Where Our Water Comes From

It’s easy today to turn on the faucet and expect clean, cool water to come streaming out, but it wasn’t always this easy. The extensive underground water transmission and distribution systems have taken a long road to get where they are today – hooked up to your house. A series of bond elections, water supply purchases, acquisitions of water rights and facilities and contracts with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation all play a part in how you receive your water today.

In 1921, the then-named Citrus Heights Irrigation District had been in existence for only one year when it leased the existing pipe system of the Citrus Heights Water Takers Association. In July 1921 a bond election approved – by an 89-1 vote – $262,000 for construction of additional pipe facilities. Resulting bids for this construction considered the use of redwood, fir and steel pipes with soil-proofed steel pipe being the approved choice.

Water was initially delivered to the District via a 24-inch pipeline in Oak Avenue with additional water being delivered on an interim basis through the Fair Oaks Irrigation District system.

The District’s water supply was purchased from the North Fork Ditch Company with diversion of American River water near Auburn.

Water supply availability and water conservation was of as much concern to the new District as it is today. In 1924 water supplies were limited by the North Fork Ditch Company. As early as 1926, the Board of Directors engaged in discussions regarding placing water meters on small tracts of land.

As early as 1926, the Board of Directors engaged in discussions regarding placing water meters on small tracts of land.

In January of 1927, L.K. Jordan, manager of the North Fork Ditch Company made a presentation to the Board of Directors and urged that users irrigate at night to balance the flow throughout day and night during the peak irrigation season.

Our surface water supply is now provided by San Juan Water District (SJWD). SJWD acquired the North Fork Ditch Company water rights and facilities and has subsequently contracted with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for additional water from Folsom Lake. SJWD treats the Folsom Lake water to drinking water standards at its water treatment plant located near the southeastern edge of Folsom Lake in Granite Bay. The treated water is then delivered to Citrus Heights Water District and other water agencies within the boundaries of the SJWD service area.

Citing the need for additional water delivery capacity to provide for the needs of a growing District, coupled with the outdated main water delivery pipeline along Oak Avenue that was over 30 years old, a 1956 bond issue in the amount of $750,000 was approved by a vote of 516-25 for construction of the District’s 42-inch transmission pipeline. The construction of this pipeline was completed in 1958 and remains in service today as one of the District’s primary surface water delivery facilities.

In 1992 the U.S. Congress passed the Central Valley Project Improvement Act requiring all water agencies receiving federal water to install water meters on all customer accounts. Initially the District had until 2005 to complete the installation of meters on all of its service connections. An extension was granted and the District is on target to meet the new deadline of January 1, 2008. The District began its meter retrofit efforts in 1998 with the older non-metered commercial accounts and then tackled the governmental and institutional accounts (schools, parks, and cemetery) followed by the multi-family apartments and mobile home parks. By far the most challenging and costly part of the water meter retrofit program was installing water meters for the District’s nearly 17,000 single-family residential customers. This effort was completed in 2007; and on January 1, 2008, the District converted virtually all customers over to billing based upon metered water consumption.

In 1995 construction of the San Juan Water District Cooperative Transmission Pipeline began. This $32 million 78-inch and 72-inch pipeline project contains water transmission capacity for five area water agencies. It begins at the San Juan Water District treatment plant and storage reservoir near Folsom Dam and ends at C-Bar-C Park on Oak Avenue. This pipeline provides a much-needed alternate source of high-volume water delivery to the District plus capacity for growth. The District purchased approximately 26% of the capacity in this pipeline at a cost of $5.6 million.

Did You Know?

Folsom is a relatively small reservoir with a very high refill potential; its watershed is roughly three times its size. In other words, in a normal year, the Bureau of Reclamation cycles through enough water to fill Folsom 2-3 times.

Citrus Heights Water District does not control releases from Folsom Reservoir.  There is a federal and local agreed upon amount of water Folsom should hold during the rainy months, from the end of November through the end of February, in order to save room for that large Sierra runoff.

The goal is to strike a balance with multiple purposes without compromising public safety and the protection of property downstream. The US Bureau of Reclamation considers these agreements, along with other operational demands, as well as the latest forecast/current conditions to help inform its release decisions.