We Used To Have Better Water Delivery

Gung ho enthusiasm, a can-do mentality, and the notion of service to countrymen was left behind 500 years ago.

Our potable water service here sucks. Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard how challenging it is to keep a thirsty growing population living in our desert environment hydrated, but we’re not completely buying that. Because we know that it rains a lot up in the mountains, and we know we could use that water if only we could  figure out a way to reliably get it here. People are buying expensive water off the trucks because the municipality of Ensenada can’t stop the pipes from bursting and leaking. Yes, actually bursting, through mismanagement of pressure.

But look how Mexico moved water 500 years ago. The aqueduct of Padre Tembleque, built in the 16th century, still stands between the states of Mexico and Hidalgo, on the Central Mexican plateau. This canal system encompasses a water catchment area, springs, canals, distribution tanks, and aqueduct bridges. The site incorporates the highest single-level arcade aqueduct ever built. (An arcade is a succession of arches, each counter-thrusting the next, supported by columns or piers).

Much of the 30 mile long aqueduct is underground. Its construction was initiated by the Franciscan friar Francisco de Tembleque who arrived in the Americas from Spain in 1542. The plan was to carry water from what is now Zempoala, Hidalgo, to Otumba in the state of México, while allowing all the small villages along the way to tap into the rushing water.

Some 400 laborers from 40 villages worked on the project  and it was financed through the sale of textiles by women of the villages who would be tapping into it.

This water system is an example of the the melding of the European tradition of Roman waterworks and traditional Mesoamerican construction techniques from here, including the use of adobe.

And, it seems that such gung ho enthusiasm, a can-do mentality, and the notion of service to countrymen was left behind those 500 years ago. These days we can’t even patch the water pipes beneath the surface.  How can we be going so far backwards in this day and age?