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.

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.


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.


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


The water is then diverted into lateral ditches by removing one of the boards that is perpendicular to the acequia.
The lateral fills relatively quickly. Within 10 minutes it has reached the field.
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.
Water is distributed through the soil in the process.
Irrigating with the San Juan acequia

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