We all know water is critically important to health and vitality of the State of Arizona. And many of us see the canals that distribute our water supply, the very circulation system that delivers this lifeblood to our communities. But have you ever wondered how these canals came about, and who maintains them?
In the East Valley, Roosevelt Water Conservation District (RWCD) provides management of and maintenance on their canals. RWCD is a municipal corporation and a political subdivision of the State that dates to 1917. RWCD was created to provide water to east valley landowners and protect and preserve their rights to water from the Salt River. And while the Salt River Project (SRP) was established in 1903 when the Roosevelt Dam was built to manage the water brought Phoenix landowners, SRP did not serve the far east valley. RWCD was founded for this purpose and in 1925 RWCD built their main pumping plant in Mesa downstream from the Granite Reef Dam to supply their canals. Still today, RWCD pumps water 53’ upward from this location to bring water to its district.
RWCD is comprised of 40,000 acres in an area defined by the South Canal (north), the Consolidated Canal (west), the Roosevelt Canal (east) and Hunt Highway (south) and which spans across Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert and Maricopa County. In 1926 RWCD’s district was comprised of only 13,200 acres of irrigated farmland; two years later 38,400 acres (96%) of RWCD’s district was developed as agricultural fields fed by a water source comprised of 70% groundwater and 30% surface water. Without a doubt, RWCD was critical in allowing the East Valley to flourish and grow.
Through the years, RWCD became increasingly self-sufficient, such as manufacturing their own well piping, performing their own canal maintenance, repair and upgrades; and improving the canal lining materials to reduce water loss And while RWCD still serves their mission of providing and maintaining water distribution to their clients efficiently, much has changed. Today, RWCD supplies far less water to farms than in the 1920’s, and serve a client base comprised of not only agricultural clients, but also municipal, commercial, industrial and residential clients; all fed by a water source that is 80% produced from renewable resources.
RWCD has expanded its commitment to giving back to the community. RWCD has developed educational programs with local elementary schools and constructed their Legacy Park at their new facility to further serve this mission. Here they can showcase irrigation structures, demonstrate how they work and explain the role RWCD played in the history of the valley to local kids. RWCD frequently hosts elementary school events at their Legacy Park support this mission, which features traditional Arizona crops such as citrus and grape crops to help enhance these programs.
Clearly, Roosevelt Water Conservation District has played and continues to play a key role in our community. RWCD remains at the forefront of the growth of the east valley, and Adaptive Architects is proud of our partnership with RWCD. We are humbled by the important work this organization does and their continued support of the east valley’s success. We honor RWCD and celebrate their accomplishments