The Acequias of San Antonio


The San Pedro Acequia (circa 1730), seen in this exposed fragment, was the largest of the seven canals that supplied water to the early settlers of San Antonio. Dug by Indians under the supervision of the Spaniards, these acequias extended the reach of the natural water sources on which the young city depended. An open, earthen ditch - until the city lined it with limestone in 1852 - the San Pedro Acequia was three feet four inches wide and two feet deep. It had its source at the pool of the San Pedro Springs and flowed along the present-day streets of North Flores and Acequia before winding through this site on its way southward. Continuing along South Flores street, it emptied finally into the San Pedro Creek near Beanville - in all, a distance of about three and one half miles. As this course was on a ridge between the San Antonio River and the San Pedro Creek, water was easily diverted downward along either bank for the purpose of irrigation. The settlers from the Canary Islands, who benefited most from the San Pedro Acequia, drew lots to determine their turns for the use of the ditch. The tracts of land that that had been granted for irrigation were called suertes (or chances) and the unit of water that could be granted was called a dula (or day). Because of their importance, not just for irrigation, but for drinking, the regulation of all the acequias - the Alamo Madre, the San José, the Concepción, the San Juan, the Espada and the Upper Labor Ditch - was one of the most important responsibilities of municipal government in San Antonio. For the better part of two centuries, until modern methods replaced it, the acequia system was a sophisticated method of water distribution. Although the San Pedro Acequia ceased to be viable after 1906, the names given it during its active years reflect its essential nature. Sometimes described as the canal that crosses the city (la asequia que atrabiesa la ciudad), it was also called "the Main Ditch." In the more poetic Spanish, it was simply "la asequia madre."


29° 25.436′ N, 98° 29.646′ W. Marker is in San Antonio, Texas, in Bexar County, marker near 300 Dolorosa, San Antonio TX 78205. View Map

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