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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, or 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 even have heard your co-workers talk about “taking water at 2 a.m.”

It might surprise you to know that flood irrigation in Phoenix started more than 100 years ago. Early settlers designed man-made waterways known as the irrigation canal and lateral system. They carried water from the newly built Roosevelt Dam to their land in the Valley.

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.

Image of a male and female neighbors discussing irrigation as water is delivered from a back yard valve in Tempe, Ariz.
Neighbors discussing irrigation as water is delivered in Tempe, Ariz.

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 that we deliver water:

  1. Water treatment plants receive our water and treat the raw water for customers at home and business offices.
  2. Mixing with Central Arizona Project water to meet Valley needs.
  3. Refilling water storage sites underground called aquifers, also known as water banking. This includes New River-Agua Fria River Underground Storage Project and the Granite Reef Underground Storage Project
  4. Flood irrigation in Phoenix for SRP’s agricultural, commercial and residential customers
SRP water travels approximately 150 miles from the watershed to customers in the Valley.
SRP water travels approximately 150 miles from the watershed to customers in the Valley.

How does SRP irrigation get to customers?

SRP controls the delivery of more than 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? Zanjero

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. Last year, SRP zanjeros safely drove 1 million miles with zero traffic accidents.

Does my house have SRP irrigation?

Unsure if your home has 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 Representative.

Field representatives can offer tips regarding the steps you may need to take to make your yard irrigation-ready with accuracy regarding 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

How do I irrigate in Phoenix?

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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.

SRP irrigation

As you can see, SRP has a long history of irrigation in the Valley, and it shows. Irrigated neighborhoods contain large trees and lush green landscapes, which instills a sense of pride in the property owners.

Irrigation is successful because neighbors work together to keep their private systems maintained year after year. Learn more about SRP irrigation, visit

3 thoughts on “SRP Irrigation 101”

  1. Pingback: Zanjeros are Zan-‘Heroes’ in Our Community | SRP Connect!

  2. Pingback: SRP irrigation: answering your questions | SRP Connect!

  3. Pingback: Arcadia Arizona, Best Neighborhoods in Phoenix, Arizona - Living In Phoenix AZ

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