Acequia Research Paper

761 Words 4 Pages
The acequias have long contributed to a traditional communal irrigation system in many different parts of the world throughout history and continue to contribute in the southwest United States today. This system was uniquely engineered by early Spanish settlers to disseminate water from afar to households and farms using the hand-dug canals into the earth, which helped to sustain their livelihood and support their source of food. Today, there are still many people that rely on the these water systems for agriculture and general everyday life. However, the increasing population of the surrounding areas in New Mexico has caused water demand to increase dramatically which has made water a commodity. Tragically, because of this, New Mexico along …show more content…
In order to understand the pressure New Mexico is facing for clean water, one must understand the history of the acequias. The term “acequia” has Arabic language roots, meaning both the irrigation channel and the association of members organized around it (Crawford XI). An acequia can also refer to the government of the water system itself, run by political subdivisions of the state. The acequias are man-made, communal irrigation ditches that carry water from nearby rivers, streams, or a similar body of water to a portion of land through unearthed, and occasionally concrete, channels. Rather than using electricity to power the acequias, the “the natural forces of gravity by following the path of least resistance” are used to supply the communities (Wortham 22). The main purpose of the acequias themselves is to distribute fresh water to residents and agriculturalists that heavily depend on it for everyday functions, and are affected by the lack of access to water and the quality of the …show more content…
The first people to create a water control system were the Anasazis who needed to find an alternate food supply when confronted with the fact that their hunter-gatherer lifestyle would not be able to support a growing population (Rivera & Martinez 5). Descendants of the Anasazis, the Tewa, Tiwa, and Keresan tribes of the Pueblos, continued the water systems, but built upon what the Anasazis had already started (Rivera & Martinez 6). In the late 1500s, conquistadores from Spain entered the area and noticed “their resemblance to Spanish irrigation channels” (Rivera & Martinez 6). While there were some changes to acequias and how they worked in the next several hundred years, the biggest change came in the early 1900s. In 1907, before New Mexico gained statehood, the Territorial Assembly of New Mexico “adopted a Water Code that declared surface water a public domain, centralized the system of water administration, and diminished the sovereignty of the acequias” (Rivera & Martinez 9). This event was a turning point in how acequias were operated. Just five years later when New Mexico officially became a state, the state and federal government was able to gain a degree of control in how water was allocated. The seventy-two acequias in New Mexico were reduced to three large dams between 1928 and 1936 in order to “control flooding and also result in improved irrigation for commercial and small farms alike” (Rivera &

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