The Eisendrath House in Tempe, Arizona, has a colorful past and a bright future. Ruth and I went there hoping for a tour and got one. While there, I talked to the most interesting man I met on this trip. His name is Richard and he works for the local water conservation office. Richard knows water and is also something of an expert on desert plants. He takes care of the flora at Eisendrath.
Richard has been a force at Eisendrath for more than 20 years, and he really helped Ruth and me. Thanks to him we got inside Eisendrath. He gave me lots of water and plant related literature that he had to get from his office, and he told me a lot about current water conditions. His most interesting gift was an older booklet named “ARIZONA KNOW YOUR WATER.” Currently, the Eisendrath House is a center for water conservation.
I don’t know Richard’s last name, yet. He told me a lot about the area’s history. I love it when someone authoritatively tells me something I didn’t know or had a misconception about. Richard told me about the Hohokams, Native Americans who lived in Central Arizona for more than 1,500 years and built an extensive canal system. A largely agricultural society, they disappeared around 1450 AD. Around 800 years before that the Hohokams began to construct irrigation canals. Some were up to 12 feet deep. These canals ensured a steady water supply to grow corn squash, cotton, etc. This advanced system of engineering genius was admired by early pioneers who by 1883 were developing the Arizona Canal Company to bring Salt and Verde River water to the area for their own agricultural use. Richard told me that the Hohokam system of canals was the most sophisticated in the world and that only Egypt’s was bigger.
I thought that the Colorado River was the biggest supplier of water for the Phoenix area. Wrong! The Salt River Project that provides the Phoenix area, including Tempe, with water via canals and pipelines is the #1 supplier of water via the Salt and Verde Rivers. The Central Arizona Project (CAP) brings Colorado River water to what some call the world’s least sustainable city, but Richard reminded me that this water has to be brought over mountains and is this megacity’s secondary water source.
I asked Richard about this populated area’s future water needs, and he told me that this year’s rain and precipitation in this state and elsewhere has saved Phoenix. On our way there, Ruth and I stopped in Walnut Canyon near Flagstaff where 40 inches of recently fallen snow had set a record. Flagstaff had received even more snow. More later about The Eisendrath House, Richard’s Arizona plants, and water conservation.