Pima-Maricopa Irrigation Project

PRESS RELEASE: The Gila River Indian Community’s Pima-Maricopa Irrigation Project Out to Bid on an Expanded Canal Lining Project Using Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funds

On January 4, 2022, the Gila River Indian Community’s Pima-Maricopa Irrigation Project (P-MIP) issued its third canal lining solicitation using Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funding. The lining of earthen canals with concrete enables the Community to conserve important water resources at a time of severe, long-term drought and climate change while at the same time allowing growers to receive irrigation water for their crops in a more efficient manner. Construction on the 17.32 miles of Canal 10 and its sub laterals is expected to employ 65 skilled and semiskilled workers, many of whom will be Native American. The lining project is central to the Community’s long-term water planning and is essential to its agricultural producers. The earthen-lined Canal 10 water losses exceed 34%, or more than 4,110 acre-feet annually at full buildout. This water savings would not be possible without BIL funding. Bids on Canal 10 are due on February 28. Construction is expected to begin in early-summer and take about 20 months to complete.

In addition, the BIL is enabling the Community to accelerate construction on two additional canals. Canal 14 went out for bid on December 17, with bid proposals due January 28. The 5.39 miles of Canal 14 and its sublaterals will complete the concrete-lining and modernization of a canal that serves the historic breadbasket of the Community. Water losses on Canal 14 currently exceed 25% and with full buildout the BIL-funded project will conserve 1,425 acre-feet annually. Canal improvements funded by the BIL is not only enabling the Community to conserve water by delivering it in a concrete-lined canal but it is also benefitting tribal growers by ensuring water is efficiently and timely delivered to their fields and optimizes their farming operations. Canal 14 is expected to employ 59 skilled and semiskilled workers with construction beginning this spring and being completed in later winter 2023.

BIL funds also enabled P-MIP to go to bid on Canal 16 on December 17, with proposals due February 11, 2022. This 3.9-mile long project is expected employ about 42 skilled and semiskilled workers. Current losses in the earthen Canal 16 exceed 28% but with full buildout and completion of the project the Community expects to conserve 1,518 acre-feet of water per year. The BIL is enabling the Community to conserve scarce water resources and deliver them via a state-of-the-art irrigation system that makes efficient delivery of water possible. Construction on Canal 16 will begin in early spring and be completed in late winter 2023.

The BIL is having yet another positive impact in the Community. In addition to canal lining projects, the Community will bid a series of groundwater production wells that will be drilled in accordance with furthering the Community’s water management plan and policy of protecting the on-reservation water supply. P-MIP is currently updating its groundwater model to identify areas that will provide for the most efficient groundwater production and that is tethered to the Community’s managed aquifer recharge program that is enhancing and protecting the on-reservation groundwater.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is producing an immediate and positive impact in the Gila River Indian Community as it seeks to restore is agricultural heritage and economy. Improvements to Canal 10, Canal 14, Canal 16, and installing new groundwater production wells using BIL funds is creating jobs and capacity while also conserving water resources by modernizing a century-old irrigation system and transforming it into a modern state-of-the-art district.


The Pima-Maricopa Irrigation Project (P-MIP) has developed a unique vision statement. It is unique in that it is a reflection of what the Project sees the Gila River Indian Community looking like in twenty years. (read more)


To develop a distribution system, agricultural lands and riparian habitat areas for beneficial use of water resources.


River People by N.E. Allen

The evidence of irrigation here within the Gila River Valley can be scientifically traced to prehistoric times. A civilization evolved about the time the Christian calendar was started and continued for a millennium. Although the evidence of their irrigation system has eroded through time, there are still faint traces which are found. Many of today's projects in the industrial and commercial areas provide these glimpses of the prehistoric past. Huhukam, a name applied to this ancient civilization of prehistoric times, ended around 1450 AD according to scientific evidence.

However, just about two hundred years later the Spanish arrived to find people living here in the Gila River Valley with an agricultural system well in place. The Akimel O'othom, or Pima as they are known. Pima was a name given to them by the Spanish, but in their own language they call themselves Akimel O'othom, (river people). We are still here today, still living in the same valley our ancestors did. A belief that is still strong even in this day and age. The only difference today is that we reside on a reservation, the Gila River Indian Community.

Today the Akimel O'othom are in the formative process to establish an irrigation system which will provide water to just over 146,000 acres. A monumental project which has been labeled the Pima-Maricopa Irrigation project (P-MIP). It has just been about two thousand years since the Huhukam began the first irrigation system in North America. Does History repeat itself?

