The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


              In the Rain

              rain on me
              rain. Rain’s
              tender edge
              the Power of
              the Universe.

—Larry Goodell
14 March 1999


Songwriter and eco-theologian at
Las Placitas Earth Sabbath

John Pitney, the nationally known folk-singer and composer, will conduct an ecumenical Earth Sabbath Service at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church on Sunday, April 18. The service will begin at 10:00 a.m. in the church's Memorial Garden.

With songs titles like "Beneficial Bug Song," "The Leaves of the Tree," and "Keeping the Garden," one might think that this is the agenda for the local garden club meeting. Yet the music ministry of John Pitney spans subjects ranging from organic agriculture to human rights to global environmental stewardship. Pitney’s message offers a unique combination of theology, ecology, and philosophy, and a healthy dose of humor and humility. It is, in Pitney’s own words, his "contribution to the development of a Godly production ethic, a Godly consumption ethic, and an ecological spirituality that might uphold both." Pitney's hymn to the Sandias, "Sandia Holy Day," composed especially for Las Placitas, will be featured along with other selections from his latest CD.

Pitney, an ordained United Methodist minister from Eugene, Oregon, has traveled the country with his musical message of caring for the Earth and the creatures (human and other) who inhabit it. 

For further information, call 867-3995 or 867-5718. All are welcome to attend.


Placitas village water system in disrepair

Bill Diven

Placitas village still faces a water shortage this summer even though state money is flowing to improve supply.

The 187 domestic and irrigation customers already have been warned the system likely will shut down from midnight to 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. to replenish tanks drained during the day, according to Wayne Sandoval, president of Las Acequias de Placitas. The water system relies totally on seven springs to supply tanks holding eighty-six thousand gallons, he said.

“Last summer it had been cut down to about eight to ten gallons a minute feeding the system and forty gallons going out,” Sandoval said. “This summer looks to be just as bad.”

Legislators from Sandoval County succeeded in appropriating $125,000 for the system, but Sandoval said it will be at least September by the time improvements can be completed. Exactly what those improvements will be depends on cost estimates still being gathered, he added.

The acequia association drilled a supplemental well several years ago, but it is 3,336 feet from the storage tanks. Still to be determined is whether the money would be better spent running electricity and piping to that well or drilling another well closer to the tanks.

Regardless, the extra water will be tapped only in times of shortage and not used to expand the system, Sandoval said.

Meanwhile, the Las Huertas Community Ditch Association is looking for ways to conserve water its 3.5-mile system serving agricultural users along Las Huertas Creek, according to association president Joan Fenicle. No water was available for diversion from the creek to orchards and a greenhouse during the last two seasons, she said.

“Fruit trees are dying,” she added.

Federal money may be available for improvements, and the National Resource Conservation Service has agreed to study what, if anything, can be done for the system dug by hand in the 1700s. The earthen ditch loses water through percolation, and a storage pond in the Cibola National Forest no longer is used due to leakage, she added.

“We have an obligation to explore the possibilities,” Fenicle said. “I’m afraid if we do nothing, the ditch will fall into disrepair.”

Numerous obstacles stand in the way of improvements, Arsenio Cruz of the NRCS recently told directors of the Coronado Soil and Water Conservation District. The rough topography of the ditch, cut in some places to bedrock, poses problems for installing a pipeline, he said.

“I’m walking the ditch and thinking, ‘Man, they did this with shovels and picks,’” Cruz said. “There’s a lot of rock there.”

Lining the ditch with concrete would be expensive, he added, but a state report on the ditch history may be the most limiting factor. “If it’s considered a historic site, we might not be allowed to cover it up,” he said.

If improvements are possible, Fenicle said twenty landowners then must come to agreement.

“Some landowners say the ditch is two hundred years old and you can’t touch it; others say fix the ditch to keep the crops alive,” she said. “How do you reconcile those?”




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