Back to Course

Watershed Academy~Job Pathways for Water and Climate Resilience

0% Complete
0/0 Steps
  1. Mastering the skills and lessons of the Watershed Academy

    Getting on Board - the Paper Work: Emergency contact, Liability and Media Release, Contact Info and Coordinating Schedule
    5 Quizzes
  2. Creating and Keeping a Safe and Productive Work Environment
    2 Topics
  3. Keeping a timelog
  4. Who is a Water Protector
  5. Pathways, Principles and Premises of Becoming a Water Protector
    Job Pathways in Environmental Science and Protection
  6. Keeping a Journal with Field Notes
  7. Tracking your Journey
    What I need to take notes on+ journal prompts
  8. Scavenger Hunt
  9. How have people traditionally used the watershed and protected community values in a changing world?
  10. Combining Traditional Ecological Knowledge with Contemporary Science for Improved Community and Water Security
    How has land use in the past compare to how it's being used now in the watershed?
  11. Protecting Community Values in a Changing World
  12. What is a Watershed?
  13. What are the basic elements of understanding and assessing a watershed?
    Geology & soil conditions in the watershed
  14. Observe and Assess- Reading the Landscape
  15. Best Practices for Improving Watershed Management
  16. Watershed & Ecological Restoration Practices
    Restoring streams
  17. Erosion Control
  18. Vegetation and Aquatic Ecology in the Watershed
  19. Why it's important to share what we find
  20. Telling the Story of Your Watershed Academy Experience
    How to create a community presentation on what I learned
  21. How to Interview an Elder
  22. Learning From the Past
    Resources and Interview Prompts
  23. Community organizing for improved watershed health
  24. Become a Leader
    How to build a strong team
Lesson 9 of 24
In Progress

How have people traditionally used the watershed and protected community values in a changing world?

February 14, 2023



Manipulation of water systems for human use has been used for centuries, if not thousands of years in the southwest region. The first signs of irrigation systems in the southwest come from around 800 AD, so when the Spanish came to the continent in the early 1500’s what they knew as “acequias” was nothing new. The puebloans had already been manipulating the land for water use. What the Spanish did have that the puebloans did not was a written law of how the ditches would be shared and managed. This was an is still known as the “Mayordomo system” where certain members of the community are elected to be “ditch masters” or Mayors of the ditch. The role of a Mayordomo is to coordinate ditch clean up and maintain the infrastructure, but the most important role is deciding who needs water for how long. Typically meetings within the community are held to determine how much water will be available for the year and who should be prioritized.

When the southwest was won over in the Mexican-American war, much of what is now known as the four corners region and California and Texas became part of the U.S. meaning that property and water would have to become part of United States law. Thanks to a very important document called the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the water that pueblos and spanish settlements had been using was protected, and the people of the southwest who owned land could continue using this precious resource. The greatest law formed from this document could arguably be that water became a public resource, meaning anyone who uses it can claim it. This was the start of water law in New Mexico.

Today, state statutes describe and govern many aspects of the nature, management and operation of community ditches and acequias, much as they did in the earlier years. Those statutes are found primarily in Article 2, Chapter 73, of the New Mexico statutes.


The video below gives us insight into how people of New Mexico have identified with Acequias for many generations.