The Spanish Element in Texas Water Law by Betty Eakle DobkinsThe Spanish Element in Texas Water Law by Betty Eakle Dobkins

The Spanish Element in Texas Water Law

byBetty Eakle Dobkins

Paperback | November 1, 2011

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The Spanish element in Texas water law is a matter of utmost importance to many landholders whose livelihood is dependent on securing water for irrigation and to many communities particularly concerned about water supply.

Titles to some 280,000 acres of Texas land originated in grants made by the Crown of Spain or by the Republic of Mexico. For these lands, the prevailing law, even today, is the Hispanic American civil law. Thus the question of determining just what water rights were granted by the Spanish Crown in disposing of lands in Texas is more than a matter of historical interest. It is a subject of great practical importance.

Spanish law enters directly into the question of these lands, but its influence is by no means confined to them. Texas water law in general traces its roots primarily to the Spanish law, not to the English common law doctrine of riparian rights or to the Western doctrine of prior appropriation (both of which were, however, eventually incorporated in Texas law). A clear understanding of this background might have saved the state much of the current confusion and chaos regarding its water law.

Dobkins’s book offers an intensive and unusually readable study of the subject. The author has traced water law from its origin in the ancient world to the mid-twentieth century, interpreting the effect of water on the counties concerned, setting forth in detail the development of water law in Spain, and explaining its subsequent adoption in Texas. Copious notes and a complete bibliography make the work especially valuable.

The idea for this book came in the midst of the great seven-year drought in Texas, from 1950 to 1957. The author gave two reasons for her study: “One was my belief that the water problems, crucial to all Texas, can be solved only when Texans become conscious of their imperative needs and only if they become informed and aroused enough to act.

“The second reason came from a realization that water—common, universal, and ordinary as it is—had been overlooked by the historian. It is high time that this oversight be corrected. In American history the significance of land, especially in terms of the frontier, has been spelled out in large letters. The importance of water has been recognized by few.”

Betty Eakle Dobkins, a native Texan, was Assistant Professor of History at Southwest Texas State College, now Texas State University, in San Marcos, Texas.
Title:The Spanish Element in Texas Water LawFormat:PaperbackDimensions:208 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:November 1, 2011Publisher:University Of Texas PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0292739672

ISBN - 13:9780292739673


Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • List of Spanish Land Measures
  • Chapter I. Texas, Water, Law
    • Water and Texas
    • Water Law
    • Texas Water Law
  • Chapter II. Water Laws and Institutions in the Ancient World
    • The Near East
    • Roman Water Laws and Institutions
    • Roman Water Works
    • Roman Law
    • Roman Water Law
  • Chapter III. Development of Water Law in Spain
    • The Land and Its Influence on Spanish History
    • Water Law and Institutions in Spain
    • Ancient Period: The Romans and the Moors
    • Development of Water Law in Medieval Spain
    • Spanish Water Law at the End of the Colonial Period
  • Chapter IV. Hispanic-American Water Laws and Institutions
    • The Spanish Basis of Hispanic-American Institutions and Modifications in the New World
    • New Spain: The Land and the People
    • Hispanic-American Water Laws and Institutions: Principles
    • Hispanic-American Water Laws and Institutions: The Texas Experience
    • Spanish Texas
    • Irrigation in Spanish Texas
    • Administration of Waters: The Role of the Royal Government
    • Administration of Waters: Local Government
  • Chapter V. Spanish Water Law in Texas, 1821–1958
    • Spanish Land Grants in Texas
    • Classification of Lands
    • Validation of the Spanish Grants
    • Major Developments in Texas Water Law, 1836–1926
    • The Courts
    • The Irrigation Act of 1852
    • Motl v. Boyd and Its Significance
    • Spanish Water Law in Texas in 1958
  • Chapter VI. Rulings on Spanish Grants in Texas v. Valmont Plantations
  • Bibliography
  • Index