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Water History

Anaheim Public Utilities, Water Services; began in 1879 when the leaders of Anaheim took responsibility for operating the water production and distribution system. The original system included one shallow well, a 20,000 gallon redwood storage tank, and one mile of wooden pipeline.

In the following century we provided the residents and businesses of Anaheim with the water they needed to succeed. As the city has grown we have responded by developing new water systems to meet the future needs of Anaheim. We are more than just a utility – we are an integral part of the community that we serve.

Water Timeline

1857 The City of Anaheim is founded by German wine makers. They build ditches and flumes to bring water from the Santa Ana River to irrigate their vineyards.
1879 Municipal water system operations begin Sept. 15 with a shallow well, a 20,000-gallon redwood storage tank and a wire-wrapped four-inch wooden pipeline that runs for five blocks down Center Street.
1890 Metering of water customers begins with 16 water meters on a trial basis. By the end of the year, 35 meters are in service with daily use averaging 4,000 gallons. The system’s second well is added a year later.
1894 Early water engineer Adolph Schneider, who also played in the Anaheim City Band, is paid $60 a month to operate a new pump house and a 20,000-gallon storage tank on Cypress Street.
1900 One of Anaheim's first watering systems is called the water wagon. Typically, bids were coming in at $3 to $6 per day to provide the city with water sprinkling for its streets.
1908 A new water and light plant is built on what is now 518 S. Anaheim Blvd. A new well and 173,000-gallon landmark concrete storage tank, reportedly the first of its kind in the United States, is constructed at a height of 97 feet.
1920 Increased agricultural pumping lowers basin water levels, causing shallow back-yard wells and even municipal wells to go dry, raising many concerns in the community about future water supplies.
1928 Anaheim is one of 11 founding members of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
1935 There are 3,300 water meters in service with citywide use averaging 2.5 million gallons of water a day.
1938 On March 3, the Santa Ana River breaks its banks, sending a wall of water through the community, resulting in 21 deaths. Water system crews work around the clock – rescuing families, capping pipes to houses that had been washed away and testing wells for contamination. Superintendent Vard Hannum leads a group that works through the night setting up a chlorination plant to protect against typhoid and dysentery. As a result, not one case of either disease is reported.
1941 Years of reliance on local wells for the community’s water come to an end with the first deliveries of supplemental Colorado River water to Anaheim.
1968 The 920-million gallon walnut canyon reservoir, the largest municipal reservoir in Orange County, is constructed to serve future growth in Anaheim’s hill and canyon area, and to provide emergency storage for the community. The project includes the August F. Lenain filtration plant, a 10-million gallon per day treatment facility.
1984 The first of a new series of high-production wells, drilled into a deep, high-quality aquifer, begins production.
1987 Exhibiting the typical support Anaheim Public Utilities has received from the community over the past century, Anaheim voters go the polls and pass a $14-million water revenue bond proposal with an overwhelming 79 percent of the vote.
1990 Anaheim is one of the few cities in the nation and only seven communities in California with a “Class 1” Water System and Fire Department rating from the Insurance Services Office. This achievement demonstrates the reliability and effectiveness of Anaheim’s water production and distribution system, and results in lower insurance premiums for Anaheim businesses.
1995 Major enhancements to the Lenain Water Filtration Plant incorporate full treatment capabilities, including the latest ozone disinfection technology and a state-certified laboratory to monitor water quality. Lenain remains the only city-owned filtration plant in Orange County.
2000 Water is served to customers at elevations ranging from less than 60 feet to over 1,200 feet above sea level.
2003 There are 61,413 meters serving nearly 340,000 residents and businesses with an average citywide use of 66.6 million gallons of water a day.
2004 Standard & Poor's Ratings Services raises its rating on Anaheim water revenue bonds to AA+ due to conservative management, strong financial operations and a more-than-ample water supply. This rating is higher than nearby utilities.
2006 Anaheim’s well 54 is dedicated. The well, drilled to a depth of 1,530 feet below ground, is capable of producing around 3,500 gallons of water per minute. The facility that houses the well was designed to maintain the look of Anaheim’s Colony Historic District.
2011 The Nohl Canyon Tank begins commercial operation. With a storage capacity of 10-million gallons the partially buried drinking water storage tank provides a reliable source of clean drinking water. The tank is located several hundred feet higher in elevation than central Anaheim; a tank at this elevation helps to maintain adequate water pressure.
2013 Anaheim Public Utilities unveils the new water sustainability campus. It is the first decentralized small-scale water recycling plant built in an urban environment in Southern California. Visitors can see demonstrations of the water recycling process in real time. The recycled water from the sustainability campus is used for irrigation around City Hall and for toilet flushing in the Anaheim West Tower.
2014 As part of Anaheim Public Utilities continued efforts to rehabilitate and replace aging infrastructure, a new 4 million gallon tank and pumping station were built at the old Linda Vista site. The new facility, which replaces an almost 80 year old tank, is responsible for delivering one third of all water in Anaheim.