History of Phoenix Water

More than a century of developments

The history of your water dates from the late 1800s when wells were drilled to serve the few thousand pioneers who had settled in the Phoenix area. Many changes have taken place since then. Today, the City of Phoenix provides water for about 1.5 million residents, delivered over an area of 540 square miles. You can find out more about the historical developments in your water system by clicking on a year below.

Late 1800's
Pioneers began to settle the Salt River valley.

City of Phoenix was officially incorporated. The population was approximately 1,708 citizens.

Several wells were drilled to form the first private water company, known as the Phoenix Water Works Company near 9th Street and Van Buren. The system provided 2 million gallons/day through an 8-mile system of pipes.

National Reclamation Act was signed – the law that resulted in the creation of Salt River Project and several dams on the Salt River.

July 1, 1907, the City officially took over operation of the Phoenix Water Company at a cost of $150,000. Learn more about our 100 years of water services.

Construction of the 38-inch diameter redwood pipeline began. The pipeline would carry water about 30 miles to Phoenix from the Verde River. City officials sought out a source of surface water for municipal use that was derived from pure melting snow and rainwater. Surface water from the Salt River was considered too salty.

Water from the Verde River began to flow to Phoenix customers.

Wells were drilled near the Verde River pipeline intake.

Construction began on a new 42-inch diameter concrete water line from the Verde River and a 20-million gallon reservoir.

The Verde Water Treatment Plant was completed and began delivering water to Phoenix. The plant operated through the end of 2011.

The gates to Horseshoe Dam were completed providing an additional 23,000 acre-feet of water to Phoenix.
City of Phoenix signed a contract with Salt River Project (SRP) known as the domestic water service agreement. The City constructed a water treatment plant on the Arizona Canal near 24th Street. The plant, which was then known as the Squaw Peak water Treatment Plant, now the 24th Street Water Treatment Plant began delivering water to residents.

The Phoenix water system began expansion into the northern, western, and southern areas of the City that had recently undergone annexation. The City receives authorization for enhancements to the water system included an expansion of the Squaw Peak Water Treatment Plant and the construction of a new reservoir.

The City purchased land near the Arizona Canal to build what would soon become the Deer Valley Water Treatment Plant. The City authorized an expansion of the Squaw Peak Water Treatment Plant and the addition of more reservoirs. The City continued to purchase private water companies and add service connections.

The Deer Valley Water Treatment Plant began delivering water to residents. Total water production capacity for the City reached 360 million gallons per day.

The law was signed that paved the way for the Central Arizona Project (CAP) to begin. It would take another 12 years for Colorado River water to reach Phoenix.

Groundbreaking for the CAP began.
The Val Vista Water Treatment Plant was completed and began delivering water to residents of Phoenix and Mesa.
The Arizona Groundwater Management Act was created. This act restricted Phoenix's ability to pump groundwater as freely as before. Because of the completion of the CAP in the Phoenix area, the City would now have a third surface water source.

The Union Hills Water Treatment Plant, the first to treat CAP water, was completed. The Arizona Legislature created the legal authority for water recharge projects.

Phoenix joined a group of other Valley cities to negotiate improvements to dam safety with a project known as "Plan 6." It included adding height to Roosevelt Dam and constructing the New Waddell Dam to increase water storage at Lake Pleasant. The Valley cities received rights to floodwaters that might be captured by the modified structures. CAP began construction projects that would allow Arizona to store excess Colorado River water in the ground for future use.

The Lake Pleasant area was chosen as a possible location for a future plant that would use CAP water. The finished water supply would be delivered mostly through gravity, reducing electrical pumping costs.

The SRP/CAP Interconnect enabled Valley cities to construct the Granite Reef Underground Storage Project (GRUSP) downstream of the Interconnect in the Salt River. The Interconnect allows Valley cities to accept CAP water into the SRP system, providing even more flexibility in treating and delivering water to Phoenix residents.

Lake Pleasant Water Treatment Plant was completed and began making deliveries to customers. Learn more about Phoenix's 100 years of water services.