Portillo is working with nonprofits near her hometown to help improve water management of traditional communal irrigation canals called “acequias” in her community.
New Mexico currently shares its surface water sources with multiple states, including Arizona, Texas, and Colorado. With recent droughts and inconsistent precipitation in the southwest, this has led these water sources to become over drafted – and hotly contested.
Being surrounded by these disputes growing up in Truth or Consequences (T or C), New Mexico, as well as having family working in the agricultural industry, for Rachel Portillo, BS ’21, the fight for equal water rights and water conservation is personal.
“A lot of the issues right now are dealing with how much water is allocated to each actor,” Portillo said. “Agriculture uses about 70 to 90 percent of the water in each state. It’s so intensive along the river, where we are seeing a lot of changes that the river can’t keep up with.”