Historical Notes - Acequias
by Jim Sais
Water was the life blood of the South Valley. A network of acequias, or irrigations ditches, allowed valley residents to water their crops during dry periods. These ditches could have also provided water for home use, for laundry and for watering livestock.
Indians (Native Americans) probably had siphoned off water from the Rio Grande; however, with the arrival of Spanish families improvements were made on these crude irrigation structures. The historic Pajarito Ditch runs along the west side of the property.
Prior to the establishment of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District in 1925 water was probably obtained from the Atrisco Diversion Dam.
Currently, the Pajarito Acequia gets its water from the Angostura Diversion Dam north of Bernalillo. The water is channeled on the west side of the river and it taken by tunnel under the I-25 and Central and into the Arenal Main Cannel.
The maintenance of the ditch systems was the responsibility of each community. They were responsible for cleaning and repair of the ditches. Each ditch user was responsible for assisting with the cleaning, which was done in later winter or early spring. Each ditch system elected a mayodromo who served as the ditch commissioner for the community.
For more information about Acequias in New Mexico, see the following websites:
Science, Technology and Innovation in the Rio Grande: Acequias
New Mexico Acequia Association
Office of the New Mexico State Engineer
Blog entry on Aquanomics
6029 Isleta Blvd.
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87105