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Comparative History of Irrigation Water Management, from the Sixteenth to Twentieth Centuries: Spain, Mexico, Chile, Mendoza (Argentina) and Peru

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Palerm Viqueira, Jacinta
Conference: Governing Shared Resources: Connecting Local Experience to Global Challenges, the Twelfth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Commons
Location: Cheltenham, England
Conf. Date: July 14-18, 2008
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/834
Sector: Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: South America
Central America & Caribbean
Subject(s): irrigation
water management--history
Abstract: "How much does the decision for centralized or self managed water institutions depend or reflect the size and complexity of irrigation systems. This is an exploratory paper to address this issue. "Hispanic countries share a common legal framework, State intervention has always been strong, for example for water rights, and early (1563) pan-Hispanic legislation indicates the appointment of water judges and procedure for appeals on water judge decisions. "Differences in colonial and XIXth c water management between Peru and New Spain may be based on size and complexity of irrigation systems. In New Spain the main conflict was river water distribution, irrigation systems were small and usually controlled by one peasant community or one hacienda. In the Peruvian coastal valleys irrigation systems were larger and water distribution was critical. Colonial and XIXth c. Peru has a much more developed legislation and by-laws for water management than New Spain. Mexico, in the XIXth and XXth c continued its tradition of self management with State mandated by-laws, save for Irrigation Districts. Peru, after a brief experiment with Spanish style self management in the early XXth c went back to state appointed water managers. "However Mendoza and Chile, in the XIXth have a clearly diverging evolution. In Mendoza, there is a clear continuity from colonial water judges, to the XIXth c Water Court to the Department of Irrigation, only end distribution for around 500 hectares was self managed. Whereas Chile went from colonial water judges to ad hoc appointed water judges in the XIXth to self management in the XXth c ---seemingly based on the XIXth c experience with the Maipo canal system. There are no clear differences between Mendoza and Chile save XIXth c experiences, Mendoza with centralization and Chile with the private undertaking of the Maipo canal system."

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