An acequia (Spanish: [aˈθekja]) or séquia (Valencian: [ˈsɛkia]) is a community-operated watercourse used in Spain and former Spanish colonies in the Americas for irrigation. Particularly in Spain, the Andes, northern Mexico, and the modern-day American Southwest, acequias are usually historically engineered canals that carry snow runoff or river water to distant fields. It can also refer to the long central pool in a Moorish garden, such as the Generalife in the Alhambra in Southern Iberia.

La Canova Acequia North
Concrete-lined portion of La Canova acequia, near Velarde, New Mexico
Los Chicos Acequia
Unlined portion of Los Chicos acequia, near Velarde, New Mexico
Irrigation Landsat8
The picture is satellite image of irrigated crops and Kahov irrigation canal. It is captured 7-Aug 2015 by Landsat 8 (OLI). The image is created as True Color Composite. This band combination is suitable for crop monitoring. For emphasizing characteristics, the image was pan-sharpened by panchromatic band. Nonlinear adaptive procedure of contrasting was applied too.


The Spanish word acequia (and Catalan séquia) comes from Classical Arabic "as-sāqiya", which has the double entendre of "the water conduit" or "one that bears water" and the "barmaid". The Romans brought the technology to Iberia during their occupation of the Iberian peninsula, then the Arabs extended their use although they are originally from Persia. The technology was adopted later by the Spanish and Portuguese (levadas on Madeira Island), utilized throughout their conquered lands, except in e.g. Mendoza, Argentina where acequias today run along both sides of all city streets but originally were dug all around by the indigenous Huarpes long before the arrival of the Spanish.

In the United States, the oldest acequias were established more than 400 years ago; many continue to provide a primary source of water for farming and ranching ventures in areas of the United States once occupied by Spain or Mexico including the region of northern New Mexico and south central Colorado known as the Upper Rio Grande watershed or Rio Arriba (see Rivera 1998).

Acequias are gravity chutes, similar in concept to flumes. Some acequias are conveyed through pipes or aqueducts, of modern fabrication or decades or centuries old (see transvasement). The majority, however, are simple open ditches with dirt banks. In many communities, the ditchbanks are important routes for non-motorized travel.

Researchers affiliated with the Rio Grande Bioregions Project at Colorado College initiated a pioneering collaborative, farmer-led, and interdisciplinary study of Colorado and New Mexico acequias in 1995-1999. Among the most significant findings of this study was that the acequia farms provide vital ecosystem and economic base services to the regions in which they are located. One study, as reported in Peña (2003), found that acequia agroecosystems promote soil conservation and soil formation, provide terrestrial wildlife habitat and movement corridors; protect water quality and fish habitat, promote the conservation of domesticated biodiversity of land race heirloom crops, and encourage the maintenance of a strong land and water ethic and sense of place, among other ecological and economic base values. This pioneering research on acequia ecosystem services, led by environmental anthropologist Devon G. Peña, has more recently been confirmed in other studies (Fernald et al., 2007, 2010, 2015; Raheem et al., 2015).

Known among water users simply as the Acequia, various legal entities embody the community associations, or acequia associations, that govern members' water usage, depending on local precedents and traditions. An acequia organization often must include commissioners and a majordomo who administers usage of water from a ditch, regulating which holders of water rights can release water to their fields on which days. In New Mexico, by state statute, acequias as registered bodies must have three commissioners and a mayordomo (see Rivera, 1998, pp. 59–60). Irrigation and conservation districts typically have their own version of mayordomos, usually referred to as "ditch riders" by members of the districts.

Irrigation canal locks
irrigation canal locks

In recent years, acequias in New Mexico and Colorado have successfully developed and implemented changes in state water laws to accommodate the unique norms, customs, and practices of the acequia systems. The customary law of the acequia is older than and at variance with the Doctrine of Prior Appropriation, and the statutes promulgating acequia water law represent a rare instance of water pluralism in the context of Western water law in the United States (see Hicks and Peña 2003). For example, the Doctrine of Prior Appropriation is based on the principle of "first in use, first in right," while acequia norms incorporate not just priority but principles of equity and fairness. This is evident in the fact that Prior Appropriation considers water to be a commodity owned by private individuals while acequia systems treat water as a community resource that irrigators have a shared right to use, manage, and protect. While Prior doctrines allow for water to be sold away from the basin of origin, the acequia system prohibits the transference of water from the watershed in which it is situated and thus considers water as an "asset-in-place". The Prior regime is based on a governance regime in which the members of a mutual ditch company will vote based on their proportional ownership of shares so that larger farmers have more votes. In contrast, the acequia system follows a "one farmer, one vote" system that has led researchers to consider this a form of "water democracy" (see Rivera 1998; Peña 2003). Acequia water law also requires that all persons with irrigation rights participate in the annual maintenance of the community ditch including the annual spring time ditch cleanup known as the limpieza y saca de acequia.

