Our organization was founded by South Valley locals, Jorge Garcia (Executive Director) and Santiago Maestas (Board Secretary). In 2011, they organized to address threats to the South Valley Community connected to the protection and revitalization of acequias. Their work quickly grew beyond acequia preservation, to include water and land advocacy.
Everything we do is guided by the fundamental belief that it is our responsibility as community members to protect traditions connected to land and water. Due to continued drought and pressure from major developments, the protection of water has become a major issue in the South Valley. We must work together as stewards of tradition through education, engagement, activism, and ceremony.
Our organization developed the Agua es Sagrada (Water is Sacred) Philosophy to promote the preservation of water. This philosophy has been passed down through generations to provide a deep understanding and practice of agriculture and acequia traditions. Through this philosophy, individuals in the community are actively empowered to resist the complete commodification of water.
Our work is focused on local advocacy and capacity building through programs to promote the intersections of land, water, and tradition within our community. We work alongside the South Valley Regional Association of Acequias (SVRAA) to protest and educate about water rights transfers that negatively impact our community. We strongly believe in working alongside our community.
Over the last several decades, Valle de Atrisco has seen numerous cultural and economic changes. More than 40,000 people call the South Valley home and 80% of these residents are Hispanic/Latino. The median household income is $36,821 and an estimated 25% of people in the South Valley live in poverty. Although the South Valley is often referred to as a ‘poor’ community, it is rich in culture, identity, traditions, and resources. From aerial maps, it is easy to recognize that the area is rich in land and water.
The Santolina Master Plan is a proposed development that intends to build 37,000 houses and industrial buildings on 13, 850 acres of the Southwest Mesa. Developers estimate a population of 95,000 people – almost the size of Rio Rancho. In other words, developers propose to build a new city and put additional pressure on our already strained water system. Our organization is proud to be a part of the Contra Santolina Working Group. This group is an alliance of local organizations, neighborhood associations, and community members who understand that water is sacred.