Survival and development in the Imperial Valley has always been dependent on the availability of water. The quest to bring water from the Colorado River to irrigate land in Imperial Valley began in the 1850s. However, it was not until 1901 that the California Development Company contracted to build a canal (the Alamo Canal) to deliver water by gravity flow from the river to the southern end of the valley.
Imperial Irrigation District was formed in 1911 and realized the need for an “All-American Canal” north of the international border. In 1928, the Boulder Canyon Project Act authorized the construction of the all-American Canal, Hoover Dam and Imperial Dam. The All-American Canal was constructed by the Bureau during the 1930s and, in 1940, the first water was delivered to the Imperial Valley. In 1942, the All-American Canal became the sole water source for Imperial Valley residents and area farmlands.
The first hydroelectric plants on the All-American Canal were completed at Drops 3 and 4 in 1941.