SRP has been bringing water to the Valley since 1903. There are approximately 20,000 properties in the Phoenix metropolitan area today that receive water for flood irrigation. These are the yards bordered by a tiny wall of raised mounds of earth, also known as berms, that are occasionally filled a few inches deep with standing water.
This practice of flood irrigating the soil helps the water penetrate deep into the ground, which requires less frequent watering.
But why do some yards have irrigation while others don’t? To understand the answer to that question, we must go back over a century to the early 1900s.
The Salt River Valley Water Users’ Association
In the Wild West days of the Valley, water resources were hard to come by for a booming population. Thanks to the National Reclamation Act of 1902, an opportunity to secure the Valley’s future water supply presented itself. Around that time, a diligent group of Valley residents formed the Salt River Valley Water Users’ Association (SRVWUA or Association) in 1903.
The pledge of more than 200,000 acres of land allowed SRP to be one of the nation’s first five reclamation projects.
Association members pledged their land as collateral to secure government loans to build dams and unify and expand the system of canals we know today. These early community-based investors helped move development forward on a grand scale in the Valley. In return, their land secured rights to shares of the desert’s most precious resource – water.
Today, the parcels of land may have been split, but the rights to water shares remain with the land. If you live in a home with an irrigated yard, take a moment to marvel at the fact that your land was part of the historic effort to secure reliable water resources for future residents.
For in-depth historical information about SRP’s beginnings and the SRVWUA, download the e-book ‘The Story of SRP: Water, Power and Community.’
Irrigation Water Delivery Districts
Throughout the Valley, many neighborhoods have formed Irrigation Water Delivery Districts (IWDDs). These districts consist of adjacent landowners who enter into a cooperative relationship to handle the operation and maintenance of their neighborhood water delivery system. Today, many of these districts include:
- Urban farms
- Recreation areas
- Residential properties
Every year, SRP’s water storage and delivery system delivers nearly 800,000 acre-feet of water to the Salt River Valley. Many customers agree that having irrigation services is an asset. But what makes living in an IWDD so great?
There are many advantages. You set the rules. You and your neighbors establish the bylaws based on the needs of your private irrigation system. You choose who leads. Trustees are elected by you and your neighbors and can have different roles based on your IWDD’s needs and bylaws.
Your IWDD trustees not only collect funds, but they also coordinate maintenance and repairs to the private neighborhood system in a timely manner. This helps create an equitable way to share the cost to repair and maintain private irrigation systems and establish fair and transparent rules for how funds are spent.
Benefits of flood irrigation
Flood irrigation retains the beauty and legacy of neighborhoods across the Valley. Reasons to love irrigation include:
- Ease of sustaining lush vegetation which can improve air quality and decrease greenhouse gas emissions while removing air pollutants
- Reliable flood irrigation on a schedule
- An opportunity to work together with your neighbors
- Many urban farmers in the Valley use flood irrigation water to grow locally produced crops that make it to our tables
Sprinkler systems are simply no match for flood-irrigated yards. Irrigated land benefits from a deep soak that allows large trees and vegetation to thrive.