Nation’s oldest Spanish aqueduct located in San Antonio is getting $290,000 in repairs

The Espada Aqueduct needed repairs for leaks, sediment removal

The Espada Aqueduct is undergoing repairs. (NPS)

SAN ANTONIO – The National Park Service announced that the nation’s oldest Spanish aqueduct, which is located in San Antonio, is undergoing much-needed repairs.

The 275-year-old Espada Aqueduct, located in the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park, received $290,000 for the repair of leaks and removal of sediment and debris, the NPS said.

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The stone aqueduct spans a creekbed and was built between 1740 and 1745. It was part of a larger irrigation system that carried water from the San Antonio River to communities and their farming fields.

It was built north of Mission Espada and is still in use.

Amid the repairs, it was drained using a diversion gate and cleared of “a heavy load of sediment,” a news release states. The sediment was removed by hand and once the channel was cleared, crews located cracks and mortar joints in need of repairs.

Once the interior is fixed, the crews will begin repairs on the exterior masonry.

Following the repairs, water from the San Antonio River will be re-introduced to the aqueduct.

The work is being done by the NPS Historic Preservation Training Center, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park and Texas Conservation Corps youth.

It is expected to be completed this month.

“Being able to preserve our community’s heritage, character, and sense of place is invaluable in experiencing and understanding the cultural identity of our past and future,” Christine Jacobs, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park superintendent said in the release. “This project wouldn’t be possible without the team of skilled masons from San Antonio Missions National Historical Park and the National Park Service Historic Preservation Training Center who are providing the additional expert craftspeople needed to perform the work.”

The aqueduct is designated as a National Park, UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Historic Landmark. The San Antonio Missions are the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Texas.

The funds are being provided by the Great American Outdoors Act. The act’s Legacy Restoration Fund is giving the National Park Service $1.3 billion a year for five years for preservation and enhancements at parks around the country.

For more information about the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park, click here.

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About the Author

Rebecca Salinas is an award-winning digital journalist who joined KSAT in 2019. She reports on a variety of topics for KSAT 12 News.

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