Waters of Life

Aside from daffodils, forsythia, and tulips, one sign that spring has finally arrived in Albuquerque’s South Valley is water in the main irrigation ditch.

By mid March the large ditches were full and we spent the better part of a day cleaning the section of acequia that runs behind our property.

It’s amazing how much debris can accumulate just over the course of the winter.

This is our portion of the ditch, filled with leaves,  prior to cleaning.  We bagged eight extra large garbage bags full of leaves by the time we were done.

Last Wednesday we irrigated for the first time this year.


The first irrigation of the season is always exciting, there is celebratory feeling that comes from watching the acequia fill with water for the first time every year.  I feel privileged to receive the water and to be a part of the long history of acequias in New Mexico., but even today its not without problems.  A quick stroll up the ditch bank hints at one of the South Valley’s biggest problems, a large indigent population with alcohol dependency.  Here on the right, in front of Don, you can make out an empty 12 pack carton.  This type of trash can be found all over the ditch banks.  The large ditches make good highways for people trudging back and forth to liquor store on the corner. Smaller ditches running behind the houses, like ours, offer some shelter from the elements as well as from the police and are popular spots to gather and drink or sleep off a binge.  Mostly you find these small miniatures, they are everywhere you look down here.


Another on going problem that we encounter on our stroll up the ditch is neighbors on the opposite side of the ditch who don’t irrigate using the ditch bank as a dumping ground for yard debris.


Not only does this debris frequently end up in the ditch damning the water, it also creates a fire hazard.


Despite all that, I love that we live so close to the Rio Grande.  I feel deeply connected with this river and it’s history, all the more so now that the food we grow is sustained by it’s waters.  I spend a lot of time watching the river and following it’s cycles.  The coming and going of the Canada Geese, the budding of the cottonwood trees and they’re evolution to brilliant gold in the fall, and, of course the sunflowers.  In the summer I ache to see how low the river becomes as it’s waters are siphoned off to farmers even while I take part in that process.  And, some of my most memorable experiences have been encountering beaver, coyote, muskrat, hawk, owl, and eagle in the bosque.  I took this picture from Yiska’s back last month.

Our geese and ducks are oblivious to all of these human concerns,  irrigation day for them simply means having a good swim and a bath.


All of the ditch cleaning was worth it just to watch this celebration.

This entry was posted in acequia, ducks, geese, irrigation, nature, photo's, seasonal, wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

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