Congresos de la Universitat Politècnica de València, Irrigation, Society and Landscape. Tribute to Tom F. Glick

Por defecto: 
Irrigation and Society in the Upper Río Grande Basin, U.S.A.: A Heritage of Mutualism
José A. Rivera, Juan Estevan Arellano, Enrique R. Lamadrid, Tomás Martínez Saldaña

Última modificación: 05-02-2015


Abstract. The acequias of the upper Río Grande are more than just irrigation canals.  They also allocate and manage water for the community of landowners in the system.  After four centuries of use, the acequias persist into modern times with their founding principles intact: self-government, local autonomy, internal rules for operating procedures, and a strong sense of mutualismo or communal responsibility.  They have endured since Spanish colonial settlement, and have maintained continuity of a water culture surviving political-administrative changes under three sovereigns, Spain (1598-1821), Mexico (1821-1848), and the United States (1848-Present).  Despite stressors of climate variability, demographic changes, urbanization, and economic modernity, the acequia parciantes hold onto, maintain, and defend their shares of water in the acequia madre.  Most of these irrigation works still function as before, zanjas carved out of the land to shape the edges of the semi-arid terrain and extend the riparian zones for multiple uses.  Will they survive the pressures to move water to higher economic values such as municipal growth in the urban centers, water shortages among competing users, and the effects of drought evidenced in recent years?  Similar to the irrigation communities of medieval Valencia that were modeled after the craft guilds of that era, the acequias of the upper Río Grande have ties to other solidarities, namely, the cofradías and mutualista societies characterized by common attributes: the adoption of written rules and regulations, the election of officers for executive functions, and operating procedures that are self-determined.  Mutualism in the acequia culture, coupled with recovery of the Spanish language, could be the key to adaptation when new challenges emerge in future scenarios of unexpected change.


Keywords: Acequias of the upper Río Grande, mutualism, and water governance resilience


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