Photos: Granite Reef Underground Storage Project, January 2019

This page features aerial photos of the Granite Reef Underground Storage Project (GRUSP), near Mesa, Arizona.

Roughly four miles downstream from the Granite Reef Diversion Dam, the GRUSP is a water-banking facility designed for storing water for future use in Phoenix. The project is funded and owned by the Salt River Project and six municipalities in Arizona, including Phoenix and Scottsdale. The project banks between 40,000 and 50,000 acre-feet per year when fully operational.

Here’s how the artificial groundwater storage works: First, Colorado River water flows through the Central Arizona Project canal and into the Salt River Project canal, where it deposits into the GRUSP Delivery Channel. Then, at the facility, the water is measured and distributed into recharge basins, which are the large and porous storage spaces made of sand and gravel. Here, the water seeps into the ground, contributing to the water already stored in the existing aquifer below.

The storage project was offline for around a year after the GRUSP delivery channel was washed out by flooding in 2020. The delivery channel was reconstructed in early 2021 and resumed artificial recharge in May 2021.

Learn more:

DateJanuary 10, 2019
LocationSalt River, near Mesa, Arizona (map)
CreditTed Wood/The Water Desk
RightsFree to reuse under Creative Commons license.

Selected images from the gallery

Click to enlarge

To use these images

Please read and consent to the terms and license below for access to the download page.

The Water Desk’s photo and video resources are part of our efforts to aid and enrich news coverage of Western water issues. Our imagery is shot by professional photojournalists and is available for free reuse under a Creative Commons noncommercial license.

To help us continue to offer this free material, we ask that you please:
  1. Credit the original photographer and the Water Desk as the source
  2. Email us a link to the published story at
  3. Consider sending The Water Desk your ideas for future content that we could add to the library
  4. Keep supporting professional photojournalists by hiring them for assignments

I understand and consent

< Show related galleries

Explore aerial, drone and ground-based imagery from The Water Desk