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Franklin Canal, 1976 HCEL
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The Franklin Canal, started in 1889, was the first large-scale, complex irrigation project in West Texas. The canal, a private undertaking of the El Paso Irrigation Co., was fed by a dam on the Rio Grande that diverted water into its thirty mile stretch down through the El Paso Valley from the City of El Paso. The project was completed in 1891 with an original width ranging 15-30 ft. In 1912, the Franklin Canal was appropriated by the U.S. Reclamation Service as part of its Rio Grande project and underwent extensive renovations from that time until 1914. The canal’s earthen sides and bed were sheathed in concrete and its capacity was increased; the Franklin Canal became one of the projects primary canals. 


Although it was originally designed to irrigate an estimated 30,000 acres, because of the erratic flow of the Rio Grande, it would water only 3,000 acres in the few years following. In 1935, considering the water supply in this area was significantly dependent on sharing the waters of the Rio Grande with Mexico, Congress commissioned diversionary projects to measure and allow Mexico’s share to pass through to the Acequia Madre, while diverting everything else into the American Canal, a two-mile stretch that now feeds the Franklin Canal - a successful solution to the problem of dividing the waters.

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