Agua es Sagrada/Water is Sacred Initiative

El Agua es Sagrada is an initiative we are continuing to develop as a means to work alongside our community to protect and preserve the most precious of resources - water.  This Initiative encompasses various pieces - Academia de Atrisco, Water Rights Educational Project (WREP), and the Acequia Talk & Walks.    

Background - Valle de Atrisco

The Valle de Atrisco, commonly referred to as the South Valley, is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the area. Its name comes from the original and historic land grant that it is part of, the Atrisco Land Grant.  The word Atrisco taken from the original Nahuatl word, Atlixco, which means "upon the waters." 


Over the past decades the Valle de Atrisco has gone through numerous cultural and economic changes.  More than 40,000 people call the South Valley home and over 80% of these residents are Hispanic/Latino.  The median household income is $36,821 and it is estimated that over 25% of persons in the South Valley live in poverty (2010 Census).   Although the South Valley is often regarded as a 'poor' community, it is rich in its culture, identity, traditions, and resources.  It only takes a quick glance at aerial maps of the area for one to realize that the community is rich in land and water. Moreover, many South Valley residents possess (or can potentially possess) a precious and valuable resource - water rights. To date, there are many residents who either lack knowledge that their properties possess water rights and/or if they do have knowledge of water rights, they are unsure of how to navigate the process of claiming their water rights. For more information on water rights, see our brochure.

Agua es Sagrada/Water is Sacred

"Agua es Sagrada," or "Water is Sacred," are not simple statements or trends.  These powerful words symbolize a deep-rooted philosophy passed on across generations that teach one about the absolute respect we must have for la Madre Tierra (Mother Earth) and the sacredness of the water we depend on. This philosophy is tied to agricultural and acequia traditions that remain in the community. We recognize the elders for continuing to pass on these teachings to future generations. Many of the people in the Valle de Atrisco continue to embody this philosophy through their strong connections to working the land and to traditional acequia systems.  Through this philosophy, individuals in the community actively resist the complete commodification of water.

Current Threats and Challenges

Due to long-term drought and pressure from the continuation of encroachment, urbanization, and sprawl developments, the preservation and protection of land and water in the community has become a crucial issue in the South Valley. El Agua es Sagrada Initiative aims to do the following: 

  • Raise awareness regarding potential impacts to water resources (at the local and state level), especially as it relates to farmers, acequieros, and irrigators

  • Engage local community in the protection and preservation of water resources and water/land-based traditions through educational workshops and community events

  • Create a critical mass of informed and engaged individuals in the community

  • Continue to advocate on issues that directly impact land and water based traditions in our community

  • Analyze, better understand, and introduce policies related to the protection of water resources and water rights 

Academia de Atrisco

All of us at CESOSS firmly believe in the power and importance of using community-led education as a tool for empowerment and change.  Throughout the year we organize various workshops and events in the community that focus on issues related to the protection and preservation of water resources - Water Rights workshops, Putting Your Land to Beneficial Use, Town Halls, etc.). 

Water Rights Educational Project (WREP)

The Water Rights Educational Project (WREP) is a collaboration between CESOSS and the South Valley Regional Association of Acequias (SVRAA).  WREP promotes the idea that we must remain resilient in balancing traditional ways of life connected to land and water with present-day changes brought on by increased development, continued drought, and climate change.


The main objectives of WREP are as follows:

  1. To continue to raise awareness in our community regarding water rights - what that means and its importance

  2. To engage families and individuals to continue to protect and preserve their water rights

  3. To raise greater awareness regarding potential impacts to supplies of water, especially as it relates to farmers, acequieros/as, and other irrigators

  4. To advocate for, analyze, better understand, and introduce policies that relate to and can be used to protect water rights in our community

  5. Incorporate and share information about drought and other related issues that could help farmers, acequieros/as, and other irrigators

For more information, read our WREP brochure.


Acequia Talk & Walks

The Acequia Talk & Walk series is one of our latest efforts to engage in dialogue with the community and reconnect families to the history and cultural importance of acequias in the Valle de Atrisco (South Valley). Acequias are traditional community-based water sharing systems that are a unique part of New Mexican culture.  Acequias are often referred to as the life-giving arteries that connect communities across the entire state through water.  We proudly launched the Acequia Talk & Walk series in 2016 and received much positive feedback from participants.  

What are the Acequia Talk & Walks?  Once a month (held on a Saturday morning) during the Spring throughout the late Fall, we invite the community and larger public to meet us at a different acequia in the Valle de Atrisco to listen to a talk/story shared by elders and individuals who are connected to acequia traditions.  We then take a walk as group along the particular acequia and continue to listen to stories, discuss important issues in our community, and enjoy being outdoors and improving our health by walking along the beautiful acequias. 

Stay tuned for the Acequia Talk & Walks being planned for this year.

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El Agua es Sagrada Programs and Services