Irrigation on the Gila River by N.E. Allen

Since before the arrival of the Bearded Ones (Spanish) the waters of the Gila River has provided for the Akimel O'othom. The Spanish gave these desert farmers a name which is still used today: PIMA.

The O'othom were here in village clusters and had a well-defined irrigation system in place. The O'othom had crops of corn, beans and squash, grown in abundance. These were the food crops but they also found cotton and tobacco being cultivated. Their villages dotted the entire Gila River Valley, to the East as far as Florence, to the West near the base of the Estrellas or Komatke as they are called by the O'othom.

The Spanish found these people diverting the waters of the Gila into canals they had constructed, with the aid of only wood and stone tools, which extended for miles and miles. Their engineering ability was amazing to these new arrivals. From the larger canals they had headgate to divert waters to the actual field of crops. It was a combined effort with each village responsible for the maintenance of the canal system to their fields and village. Field houses were often put up near the fields but home was in the main village.

The O'othom people are a peaceful group and worked together on large scale projects. For instance, in the rebuilding of a house which was lost by fire, the village would rebuild it in a matter of days. Materials would be gathered such as posts and beams for the roof and corners, arrowweeds obtained from the banks of the river. Labor was from the village and food was provided for the noon lunch. There was no monetary exchange but food was donated by the families and the ladies did the cooking. Not only did they do the cooking but also helped in the actual house or structure construction.

It was also a time for visiting with old friends and relatives. The elders would sit in the shade and watch over the grandchildren. Plus watch the progress and offer suggestions to the young men who still had much to learn.

Irrigation continued and there came a time when the Pee Posh came to the valley seeking refuge from their fellow people. Part of the Yuman groups along the Colorado, they came East to ask permission to live among the Akimel O'othom. They were welcomed and allowed to live and farm in what is now District Seven. Today they still coexist and therefore the name for the irrigation Project of today, the Pima-Maricopa Irrigation Project.

There came a time in the 1800's when the people who were so generous with their crops to the people crossing their lands to California began to see changes in the river flow. A good number of the settlers stayed in the upper Gila River Valley and began to use the waters, which affected the flow downstream. Due to their diversion upstream the waters finally stopped flowing down in the lower valley where the O'othom and Pee Posh lived. This major event forced some of the people to migrate to the Salt River Valley only to suffer the same fate, the eventual loss of water.

Today the people who now reside within the reservation of the Gila River Indian Community, the Pima and Maricopas, are in the planning stages of an irrigation project of monumental proportions. The plans are to establish an irrigation system to deliver water to 146,300 acres. From District 1 in the Blackwater area to the farms of the Pee Posh in District Seven. It will again take the effort of all the people to make major decisions, just like in the old days. There will be impacts to the community members in many ways and they will all have to be addressed. It will take years to complete but in the end the community members will once again hear the sweet music of rushing water.

P-MIP Today

Memorial Pipeline Control Gates

Drop at Pima Canal Inlet

Discharge near Memorial Pipeline Inlet

Typical Canal Diversion

Typical Canal Diversion

Typical Pima Canal Check Structure

Flood Protection

Four Mile Post Pipeline Inlet

Automated Trash Racks on Pima Canal

GIS Portal

- View high performance web maps of the P-MIP System from your browser
- View locations of goundwater monitoring wells and view historical groundwater levels
- View irrigation development and system photos


Coming soon!

Employment Opportunities at P-MIP

(Last Updated June 17, 2020)

There are no opportunities at this time.

For information about available positions, please contact:
Kathy Kubilus, Senior Accountant
Pima-Maricopa Irrigation Project
(520) 562-6702, Direct Office Line
(520) 562-6791, Fax Line

Click here to see job postings in other GRIC departments.

If your browser will not display these documents,
download the free Acrobat Reader from Adobe:

FTP Sites

Web browsers other than Internet Explorer will no longer open FTP sites. To open one of our FTP sites, copy and paste this link into the address bar of either Internet Explorer or File Explorer in Windows:


It should then prompt for a username and password which will be provided to you via e-mail when appropriate. After entering the username and password you should be able to copy and paste files to and from the FTP site.

Contact Information

Pima-Maricopa Irrigation Project
192-A South "A" Street
P.O. Box C
Sacaton, AZ 85147
Phone: (520) 562-6700
FAX: (520) 562-6791

You can also email us