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history of SRP canals- Arizona Falls

Test your knowledge about the history of SRP canals

Did you know that there are 131 miles and over a century of history of SRP canals in the Valley? Since 1903, SRP has been bringing water to Phoenix and the surrounding areas via human-made waterways.

Like arteries bringing oxygen to the beating heart of the Valley, SRP’s canal system helps move water from the watershed to your showerhead. Construction of the nine canals that make up the canal system as we know it today began as early as 1883.

Find more information on the origins of the Valley’s canals on our website.

Where the water goes, history flows

With the help of Mother Nature, the ancient Hohokam Indians, early settlers, pioneers and the federal government, the canals have played a vital role in sustaining life here in the desert.

The intricate system of canals didn’t spring up overnight, of course. Expanding upon the ancient Hohokam’s ditches, which were built with stone hoes, early settlers worked to revive the ditches in the 1860s.

After about 30 years, the Valley experienced a long period of time without rain. Known as drought, the lack of rain wreaked havoc on the Salt River’s water supply. The water needs of the growing Valley population were going unmet and something had to be done.

Thankfully, the National Reclamation Act passed into law in 1902. This legislation gave money to fund new projects that made water delivery to growing communities possible.

We get a lot of questions about drought in Arizona. You can find more facts about Arizona’s ongoing drought and how SRP prepares for the future of water at

Canals: A way of life

Valley canals are mostly known as a source of recreation these days, but they are crucial to our operations at SRP. Because of them, we’re able to provide irrigation services to some homes.

Additionally, we provide the raw water to cities and municipalities that then treat the water, making it safe to drink.

So even if you don’t get a water or electric bill from SRP, you can still benefit from our services. Whether it’s enjoying the 80 miles of recreational canal paths, going for a boat ride in one of our reservoirs — aka lakes — or enjoying the beauty of Arizona Falls, SRP’s roots run deep.

See how well you know the SRP canals – or learn a new thing or two – with our History of SRP Canals Quiz!

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