Early Vision, Initiative, and Commitment

Formation of the San Diego County Water Authority in 1944 and completion of the 1st San Diego Aqueduct in the late 1940’s provided the arid inland North San Diego County an opportunity to secure a water supply from the Colorado River via the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to supplement the area's limited groundwater and intermittent stream flows.

However, in order to access that supply, local communities had to go through the process of forming a municipal water district, join the San Diego County Water Authority and then develop the means to finance, construct and operate a public water supply system. Yes, the water was there but it was up to dedicated individuals with vision and initiative to lead their communities to taking on the physical, political and financial challenges to secure the benefits of an imported water supply.

Voters Form the Valley Center Municipal Water District

In an election held June 21, 1954, the electorate of Valley Center resoundingly voted to form the Valley Center Municipal Water District. California’s Secretary of State certified the organization of the District and filed the official records of its formation on July 12, 1954. The District was officially annexed to the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on May 9, 1955, thereby securing access to a then ample and reliable source of imported water to serve the community.

1955 Water System Master Plan

With the formation process and membership to the SDCWA completed, the fledgling District focused on the formidable task of planning, funding and then constructing the facilities needed to connect to the aqueducts and deliver water. Approved by the Board of Directors in 1955, the District’s first Water System Master Plan called for the construction of three connections to the San Diego County Water Authority's First Aqueduct, 47 miles of the backbone distribution system (6” to 18” diameter pipe), five pumping stations, and three reservoirs totaling 3.0 million gallons of water storage.

Bringing the Water to the Land – 1956 Water Bond

With the Master Plan approved, the next challenge was to secure funding for construction. Bond funding to build a brand new water system for a sparsely populated rural community with such a low assessed valuation would need special permission from the federal government and a willingness of land owners to take on heavy tax rates.  Nevertheless, in 1956, by a 4 to1 margin, voters indebted themselves to issue $1.6 million in General Obligation bonds secured by property tax payments from lands having $2.9 million in assessed valuation for the entire 56,224 acre service area. 

More Information

Certificate by the Secretary of State

1950s Water Distribution Schematic

Agricultural Growth Drives the Need for Rapid Water System Expansion

With the availability of affordable and reliable imported water from the Colorado River came rapid growth in agricultural plantings.  By the early 1960’s it became clear that the initial water facilities built in the late 1950’s could not keep up with the increasing water demand. By wide margins, the landowners again indebted themselves with a $1.75 million G.O. Bond issued in 1964 and a $2.8 million bond in 1966. This period also saw the District purchase and incorporate a number of small private water systems, as well as form a number of improvement districts, or “U” Districts (the “U” was for unimproved area). The U Districts were used to fund even more landowner approved debt to finance construction of additional water distribution and storage systems fed by the GO bond funded backbone system.

With water demand still growing through the 1960’s and into the 1970’s and 1980’s, the District turned to the state and federal governments for low-interest rate loan programs, including the Federal Bureau of Reclamation 984 Program and the California Safe Drinking Water Act to expand pipeline and pumping station capacities and add more storage including the 1,600 Lake Turner Dam and Reservoir.

The Valley Center MWD Water System Today

Since 1954, there have been three General Obligation Bond issues, formation of 12 water system improvement areas, and several federal grants and loans, as well as contributions from private developers, the District’s Water System has 302 miles of pipe, 7 aqueduct connections, 29 pumping stations, 113 pumps, and 41 covered reservoirs with 137 million gallons of water storage.  The challenge ahead for the District will be to maintain, replace, upgrade and enhance this extensive, but aging water distribution and storage system to meet the needs of a community changing from predominantly agricultural to one more balanced with residential and commercial water demands.

Meeting the Wastewater Needs of Valley Center

It is very likely that the early founders of the District did not envision ever providing wastewater treatment and recycling services to the very rural and sparsely populated service area they saw in the early 1950’s. However, development patterns and physical limitations on the ability of local soils to absorb domestic waste eventually created a need which the District was empowered by law to meet.

Lower Moosa Canyon Water Reclamation Facility Service Area

Higher density residential and commercial development on the western edge of the District in the late 1960’s required wastewater treatment and disposal facilities to be constructed.  Initially these were small scale treatment and disposal operations to serve individual developments, such as the Meadows, Welk’s Village and Circle R.  Anticipated new development along the 395 corridor would need more wastewater treatment and disposal capacity.   To meet this need, the District sought out grant funding from the state and federal government under the Clean Water Act.  Its efforts were successful as an 87.5% grant, supplemented by a local match of 12.5, was secured to build the Lower Moosa Canyon Water Reclamation Facility.  Completed in 1974, Lower Moosa Canyon still operates today, treating upwards of 400,000 gallons per day of domestic and commercial wastewater to advanced secondary standards for indirect water recycling through groundwater recharge.   Capacity expansion and a treatment process upgrade to tertiary for direct recycling is anticipated, driven for new development along what is now known as the I-15 corridor. 

Wastewater Recycling for the Central Valley Area

In the late 1970’s, wastewater treatment was being evaluated for the 5,000 acre area known as the Central Valley of Valley Center.   Local funding was first evaluated but was felt to be too expensive. As with Lower Moosa Canyon, the District turned to outside assistance from the state and federal government and efforts to secure outside funding for the Central Valley system were successful. By the mid 1980's, the District secured initial approval of grant funds and started planning and designing a low pressure sewer collection system, or STEP system to serve the 5,000 acre Central Valley Service Area. However, by the late 1980's, growing local concern over growth impacts from a wastewater treatment system led to a voter referendum in 1988 ending the project.

With the grant lost, local property owners turned to the County of San Diego and in 1990 efforts were initiated to form an assessment district to fund the construction of a system to serve the Central Valley. However, with concerns mounting over rising cost estimates and affordability, property owners asked the county Board of Supervisors to stop the project in 1997.

It was with a major development, Woods Valley Ranch, that wastewater treatment and recycling finally came to the Central Valley. The Woods Valley Ranch Water Reclamation Facility (WVRWRF) was completed in 2005 to serve the residential and golf course development by the same name, with the tertiary treated recycled water from the residences transported back to the golf course for storage and irrigation.

With a modern operating treatment facility in place, efforts began again to secure wastewater treatment and recycling services for surrounding properties in what is now known as the North and South Villages of Valley Center.