Ivonne del Valle analyzes the colonizers’ ongoing struggle to manage lake water in the Valley of Mexico.
In 1325, Tenochtitlan was founded on an island in the lowest depression of a basin without natural outlets through which the excess water of the rainy season and the multiple rivers in the area could drain away. Because of the region’s geographic and climatic features, effective management of the water was and continues to be, vital for the city’s very existence. The body of knowledge developed during the pre-Hispanic era to manage water entailed a complex combination of religious practices and technical skills that allowed for a meaningful relationship to that particular environment. Under this paradigm, the lake water was central to the lives of the region’s indigenous peoples.