It wasn't gold, exactly, but it was the next best thing in Southern California: a readily-available Since 1879, the easterly portion of the interior basin of the Santa Ana River was considered one of the best “watered” areas in Southern California. Water – and plenty of it – would always be there for the taking – or so certain communities in Riverside and San Bernardino counties thought. The first hint that this might not always hold true came in the late 1920s when the State Division of Water Resources warned Riverside and San Bernardino that they would eventually run short of water. This first warning was ignored. The next wasn’t.
MUNICIPAL WATER DISCTRICT ACT OF 1911Under the Municipal Water District Act of 1911, the electorate, by majority vote, agreed to the formation of the Western Municipal Water District of Riverside County on January 19, 1954. Once the public voted to create the District, the Citizens Committee for Water campaigned for annexation to the Metropolitan Water District. Annexation was approved by the voters the following September, and the District became a Metropolitan member agency on November 12, 1954. Once the District joined Metropolitan, the Western Board turned its attention to the actual delivery of imported water.
In October, 1954, shortly after Western’s annexation to Metropolitan, the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District became an agency for the distribution of supplemental water within Western’s boundaries. Western’s first delivery of Colorado River water was made on May 12, 1956 to the Bedford Heights Mutual Water Company. This water was used for the irrigation of newly-planted citrus trees. Eventually, the District would supply irrigation water for 9,000 acres of citrus. Today, less than 3,000 acres remain.
IT WASN'T UNTIL THE 1960Sthat the District began operating its own retail domestic system. Western’s first system for the delivery of drinking water directly to the homeowner was constructed in the Rainbow Canyon area south of Temecula. This small area was annexed to Western in 1959 and water service started to 27 customers in 1962, as part of an agreement that allowed the Metropolitan Water District to construct a pipeline through the area. The first major retail improvement district, ID-1, began water service to 300 customers in 1962. The property owners in this improvement district, which incorporates the Woodcrest area of Riverside County, relied on wells that had periodically run dry for their drinking water prior to Western’s arrival.
Along with construction of the backbone water delivery facility, the District’s Cajalco Treatment Plant for purification of Colorado River water for drinking, an intake on the Colorado River Aqueduct, and three storage tanks were also built. The Cajalco Treatment Plant was used for treatment of Colorado River water for Western’s retail domestic customers until 1993.
Until the late 1970's, the District’s sole source of imported water was the Colorado River. However, because of the mineral content of this water source, many communities within Western’s District had increasingly come under pressure to improve the quality of effluent discharged into the Santa Ana River Basin. One solution was to begin importing Northern California water, with its lower salt content, which had become available with construction of the State Water Project. Western began supplying Northern California water, treated at Metropolitan’s Henry J. Mills Water Treatment Plant in Riverside, in 1979.
TODAY, THE DISTRICT SERVES ROUGHLY 23,000 RETAIL
|As a member agency of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), Western provides supplemental water to the cities of Corona, Norco, and Riverside and the water agencies of Box Springs Mutual, Eagle Valley Mutual,Elsinore Valley, Lee Lake and Rancho California. Western serves customers directly in Orangecrest, Mission Grove, El Sobrante, Eagle Valley, Temescal Canyon, Woodcrest, Lake Mathews, portions of Mead Valley and Perris, and March Air Reserve Base.