Horses must back off

  Horses can't poop in a source of drinking water for 25 homes in Lama, N.M. The Taos County court recently found Dr. John Wilson and his wife Barbara guilty of allowing their horses to pollute the El Rito de Lama Acequia, reports The Taos News. For more than 200 years, the acequias - irrigation ditches - of northern New Mexico have carried water from the Sangre de Cristo mountains to the dry lowlands. Because members of the association that manages the Lama acequia rely on the ditch for drinking water, the group sued the Wilsons last March. "There was an overwhelming amount of manure beside the ditch," says association member Bob Aldo. "I counted 75 piles along the banks and near Wilsons' hay barn." They are the largest landowners that use the ditch water, and the couple owns a majority of water shares. Nevertheless, the court ordered the Wilsons to move their fences and corrals at least 150 feet away from the ditch. The acequia association went to court after the Wilsons balked at similar recommendations by the New Mexico Department of the Environment. Lama, near Questa, is the only New Mexico town in which many residents have an official right to use water for domestic as well as agricultural purposes. The Wilsons are appealing the court decision.