly vetted by contemporary geological science. Basically the ASR concept ignores complex geological formations, issues of pollution by associated minerals, and costs, according to critics. We’re talking “crap shoot” here.

 The Settlement itself was negotiated behind closed doors, despite allegations of community involvement, due to a complex process involving leaders, lawyers, hydrologists, and bureaucrats. Now, as the details emerge, so has the devil. Today active parciantes have raised questions about the lack of participation by parciantes who did not  sign and were not informed about the details of the alleged “Water Settlement.” 

Basically, the people most affected by the documents in Town, Taos Pueblo, the TVAA, and Mutual Domestic Water Associations know the least about it due to bureaucratic ideology and the multicultural “Taos Ring” of self-interested associates and true believers.)   

Per the history and culture of the valley, the citizens and parciantes of Arroyo Hondo and Arroyo Seco speak the loudest and longest.

Here’s the Agenda

Taos Settlement Implementation Planning Meeting
December 5, 2017 9:30a-12:30p
Taos Convention Center – El Taoseño room – 120 Civic Plaza Dr.

Tentative Agenda Topics:

1. Follow-up on OSE model “update” discussion
2. Follow-up on Cooperative Agreements (Town to present?)
3. Annual determination of depletion effects
4. MDWCA update
5. Arroyo Seco Arriba project update
6. Settlement Agreement action items comprehensive spreadsheet (parties should have reviewed and flagged action items to be discussed)
7. Comments on aerial map of ditches and streams that Rebecca handed out at the September meeting
8. Next Steps and Action Items/Agenda for next meeting

Regarding agenda item #5, attached is the letter written by the Acequia Madre del Rio Lucero y Arroyo Seco addressed to TVAA and the BOR.

Of concern to this acequia is the lack of any membership meetings held to discuss feasibility, environmental impact, etc, of either the surface reservoir or the pipeline. The membership must vote on proceeding with either for which the parciantes would be responsible for funding, beyond the terms of the proposed budgets.

Below is a letter written by the Madre del Lllano Acequia addressed to TVAA and the BOR on these matters, including Terina Perez, BOR,
Tom Blaine, NM Office of the State Engineer, and Jonathon Martinez
Inter-State Stream Commission.

 

April 19, 2017

Notice: Vote on grant application for ASR wells for Acequia Madre del Rio Lucero y Arroyo Seco

This letter is to confirm that at the annual meeting on March 11, 2017 the parciantes pf the Acequia Madre del Rio Lucero y Arroyo Seco voted unanimously to not pursue the ASR wells project. It was determined that the ASR wells are not in our collective best interest and would ultimately harm our acequia.

In addition, we do not give authority to anyone to make decisions on behalf of our Acequia regarding the ASR well, pipeline, retention ponds, reservoirs, without discussion and consent from our membership. Rebecca Dempsey was hired in 2016 for limited representation specific to the water rights purchase from the Bernabe Ortega Estate.

Issues with the ASR project viability:

The cost of the ASR wells will ultimately bankrupt our acequia. The eletricity, maintenance, and labor costs far exceed what our annual budget allows.

The treatment of injection water with chlorine and chemicals to adjust its pH is not acceptable to our acequia and community members. This injection water will permanently compromise the water quality in our aquifer.

The historic ancient Rio Lucero ditch predates 1851 and cannot be disturbed or modified. The Acequia Madre del Rio Lucero y Arroyo Seco has a priority date of 1815. It is not REASONABLE MAINTENANCE to bring in heavy equipment to reconstruct the acequia.

Ancient historical acequias and water rights are protected by the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo and NM Water Statutes. The historic ancient Acequia Madre del Rio Lucero y Arroyo Seco is a national treasure to be.protected and is central to the culture of our community.

As defined within NM Statutes, Chapter 73-2-6, Disturbing the course of ancient acequias is prohibited. The course of ditches or acequias established prior to July 20, 1851 shall not be disturbed.

The acequia easement is specific to the acequia. This acequia easement historically has not been used for a road or a sub-terrain pipeline. The acequia easement WILL NOT be used for a road or sub-terrain pipeline.

There is a concern among Acequia members that the cone of depression (or exhaustion) created by deep water mining could potentially lower the water table and threaten shallow domestic and Mutual Domestic water wells that our community depends on for household water.

Our annual meeting followed the guidelines of the NM Open Meetings Act and our bylaws.

Signed by: Pablo Quintana, Commission President,  Chris Pieper, Commission Secretary, Juan Garcia, Commission Treasurer, Arnold Quintana, Mayordomo.

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