Sam Fernald, New Mexico State University professor in the Department of Animal and Range Sciences, and Director of the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute, reviews data while studying the Rio Hondo acequia. Fernald was the principal investigator in a 10-year study of three acequia systems in northern New Mexico. Seventeen researchers from NMSU, University of New Mexico and Sandia National Laboratory present their findings in a new NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences publication. Photo courtesy of Jane Moorman.
NMSU Publication Culminates 10-year Study of Acequia Systems
by Jane Moorman, NMSU Marketing and Communications
LAS CRUCES - An in-depth study of centuries-old community acequia systems in northern New Mexico reveals why they have been resilient.
Since 2010, researchers from New Mexico State University, University of New Mexico, and Sandia National Laboratory have studied hydrology and cultural aspects of the of El Rito, Rio Hondo and Alcalde acequia systems.
“We wanted to understand the many facets involved in the operation of these systems and what contributes to their resiliency, not just the hydrology,” said Sam Fernald, professor in NMSU’s Department of Animal and Range Sciences. “I think we found out some of those, including the importance of the culture of the community.”
Fernald is the principal investigator of “Acequia Water Systems Linking Culture and Nature: Integrated Analysis of Community Resilience to Climate and Land Use Changes,” a research project funded by a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
All around the world, community-based flood irrigation systems, owned and managed by self-organized farmers, deliver the natural resource of water to sustain agriculture during scarce or uneven yearly rainfall. The New Mexico Acequia Association estimates 640 small-scale systems exist throughout New Mexico.
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