The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 394
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
San Jos6 Neighborhood Association, Bexar County Historical Commis-
sion, and others.7
The Bexar County Commissioners' Court, through its contract with
the SARA to repair the acequia crossings and install the weir dam and
pump house facilities, ultimately expended $2.5 million of local tax
funds to restore water to the San Juan Acequia. Costs were also incurred
by the National Park Service to clean out the ditch and perform other
repairs along the 6.78 miles of its route. NPS expenditures included the
acquisition of tracts of irrigable land adjacent to the San Juan Mission
compound. Near the end of 1999 the NPS had already acquired eigh-
teen acres of old labores with options to purchase other properties for
use in the Spanish Colonial Demonstration Farm."
Efforts to restore San Antonio River water to the San Juan Acequia
and to implement the demonstration farm on the Old San Juan Mission
labores continued at a slow but steady pace into the year 2ooo. Numerous
delays occurred when attempts to provide a running stream of water
through the ditch failed due to continued breaks in the banks at weak
sections of the system. The decades of abandonment required the
shoring of the dirt levees and other related repairs. By the spring of
2000 the National Park Service had expended about $300,000 of feder-
al funds on land acquisition costs, acequia cleaning, repairs on the ace-
quia and the creek crossings, and the installation of an overflow device
to release storm water in the event of flooding. From its inception in
1994 the restoration project lasted seven years, with funds provided by
the San Antonio Conservation Society ($21,000), the city of San
Antonio ($40,000), and Los Compadres de San Antonio Mission
Historical Park ($21,6oo), and an additional $1oo,ooo expended by the
National Park Service to pay ditch maintenance crews.75
On June 27, 2001, at a public ceremony attended by state and federal
officials, conservationists, and the project sponsors, water was returned
to the San Juan Acequia permanently. Newspaper accounts recognized
the significance of this "Spanish colonial era irrigation ditch," the
"lifeblood" of old Mission San Juan, and described the delight of the
74 "San Antonio Acequia Filled with Water to Celebrate the Quincentenary," El Compariero,
(Oct., I99g), 3-4; also see support letters, San Juan Acequia folder (SACSLA).
74Dean Bayer to Jose A. Rivera, Mar. 31, 2ooo, e-mail (printed copy m possession of the
author); Steve Whitesell, James B. Oliver, and Ross Hunt, NPS officials, to Jose A. Rivera, San
Antomo, Oct. 13, 1999, conversation; notes in author's possession.
75 See newspaper accounts covering the public ceremony for completion of the San Juan
Acequia project: Michelle Koidin, "Renovation of 27o-year-old Irrigation ditch in San Antonio
completed," Associated Press, n.d; Michelle Koidin, "Mission's canal gives peek into history,"
Associated Press, n.d.; David McLemore, "Historic waterway project has ripple effect on city," The
Dallas Mornzng News, July 2, 2ool; Macarena Hernindez, "Historic acequla gurgles again," San
Antonio Express News,June 28, 2001; photocopies in clippings file (SAMNHP).
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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/m1/462/: accessed April 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.