The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 386
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Lewises recounted that the headgate for the San Juan Acequia had been
installed and operated without interruption from and after the 1 73os by
the plaintiffs and their predecessors in title to the old San Juan Mission
lands. The Lewises provided the court with a chain of title involving
their land granted by the Republic of Mexico in 1824. All told, the 12.5
acres now owned by the Lewis family were entitled to 3.5 dulas of water
as successors to four of the original landowners in the 1824 grants:
Maria Luisa de Luna, Mariano Rodriguez, Santiago Diaz, and Francisco
Calvillo or Salvador Flores. They also informed the court that they, in
fact, had continuously used the amounts of water to which they were
entitled since acquiring their property in 1926.46
Attorneys for the SARA countered with the assertion that all of the
acequia plaintiffs still had access to the relocated stream within the
"enlarged" channel of the San Antonio River to the west of the
headgate by way of pumping. If damages resulted from the loss of
water, they argued, the cessation of flow should be attributable to the
San Juan Ditch Company's not having taken steps to put water into the
ditch. As to the claim of diminished land values, the river authority con-
tended that the "old gravity dam-ditch system was and is in such anti-
quated and dilapidated condition as to have rendered [it] practically
useless" compared with best-market-uses for urban, industrial and resi-
dential purposes. According to the SARA's attorneys, no diminution in
the market value of plaintiffs' tract of land was or could have been
caused by the river authority's actions. With regard to the old San Juan
Dam, the SARA repeated its assertion that removing or covering this
structure was necessary to the straightening, widening, and deepening
of the San Antonio River channel for the purpose of flood protection
in the city of San Antonio and Bexar County. Actions by the SARA
were, thus, not only reasonable, but they were essential to protect
against future ravages of the "common enemy," devastating floods in
the drainage area.47
Both the Hunts' and the Lewises' lawsuits were tried before juries,
and in each case the jury answered all of the issues in favor of the
landowners. In the Hunt case the jury agreed that rechanneling the
San Antonio River and the subsequent loss of water by gravity flow
had decreased the value of Hunt's land. For this loss the jury awarded
him $8,500, plus the claimed interest on this amount dating to March
4"Plaintiffs' first amended original petition after severance m Lews v. SARA, no. F-115, 976B,
in the 131st Judicial District of Bexar County, Dec. 29, 1964. At the time of SARA v Dillon in
1958 only two Spanish surnames, Luciano Juirez and his wife, Beatrice Juirez, appeared on the
list of San Juan Acequma irrigators, as was the case in 1967 when the SARA and the irrigators
reached a final agreement to end the series of lawsuits.
47Defendant's first amended original answer in Lews v. SARA, no. F-1 15, 976B (1965).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/454/: accessed August 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.