Acequias are community irrigation systems in the villages and pueblos of New Mexico. They have deep roots in two ancient traditions—Pueblo Indian and Spanish. The Pueblos collected and shared water for centuries before the arrival of Spanish colonists in 1598. The Spanish settlers brought technical knowledge and institutional frameworks for governing irrigation systems, which originated in the Moors’ seven-century occupation of Spain. Both traditions remain important to an understanding of New Mexico’s acequia heritage and the continuing relevance of these “water democracies.”Today, these traditions must meld with state law as the legislature has provided that acequias are “political subdivisions” or local governmental entities with all the attendant rights and responsibilities.

First Page


Last Page



2007, updated 2013 by Darcy Bushnell. Contributors: David Benavides, Hilario Rubio, and Ricard Trujillo.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.