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Where Your Water Comes From

The journey
from
forest to
canals

150 miles from the
forest floor
to your door
Forests Image of a pine forest during the spring with a carpet of grass.

High in the mountains, in the forests of northern and eastern Arizona, lies the SRP watershed. Made up of 8.3 million acres of protected forestland, the watershed is the source of the water we use every day. In the winter, snow collects in the forests. In the spring, the snow melts and the journey of your water begins.

Melted snow flows down the mountains and into the Salt and Verde rivers, where it’s carried through a series of lakes. There are seven lakes in the SRP system. Roosevelt Lake is the largest.

The lakes act as reservoirs — places to store water. They also provide habitat for wildlife and areas for people to fish, boat, camp and enjoy the outdoors.

Water from the reservoirs can be blended with water from the Colorado River and water that’s been pumped from deep in the ground. These diverse water sources help make sure there’s enough water to meet the Valley’s needs.

Water collected in our reservoirs is released through dams. Dams play many important roles: They control the flow of water so we don’t have floods, allow us to store water long-term to ensure a reliable supply during periods of drought, and make hydroelectric power.

The four dams on the Salt River can generate 230 megawatts of power when demand is high — enough to power 172,000 homes. The three dams on the Verde River don’t produce hydroelectricity, but they do protect the Valley from flooding and store water.

SRP delivers water throughout the Valley, to cities and irrigation customers, using a system of canals. The canals stretch over 131 miles and use gravity to move the water.

The canals lead to water treatment plants and to smaller waterways called laterals. Laterals are used to carry water to irrigation customers, including farmers.

Cities & beyond Aerial view of canal in Scottsdale with art installations.

Water delivered to city treatment plants is treated to meet water quality standards. Once purified, the water is pumped through underground pipes to your home.

The next time you turn on the tap or open your yard valve, think about how far your water has come. What can you do to make sure it’s used wisely?

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