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history of SRP canals- Arizona Falls

History of SRP canals

Did you know that SRP canals have brought water to Valley residents for over a century? There are over 131 miles of canals in the Phoenix area.  

SRP’s intricate canal system helps move water from the watershed to your showerhead. Construction of the nine canals that make up today’s canal system began as early as 1871. 

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

Where the water goes, history flows

With the help of nature, the Huhugam, 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 Huhugam’s 500-mile canal system, which was built by hand with stone tools, early settlers worked to revive the canals in the 1860s. 

Between 1898 and 1904, the Valley experienced a serious drought. This wreaked havoc on the Salt River’s water supply. To meet the water needs of the growing Valley population, something had to be done.

Thankfully, the National Reclamation Act passed into law in 1902. This legislation provided funding for irrigation infrastructure like dams and canals 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 a popular source of recreation these days, but they are also crucial to our operations at SRP. Because of them, we’re able to provide irrigation services to some homes. 

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

There’s something for all Arizona residents and visitors to enjoy. 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, everyone can enjoy the great outdoors with help from SRP.

Have you visited an SRP canal?

All throughout Greater Phoenix, Valley residents can access a network of canal trails that pave the way for fun and recreation.   

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