Answering your SRP irrigation questions

SRP irrigation help and tips

When you have a leaky faucet, you call a plumber — or, if you have the skills, you fix it yourself. Easy enough, right? What if you have a leaky irrigation pipe? Or what if your neighbor has a leak that’s limiting your access to irrigation? That’s where SRP can help. SRP has a team of field liaisons with decades of experience helping neighborhoods and landowners get the most out of their water deliveries. Field liaisons also schedule the water deliveries, ensuring zanjeros can move the water around the Valley safely and responsibly while minimizing waste

Recently, we sat down with one of SRP’s field liaisons to learn more about troubleshooting irrigation, common questions and helpful tips.

SRP field liaison stands next to his field vehicle in between irrigation overview education sessions.
SRP field liaisons teach landowners how to get the most out of their irrigation service and schedule water deliveries to thousands of Valley landowners each year.

What do I do when my irrigation water level is low?

Irrigation should cover your entire property with 2 to 3 inches of standing water. There are a few things that will impact that — making sure you have correct berms, leveling your yard and aerating from time to time.

You may experience low water three ways: an open valve on another property within your neighborhood system, a clogged ditch or pipe, or a slide gate not being set properly. 

If you think you aren’t getting enough water, the first thing you need to do is walk your private system. That means actually walking from your property all the way back to the main SRP delivery gate. Along the way, check that the neighborhood structures are set correctly to deliver water to your property. Neighborhood systems vary and may consist of open ditches, pipes and other irrigation structures that divert water throughout your neighborhood. Ensuring your system is set correctly during your scheduled time can help identify issues that may be causing water delivery shortages.

Open ditch system

With an open ditch system, a slide gate seals off your ditch and creates back pressure that allows water to flow efficiently to your property.

Pipe system

With a pipe system, you’ll need to check your system to see if all your delivery ports are open and all your neighbors’ valves are closed. Why is that? The irrigation system works off gravity, so the water flows downhill into your private irrigation system. Typically, each irrigated property has a valve at the highest point of the property where water flows out. When your valve is open and all other valves are closed, water will flow up and out of your valve instead of down the pipe. If another property’s valve is open, water will be pulled down the pipe and you won’t receive your full delivery.

Checking the irrigation water delivery gate

If you’ve verified that everything is closed and set up correctly, you’ll then need to go to the SRP delivery gate and look at the threads on the wheel. If you don’t see any black threads below the painted white mark, you should call SRP immediately at (602) 236-3333. That means water is not flowing into your private system. If the gate is open and you are still not getting the amount of water you need, call SRP to request that a zanjero come out to check for a short head size of water.

What is a head size? It’s the volume of water delivered, and it’s measured in miner’s inches, which is 11.22 gallons of water per minute.

Getting irrigation help

Field liaisons like me can be scheduled to come out to your property free of charge and walk your entire system with you to help troubleshoot. It may not be our system, but we work with irrigation customers each day, so we have a good idea of what might be causing you to have low water levels.

Why are irrigation times at night?

SRP runs water 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to many different customers with many different schedules. We try to be fair to everyone by rotating start times  throughout the year.

Any tips on how to work well with your neighboring property owners?

The No. 1 thing we see affecting irrigation is neighbors not talking to each other. In order for irrigation to work well, you have to talk to your neighbors. It can be uncomfortable for people to talk about negative things, especially when their property is involved. Once neighbors get together, they quickly get an idea of what they may need to do to make a plan that works for them. We cannot stress this enough: If you are living in or moving into an irrigated property, the worst thing you can do is not talk to your neighbors. The biggest thing liaisons can help with is getting the neighborhood to start talking. We do this by mailing letters, going door to door, calling around and facilitating neighborhood meetings. You can also call us to request a neighborhood meeting. Let us know how we can help you.

What happens if I leave my valve open all the time?

When you leave your valve open, two things can happen. First, you could be stealing water allocated for someone else’s land, which could potentially violate Arizona statutes that protect water rights. Second, if your neighbors forget to open their valves, you could get double or even triple the water you need. This could cause flooding and create a huge problem for you and your neighbors.

Can I pay SRP to irrigate for me?

No, SRP does not operate private systems. There are more than 1,300 different systems across the Valley. Each one is unique and requires special attention, so we stick with getting you the amount of water your property is entitled to on time. If you would like to hire someone to irrigate for you, we have a guide on srpnet.com to help you ask the right questions and hire the right professional to meet your needs.

Do I need to clean my system?

You’ll have different maintenance needs depending on the type of private system you have. Open ditch systems need to be cleaned out every other month in the winter and every other week in the summer. When grass, roots and other items build up, they push back on the water, creating resistance that could impact your water delivery.

When an open ditch system flows into a pipe, those pipes can get clogged. Anything broken or cracked should be fixed right away. When dealing with thousands of gallons of water, small problems can lead to big issues very quickly.

What’s the best way I can ensure I get my full water delivery on time?

The No. 1 thing to do is talk to your neighbors. Know who is running before and after you. Walk your system and ensure everything is set up properly. Send your neighbors a text or quickly call them to make sure you are all on the same page. If a landowner ahead of you isn’t getting the right amount of water, you can work together to start troubleshooting your system. We can’t stress communication enough.

Any tips for ordering irrigation?

Order only when you need it and cancel any recurring orders if you are going to be out of town. Otherwise, you will need someone like a neighbor or family member to manage any water scheduled for your property.

Are there times I can’t get irrigation?

Yes, during our yearly, winter dry-up season. We use that time to maintain and repair our canals. Our dry-up time is actually running now on the southside, or south of the Salt River, until Dec. 16. Our north side dry-up runs Jan. 11 to Feb. 10. In the winter, irrigation is only available every 28 days for residential customers.

What about irrigation during monsoon season?

During monsoon season, let SRP know if you can’t take your water order because your property is already waterlogged. If you can take your water, please do. We do a lot on our end to make sure we aren’t wasting any of our water in the desert.

Anything else I need to know to irrigate successfully?

Your private irrigation system is yours to maintain, operate and enjoy. Just like your car, you need to check its components and tune it up regularly.

For more information about SRP irrigation, go to srpnet.com/irrigation.

Tiffany Bolton

Tiffany Bolton

Tiffany is a lifelong learner, water nerd and mom. An Arizona transplant, she loves calling the Valley home, even though she kills a garden full of plants each year. When not writing about SRP, she enjoys reading one book each week and driving her minivan.

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