Irrigating with the San Juan acequia

This is a quick rundown on how the fields get flooded. It seems quite simple at first glance but keep in mind this system was entirely hand-dug following natural contours over about 7 miles. Keep an eye out for the next post which will explore the history of the San Juan acequia.

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The San Juan acequia twists and turns along a roughly 7 mile path branching off the San Antonio River around Southeast Military Dr. and eventually returning to the river south of Mission San Juan.

 

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The acequia arrives at the demonstration farm and is diverted into fields by a simple sluice gate. This one is made of concrete with plywood gates.

 

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By placing a board in the center opening the water is stopped and the water level starts to rise.

 

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The water is then diverted into lateral ditches by removing one of the boards that is perpendicular to the acequia.
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The lateral fills relatively quickly. Within 10 minutes it has reached the field.
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The water then flows down furrows that are dug perpendicular to the lateral ditch. In about 20-30 minutes (depending on conditions) this 5,000 square foot area can be flooded.
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Water is distributed through the soil in the process.
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Irrigating with the San Juan acequia

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