Paula Garcia

John Liu

Paula Garcia is Executive Director of the New Mexico Acequia Association, a statewide grassroots organization founded in 1990.  Its mission is to protect water and irrigated land through “acequias” which are community operated irrigation systems designed to share water for agriculture. She lives in Mora where she continues to operate an intergenerational ranch with her family.

Paula is former chair of the Mora County Commission, during which she also served as President of the New Mexico Association of Counties. She is former chair of the USDA Minority Farmers Advisory Committee, appointed by Secretary Vilsack. Currently, she serves as an appointee to the Interstate Stream Commission and the State Land Trust Advisory Board.

In her years of service to the NMAA, acequias have built a movement around the principle that “el agua es vida – water is life” with major achievements in water policy, water governance, and agricultural projects. Most recently, her focus has been on disaster response and recover following the Hermits Peak Calf Canyon fire, the largest wildfire in New Mexico history.


Chapter 3, Acequia Waters: Community Resource or Commodity? Water for the People, Acequia Heritage of New Mexico in a Global Context, Editors Enrique Lamadrid and Jose Rivera, University of New Mexico Press, 2022.

Plenary Panel

Resilience through catastrophe: preparation for and recovery from climate disasters