An acequia is a community operated
waterwayused in Spainand former Spanish colonies in the Americas for irrigation. Particularly in 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.
The Spanish word "acequia" comes from the
Arabic"al saqiya" and means water conduit. The Arabs brought the technology to Spain during their occupation of the Iberian peninsula. The technology was adopted by the Spanish and utilized throughout their conquered lands.
Most acequias were established more than 200 years ago; many continue to provide a primary source of water for farming and ranching ventures in areas of the
United Statesonce occupied by Spainor Mexico.
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.
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 includes ditch riders and a majordomowho administers usage of water from a ditch, regulating which water-rights holders can releasewater to their fields on what days.
* [http://www.lasacequias.org The New Mexico Acequia Association]
* [http://www.acequiainstitute.org The Acequia Institute]
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