In the early 20th century, Central Arizona Project was a shared dream of Arizonans; a vision of water security and stability for future generations to enjoy their quality of life in a desert. Now that the 336-mile long water delivery system is a reality, the leadership of CAP is responsible for protecting and preserving what past generations were able to fund and build.

CAP CanalBackground and History

In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a bill approving construction of CAP. The bill provided for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation to construct CAP. Later, a local entity had to be formed to repay the federal government for certain costs of construction when the system was complete. In 1971, the Central Arizona Water Conservation District (CAWCD) was created to provide a means for Arizona to repay the federal government for the reimbursable costs of construction. It now manages and operates CAP. Construction began at Lake Havasu in 1973 and was completed 20 years later south of Tucson. The entire project cost approximately $4 billion.

CAWCD Board and Staff

CAWCD is a municipal corporation and is governed by a 15-member popularly-elected Board of Directors. Board members are elected from Maricopa (10), Pima (4) and Pinal (1) counties and regularly meet twice per month. Members serve staggered 6-year terms and are not compensated for their time. CAP’s daily operations are managed by more than 400 people who are responsible for system maintenance and operations, repayment obligations, public education, and creating water resource management programs for Arizona. Approximately half of the employees work at CAP Headquarters located in north Phoenix, while the others work at the facilities located throughout the system.

CAP Management and Operations

The CAP aqueduct system was engineered to deliver an average of 1.5 million acre-feet of water per year to central and southern Arizona, including the Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas. The canal system stretches 336 miles across the state, lifts the water more than 2,900 vertical feet, and incorporates control structures and pumping plants to regulate the flow of water. The CAP system includes 14 pumping plants, one hydroelectric pump/generating plant at New Waddell Dam, 39 radial gate structures to control the flow of water, more than 50 turnouts used to deliver water to municipal water treatment plants and other customer distribution systems, and the Lake Pleasant storage reservoir. The entire CAP system is operated from a control center at the CAP headquarters in north Phoenix. The control center is staffed 24 hours per day, seven days per week with operators who remotely monitor and control the aqueduct system using a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) computer system.