Orange Park Acres Mutual Water Company


The Orange Park Acres Mutual Water Company was incorporated on March 13, 1929 to provide water service to 640 acres in the rural, unincorporated community of Orange Park Acres. The newly formed mutual water company issued 722 shares of stock that were both appurtenant to the land and required to obtain water service. Shares were allocated based upon property size and voting rights were determined by the number of shares held. The water company was governed by a five member board elected by a plurality vote of shareholders at its annual meeting.

Over time, the Orange Park Acres community located just to the east of the City of Orange, developed into the premier equestrian destination in Orange County and is now considered to have one of the finest multi-purpose trail systems in California. The OPAMWC developed along with the community and by 2008 was providing water service to approximately 530 connections through 15 miles of water distribution pipelines. The water system also included a one million gallon reservoir, five small pump stations, and a groundwater well capable of producing 900 gallons per minute. Well supplies were augmented by imported water purchases as necessary. 

In the early 1960’s the OPAMWC considered expanding its service area beyond its original boundaries but for a number of reasons expansion did not occur. Over the following years, ever-increasing water costs, more stringent regulatory requirements, and the need to replace much of the original 1929 infrastructure began to place an onerous burden on the relatively small customer base. In light of those increasing costs and in the absence of future expansion that would spread costs over a larger customer base, the OPAMWC Board determined in 2006 that it would be in the best interests of their customers to explore alternatives to meet future water service needs.

To evaluate potential merger options with larger water service providers, the OPAMWC Board circulated a Request for Information in August 2006 to several agencies. Based upon the responses received, the OPAMWC Board elected to pursue discussions with IRWD. In March 2007 IRWD began operating the OPAMWC system on a contract basis, and over the following twelve months, OPAMWC and IRWD successfully negotiated the terms and conditions that would define how the two agencies would be merged.

Annexation of OPAMWC into IRWD was approved by the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission in December 2007 contingent upon subsequent shareholder approval. On April 10, 2008 the OPAMWC shareholders voted overwhelmingly to approve the merger with IRWD and the annexation became effective June 1, 2008.

The merger with IRWD allowed OPAMWC the means to secure a modern, reliable water delivery system to meet the future water service needs of the OPA community. Annexation to IRWD also led to a significant reduction in water rates, improved system operations, access to additional water supplies, increased reliability, improved emergency response capabilities, and a sound financial plan to replace the original 1929 infrastructure. 

Orange Park Acres is a unique community and its residents have a rich history and a common purpose of working to improve the surroundings in which they live. Incorporating the Orange Park Acres community into the IRWD service area furthered this goal and the OPAMWC Board is to be commended for their foresight and commitment to the community they served.

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