See also


  • Fernald, A. G., T. T. Baker, and S. J. Guldan, Hydrological, Riparian, and Agroecosystem Functions of Traditional Acequia Irrigation Systems. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture 30:2:147-71. 2007.
  • Fernald, A.G., S.Y. Cevik, C.G. Ochoa, V.C. Tidwell, J.P. King, and S.J. Guldan. River hydrograph retransmission functions of irrigated valley surface water–groundwater interactions. J. Irrigation Drainage and Eng. 136:823-835. 2010.
  • Fernald, A., S. Guldan, K. Boykin, A. Cibils, M. Gonzales, B. Hurd, S. Lopez, C. Ochoa, M. Ortiz, J. Rivera, S. Rodriguez, and C. Steele. Linked hydrologic and social systems that support resilience of traditional irrigation communities. Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 19:293–307. 2015.
  • Glick, Thomas F.. Irrigation and Society in Medieval Valencia. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1970. Spanish version: Regadío y sociedad en la Valencia medieval. Del Cenia al Segura. Valencia, 1988.
  • Glick, Thomas F. The Old World Background of the Irrigation System of San Antonio, Texas. El Paso, Texas: Western Press, 1972. Spanish version, in Los cuadernos de Cauce 2000, No.15 (Madrid, 1988); also in Instituto de la Ingeniería de España, Obras hidráulicas prehispánicas y coloniales en América, I (Madrid, 1992), pp. 225–264.
  • Hicks, Gregory A. and Devon G. Peña. Community Acequias in Colorado's Rio Culebra Watershed: A Customary Commons in the Domain of Prior Appropriation. University of Colorado Law Review 74:387-486. 2003.
  • Peña, Devon G. The Watershed Commonwealth of the Upper Rio Grande. In: Natural Assets: Democratizing Environmental Ownership, eds. James K. Boyce and Barry G. Shelley. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, pp. 169–85. 2003.
  • Raheem, N., S. Archambault, E. Arellano, M. Gonzales, D. Kopp, J. Rivera, S. Guldan, K. Boykin, C. Oldham, A. Valdez, S. Colt, E. Lamadrid, J. Wang, J. Price, J. Goldstein, P. Arnold, S. Martin, and E. Dingwell. A framework for assessing ecosystem services in acequia irrigation communities of the Upper Río Grande watershed. WIREs Water doi:10.1002/wat2.1091. 2015.
  • Rivera, Jose A. Acequia Culture: Water, Land, and Community in the Southwest. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. 1998.

External links

Acequia, Colorado

Acequia is an unincorporated community located in Douglas County, Colorado, United States.Acequia is a Spanish word meaning "canal" or "channel", so the name was likely in reference to the nearby High Line Canal.

Acequia, Idaho

Acequia (pronounced ah-SEE-kwa) is a city in Minidoka County, Idaho, United States. The population was 124 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Burley, Idaho Micropolitan Statistical Area. The town is named for the Spanish word for canal.

Acequia (disambiguation)

Acequia may refer to:

Acequia, a waterway

Acequia, Colorado, US

Acequia, Idaho, US

Acequia Madre de Valero, San Antonio, Texas

Acequia Park, San Antonio, Texas

Acequia Madre de Valero (San Antonio)

Acequia Madre de Valero is an 18th-century agricultural irrigation canal built by the Spanish and located in the Bexar County city of San Antonio in the U.S. state of Texas. When Martín de Alarcón founded San Antonio for Spain by establishing San Antonio de Valero Mission in 1718, Franciscan priest Antonio de Olivares and the Payaya Indians dug Acequia Madre de Valero by hand. It was vital to the missions to be able to divert and control water from the San Antonio River, in order to grow crops and to supply water to the people in the area. This particular acequia was the beginning of a much wider acequia system. Acequia Madre de Valero ran from the area currently known as Brackenridge Park and southward to what is now Hemisfair Plaza and South Alamo Street. Part of it that is not viewable by the public runs beneath the Menger Hotel. The acequia was restored in 1968 and that year was designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark.Acequia Madre de Valero was the initial phase of what became a 45-mile acequia network put in place by the Franciscan priests to provide water for the missions and their agricultural endeavors. The location of part of this acequia is adjacent to the Johann and Anna Heidgen House at 121 Star Street, and was a contributing factor in placing the house on the National Register of Historic Places listings in Bexar County, Texas in 2004. The acequia is lined with native limestone, a facet of Spanish engineering techniques. Some of the later stonework in the overall network was added by German immigrants. The full system involved placement of dams, canals and sluice gates. The complete network served residents of San Antonio until late in the 19th century. The Texas Historical Commission placed the historic landmark plaque on a limestone block at the Hemisfair Plaza section of Acequia Madre de Valero.

