The History of Walnut Valley Water District
Formation of the District
The first meeting of the Walnut Valley Water District Board of Directors was held on Thursday, July 24, 1952 at 19717 E. Fifth Avenue, which was also numbered 1539 S. Brea Canyon Cutoff Road, Walnut, California.
The first members of the Board of Directors were as follows:
- Jack T. Monroe, President
- W.H. Fryer, Vice-President
- E.P. Carrey, Director
- Louis E. Bourdet, Director
- William A. Bartholomae Jr., Director
The first Board was charged with developing guidelines and direction for the management and operations of the new District as well as adopting the District’s own set of bylaws, which included the establishment of the time, place and conduct of the Board meetings, and the method and manner in which Board elections were to be held. Over the next few years, the Board also prepared and implemented the plans and projects for the development and distribution of water supplies in this area.
Development of Water Supplies and Distribution System
Due to the limited availability of local groundwater sources, the District is primarily dependent on surface water imported from the Colorado River and Northern California by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), the sole importer of water to this area, through a wholesale member agency, Three Valleys Municipal Water District (TVMWD). In 1955, the District, in concert with the City of Pomona and the Rowland Water District, constructed a joint pipeline (Joint Water
Line) for the purpose of delivering imported water to meet the water supply needs of these communities. This pipeline varies in diameter from 42 inches to 54 inches and transports potable water from MWD’s Weymouth Treatment Plant in La Verne and, when surplus water is available, from TVMWD’s Miramar Treatment Plant in Claremont to the District’s Edmund M. Biederman Terminal Storage Reservoir and Hydroelectric Facilities in Walnut.
|Weymouth Treatment Plant
District’s primary water supplier
|Miramar Treatment Plant
Additional District water supplier
The Joint Water Line is 7.6 miles in length and, for many years, was the District’s primary source of water until completion of the Badillo/Grand Transmission Main in 1993, which effectively doubled this area’s import water supply and provided an alternate supply route. The construction of this 5.5-mile transmission main was critical to the District since it provides access to a secondary water source, ensuring system reliability in times of catastrophic need such as fire or earthquake. The District also presently owns and operates a 150-kilowatt hydroelectric plant at its connection to the Joint Water Line. Power generated by this plant is sold to the Southern California Edison.
In an effort to reduce its dependence on imported potable water, the District also operates a recycled water system for use in irrigating large landscaped areas such as parks and school grounds, which have traditionally placed a significant demand on the District’s potable drinking water system.
The District obtains its recycled water from the County Sanitation Districts’ Pomona Water Reclamation Plant. Recycled water is the official name given to wastewater, which has undergone an extensive treatment process and is available for reuse after being tested and certified by the Department of Health Services to ensure that it is safe for irrigation purposes. The District’s recycled water system, which is completely separate from the potable water system, delivers an average of 763 million gallons annually of this “drought-proof” water. The recycled water supply is augmented by groundwater from the District’s recycled wells.
In 2012 the District began to explore the development of projects to diversify our water supply and further decrease our dependency on treated imported water and established a goal of developing at least 5,000 acre-feet per year of locally available water supply. In order to accomplish this goal, the District, working with the Rowland Water District through the Puente Basin Water Agency (PBWA), has explored several projects in the Main San Gabriel, Central, and 6 Basins Groundwater Basins that would allow both agencies to meet their individual water supply diversification project goals.
So far the agencies have completed two projects that have a combined capacity of 7,000 acre-feet per year (3,500 acre-feet for each agency). In addition, the agencies are pursuing two additional projects, one currently under construction, that will yield an additional 1,500 to 3,500 acre-feet of supply annually.
Appointment of General Manager
As the chief executive officer of the District, the role of the General Manager is to oversee the daily operations of the District and to work with the Board of Directors to develop long-range plans for the betterment of the District. Since its formation in 1952, the District has retained only five General Managers who have served, and continue to serve, the District well.
On March 1, 1956, the District retained E.F. Airey to serve as its first General Manager, and he served in that capacity until March 31, 1958. On April 1, 1958, the District hired Edmund M. Biederman to serve as General Manager, and he held that post for the next thirty-eight years until his retirement on November 1, 1996. On that same day the Board of Directors appointed Karen J. Powers, who had held the position of the District’s Assistant General Manager for eight years, to serve as General Manager. Powers retired from her position of General Manager on December 31, 2005. Michael K Holmes was then appointed to serve the District as its General Manager, effective January 1, 2006. Michael Holmes then retired from the District effective April 5, 2018 after twelve years of service. The Board of Directors appointed Erik Hitchman as the new General Manager/Chief Engineer effective April 6, 2018. Erik Hitchman, who is a Professional Engineer (P.E.) and holds a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering, has been with the District for over twenty years.
Walnut Valley Water District Today
Upon its formation in 1952, the only potable water available for the people in this area was from local groundwater wells that were located within a very unreliable groundwater basin. In 1955, after beginning the development of the water supply system, the District provided potable water to 21 service connections with an approximate population of less than 800 in the local area.
Today, after more than six decades of service to the community, the District operates and maintains two large imported water pipelines, 497 miles of distribution mains, 17 pump plants and 31 reservoirs with a storage capacity of 94.1million gallons of water. The District also provides water service to over 26,500 connections in an area encompassing 17,900 acres, serving an approximate population of over 100,000 residents and businesses in six local communities.
It is quite evident that the District has grown by leaps and bounds over the last six decades, but regardless of its size, the purpose and goals of the District and its Board of Directors remain the same as they did more than sixty years ago, which was, and is, to make available the highest quality of water at the lowest price available.