What's An Acequia Anyway?
The word "acequia" (which comes from the Arabic as-saquiya) can refer to two things: a traditional gravity-driven irrigation ditch used in arid lands, and the organization of a community of farmers who receive their water from the ditch. Acequias are both irrigation systems and democratic social institutions formed on the basis of the earliest cooperative community government in Hispano communities. Learn more about the acequias of Las Vegas from the Citizens' Committee for Historic Preservation. General information about acequias of New Mexico can also be obtained from the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer at http://www.ose.state.nm.us.
Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge is a member of the Storrie Project Water Users Association, and is the largest shareholder in the local water association. The association is a modern day private corporation governed under its own articles of incorporation, by-laws and a board of directors elected annually by its shareholders, unlike the earlier Hispano acequias. Water is diverted into an off-stream reservoir, Storrie Lake, and subsequently delivered to local irrigators who own land within an area south of Storrie Lake identified as the Storrie Project. Local irrigators own shares in the private corporation which entitle them to irrigate identical acreage under their ownership. Each private land owner is adjudicated a water right.