Acequia Park

Acequia Park is located in the Bexar County city of San Antonio in the U.S. state of Texas. There are picnic tables and restrooms, but alcohol is not allowed in the park. The origins of the park date back to Spanish missionaries, who worked with mission Indians to create a water system sourced by the San Antonio River. The San Antonio Conservation Society (SACS) purchased much of this acreage in 1957 to preserve the area's environment. Because the San Antonio River Authority planned to reconfigure the river channel, SACS joined local land owners in filing a successful water rights and water flow lawsuit against the Authority. In 1975, SACS deeded the property to the City of San Antonio with the stipulation that it be used as a public park.


Albesa is a municipality in the comarca of Noguera, in the province of Lleida, Catalonia, Spain.

In 1003 it was the seat of the battle of Albesa. The economy is mostly based on agriculture (fruit, potato, tomato), taking advantage of the presence of an acequia.

Sights include the parish church of St. Mary (18th century), with a 14th-century retablo, and the remains of the ancient castle (conquered by the Christians in 1098) and of several ancient Roman villas.

Antonio de Olivares

Antonio de San Buenaventura y Olivares or simply Fray Antonio de Olivares (1630 - 1722) was a Spanish Franciscan who officiated at the first Catholic Mass celebrated in Texas, and he was known for contributing to the founding of San Antonio and to the prior exploration of the area.

He founded, among other missions, the famous Alamo Mission in San Antonio, the Presidio San Antonio de Bexar, and the Acequia Madre de Valero.

El Rancho de las Golondrinas

El Rancho de las Golondrinas (The Ranch of the Swallows), a historic rancho and now a living history museum, is strategically located on what was once the Camino Real, the Royal Road that extended from Mexico City to Santa Fe. The ranch provided goods for trade and was a place where the caravans that plied the road would stop on their journey coming from or going to Santa Fe. It was a paraje, an official rest stop for travelers, and was even mentioned by the great colonial military leader and governor, Don Juan Bautista de Anza, when he stopped here with his expeditionary force in 1780.

El Rancho de las Golondrinas, located on 200 acres in the rural farming valley of La Ciénega just south of Santa Fe, New Mexico, strives to maintain examples of life during the period when Spain ruled in the southwestern portion of the North and most of the Central American continent. The museum opened in 1972 and is dedicated to the history, heritage and culture of 18th and 19th century New Mexico. Guides are dressed in period clothing and demonstrate weaving, hide tanning, milling, blacksmithing and the planting of crops. In addition to normal hours of operation there are ten annual festivals at El Rancho de las Golondrinas. Its acequia system (irrigation ditch complex) is on the Register of Historic Places for New Mexico.[1]In 1932, Leonora Curtin and her mother purchased the ranch property. Leonora is known for the founding of Santa Fe's Native Market in an effort to save and reestablish traditional craft forms and techniques, and to provide local artisans with a source of income during the Great Depression. After their marriage in 1946, Leonora and her Finnish husband, Yrjö Alfred (Y.A.) Paloheimo, saw the potential in the old ranch as a site for a living history museum. Both Leonora and Y.A. devoted themselves to transforming the property into a place where visitors could physically engage with the rich culture of the region and become immersed in the history of New Mexico. Existing historic buildings were restored, period structures were erected and historic buildings were brought in from other sites around New Mexico. The museum officially opened its doors in the spring of 1972 and over time has grown into New Mexico's premier living history museum. Today the museum promotes and preserves the Hispano heritage of Northern New Mexico, while at the same time building a better understanding of the lasting influence of Hispanos in the Southwest and the rest of the country.

Espada Acequia

The Espada Acequia, or Piedras Creek Aqueduct, was built by Franciscan friars in 1731 in what is now San Antonio, Texas, United States. It was built to supply irrigation water to the lands near Mission San Francisco de la Espada, today part of San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. The acequia is still in use today and is an Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and a National Historic Landmark.

History of San Antonio

The City of San Antonio is one of the oldest Spanish colonization of the European settlements in Texas and was, for decades, its largest city. Before Spanish colonization, the site was occupied for thousands of years by varying cultures of indigenous peoples. The historic Payaya Indians were likely those who encountered the first Europeans.

The "Villa de Bejar" was founded by Spanish explorers on May 5th, 1718, by then Governor Martin Alarcon, at the headwaters of the San Pedro Creek. The mission San Antonio de Valero was established on the east bank of the creek and a presidio was 3/4 of a league downstream. Development of the Spanish colonial city followed. A trading post was also established near the presidio and the town developed as the capital of Tejas, a province of colonial Spain. It was the northernmost settlement associated with the Hispanic culture of the Valley of Mexico.

