The history of Arizona’s most precious resource, water is fascinating. For example, after forming the Colorado River Compact, Arizona held out for 22 years from 1922 to 1944, in a dispute for it’s portion of the 7.5 million acre feet to be divided between Arizona, California and Nevada (the Lower Basin states). It took another 22 years to lobby congress to approve the Central Arizona Project(CAP), and 20 years to complete the construction of the canal which runs 336 miles from Lake Havasu to Phoenix and down to Tucson. It was declared substantially complete in 1993, over 70 years in the making at a cost of almost $4 billion.
The Central Arizona Project – Critical to Arizona’s water needs
Behind the scenes the CAP lifts water more than 2,900 feet through 14 pumping plants over a canal system that runs 336 miles. The Central Arizona Project (CAP) supplies approximately 1.5 million acre-feet of Colorado River water per year to businesses and residents in Pima, Pinal and Maricopa counties. The aqueduct includes 14 pumping plants, 1 hydroelectric pump, over 50 turnouts, and 3 tunnels.
Lake Pleasant is also part of the CAP system. Besides hosting 750,000 visitors per year for recreational activities, it serves as a storage facility to store Colorado river water. CAP pumps Colorado River water into Lake Pleasant during the fall and winter months and releases water during the spring and summer to meet higher demands.
The next time you see a commercial about rocky mountain spring water, know that water that comes to us through the Central Arizona Project actually originates in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The Central Arizona Project(CAP) is a critical part of the water supply to the valley whose origins began almost 100 years ago. As residents and visitors we have a responsibility to conserve water and understand where it comes from. And the next time you take a shower, you’re probably using water from the Colorado River.
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