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SRP Canal History


January 26, 2008   

Kyrene Corridor residents who enjoy walking, running or biking along the region’s system of canals now have the opportunity to learn more about their history.

Salt River Project has launched an 18-month program to install 24 interpretive signs along the Valley’s 131 miles of canals.

Each of the signs, which are part of an agreement among SRP, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and state Historic Preservation Office, are being presented in the same format, but the information will be unique to each location. 

The most recent sign to be installed was placed Jan. 23 along the Western Canal in Tempe.  This sign, which will be the third one installed by SRP, will be located adjacent to the recreational path built around the Kyrene Generating Station and is in the middle of Tempe’s still-to-be-constructed Western Canal Path, which will run from Price Road to the Arizona Mills mall.

Five more interpretive signs will be installed over the next two weeks along the Arizona Canal between 64th Street and 62nd Avenue, said Jim Duncan, an operational support analyst/engineer in SRP’s Water Engineering Technical Staff.

“The signs are intended to educate local communities about the history of the canals and to provide insights on the role the canals have played in the development of the Valley,” said Duncan.

The first two signs, installed last year in Mesa and Gilbert along the Consolidated Canal, will be similar to the next 22 in that they will be patterned after a typical irrigation gate that has been used to deliver water throughout the Valley for years.  Each sign also includes a location map of the SRP canal system to help users understand how each site fits into the overall system of canals.

The first sign was placed about one-quarter mile west of Horne Road in Mesa, a unique location because it is the only place where one canal, the South Canal, feeds several others. At that site, the South Canal brings water from the Granite Reef Diversion Dam, the Tempe Canal flows west to Tempe and the Consolidated Canal flows east/southeast to Chandler and Gilbert.  From that strategic point, canal water flows to most of the Valley south of the Salt River.

The second sign was installed on the west side of the Consolidated Canal near Freestone Park in Gilbert, about one-half mile south of Guadalupe Road on Lindsay Road.

Duncan said the historical signs, as well as the two round concrete-style interpretive benches located along the Arizona and Crosscut canals, are part of an overall process by SRP to add amenities to the century-old canal system that links all of the Phoenix metropolitan area cities.

The concrete seating areas, inscribed with sandblasted text and graphics unique to the specific locations, are the result of design details taken from the “Portals and Loops” winning entry from a National Endowment of the Arts competition to develop a comprehensive plan of improvements for the Papago Trail network, an 11-mile loop that is generally located on the banks of the Arizona, Grand, Crosscut and Old Crosscut canals.

SRP is the largest provider of water and power to the greater Phoenix metropolitan area.


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