The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 31, July 1927 - April, 1928 Page: 264
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
set aside by local customs and special enactments, themselves con-
flicting." However, so far as the legal basis for the community
acequia is concerned, "under the old Spanish law, waters were held
by municipalities-pueblos or communes-as a common property
for domestic use, irrigation, and other purposes, but while their
utilization was free to all inhabitants of the town, it was governed
by municipal rules, and regulated and controlled by the town
officials." As the town holdings were frequently extensive, it came
about "that the general laws respecting watercourses were often
overlooked and unknown, as compared to municipal regulations
and customs on the subject."0 The common proprietorship of
water supplies, public construction of irrigation works, and the
administration of local irrigation affairs by separate communi-
ties, were very important features of Moorish and Spanish insti-
tutions long before the discovery of the New World.
Spanish-American Municipal Irrigation Laws.-It thus appears
that there had grown up in Spain, prior to the sixteenth century,
a large body of municipal irrigation laws, and of varying local
usages which in the several communities had all the force of law,
but which had not then been reduced to a code of uniform appli-
cation. The general principle of community control, however, had
been well established, and owing to the necessity for irrigation in
the settlement of so much of the territory claimed by Spain in the
New World this principle readily found its way into the irrigation
institutions of the new country,-not to the exclusion of private
irrigation, but of far greater importance in the Spanish system of
The laws of Spain that were made applicable to the American
possessions, as well as the voluminous laws and regulations framed
solely for the government of America, contain many references to
irrigation and its public regulation. Thus we find that the Par-
tidas" allow a town resident to construct a private diversion acequia
provided it does not interfere with the common use of the town.
"0Quotations from Wm. Ham. Hall, supra, pp. 370, 434. This work
contains a discussion of the growth of Spanish irrigation legislation
down to the general law or code of 1879, citing and quoting European
"Hall, Frederic, "The Laws of Mexico," p. 414, quoting Escriche.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 31, July 1927 - April, 1928, periodical, 1928; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101088/m1/282/: accessed February 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.