Michael Holleran
2019 Fitch Mid-Career Fellow
The Urban Ditch: Landscape, Life and Afterlives

Changing climate and urban growth place stress on our global water systems and alter the means by which we receive and manage water. In the arid West and Southwest, Americans have historically relied on acequias, zanjas and canals for life-giving water. These were not agricultural oddities but, rather, part of urban development—these waterways created distinct cultural landscapes with specific material expressions of the technologies and social arrangements of water distribution.

As new technologies and systems are developed, some consider these former waterways obsolete. The history and future of waterways brings forth a complex interlocking of issues: hydrology, ecology, climate, technology, law, economics and politics. Michael Holleran’s research will examine their persistence as landscapes, providing a foundation of understanding for the important preservation task of managing change, considering adaptation for new uses, and more.

Image: C.C. Pierce Collection of Photographs. The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.