Acequia Project

For a number of years now Karl Kumli has studied and written about the history of the Spanish Borderlands of the American Southwest.  The Borderlands States are generally known as of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, and Texas (others might add Florida, Louisiana, Utah and others). Now Karl is melding his passion for this history as a supervising attorney for the Colorado Acequia Assistance Project.  Acequias are a traditional Hispanic form of organization for irrigation ditches which are found in southernmost Colorado.  The project is a joint effort of Colorado Open Lands, the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment at the CU Law School, and the Sangre de Cristo Acequia Association.  The Acequia Project is an effort to provide low-cost legal assistance and educational materials to Colorado's acequia communities, which include some of the very oldest and most senior water rights in Colorado.  Karl will join Professor Sarah Krakoff (Colorado Law), Sarah Parmar (Colorado Open Lands/Acequia Association), Ryan Golten (a former New Mexico legal services attorney with expertise in acequias), and Peter Nichols (of counsel to Berg, Hill, Greenleaf & Ruscitti, LLP) to supervise law students who are drafting a Legal Handbook for Colorado Acequias, assisting acequias that wish to incorporate or amend their by-laws to enable them to protect their rights, and assisting acequias and irrigators to document their water rights and establish their priority rights to water under Colorado law. 

Karl grew up in Northern California on land which was once part of a Mexican land grant, and has retained an interest in Hispanic culture ever since.  Spanish water law includes an ancient system of water judicature exemplified by El Tribunal de las Aguas de Valencia(España) [The Water Court of Valencia]  Karl learned of the acequia system, which has roots in Roman, Visigothic, Moorish and Spanish law, from a number of sources, and studied its early codification for the New World as part of the system of settlement in the Spanish colonies in the New World in the Recopilación de Leyes de los Reinos de las Indias[Recompilation of the Laws of the Kingdoms of the Indies] which was published in Madrid in 1680-81AD. 

For those interested in this topic there are some marvelous resources including (but certainly not limited to):

·         Mayordomo: Chronicle of an Acequia in Northern New Mexicoby Stanley Crawford

·         The Mother Ditch: How Water Came to a New Mexico Townby Oliver La Farge

·         Acequia: Water-sharing, Sanctity and Placeby Sylvia Rodríguez

·         Acequia Culture: Water, Land, and Community in the Southwestby José A. Rivera.