75 Years of Service: 1947-2022

Celebrating 75 years of providing safe and reliable water service to the Coastside community.

75 Years of Service - Coastside County Water District, established 1947

The Coastside County Water District was formed in 1947 by a vote of the people within the Coastside community. Two years after it was formed, the District acquired the facilities of Citizens Utilities Company and supplied water to 487 existing water connections. The District’s office was originally located in the Half Moon Bay Mercantile Building and moved its headquarters to 766 Main Street in 1953. A new administrative building was constructed in 1971 to serve the District’s 2,325 customers.

Since its formation, the District accomplished many milestones to better serve the Coastside community. The Denniston Project was completed in 1972 with the construction of the Denniston Water Treatment Plant. The Nunes Water Treatment Plant was completed in 1982 with a major expansion in 1992. The completion of the Crystal Springs Water Supply Project in 1994 gave the District direct access to Upper Crystal Springs Reservoir.

In 2008, the District completed the El Granada Transmission Pipeline Replacement Project. This project replaced welded steel pipe with ductile iron pipe spanning from El Granada to Half Moon Bay. The District replaced a welded steel pipeline across Pilarcitos Creek in 2016 to provide more reliable water service for downtown Half Moon Bay. The District successfully completed a major renovation of the Denniston Water Treatment Plant in 2013 and constructed the Denniston Treated Water Booster Pump Station and the Bridgeport Transmission Pipeline in 2017. The District installed advanced metering infrastructure in 2018 to allow all meters to be read remotely which coincided with providing a customer web portal enabling timely water use notifications for customers and increased engagement with customers.

Pilarcitos Reservoir Spillway

The District currently has 7,700 water connections, 2 water treatment plants, 10 treated water storage tanks, and 100 miles of distribution and transmission pipeline. The District serves the City of Half Moon Bay and the unincorporated communities of Moonridge, Miramar, El Granada, and Princeton. Serving a population of approximately 19,000, the District’s facilities are valued at $400 million and are operated by 21 full-time employees.

The District works diligently to maintain and improve its facilities while ensuring reliable, high-quality water and exemplary customer service. The District would like to thank the community for their support.

waves

Pre-1947

San Francisco Public Utilities Water System (SFPUC)

1846

Captain John B. Montgomery, USS Portsmouth, claims Pueblo of Yerba Buena for the USA. Renamed “Town of San Francisco”.  Population of San Francisco = 800.

1848

Gold discovered at Sutter’s Mill.

1849

Drinking water (shipped from Marin County) sold by the barrel and bucket in San Francisco. San Francisco’s population swells to 40,000.

1855

San Francisco water seller with horse-drawn cart, circa 1855

1856

San Francisco City Water Works lays first pipelines in San Francisco.

1858

Spring Valley Water Works franchised by State Legislature. San Francisco population = 78,000.

1862

Spring Valley Water Works completes construction of Pilarcitos Dam and tunnel, bringing water supply to San Francisco that year (and rivaling San Francisco City Water Works). The vision was for Pilarcitos to be a main water supply for San Francisco. 

1866

Pilarcitos Dam under construction, circa 1866

1868

Spring Valley Water Works buys San Andreas Valley and watershed and starts construction of San Andreas Dam (near present day San Bruno/Highway 280).

1871

Stone Dam completed by Spring Valley Water Works.

1872

Stone Dam and flume after completion, circa 1872

1877

Upper Crystal Springs Dam completed by Spring Valley Water Works.

1888

San Francisco mayor buys Tuolumne River water rights.

1906

Earthquake disrupts water supply. San Francisco redirects attention for new supplies away from Pilarcitos Lake.

1907-
1913

Plans for development of Hetch Hetchy reservoir and water system solidify. Board of Army Engineers recommends Hetch Hetchy as best water supply for San Francisco.

1914

San Francisco ratifies Raker Act. President Wilson signs Raker Act into law, paving the way for the development of Hetch Hetchy.

1916

Construction of the Hetch Hetchy Railroad starts.

1923

O’Shaughnessy Dam Diversion Tunnel completed to a height of 226.5 feet.

1924

Construction begins on trestle bridge on Dumbarton Strait for Bay Crossing Pipeline.

1930

San Francisco purchases Spring Valley Water Company (formerly Spring Valley Water Works) for $40 million.

1934

Hetch Hetchy water system dedication ceremony at Pulgas Water Temple, circa 1934

Completion and dedication of the Hetch Hetchy reservoir and water system; water is first delivered to San Francisco from the O’Shaughnessy Reservoir – 150 miles+ away.

1938

Lower Crystal Springs dam and pump station, circa 1938
waves

Pre-1947 Coastside

Coastside Communities Growing

1840s

Coastside is settled as an agricultural outpost and fishing community, originally named “Spanishtown”.

1907

Water service commences by subdividers to facilitate the sale of real estate on the Coastside after 1906 earthquake.

1907-
1920

Ocean Shore Railroad brings visitors to the Coastside. (Coastside thrives during Prohibition!)

1928

Water system properties are acquired by the Public Utilities Corporation of California, which changed names to Citizens Utilities Company of California in 1949.