After Mexico achieved independence in 1821, Anglo-American settlers entered the region from the United States. In 1836, Anglo-Americans gained control of Texas in the fighting that gained independence for the Republic of Texas. In 1845 Texas was annexed by the United States of America, and became a state.

Idaho State Highway 24

Idaho State Highway 24 (SH 24) is a 67.5 mi (108.6 km) long state highway in Idaho that runs east west from Shoshone, Idaho on the far west to Minidoka and Acequia on the far east.

International Diversion Dam

The International Diversion Dam (or simply the International Dam) is a diversion dam on the Rio Grande in Ciudad Juárez. The dam is operated by the International Boundary and Water Commission, and diverts water into the Acequia Madre for use in irrigation in Mexico.

Water is diverted under the terms of the 1906 treaty on usage of Rio Grande water between the United States and Mexico.

Lake Walcott State Park

Lake Walcott State Park is a public recreation area located near the Minidoka Dam six miles (9.7 km) east of Acequia in Minidoka County, Idaho, United States. The state park encompasses 65 acres (26 ha) on the western shore on Lake Walcott, an 8,000-acre (3,200 ha) impoundment of the Snake River. The Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge adjoins the park and the lake. The park's recreational offerings include disc golf, camping, picnicking, boating, fishing, and water sports.


A majordomo is a person who speaks, makes arrangements, or takes charge for another. Typically, this is the highest (major) person of a household (domūs or domicile) staff, a head servant who acts on behalf of the owner of a large or significant residence. Synonyms include castellan, concierge, chamberlain, seneschal, mayor of the palace, curopalate, maître d'hôtel, head butler, and steward.

A majordomo may also, more informally, be someone who oversees the day-to-day responsibilities of a business enterprise. Historically, many institutions and governments – monasteries, cathedrals and cities – as well as noble and royal houses also had the post of majordomo, who usually was in charge of finances.

Additionally, the Hispanos of New Mexico use this term to refer to the manager of an acequia system for a town or valley.

Mission San Francisco de la Espada

Mission San Francisco de la Espada (also Mission Espada) is a Roman Rite Catholic mission established in 1690 by Spain and relocated in 1731 to present-day San Antonio, Texas, in what was then known as northern New Spain. The mission was built in order to convert local Native Americans to Christianity and solidify Spanish territorial claims in the New World against encroachment from France. Today, the structure is one of four missions that comprise San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.

San Pedro Springs Park

San Pedro Springs Park is located in the Bexar County city of San Antonio in the U.S. state of Texas. Surrounding the source of the springs, the 46-acre park is the oldest in the state of Texas. It is the location of a Payaya Indian village known as Yanaguana, and is the original site of the city of San Antonio. The park is alternately known as San Pedro Park. The park was designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 1965. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places listings in Bexar County, Texas on November 1, 1979.

Although it is often stated that it is the second oldest city park in the United States after Boston Common, it is at most the tenth oldest after Plaza de la Constitución in San Augustine, Florida among others.

St. Mary's Strip

The St. Mary's Strip is an entertainment district in Midtown San Antonio. Located just north of downtown, "the Strip" encompasses a section of North St. Mary's that is roughly bounded by Mistletoe Avenue and Grayson Street. It is situated adjacent to the Pearl Brewery and is part of a rapidly redeveloping corridor of central San Antonio.

In contrast to the tourist-oriented River Walk, the Strip is geared more towards locals. Every weekend, thousands of people visit the bars, clubs, coffee shops, food trucks, restaurants, and entertainment venues that line St. Mary's Street west of U.S. Highway 281 and north of Interstate 35.


Sudanell is a municipality in the comarca of the Segrià in Catalonia. It is located by the junction of two rivers: the Segre and the Set. Agriculture is Sudanell's principal economic activity (peaches, apples, pears, corn). Two canals: Canal de Seròs and Acèquia de Torres irrigate the area.

The Vines of Mendoza

The Vines of Mendoza is an Argentine wine business founded in 2006 by Michael Evans and Pablo Gimenez Riili, The Vines of Mendoza is an enterprise that sells private vineyard estates and distributes Argentine wines. It is located in the Uco Valley of Mendoza, Argentina.Among the more than 30 varieties produced by the estate vineyards include: Malbec, Ancellotta, Aglianico, Albarino, Bonarda, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Carménère, Chardonnay, Grenache, Malvasia Bianca, Marsanne, Mencia, Merlot, Mourvèdre, Nebbiolo, Negroamaro, Passerina, Petit Verdot, Pinot gris, Pinot noir, Riesling, Sangiovese, Sauvignon blanc, Syrah, Tempranillo, Teroldego, Torrontes, Uva di Troia, Viognier, and Zinfandel

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