Responding to Growing Water Needs

The Cucamonga Valley, like most of western San Bernardino County, is rapidly urbanizing. The area's history, however, has not always indicated this direction. The peak agricultural production capability of the 1940s actually began nearly one hundred years earlier. Good climate, excellent soils and an abundant water supply, prompted the early pioneers to develop a long successful agricultural era.

Beginning in the late 1940s and continuing for about twenty years into the 1960s, most of southern California experienced an extensive dry cycle. During this period, rainfall was reduced to about one-half of previous averages. Prior to this dry period, most of the water used within the Cucamonga area originated from collection systems constructed in the mountain canyons and from wells in the Cucamonga Basin. A small amount of water was produced in the Chino Basin to the south.

All water production was developed through the efforts of about 25 privately owned mutual water companies and a few individually owned wells. The continuing dry cycle was an extremely difficult period for most of the water companies. Pumps were lowered at regular intervals, some wells were abandoned and new deeper wells drilled. Many companies reduced the amount of water delivered to stockholders. Additional production in the Chino Basin commenced as a result of the lowered water table in the Cucamonga Basin.

Creation of the District

San Bernardino County, California - Historical PhotoAt the time, drought conditions were plaguing the various water companies, a complaint was filed in the Superior Court by San Antonio Water Company to determine the water rights of all Cucamonga Basin water users. This act had the effect of solidifying the various local interests into a common defense, and resulted in the annexations to Metropolitan Water District (MWD), to Chino Basin Municipal Water District, and the creation of Cucamonga County Water District.

It was during this drought period that the Cucamonga Water Company was not able to adequately service its customers both agriculturally and domestically. Several of its wells were unable to produce water because of the extreme low water level and the Company's lack of funds needed to purchase pumping equipment to lift water from the lower elevations.

As a result of these conditions, stockholders in the Cucamonga Water Company and the Cucamonga Basin Protective Association organized to create a public agency that would be able to raise sufficient funds from all property owners and water users to provide an adequate supply of water for the growing Cucamonga Valley.

Organization & Service Area

The District was organized in March 1955 as a public corporation under the provisions of Division 12 of the State Water Code, within boundaries established by the San Bernardino Board of Supervisors. CVWD is a special district, which is an independent unit of local government serving the needs of the community. Special districts are the most efficient forms of government since the cost of the services provided to the customers directly equals the revenue generated from the charges for services provided. 

Elected to the first five-member Board of Directors were Mr. Robert Nesbit, Mr. Galer Royer, Mr. John S. Ingalls, Mr. J.F. Grass Jr., and Mr. Harold B. Blatz. Mr. Nesbit served as a director continuously from 1955 until his death in 1981. The first meeting of the Board of Directors of the Cucamonga County Water District was called to order on March 25, 1955 at the Fire Hall in Alta Loma, California. The first order of business was to elect a president of the Board of Directors. The unanimous choice for this position was Robert Nesbit.

The following year, at the Board of Directors meeting of August 25, 1956, Norman Hixson was appointed as the district's first general manager, a position he held until 1972. At that time, the district occupied an area approximately 22,000 acres generally bounded on the west by the City of Upland, on the south by the City of Ontario, on the east by Etiwanda Avenue and on the north by the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. The service area included the unincorporated communities of Cucamonga, Alta Loma, and a part of Etiwanda.