Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

U.S. Southwest irrigation system facing decline after four centuries

Date:
February 12, 2014
Source:
Dartmouth College
Summary:
Communal irrigation systems known as acequias that have sustained farming villages in the arid southwestern United States for centuries are struggling because of dwindling snowmelt runoff and social and economic factors that favor modernism over tradition, a new study finds.

Communal irrigation systems known as acequias that have sustained farming villages in the arid southwestern United States for centuries are struggling because of dwindling snowmelt runoff and social and economic factors that favor modernism over tradition, a Dartmouth College study finds.

Related Articles


The results reflect similar changes around the world, where once isolated communities are becoming integrated into larger economies, which provide benefits of modern living but also the uncertainties of larger-scale market fluctuations. The study appears in the journal Global Environmental Change.

Acequias evolved in the Middle East and Roman Empire and were introduced into the Americas by Spanish colonizers in the early 1600s. The term acequia refers to both communities of farmers as well as engineered irrigation canals that carry snowmelt-driven runoff to farm fields as a way for the agricultural communities to share a scarce resource in arid regions. The acequias system, which is common in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, provides a model of communal ownership that governs water rights, distribution, disputes and other issues.

Dartmouth Assistant Professor Michael Cox, the study's author, examined the acequias of the Taos Valley in northern New Mexico. He found the acequias are declining in terms of their agricultural productivity and have mostly lost their common property-based livestock pasturing system. The changes stem from a declining amount of snowmelt and a host of socio-economic factors, many resulting from population growth in the nearby city of Taos. The factors include state-level public policies that grant private water rights to individuals, which conflicts with the acequias' water sharing traditions; newcomers who are increasing demand for what water remains; increased tourism and land use development; and declining reliance on traditions in favor of modern, highly integrated economies.

Researchers typically focus on successful examples of community-based common-pool resource management systems, but Cox's study, which used a mix of interview, survey, remote sensing and census data, is among the few to explore the deterioration of such systems.

"While some of these changes can be attributed to declines in water availability, much of the change results from social drivers, including demographic changes, regional-to-global market forces and public policies," Cox says. "It thus seems quite unlikely that the acequias in Taos will return to their historical situation, meaning the acequia farmers must adapt to the current conditions."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Dartmouth College. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Michael Cox. Modern disturbances to a long-lasting community-based resource management system: The Taos Valley acequias. Global Environmental Change, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.12.006

Cite This Page:

Dartmouth College. "U.S. Southwest irrigation system facing decline after four centuries." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140212164404.htm>.
Dartmouth College. (2014, February 12). U.S. Southwest irrigation system facing decline after four centuries. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140212164404.htm
Dartmouth College. "U.S. Southwest irrigation system facing decline after four centuries." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140212164404.htm (accessed November 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Buffalo Residents Digging Out, Helping out

Raw: Buffalo Residents Digging Out, Helping out

AP (Nov. 22, 2014) Hundreds of volunteers joined a 'shovel brigade' in Buffalo, New York on Saturday, as the city was living up to its nickname, "The City of Good Neighbors." Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Green Car Soon Available in the US

Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Green Car Soon Available in the US

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Toyota presented its hydrogen fuel-cell compact car called "Mirai" to US consumers at the Los Angeles auto show. The car should go on sale in 2015 for around $60.000. It combines stored hydrogen with oxygen to generate its own power. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google Announces Improvements To Balloon-Borne Wi-Fi Project

Google Announces Improvements To Balloon-Borne Wi-Fi Project

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) In a blog post, Google said its balloons have traveled 3 million kilometers since the start of Project Loon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
5 Hot Months, 1 Warm Year And All The Arguments To Follow

5 Hot Months, 1 Warm Year And All The Arguments To Follow

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) The NOAA released statistics Thursday showing October was the fifth month this year with record temps and 2014 will likely be the hottest on record. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins