Enduring Acequias: Wisdom of the Land, Knowledge of the Water
By Juan Estevan Arellano
2014, University of New Menxico Press, 978-0-82635-5070-2, $24.95 pb.
Reviewed on January 1, 0001
Acequias—gravity-flow irrigation ditches that evolved over 10,000 years in the deserts of the Middle East—were brought to Spain by the Moors and eventually to the New World. Spanish settlers built acequias throughout the American Southwest, but those in New Mexico are the most enduring. Juan Estevan Arellano spent much of his life advocating for and teaching about acequias, and working on them too. Enduring Acequias, published just before his death, tells everything you need to know about acequias, both as ditches and as institutions of democracy. He takes the reader to his acequia-watered farm at the juncture of the Embudo and Río Grande rivers, about halfway between Santa Fe and Taos, hich he lovingly called his almunyah, from the classical Arabic word meaning “desire.” In his world of acequias, water is a way of life, not a commodity that can be severed from the land.