Stories from the River: Chairman, New Mexico Acequia Commission Ralph Vigil


"I was raised in Pecos, New Mexico and my family worked the land to produce various agricultural products such as maize concho for chicos and a wide variety of traditional crops. I was brought up to appreciate water’s connection to life, especially trying to grow crops in our arid environment. I was also taught to respect our ancestors for their ability to share this precious resource through acequias.

Acequias are the life-line of the cultural traditions and heritage of New Mexico. These irrigation systems allowed communities to manage water effectively, efficiently and fairly. The community came together to make decisions about the water and to develop sharing agreements to ensure that everyone had water during times of drought. By maintaining the acequias in our state today, we are honoring our ancestors’ hard work and ingenuity.

Today, the Colorado River system is facing major challenges as the supply of water in the river cannot meet the demands for that water. I believe the Latino community should play a leadership role in finding ways to address these challenges. I am reminded of the old saying, 'He who forgets his past has no future.' We must draw on lessons that our ancestors learned in the past about how to share and manage water and apply those lessons throughout the Southwest."

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Chairman, New Mexico Acequia Commission
Ralph Vigil