Historical Acequias in San Antonio

February 13, 2014 by Giselle Guadron

The Alamo City has so much history that sometimes you might not know where to start exploring.

One good starting point may be the acequias located inside of the San Antonio Missions.  What is an acequia, you might ask?  Well an acequia is an irrigation canal and here in San Antonio they were used during the Spanish colonial times to water crops.

Each mission was a separate community which meant that each one needed their own food and water. When water was scarce that is when the acequias came in handy. Think of how hot the summer gets in San Antonio and with no rainfall that meant no crops or food.


The heart of the acequias is the San Antonio River.

Acequia construction started with the building of a dam on the river and then digging the irrigation canal. Even back then the San Antonio River had a consistent flow, and that is why this irrigation system worked so well.

Out of the seven used only two remain today and they can be found in Mission Espada and San Juan. You can even catch a glimpse of them when you are walking through Mission Park Trail.

If you visit Mission San Juan you’ll be able to see the demonstration farm and be able to go back in time and see how the settlers used this irrigation system. James Oliver, Landscape Architect of San Antonio Missions National Historic Park, says that “you will be able to see irrigation with the acequias and we are growing crops similar to those in the 1700’s so people will be able to see what it was like.” So if you’ve ever wanted to travel back in time here is a perfect opportunity for you to do so. Visit the National Park Service website for more information.

Written by Giselle Guadron

Giselle Guadron is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio. She received her bachelor’s degree in Communication with a Public Relations concentration. Currently she is working at News 4 San Antonio and is a freelance writer. She can be reached at [email protected]