In the late 1800's, the Pico Rivera area was primarily agricultural, with a particular emphasis on walnuts, although corn, grapes, avocadoes and various fruits were also grown in the area. Some residential development occurred in the late 1800's and early 1900’s, with such developments served by their own individual water systems.
Pico Water District was formed in 1926 as a County Water District under the State Water Act of 1913, to provide water service to the 243 homes then situated in Pico (prior to the incorporation of Pico Rivera in 1958, the area consisted of two unincorporated towns, Pico and Rivera). Before formation of the District, those homes were served by five small water systems, which depended on groundwater wells to provide water to the residents. The problem with those systems was that the residents who lived near the wells got most of the water and most of the water pressure, and the residents who lived away from the wells got water at very low pressure. The Pico-Rivera Chamber of Commerce was instrumental in creating the District, by showing the residents that if they wanted to maintain, and possibly increase, the value of their homes, they needed to get an improved water system.
The residents began efforts to form the District. However, because the assessed valuation of the residents’ properties did not exceed the $1 million necessary to secure the $130,000 in bond funding to construct the new water system, the residents convinced local ranchers to join in the District so that the assessed valuation would exceed the required $1 million threshold. The ranchers did so, an election was held and the District was formed as a county water district.
The first elected directors of the District were Donald H. Lycan, Virgil M. Robinson, George Wells, Charles A. Thomas and Harlan A. Cate (for whom the District’s Cate Reservoir is named). The first Board of Directors meeting was held on September 20, 1926.
Over the years, the District has grown from its initial 243 service connections, to 608 in 1936, 1,048 in 1946, 4,765 in 1956 (as you can see, significant growth occurred in the post-World War II years), 5,076 in 1966, 5,233 in 1976, to the current number of 5403 connections in 2008, serving the District’s 2.87 square mile service area.
Today the District provides water service to its customers through the use of six wells ranging in water production from 600 gallons per minute to 1800 gallons per minute, and one 1.25 million gallon reservoir. The District pumps all of its water from the underground aquifer known as the Central Basin, which is an adjudicated water basin. The District meters all of the water it delivers and provides water to residential, commercial, industrial and governmental entities.
In 2008 the District’s presiding Board of Directors approved a new Water Master Plan to be performed on the District to point out areas in need of improvement and help management make strategic decisions that would improve upon the reliability and efficiency of the District.