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Acequias of San Antonio, 1968 HCEL
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The Acequias of San Antonio date back to 1718 with the founding of Presidio San Antonio de Béxar on the west side of the San Antonio River. As part of initial city planning for the settlement, the Acequias comprised a network of eight irrigation canals, along with small diversion dams that transported water from the River to residents and area farmers. The first of the canals, Concepción, was navigable by boat. One of the smaller connections brought water to the Alamo.  

 

With their expertise in the design and construction of the Acequias, early Spanish colonists brought large-scale irrigation - a welcome addition to Texas’ semi-arid climate. However, construction and maintenance took a considerable amount of labor. Landowners were, therefore, required to assist in the initial construction of the Acequias as well as contribute towards the cost of their upkeep. Those who did not comply were fined. In the 1790s, after the secularization of the missions, authorities managed the distribution of water through the Acequias. However, this was discontinued in the late 1800s, leaving those that remained to the management of informal community enterprises or to abandonment. In fact, most of the original network was abandoned with the expansion of San Antonio in the twentieth century. However, traces of the old Acequias can still be seen there today.

Photo: National Park Service

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