During the 1960’s, a favorite pastime of the residents of Phoenix and Scottsdale was enjoying our local canal system. Its banks were a great place to walk the dog, ride your bicycle, jog, swim, fish and water ski. Yes, water ski!
For daredevil and juvenile delinquent types, this was quite an exciting stunt for an afternoon of fun. You could ski from 32nd Street and Camelback Road all the way to 40th Street without stopping. One former Scottsdale mayor was one of the biggest thrill seekers of all, and hands down the best at it!
(PLEASE DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TRY THIS YOURSELF! It is illegal to have a motorized vehicle on the canal banks, and it was during the ’60’s, too.)
The canal was also a fantastic place for getting a fishing pole into the water and trying your luck at catching an Apache Gold trout. Quite a prize catch as they grew very large and had a distinct and wonderful flavor! This species is now on the endangered list, but did survive for a few years after the canals began to be fed by waters from the Colorado River via the Hoover Dam, rather than the Salt River, as it was in the past.
It’s not illegal to fish in the canals, but it is not recommend by the Salt River Project (SRP) for safety reasons. Today the canals are deliberately stocked with a special type of carp called white amur, an Asian fish that eats weeds and algae that keep the canals clean and flowing.
Newcomers often ask if we will run out of water. While we conserve and protect these important canals left to us by the Hohokam Indian people over 1,300 years ago, they are not the Valley’s sole source of water. The Central Arizona Canal delivers water to the Valley and Tucson from the Colorado River, and SRP and a few local municipalities pump groundwater.
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