Dividing New Mexico's Waters, 1700-1912

Dividing New Mexico's Waters, 1700-1912

Dividing New Mexico's Waters, 1700-1912

Dividing New Mexico's Waters, 1700-1912

Synopsis

"Surveyed in this book are two centuries of struggles over water rights. Most conflicts have occurred when someone suddenly seized and redirected the flow of water away from another user. Usually disputes were resolved through an appeal process, but these often followed ditch-bank fights punctuated by blows from shovels. Throughout the colonial period, access to water was a local issue and centered on maintaining the community acequia or ditch. Then beginning in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, competition for water intensified. Community-based decision-making gave way to district court hearings and the emergence of new legal principles - all arising out of claims advanced by those seeking large-scale irrigation development. In 1907 control was given to an appointed water engineer in a new legislative code, which still remains the foundation of water law in New Mexico." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Although new mexicans now face a number of difficult environmental problems, none of them receives more attention than our water supply. Located in a semiarid region with limited precipitation, New Mexico is extremely vulnerable to water shortages. During the last few decades, population growth and urban development have intensified competition for available supplies. Each day, demand increases from agricultural, industrial, domestic, and recreational users, seemingly without concern for the future. News media report proposals for a new golf course or computer chip factory, each one requiring staggering amounts of water. As the struggle continues, lawsuits to determine rights to surface and ground water fill the dockets of state and federal courts. Clearly, the situation is precarious.

Despite the flood of recent publicity, disputes to determine water ownership are not new to New Mexico, but have recurred frequently during the state's long history. For centuries, governmental officials under Spanish, Mexican, and United States administrations have wrestled with water apportionment issues and related problems, particularly in times of drought. in the past, as now, authorities searched for ways to share recurrent shortages in keeping with the accepted values of the community. Frequently, their attempts to allocate scanty resources failed to satisfy any of the contending parties. Nevertheless, the solutions imposed provide material for an intriguing history worthy of consideration today.

This book discusses the evolution of water administration in New Mexico from the colonial era through the first decade of the twentieth century. Based on archival sources from the Spanish, Mexican, and Territorial periods, the research begins with documents created during the reconquest of the province by Spanish forces in 1693-1694. (Unfortunately, almost all records from the seventeenth century were destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.) With New Mexico a crown colony once again, the settlers reestablished an agrarian-pastoral society based on grants of land from the royal domain. Because agriculture was virtually impossible without irrigation, officials placed great emphasis on water availability when they distributed lands to establish new communities. As the settlements took root, Hispano farmers devised a practical system for managing and maintaining their community acequias. Conflicts for water were inevitable, and, in this work, records from lawsuits serve as case studies of the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.