At the time of the earliest European contact, the Yucaipa Valley was inhabited by a tribe of Indians called "Serrano" ("mountaineer") by the Spaniards who first encountered them in the 18th century. This is not the name the Indians held for themselves; their precise name is not known, due to the many translations that exist today. Yucaipaiem, Yucaipe, and Yucaipat are among the names associated with the tribe. All of these names refer to "wet lands" which suitably characterized the Yucaipa Valley at the time. An abundance of water from higher elevations contributed to many natural streams and springs, combined with a mild climate and ample food resources, endowed the Yucaipa Valley with the elements necessary for the survival of this nomadic tribe.With the establishment of the San Gabriel Mission (located in Los Angeles) in 1771, European settlement of the area began. In 1819, the San Bernardino de Sena Estancia was constructed as the influence of the Spanish missions moved inland towards the Yucaipa Valley. Spanish missionaries introduced the principle of irrigation with the first irrigation ditch -- the Mill Creek Zanja -- built in 1819 by the Indians. This water improvement allowed for increased farming and cattle raising in the area and opened the way for increased settlements.
The Mission period ended with the Act of Secularization in 1833 which began the Rancho period and involved the granting of large tracts of land to Mexican officials in exchange for services rendered during the Mexican revolution. This initiated a period of the Ranchos, during which time grazing and agricultural development continued to grow. Irrigation efforts also expanded, bringing water from Yucaipa's year-round streams and springs to drier sites in the vicinity.
Yucaipa's agricultural period continued to expand and thrive through its transition from Mexican to American ownership. By the twentieth century, farming interests included the cultivation of peaches, plums, and other orchard fruits. Water pipelines transported water from Potato Canyon (in the Oak Glen area) to what is now western Yucaipa.
As development in Yucaipa, Redlands and surrounding communities expanded, the provision of water became a more critical issue. Disagreements began to occur, concerning the exportation of water from the area. This issue erupted into a lawsuit in 1909, the outcome of which had two effects: (1) Redlands' South Mountain Water Company was limited to the amount of water it could extract from Potato Canyon; and (2) the Yucaipa Land and Water Company conceded to Redlands limited rights to extract water from certain sites in Yucaipa. At this time, approximately 95% of the area's water supply was used for irrigation purposes.
Other actions in the early 1900s included the formation of several mutual water companies, some still in operation today. By the 1950s post-World War II development pressures brought increased urbanization to the Yucaipa area. Agricultural production decreased from the farming and ranching activities of the prior decades.
From the 1960s to the present urbanization trends have increased throughout the San Bernardino and Riverside areas, earning the nickname "Inland Empire" for the entire region. Yucaipa, as part of the Inland Empire, has historically experienced similar growth pressures. Limited water supplies and water quality regulations imposed on the septic systems in the 1980s by the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board has significantly reduced the growth of the Yucaipa Valley as compared to other Inland Empire communities.
Documents cited and additional resources to explore:
- Yucaipa Valley, California: a saga of ordinary people with extra-ordinary dreams, Morse G. Archer, 1976.
- Between the Coast and the Desert, Archaeological Data Recovery at the Yukaipa't Site, CA-SBR-1000, Yucaipa, California, Donn R. Grenda, 1998.
The Formation of the Yucaipa Valley Water District
While the Yucaipa Valley Water District has a long lineage and history of water operations in the Yucaipa Valley, the Yucaipa Valley Water District was formed as part of a reorganization, pursuant to the Reorganization Act of 1965, being Division I of Title 6 of the Government Code of the State of California. This reorganization consisted of the dissolution of the Calimesa Water Company and formation of Improvement District No. 1 of the District as successor-in-interest thereto, and the dissolution of Improvement District “A” of the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District and the formation of Improvement District “A” of the District as successor-in-interest thereto.
On September 14, 1971, the Secretary of State of the State of California certified and declared formation of the District. The District operates under the County Water District Law, being Division 12 of the State of California Water Code. Although the immediate function of the District at the time was to provide water service, the Yucaipa Valley Water District currently provides a variety of services to residential, commercial and industrial customers.
The District's local water is supplied from groundwater through local wells, and surface water collected from Birch Creek, Oak Glen Creek, Adams Tunnel and Clark Tunnel. Additionally, the District purchases imported water from the State Water Project through the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District and the San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency for direct filtration and for recharge of the groundwater basin.
The Yucaipa Valley Water District provides sewer collection and sewer treatment services. Sewer treatment takes place at the highly advanced Wochholz Regional Water Recycling Facility that provides advanced treatment, including the capability to demineralize the recycled water. The demineralization process involves a reverse osmosis system that separates small molecules from the recycled water supply.
Recycled Water Service
The Yucaipa Valley Water District operates several recycled water facilities throughout our service area. This recycled water system provides irrigation water to parks, schools, golf courses and other landscaped areas in order to conserve our drinking water supplies.
In 2012, the Yucaipa Valley Water District completed an extension of the Inland Empire Brineline operated by the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority. The brine disposal facility is critical to insure the Yucaipa Valley Water District meets the stringent water quality objectives set by the Regional Water Quality Control Board for the Yucaipa Management Zone, Beaumont Management Zone and the San Timoteo Management Zone.