Maricopa Flood Control District was formed under Arizona Law Title 45, A.R.S., in July 1958, for the purpose of managing floodwater drainage within the boundaries of the District. At the time, three men with farm interests in the Maricopa area, John E. Smith, William A. (Sonny) Dunn and E.J. Farrell, played significant roles in forming the District and were elected the first members of the District Board at a meeting held at the Headquarters Restaurant.
Maricopa experienced significant flooding in 1941, 1952, 1957 and 1962. It was the flood of September, 1962 that prompted the Board to move forward with a flood-control project resulting in the completion of the Santa Rosa Wash. In fact, the Santa Rosa Wash was completed very quickly for a project of its size and complexity.
“Mapping the channel was easy,” said John Smith, when asked about his part in the formation of the District. “The wash had its own path, which the farmers were already managing on their own as best they could. We would go into the wash and move dirt around to try and keep floodwater off our land. So, when it came time to sign easements over to the District, nobody hesitated. They couldn’t use the wash to grow anything anyway.”
The flood of 1962 caused $2.3 million in damage,. Shortly after, the Board enlisted the U.S. Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service to engineer and design the channels. Once the channels were mapped, Board members approached 34 local landowners, asking them to grant easements to MFCD so the channels could be built. All 34 cooperated.
By July 1964, the twelve miles of Santa Rosa Channel were completed, at a cost of $217,000, (more than $1.5 million in 2009 dollars) or less than 10% of the damage expenses of the ’62 flood. The work was financed by the Soil Conservation Service, the Union Pacific Railroad, the Maricopa Indians (now Ak-Chin Indian Community) and the landowners in the District.
Maricopa experienced another major flood in 1983, which caused massive damage and took several months to clean up. The last flood event in the area took place in 1993. By that time the Central Arizona Project canals and the improved channels of MFCD mitigated the damage to a fraction of 1983’s disaster. To see video of those floods, go to:
Sonny Dunn continued to serve on the MFCD Board of Directors from its formation in 1958 until his death in 2007.
Maricopa Flood Control District has had a number of people serve as Directors over its history. Directors are not compensated. The following is a list, from the beginning to present day:
John E. Smith, Ed Farrell, Sr., W.A. “Sonny” Dunn (49 years), Bill Chatham, W.D. Storie,
C.L. “Bill” Scott (40 years), Pat Murphree, William L. “Bill” Sawyer, Bruce Neely,
Matt Smith, Owen Kelly, Brent Murphree, Dan Frank, Brad Hinton, Scott Kelly