ABIQUIU, N.M. (AP) — The Rio Chama begins at the edge of the Rocky Mountains and courses through rugged basalt hillsides and the red and yellow cliffs made famous by painter Georgia O’Keeffe. Here marked the start of New Mexico’s centuries-old tradition of sharing water through irrigation systems known as acequias, and it’s one of many spots in the arid West facing pressure as drought stretches into another decade and climate change piles on. Despite the acequias’ resilience over the last 400 years, community leaders are looking for ways to improve the earthen canals and ensure the systems have access to water as supplies dwindle. Some say it’s as much about water conservation as it is the preservation of culture.
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