PRESS RELEASE: The Gila River Indian Community’s Pima-Maricopa Irrigation Project Bipartisan Infrastructure Law-Funded Canal 14 Groundbreaking Scheduled for May 23 at 9:00AM
At 9:00 AM on Monday, May 23, 2022, the Gila River Indian Community’s Pima-Maricopa Irrigation Project (P-MIP) will break ground on the second of five Bilateral Infrastructure Law-funded construction projects. The Canal 14 project will replace nearly three miles of canal with an enlarged concrete-lined canal that will serve tribal growers in the south Casa Blanca area of the Community.
The lining of 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 tribal growers to receive irrigation water for their crops in a more efficient manner. The BIL enabled the Community to accelerate construction on Canal 14, which went to bid on December 17.
After a six-week solicitation period, P-MIP selected Hunter Contracting Company of Gilbert, Arizona, to construct the $10,921,612 project. The 2.8 mile long Canal 14 will complete the concrete-lining and modernization of this canal that serves the heart of the historic breadbasket of the Community. Overall water losses on Canal 14 exceed 25% and with completion of the construction work the BIL-funded project is expected to conserve approximately 1,425 acre-feet of water annually.
Canal improvements funded by the BIL are not only enabling the Community to conserve water by delivering it in a concrete-lined canal but they are 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 about 50 skilled and semiskilled workers with construction being completed in early 2023.
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is producing an immediate and positive impact in the Gila River Indian Community as the Community seeks to restore its agricultural heritage and economy,” said Governor Stephen R. Lewis. He added, “These improvements to Canal 14 are creating jobs and expanding capacity while also conserving water resources by modernizing a century-old irrigation system and transforming it into a modern state-of-the-art system. I want to thank our congressional delegation, especially Senators Kelly and Sinema, and Representatives O’Halleran, Gallego and Stanton for their hard work in passing the BIL and then in ensuring that these funds were made available in Arizona quickly to help us continue this vital work.”
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.
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?
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Pima-Maricopa Irrigation Project
192-A South "A" Street
P.O. Box C
Sacaton, AZ 85147
Phone: (520) 562-6700
FAX: (520) 562-6791