When most people think of Salt River Project, they think of their electric bill. But SRP’s legacy in the Valley of the Sun starts with water.

Water has shaped the history of our great state, and as we begin to prepare to celebrate our state’s centennial birthday in February of 2012, there is another, equally important birthday to celebrate – the birthday of a dam.

Theodore Roosevelt Dam was completed in March 1911 – one year before Arizona’s statehood. Arizona, a desert territory plagued by periods of drought and monsoon flooding, knew the impact that harnessing water would have on our economic vitality and livelihood. Territorial farmers pledged their land to obtain a federal loan to build Roosevelt Dam. The dam they built was an innovative feat of engineering at the time.  And when it was completed, Theodore Roosevelt himself rode up the Apache Trail in a buggy to dedicate such an important accomplishment of the community.

One hundred years later, Phoenicians still depend on a reliable source of water to the Valley. Thanks to those original farmers – the founders of a company later to be called Salt River Project  –we can turn on the faucet to get a cool drink, turn on our hose to water our plants, and take a dip in cool pools during the heat of the summer. Many of us could never imagine a time when water wasn’t readily available. We are lucky. But we have to remember it wasn’t luck that afforded us this reality – it was responsible stewardship of our precious water resources by generations before us. And in order for our children and future generations to feel so lucky, we have to continue the legacy of stewardship that has shaped the history of Arizona.

Buying “Water Sense” appliances, capturing rain water, landscaping with desert plants, and using low-flow faucet devices are ways you can leave your own legacy. SRP continues to carry on a tradition of environmental stewardship which is why we are currently involved in water stewardship projects ranging from groundwater recharge to impact studies on our rivers.

SRP has embraced environmental stewardship as a cornerstone of our community commitment. That commitment also extends to the educational community which reaches the students who will become the keepers of that stewardship legacy. Each year, SRP contributes $1.3 million to educational programs and services throughout our community. We keep the stewardship legacy alive by making free booklets and lesson plans available to teachers about water conservation and renewable energy like hydropower. We weave the value of stewardship into our programming, offering teachers classes on how to teach about water and energy so as to better prepare students to handle the issues of the future. We understand that educating students for tomorrow means using the highest quality teaching tools and technology which is why we offer grants to teachers to purchase necessary supplies and resources.

We see our support to education as a way to carry on the tradition of environmental stewardship in our community. To learn more about SRPs community commitment to stewardship and about how you can pledge to leave your own personal legacy, visit www.togetherweconserve.com.

Karen Fisch is SRP's manager of community outreach.

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