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Zanjero Chris Crosland on the Consolidated Canal

SRP Irrigation 101

Flood irrigation is a service we provide to some Valley customers. You might be wondering what it is and how it works. 

A look at the history and origins of SRP flood irrigation in Phoenix

It’s possible you’ve driven by a yard full of water and wondered why so many homes have flooded yards. You may have even heard your co-workers talk about “taking water at 2 a.m.” 

It might surprise you to know that flood irrigation in Phoenix started long ago. Centuries ago, ancient desert dwellers designed human-made waterways known as irrigation canals and laterals. The system carried water from the Salt River to lands across the Valley, much like SRP’s modern water system does today.

So how does SRP irrigation work and where does the water come from? We’re here to demystify flood irrigation in Phoenix and help you get the most out of SRP irrigation. 

Neighbors discussing irrigation as water is delivered

Where does SRP water come from?

For a full history of SRP’s water and power business, download our e-book.

At the highest elevations in northeastern Arizona, water travels through the SRP watershed made up of forests and valleys. As the water travels, it replenishes our forests and takes on essential nutrients. It then flows into SRP’s seven reservoirs, or lakes, as you may call them. 

Flowing down the Salt and Verde rivers, water powers SRP’s Salt River hydroelectric pumps with sustainable energy. Finally, the water ends up in SRP’s canal system. 

Ways we deliver water:

  1. By sending it to water treatment plants that then treat the raw water for use by our residential and commercial customers. 
  2. By mixing with Central Arizona Project water to meet Valley needs. 
  3. By refilling underground water storage sites called aquifers, also known as water banking. This includes the New River-Agua Fria River Underground Storage Project and the Granite Reef Underground Storage Project. 
  4. By providing flood irrigation in the Valley for SRP’s agricultural, commercial and residential customers. 

How does SRP irrigation get to customers?

SRP controls the delivery of nearly 800,000 acre-feet of water a year. It’s moved through 131 miles of canals along with 1,000 miles of laterals and ditches. 

SRP employees known as zanjeros control irrigation gates. They direct water to the highest point of a neighborhood for delivery to customers. 

After that, private neighborhood irrigation systems take over and move water to individual properties. Each system varies in design, material and maintenance. 

Zanjero Chris Crosland on the Consolidated Canal
Zanjero Chris Crosland on the Consolidated Canal

Did you know? Zanjeros

Spanish for “ditch rider,” zanjeros have been critical to the success of irrigation and their communities since the late 1800s. Zanjeros carefully measure the flow and amount of water. This ensures the correct amount of water is delivered to each SRP customer at the correct time.  

Does my property have SRP irrigation?

Unsure if  you have SRP irrigation? Contact SRP’s Water Contact Center at (602) 236-3333. You can also request a walk-through of your irrigation system or an irrigation system education appointment with an experienced SRP Field Services Liaison. 

Field liaisons can offer tips regarding the steps you can take to make your yard irrigation-ready using information about your property and land. This could include installing berms and repairing your property’s pipes or yard valves. 

The reps can also help you understand the layout of your neighborhood’s private irrigation system, including what you and your neighbors are responsible for as irrigation owners. 

SRP's service territory
SRP’s irrigation service territory and canal routes

Getting started with irrigation in Phoenix 

Once you order water, SRP will provide a date and time for your delivery. On delivery day, an SRP zanjero will open the SRP delivery gate to deliver water into the neighborhood irrigation system. 

From there, the private irrigation systems owned, operated and maintained by you and your neighbors take over. 

Still have questions?

Read more tips and answers to common questions about SRP irrigation.

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