Liquid News

IRWD: In the Beginning

This historic windmill reflects the District's 1961 beginning, serving mostly agricultural customers. Irvine Ranch Water District was formed in 1961 under the provisions of the California Water District Act within the California Water Code in response to the increasing water needs of the region. IRWD initially served mostly agricultural customers. The District was created to secure a water supply for domestic and irrigation use from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD). The District’s boundaries encompassed 38,500 acres, roughly from the Santa Ana Freeway to the San Joaquin Hills. Today, IRWD customers total more than 300,000, in an area spanning 181 square miles from the foothills to coastal Orange County.

The first few years were spent getting funding for infrastructure. In 1961 and 1963 the District sold $6.4 million in bonds to help build the San Joaquin Reservoir and the East Orange County Feeder No. 2, a 24-mile pipeline reaching between the MWD Diemer Filtration Plant in Yorba Linda and the San Joaquin Reservoir. By the summer of 1964 the District had nine customers. The District acquired its first major facilities from the Irvine Company’s water system, including some of its reservoirs, various water rights, and two water companies, the Barranca Mutual System and the Francis Mutual System.

In the beginning, IRWD did not provide sewer service and in March 1965 voters authorized the District to collect, treat and dispose of sewage. The first phase of the Michelson Reclamation Plant, today known as the Michelson Water Recycling Plant, was constructed in 1966. Pipelines, reservoirs, wells and treatment plants are only part of the IRWD history. The system would quickly run dry without the expertise and commitment of the District’s employees. IRWD began with a handful of people with an engineering dream. Today the District employs over 300 staff.

IRWD will commemorate its 50-year milestone with a year-long recognition focusing on the many accomplishments and firsts achieved by the District. Each month will spotlight innovative programs that give value to our customers – such as our award-winning conservation program and conservation rate structure, sound financial management, environmental stewardship, historical preservation and state-of-the-art methods for ensuring the quality and reliability of your water.

Please visit www.irwd.com to learn more about the District’s historical roots, major milestones, programs and people that helped shape IRWD into the dynamic, committed, innovative agency it is today.

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