This time on the Parker & Sons blog, we are continuing the discussion about irrigation. Last time we gave a simple overview of the history and types of irrigation used, all to give you a basic understanding of the concept. This time we’ll go a bit deeper into exactly how it works and what kind of irrigation is used in the Valley.
First, the type of irrigation we see. In the Phoenix Metro area, much of the irrigation provided is from the utility company SRP. (There are others, of course.) SRP manages a massive 13,000 square mile area of watershed land that collects water and maneuvers it through a system of wells, canals, and reservoirs.
The system provided is flood irrigation, in which water will be distributed from the watershed areas on to larger neighborhood systems. That is to say, SRP doesn’t move the water from their reservoirs right to your yard, but instead to a ‘delivery point’ where it is then your responsibility to work the valves and ensure the system in place is working.
If everything is in functioning order (the series of underground pipes, valves, grates etc.) then when the delivery point valve is opened, you’ll soon see your yard flood with life-sustaining water.
Now, the system works and has done so for hundreds of years, but it is not without flaws. Some studies put the effectiveness of flood irrigation waters at about 40-50%, a low number but make sense when the method is considered, the entire amount of land is flooded which means precision is not the name of the game. You won’t be able to pick and choose which plants receive what amount of water. Similarly, the amount of water required by flood irrigation is relatively high, as again, you must flood the entire field. However, if you know the water needs of your plants or garden, irrigation has been a time tested method of watering your vegetation.
Next time on the blog we’ll look at some other options when it comes to yards as not everyone wants to flood their grounds and there are other green options, especially in the desert heat of the Valley.