City of San Diego Water History
1850 -- California becomes a state and the City of San Diego is incorporated.
1873 -- San Diego Water Company formed to provide an organized water supply to serve a population of approximately 2,000. Water is $.25 per bucket. An army private soldier makes $13.00 per month.
1885 -- Sewer service begins along the lower portion of 5th and 6th Avenues with the raw effluent discharged directly into San Diego Bay.
1887 -- Old Town Reservoir built to store water from 12 wells located in the San Diego River bed adjacent to the old Presidio.
1889 -- The San Diego Flume Company completes a 35.6 mile wooden flume to carry water from Boulder Creek to La Mesa Reservoir (the duck pond at Grossmont Summit).
1897 -- Lower Otay Dam completed by what becomes the Southern California Mountain Water Company. Construction of Morena Dam begun. Work is soon suspended.
1901 -- Following a vote of the people, the City of San Diego enters into the municipal water supply business by purchasing the facilities of the San Diego Water Company.
1906 -- The Lower Otay water supply is connected to the City's distribution system by the Bonita Pipeline to a filtration plant located at Chollas Heights Reservoir.
1912 -- The City purchases the Otay River-Cottonwood Creek system from the Southern California Mountain Water Company. Morena Dam completed. The City of East San Diego incorporated.
1914 -- The City purchases Morena Dam. Otay Water Treatment Plant begins operations.
1916 -- A series of very heavy rain storms, in conjunction with the alleged rainmaking activities of Charles Hatfield, hit the county. The San Diego River floods Mission Valley from cliff to cliff cutting all highways to the north. Lower Otay Dam, built without a spillway, tops out and bursts, flooding the Otay Valley.
1918 -- Lower Otay Dam, now renamed Savage Dam, reconstruction completed. Lake Hodges Dam and San Dieguito Dam completed by the Santa Fe Land & Improvement Co. Both were later purchased by the City.
1922 -- City forces complete Barrett Dam and the Dulzura Conduit built to link Morena Reservoir and the Cottonwood Creek/Pine Creek watersheds with the City's water supply system at Lower Otay.
1928 -- Construction of what is now Sutherland Dam is halted after only one year of construction. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) is formed to bring Colorado River Water to Southern California. San Diego was not a member.
1930 -- The U.S. Supreme Court determines the City of San Diego has prior and paramount rights to the water of the San Diego River.
1935 -- With water rights secured, the City completes construction of El Capitan Dam and the El Capitan Pipeline connecting it to the City's water supply system. University Heights Filtration Plant enlarged.
1936 -- The City decommissions water well fields operated in Mission Valley.
1943 -- San Vicente Dam and pipeline are dedicated following two years of construction. This provides another source of water for San Diego's booming wartime population. The U.S. Navy completes the City's first sewerage treatment plant to reduce the health risks to sailors on ships in San Diego Bay.
1944 -- The San Diego County Water Authority (CWA) is formed, with the City joining, and became a member agency of MWD. CWA's first task is to complete a pipeline connecting the county with MWD's water supply system.
1947 -- The first MWD water from the Colorado River flows into San Vicente Reservoir. This ends San Diego's total dependence on local sources for water.
1950 -- The City of San Diego takes over operation of Murray Reservoir and commissions the Alvarado Filtration Plant. The water treatment plants at University Heights and Chollas Heights are decommissioned.
1954 -- Sutherland Dam, dormant since 1928, completed and connected by pipeline and natural streambeds to San Vicente Reservoir.
1956 -- South San Diego, Nestor, San Ysidro, and part of Otay Mesa annexed to the City. Service charges for sewer service instituted for the first time.
1958 -- The sewerage function transferred to the newly renamed Water Utilities Department.
1960 -- Miramar Dam completed and Miramar Filtration Plant put into commission. Lake Murray purchased from Helix Irrigation District.
1963 -- The Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant and the Metropolitan Sewerage System, now the Metropolitan Wastewater System, are put into service ending regular direct discharge of raw wastewater into the San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
1978 -- San Diego begins receiving water from the State Water Project.
1996 and 1997 -- The wastewater collection and treatment functions are separated from the Water Utilities Department forming the Metropolitan Wastewater Department. The Water Utilities Department becomes the Water Department.
1997 -- The Water Department begins selling tertiary-treated recycled water produced from the North City Water Reclamation Plant located in University City.
1998 -- The Alvarado Treatment Plant Expansion and Improvement Project began. The project involves constructing eight new filters, constructing sedimentation and flocculation basins, implementing ozone as an alternative disinfectant, upgrading the Lake Murray and College Ranch pump stations and remodeling the existing Operations building. These improvements will be implemented in six phases, over the next several years. The construction completion date is set for 2013.
2001 -- Construction began on the Miramar Treatment Plant Expansion and Improvement Project. Project includes a new rapid mix facility, installing new de-aeration basins, disinfection facilities, new chemical facilities, new and refurbished administration facilities, flocculation and sedimentation basins, washwater recovery system and water filters. The project is expected to be completed in 2010.
2002 -- The South Bay Water Reclamation Plant begins producing recycled water.
2003 -- The Otay Water Treatment Plant Expansion and Upgrade Project began. The project increased capacity and reliability to meet current and future water needs. The new state-of-the-art facility meets or exceeds new, stricter water quality regulations.
2005 -- City begins 12-year program to replace all remaining 190-plus miles of old cast iron water mains.
2007 -- The San Diego City Council authorized the Water Reuse Demonstration Project. The Demonstration project consists of a one-million gallon per day advanced recycled water treatment plant at the North City Water Reclamation Plant.
2009 -- Water Department and Metropolitan Wastewater Department merge as the Public Utilities Department.
2010 -- As part of the Emergency Storage Project, CWA completes the San Vicente Pipeline connecting the City's San Vicente Reservoir with CWA's Second Aqueduct.
2012 -- CWA completes Lake Hodges Projects connecting the City's Hodges Reservoir to CWA's Olivenhain Reservoir. The new connection allows the City to draft water from Hodges for its own use for the first time.