The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 388
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
maintain the acequia permanently from the headgate to its terminal point
and to dismiss their counter-suits with prejudice.54
After more than eight years of legal wrangling and a profusion of trials,
appeals and judgments, including three rounds in the Supreme Court of
Texas, the dispute between the San Antonio River Authority and the
landowner irrigators on the San Juan Acequia ended. Finally, a way would
be found to permanently restore the oldest water right in Texas. The final
agreement closing the case was reduced to a simple document typed on
ordinary paper and containing little more than two pages of text.
Prior to the SARA's written agreement with the irrigators in February
1967, the river authority actually had made several attempts to restore
the flow of water to the San Juan Acequia. From about April 1958, just
after the SARA had cut the water supply from the San Antonio River,
until April 1962 the river authority occasionally pumped water from the
relocated channel to the headgate of the acequia.55 While the trials were
in progress, the source of the water was a small reservoir created by a
new dam, eight feet high, built by the SARA in the relocated channel. A
1oo-horsepower pump, operated by the SARA, siphoned water from this
pond to the headgate of the San Juan Acequia.56
After the Supreme Court of Texas ruled in favor of the irrigators in
the November 1962 hearing, the SARA explored alternatives on how to
restore gravity flow of water from the relocated river channel to the San
Juan Acequia other than by pumping. To accomplish this objective, the
SARA engineers doubled the height of the new dam by adding steel
floodgates on top. The additional height, a total of sixteen feet, allowed
the dam to divert river water to the headgate of the acequia by means of
gravity flow. The gates were designed to open in case of a flood. These
modifications were installed around 1968, but a flood in 1977 destroyed
the floodgates as well as a significant portion of the new dam. Pumps
were then installed in the bed of the channel once again. By this time,
however, the ditch was overgrown with weeds and its banks had deterio-
rated severely so that water delivery through the length of the ditch was
nearly impossible. In particular, by washing out sections of the acequia,
runoff from creeks in the area caused bank erosion in critical locations.57
54 "Memorandum of Agreement," San Antonio River Authority and Irrigators, Feb 14, 1967
(on file at SAMNHP and San Antonio River Authority).
"Defendant's onginal answer in Hunt v. SARA (1964).
" Mission San Jose Neighborhood Association, "Position Paper: San Juan Dam Project," pre-
sented to San Antonio Conservation Society, May 7, 1990; a copy s in the San Juan Acequia fold-
'7 See Joseph E. Minor and Malcolm L. Steinberg, "A Brief on the Acequias of San Antonio,"
paper presented to the Committee on History and Heritage of American Civil Engineering,
American Society of Civil Engineers, May 1968, 25, on file (Daughters of the Republic of Texas
Library, San Antonio); Jack Beretta, "The Acequias," paper presented to the Society of Colonial
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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/m1/456/: accessed April 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.