The original settlers of Southern Colorado brought with them a form of land settlement and irrigation that was based on principles of equity, shared scarcity and cooperation in which water was viewed as a resource in place, rather than a commodity. It is here, in the villages surrounding San Luis, where Colorado's oldest continuous water rights have existed since the mid-1800's. This type of water system is called an acequia. Acequias continue to be the lifeblood of residents in Southern Costilla County – they not only serve to provide the water for the farms on which hundreds of families depend on, but they also serve as a conduit for community services and support.
The Sangre de Cristo Acequia Association is a non-profit organization working to preserve acequias in Southern Colorado through the protection of water rights and unique governance structures that ensure its viability for generations to come.