The early part of the XXth century witnessed the construction of an extensive web of irrigation channels to distribute water to homes and farmlands in Puerto Rico along more than 35 kms. Still in operation to this day, throughout time different individuals and groups have acknowledged the scenic value of these channels; however, to most they remain unknown.
Conceived by the architectural firm, Jorge Rigau FAIA, Architects, the project was designed to garner support from government officials, institutions, and the general public for the development of Isabela’s irrigation channels as a key ecotourism attraction in Puerto Rico. The “canales” travel across plains, mountains, and forests of varying microclimate, flora, fauna, and views. Maintenance paths that run continuously next to them could today be refashioned as nature trails accessible to the general public, children, senior citizens, and handicapped people alike. This pilot project set out to prove the feasibility of this initiative.
After public access to these facilities had been denied for eighty years, one kilometer of channels was opened up for two days, attracting an audience of over 3,000 registered people, including key decision-makers like the Island’s Interim Governor. Environmental leaders and university professors joined the long lines of visitors from all over the Island.Advocacy is often linked to demonstrations, more than often committed to stop something from happening. In our case, we chose to demonstrate otherwise: How something can, in fact, happen. Letters of support have started to come and decision makers