Dalton Cole was a Pinal County farmer who was active in the Central Arizona Project Association (CAPA), a co-founder and Director of the Hohokam Irrigation District and was appointed to serve on the CAWCD Board of Directors from 1996-2000.

Dalton Cole: Water on his Mind

(The story below is built around a recorded interview)

As a farmer in Pinal County, Dalton Cole had water on his mind. A lot. In fact, in the early 1960s, he knew that pumping groundwater was already negatively impacting groundwater levels.

“We were all on pumps down there. We knew that probably our salvation was the Central Arizona Project,” Dalton said. “So I became involved early on.”

Governor Bruce Babbitt appointed him to the Groundwater Management Committee and he joined the Central Arizona Project Association, an association that was working toward securing funding and passing legislation to build the Central Arizona Project system.

“I can remember in 1968 when they passed the bill authorizing the CAP how excited we were,” Cole said. “As you know, there were a lot of bumps in the road between the actual authorization and when we started construction.”

Before water deliveries began in 1985, Cole joined with other Pinal County farmers and formed the Hohokam Irrigation District to get ready to receive CAP water. And as all water experts know, water doesn’t come without serious amounts of power. Cole stepped up and also served on the Board of Directors of the Electrical District Number Two, which supplied electrical power to all the pumps in his area.

“It’s just hard to separate water and power, they just sort of work together,” said Cole. “And that’s why I became involved in it; to gain knowledge of the power operation, but also to help ensure that we could have a reasonably good source of long-term power to run our irrigation wells.”

So in 1996, when Governor Fife Symington needed to appoint someone from Pinal County to the CAWCD Board of Directors, he went to Cole. And there were pressing issues at that time, including California’s water use, repayment and Indian water rights.

“All in all, I think the project has worked out quite well, and it’s certainly the reason that we have a future here in Arizona,” said Cole. “I think all of us during these drought periods are glad that we have that CAP water flowing through the valley.”

Read Dalton Cole's Oral History Transcript
Listen to Dalton Cole's Interview