We drink it, nourish our fruit, flowers and vegetables with it.
We use it to soak away aches, pains and the cares of the day. We take it totally for granted as we turn on the faucet, hardly giving it a thought, but in this day and age of extreme climate change – it’s (besides the air we breathe), our most precious commodity.
The siege at Standing Rock over the Dakota Pipeline Access, served to bring attention to this crucial issue, awakening many to the reality of our current Global, environmental crisis.
Last December, a coalition of concerned local residents initiated a peaceful protest and prayer action, calling for a re-assessment of the cultural and environmental impact of the Abeyta Water Rights settlement, and last week, after drilling began in earnest, a larger group of protesters – some traveling from afar gathered nearby.
Years in the making, the settlement is now underway, with the most visible (and contentious) reality being a deep-aquifer water well already in the works.
The El Prado water district began drilling an exploratory well on the mesa on U.S. 64 west in May 2018. The first attempt at drilling was unsuccessful so the district traveled a couple of miles further up the road, and are now trying for a second time.
If the well ultimately provides water, El Prado will request the well be used to supply the community water system.
In September, the town accepted $2,830,201 from the federal Bureau of Reclamation for its own wells. The town’s planning phase, including exploratory water drilling, could last around 18 months. But some in the community are not happy hence the protests we saw last week. Many others in the community are also in opposition to elements of the Abeyta settlement.
Their main argument states that mitigation wells will be too expensive to sustain, and will likely produce lower quality water.
Other old timers here, recall being told by parents and grandparents, that the Taos Valley aquifer contains enough water to sustain its residents for generations.
“That may have been so,” a friend from Taos Pueblo said when I told him. “But there are many more people here now, so things have changed.”
One water activist who had been sitting atop a 60-foot oil rig near Taos for four days, in mindful prayer, was arrested immediately after descending.
The Taos News reported that Buck Johnston came down from the oil rig on Sunday morning. He was protesting the drilling of the deepwater well (as part of the decade-old Abeyta Settlement), according to the paper.
Johnston was charged with criminal trespass and resisting arrest. He came before a judge on Monday and pleaded not guilty. Zachary Trujillo was also arrested for trespassing. Both were released on their own recognizance.
The nearby prayer camp filled with people supporting Johnston’s demonstration included members of the group Guardians of Taos Water.
“The Taos Valley water system above ground and below ground is very complicated and very unique, so that’s one of our biggest concerns and the reason we decided to take action.” said Dustin Freyta, founder of the Guardians of Taos Water.
“They won’t know the damage it’s going to cause until it’s done.”
One thing we do know, is that water is the source of all life on our fragile planet, so be mindful as you use it with gratitude.
This Friday, March 22 is World Water Day, a great opportunity to set a new intention, along with millions of others around the world, to be more conscious of this precious element.
For more information about our watershed, the Abeyta Settlement and the Taos Water Protectors, please visit their site linked below.
To keep abreast of Town of Taos meetings concerning the Abeyta Settlement and other water and infrastructure related projects in the works, please visit the Town’s official site, linked below.
For information about World Water Day, see the U.N. site.
Bottom image Taos Water Protectors, other photographs by Bill Curry