Olive oil, heat wave, water and jail

In these days of heat wave, characterized by intense heat and drought, we remember how since Roman times canals were built for irrigation in the valley of the Queiles, which carried water from the Moncayo to the fields. These canals were greatly expanded by the Arabs and formed an extensive network of irrigation ditches.

As is often the case with any scarce and valuable asset, there have always been those who have taken advantage and used water that did not belong to them, and over the centuries the authorities have had to make efforts to regulate the use of water and prosecute offenders.

We share an interesting document from the archive of the Castle of Monteagudo, dated 1622, in which the mayor of Monteagudo orders “that no one dare to take water from the Calchetes River to irrigate any fields or farms (sic) outside the boundaries of this town for any outsider of it under penalty of six ducats and ten days in jail for each time”. The penalties would be applied “the third part for the denouncer and the rest for the poor and the factory of Our Lady of the Way in equal parts”. The bando was announced “in a loud and intelligible voice” in the main square and other cantons of Monteagudo. We also include a map with the main riverbeds and canals of the time.

Nowadays these penalties do not exist -and we do not want to give ideas to our dear mayor-, but this network of irrigation ditches is still in operation and it is vital for our olive trees to spend the summer in the best conditions and in autumn we can obtain our excellent extra virgin olive oil Castillo de Monteagudo.