Polop, la Nucía, l'Alfàs del Pi and Benidorm have had in common many centuries of history in as much as since the 14th century when they formed part of teo territorial lordships. Baronies according to the denomination of the time, which since the 14th century appertained to the same lords.
Polop is a village with a long history before the Islamic stage. Benidorm has a later origin in that it was created in 1325 by Bernat de Sarrià, segregating from the Polop castle. Its provided a municipality grander than that of Polop, because it included the current Alfàs del Pi and part of La Nucía.
In the following centuries the situation was made more convoluted. Polop lost its Muslim population during the war if 'Germanías' (1520- 1522), remaining thereafter an eminently Christian town.
Moreover, the continuous incursions of the Muslim privateer depopulated Benidorm, while very early in the 16th century (possibly in 1503) its few inhabitants abandoned it and it lost its indepence, remaining annexed to Polop which in this way included within its municipal territory the four towns.
This situation changed radically when on the 1st of April, 1666 Beatriz Fajardo de Mendoza created in Polop the ‘Reg Major de l’Alfàs, with waters that originated in the ravine of the town.
Accordingly it is said in the founding document "Doña Beatriz Fajardo and de Mendoza, Lady of the Barons of Polop and Benidorm, Chirles and la Nucía, have come the present village of Polop to effect the arrangement and adjustments to the establishments of the land and the irrigation of the new Alfaz.
This infrastructure brought about the re-founding of Benidorm and the recovery of its independence by segregating itself from Polop and thereby converting itself into an independent municipality.
Even though the official denomination was Reg Major de l’Alfàs, in the region it was known popularly as ‘La Séquia Mare’. With it and its numerous channels the fields were irrigated, the domestic tanks were filled and the flour mills were powered, which enabled the production of bread, the basic food of that time. Also, clothes were washed and animals watered.
For the economy during those centuries all these activities were basic but vital, without which it wouldn’t have been possible to survive.
For these reasons, ‘la Séquia Mare’ favoured an extraordinary growth in the population of the region. At the same time, the new population defended its territory from the attacks by the Muslim privateers who in earlier times had caused the depopulation of the coastal region. From this time, the region returned to be safer and more secure and there began to appear on the banks of the tributaries, a series of farmsteads which marked out its way. This scattered habitat contributed to the increase of the population of the region.
When the irrigation was created the area had a small population numbering just 459 inhabitants. 30 years later, there were 1.417 and consequently a century later, it had grown to 5.107. In 1860 almost two hundred years later, the population was 8.840.
The demographic growth brought about a transformation of the landscape. The old pine and holm oaks forest were chopped down and turned into land for cultivation, irrigated and crisscrossed by complex networks of paths and irrigations ditches with bridges, windmills, weirs, etc.
The habitat also changed in front of a population concentrated in few and small clusters, emerged throughout the 18th century an abundant population dispersed in small farms near to the ‘Séquia Madre’. The result was an anthropic landscape, very different from the one that had previously existed.
The ‘Reg Major’ was owned by some feudal lords who only saw in himself a source of incomes but without obligations. For the reason they neglected maintenance causing the resentment of their vassals. The rivalry between lords and vassals lasted for more than 250 years. Upon the death of the last countess of Montealegre and extinguishing the landowners of Polop and Benidorm, the owner of the irrigation was divided between numerous heirs and its deterioration increased.
Farmers began to make steps to control it, highlighting the purchase of direct rule in 1912. The situation improved and the result of this was the Regulations of 1927, still effective, and the long-awaited reform of the irrigation ditch from 1942 made of cement. In Benidorm, it had always been ground and in consequence it was greatly improved.
However, in those moments when it was called "Mayor Irrigation of Alfaz del Pi and Benidorm" and had the best organization and infrastructure of its history, began its decline. The process initiated with the Algar Lower Channel that supplied water in much greater quantities and at lower prices, which allowed the transition from traditional irrigation to commercial agriculture of citrus for export.
The secular Mare Drought was deficient for the new agriculture. Also in 1960 the urban potable water network was created and was no longer necessary to fill domestic cisterns or washing clothes. The development of transport made flour mills unnecessary. Therefore, many farmers sold their rights to water and it stopped its access to Benidorm by 1990. The infrastructure of Mare Drought, obsolete, deteriorated and many disappeared under the process of urbanization that accompanied the development of tourism since 1956.
Progress is necessary but not to be forgotten. Knowing our history, our roots, is understanding each other better as a people and region. The adjustment of the environment of Drought Mare is a way to keep the memory of an infrastructure that allowed the repopulation of Benidorm and region and its survival over three centuries.