I am water i transport the light of the heavens into the earth into all
I am the transporter of delight, I am Acequia,
I am not owned or to be taken prisoner for foreign minds,lands,

Behind master-locks, concrete walls and the pegged barb-wire strands,
Beneath tall laws and secret negotiations,
you lock me up
is this your meaning of autonomy?
to me its a meaning of captivity, locked up tonight once again
You can explain to children’s, children how we lost our fight;
that is the cuento’s you will recite to-night

They’ll never know the shame that brands–
Dark-shame on mocking the gifts from the heavens,
One day maybe they’ll get those draggin’ days all right,
Sent from foreign commands from our future children,
to set me free once again and hopefully the men who turned the keys and sold me’s children will recognize me still.

I am water i transport the light of the heavens into the earth into all
I am the transporter of delight, I am Acequia,
I am not owned or to be taken prisoner for foreign minds,lands,




Acequia culture in north-central New Mexico is based on the best of human principles –
democratic self-governance, cooperation, stewardship of communal resources, and a
spiritual connection to the land. These “water democracies”, powered by people and
gravity, evolved as a direct response to the scarcity of water in the arid regions of the
Middle East and are thus models of how to adapt to a changing climate where
precipitation is unpredictable and conflict inevitable.  Maintaining a shared resource
strengthens community, making it more resilient to increasing economic, social, and
environmental pressures and uncertainty. As humanity enters into what some call “the
long emergency” of a post oil economy, acequias offer us a vision of a livable future
based on the most effective power source available – human collaboration, collective
vision, and mutual support.
Despite their great historical, cultural and environmental significance, the acequias of
northern New Mexico and southern Colorado have received little support from our
political leadership. Living acequia systems in Spain, Morocco, Oman, and Iran have
received UNESCO World Heritage status because of their “outstanding universal value.”
Acequia heritage offers a wealth of knowledge on the sustainable use of water,
maintaining local communities, and promoting respect and intercultural dialogue. As our
world loses more and more of its precious cultural and biological diversity, acequia
communities become even more relevant and valuable.
Here in the Taos valley, acequia water recharges our shallow aquifer, supports our local
agriculture and is an integral part of the natural ecology extending riparian habitats that
support a great diversity of plants and animals.  And now, due to a settlement few
understand or know about, all of this is threatened to die.
The Abeyta Settlement is a highly complex document that contains plans, carefully
crafted by lawyers, to hide its real intent –to transfer thousands of acres of surface water
out of Taos County, pump unsustainable quantities of costly and potentially toxic ground
water, and make investors millions of dollars at our expense. When Wall Street wants to
control and profit from a resource such as oil, water, and minerals, they get corrupt
politicians to fund massive public work projects that ultimately bankrupt countries or
local communities.  When the projects quickly become too costly to maintain, then
investors take control and exploit the resource.  This scenario has played out all over the

The government’s answer to virtually every water crisis is to pump more water and
impose more regulations and controls on water users. As part of the Abeyta Settlement,
the federal government and New Mexico taxpayers will each contribute 44 million
dollars — some of which will be used to drill at least 18 deep wells, averaging 2,000 feet,
throughout Taos County. This deep ground water is very different from the high quality,
clean ground water we pump from our home wells. According to a study by Glorieta
Geosciences, much of this water will have high concentrations of toxic heavy metals
including arsenic, fluoride, and uranium — common to deep wells in volcanic areas such
as Taos County.

Who will pay for the expensive maintenance and operation of these wells estimated by
Schlumberger Engineering to be over $50,000 a year?  It will be the acequias, mutual
domestics and anyone who uses this deep water. We are being told that we must give up
our clean, gravity-fed, and locally self-governed surface water for toxic, expensive and
corporate controlled ground water. The plan is simple – bankrupt our acequias and mutual
domestics, drive up the price of water, and take control of the resource away from the
people. Let’s remember that the ancestors of Taos considered water as sacred; treating
water as a commodity would have been incomprehensible. The Abeyta Settlement is not
a done deal.  There are other ways.

The Hopi have been growing blue corn in the desert with no supplemental irrigation for
over 1,000 years and when they were offered wells and drip systems, they refused on the
grounds that their way of growing corn, sustained through a spiritual connection to the
cosmos and the Earth, is central to who they are..
Let’s learn to live and thrive within the limits of our watershed.  A fraction of the $135
million deep wells budget could be used to invest in educating our community about
acequias, improve our aging acequia infrastructure, increase water conservation, and
restore our soils and food systems. In this way, we can rejuvenate the land, conserve our
water, and sustain the health of our acequias and local communities for generations to

Chris Pieper.