Irrigation is incredibly important to many aspects of life here in the Valley. While irrigation may seem like a complex topic, we’re here to help. Read on for tips and answers to questions you may have about irrigation.
SRP irrigation tips and resources
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 experienced field liaisons 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.
We sat down with one of SRP’s field liaisons to learn more about troubleshooting irrigation, common questions and helpful tips.
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’re not 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.
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 SRP 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 SRP 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.
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, use our tips 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.
Any tips for ordering SRP 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. The Consolidated Canal Dry-Up and Maintenance Project runs from Nov. 20-Dec. 20 and from Jan.8-Feb. 7, depending on location.
What about irrigation during the monsoon?
During the monsoon, 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 water in the desert.