Phoenix Area Office - Facilities
Central Arizona Project

CAP Canal The Central Arizona Project, built by the Bureau of Reclamation for the State of Arizona, is a multipurpose water resource development and management project that delivers Colorado River water into central and southern Arizona. 

The project delivers water from the Colorado River at Lake Havasu on Arizona’s western border to agricultural land in Maricopa, Pinal, and Pima Counties, and to several Arizona communities, including the metropolitan areas of Phoenix and Tucson. Water is also delivered to Indian Tribes in southern Arizona. Other areas of the State also benefit from the project through water exchanges. In addition to the water supply, the project also provides power, flood control, outdoor recreation, and fish and wildlife habitat benefits. Authorized in September 1968, the project is projected to deliver an average 1.5 million acre-feet of Arizona’s 2.8 million acre-foot Colorado River entitlement each year. Of the annual average delivery, 52 percent of the water is currently used for municipal and industrial purposes (including recharge), 39 percent for agricultural irrigation districts, and 9 percent for Indian communities. The CAP is operated and managed by the Central Arizona Water Conservation District. 

The 336-mile-long backbone delivery system includes 14 pumping plants and 1 pump/generating plant, 10 siphons carrying water under riverbeds and large washes, 3 tunnels, more than 45 turnouts connecting the CAP aqueduct with customers’ delivery systems, a large storage reservoir (formed by New Waddell Dam), and a sophisticated control center. On its lengthy journey across the state from Lake Havasu to the southern boundary of the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation southwest of Tucson, water is pumped nearly 3,000 vertical feet and flows through the aqueduct by gravity following the natural contours of the land. Electricity to operate the pumping plants is produced at the Navajo Generating Station near Page, Arizona, and Hoover Dam near Las Vegas, Nevada.

Construction of the CAP began on May 6, 1973, with a groundbreaking ceremony on the shores of Lake Havasu for the first pumping plant. In 1985, the first Colorado River water was delivered to the Harquahala Valley Irrigation District west of Phoenix. Initial water deliveries to the city of Phoenix also began in 1985. In 1992, the city of Tucson received its first deliveries of CAP water. The project was declared substantially complete on September 30, 1993, and turned over to the Central Arizona Water Conservation District for operation and maintenance. In 1994, New Waddell Dam stored Colorado River water and generated hydroelectricity for the first time.


Last Updated: 7/8/15