Acequias, or community ditches, are recognized under New Mexico law as political subdivisions of the state. Many of the state’s acequia associations have been in existence since the Spanish colonization period of the 17th and 18th centuries. Historically, they have been a principal local government unit for the distribution and use of surface water.
The associations have the power of eminent domain and are authorized to borrow money and enter into contracts for maintenance and improvements. Acequia associations do not have the power to tax, so the expenses of maintenance and improvements are borne by the individuals served by the irrigation system.
The New Mexico Legislature appropriates funds to assist individual acequias or community ditches with specific types of projects, including capital projects. The New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission (NMISC) staff review plans, specifications, and ditch eligibility; execute contracts and agreements; and inspect the completed projects.
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