1907-
1947

Principal water sources for the Coastside are two reservoirs and local wells near Apanolio Creek and McMahon Creek (El Granada).

waves

1947 and Beyond!

Coastside County Water District

1947

newspaper clipping headline Coast Votes for Water District

July 19, 1947: Coastside County Water District is established by a vote of the people of Half Moon Bay and El Granada.

Key Goals: Improve water quality, supply water for fire protection, and provide water service for Princeton canneries.

First General Manager: Jack Canada

1948

First bond issue for $300,000 approved by voters 582 to 28.

1948-
1949

The new District constructs a pipeline from Lake Pilarcitos/Stone Dam (San Francisco Public Utilities Water System) to Half Moon Bay. Water deliveries begin!

1949

The District purchases the Half Moon Bay and El Granada water distribution pipelines and facilities owned by Citizen’s Utility Company of Stamford, CT, at a cost of $31,000.

1950

On January 1, the District begins water system operation for 487 customers.

1950s

The District installs pipelines in Princeton;  1st tank in El Granada; purchases Carter Hill site (behind high school) and constructs 1st tank; purchases 300 acres of land adjacent to San Francisco’s watershed in Pilarcitos Canyon, installs wells and considers possibility of a dam on the site.

1956

Pescadero Dam is proposed to bring water to the entire Coastside. Project is pursued during 1960s and ultimately cancelled in 1971.

1960s

El Granada Highlands, Miramar and other communities develop. The District installs distribution pipelines and tanks in El Granada, Miramar, and at Carter Hill to supply water storage.

1969

The District is issued first water rights permit to obtain water on Denniston and San Vicente Creeks.

1971

The District’s new office at 766 Main Street is completed.

1974

Denniston Water Treatment Plant, storage tank and pump house, circa 1974

The District completes Denniston Water Treatment Plant, Water Storage Tank and Pump Station. Alves Tank built in southern end of the District for fire flow to Ocean Colony.

1975-
1977

Record drought. Board approves a moratorium on new water connections. First drought ordinances adopted prohibiting non-essential uses of water.

1978

State mandates construction of a water treatment plant in Half Moon Bay, and the District obtains $1.5 million loan for financing.

1981

Board accepts engineering report that the best option for the District to obtain reliable water supply is to undertake the construction of a Crystal Springs pipeline.

1982

Nunes Water Treatment Plant under construction, circa 1982

Nunes Water Treatment Plant is completed on Carter Hill at a cost of $2.3 million. All District customers receive treated water.

1984

The District becomes a permanent customer of the San Francisco Water Department after settlement of a lawsuit between San Francisco Water Department and suburban customers.

1985

Crystal Springs Water Supply Project is approved. The District receives a Coastal Development Permit under the newly adopted San Mateo County Local Coastal Plan by the San Mateo Board of Supervisors.

1986

Crystal Springs Water Supply Project designed by CH2mHill and Kennedy/Jenks/Chilton Engineers.

1988

The District pre-sells new water connections to finance the $25M+ Crystal Springs Water Supply Project.

1988-
1992

Second critical drought occurred requiring water use rationing of 25%.

1989

Ground-breaking ceremony for Crystal Springs Water Supply Project.

1994

Crystal Springs Reservoir, circa 1994

Crystal Springs Water Supply Project is completed with Hetch Hetchy water deliveries from Crystal Springs Pump Station over the Santa Cruz Mountains to Half Moon Bay.

2008

The District completes the El Granada Pipeline Replacement Project, replacing 13,000 linear feet of the original pre-1940s pipeline between Half Moon Bay and El Granada.

2013

Denniston Water Treatment Plant Improvement Project is completed.

2016

The District completes replacement of original pre-1940s pipeline into downtown Half Moon Bay and the southern end of the District.

2018

The District installs a Booster Pump Station at Denniston and the Bridgeport Transmission Pipeline to improve the resiliency of the system and to move potable local source water south and District-wide.

2018

The District implements advanced metering infrastructure along with the “WaterSmart” customer web portal to allow meters to be read remotely and enable faster leak detection.

2021

The District begins $9M upgrade to Nunes Water Treatment Plant.

2022

75 Years of Service - Coastside County Water District, established 1947

The District celebrates 75 years of serving the Coastside.

Additional accomplishments in the past 25 years include: installation of backup generators at the District’s water treatment plants, tank sites, pump stations and corporation yard; improved automation and state-of-the-art software for SCADA/instrumentation.


7,700 connections
19,000+ population served
100 miles of pipeline
2 water treatment plants
10 treated water storage tanks
Crystal Springs Pump Station
21 employees
$15M annual operating budget
$68M 10-year Capital Improvement Program


The District would like to thank the community for their support.

waves

Board of Directors

Recognizing Board Members Past & Present

1947 Founding Directors

Edwin Bernardo 1947 – 1967
Harry Clark 1947 – 1951
Dante Dianda 1947 – 1949
Steve Ponce 1947 – 1951
William Wilson 1947 – 1977

Current Board of Directors

President Robert Feldman 2006-2013, 2016-2022
Vice President John Muller 2002-2006, 2020-2022
Chris Mickelsen 2002-2022
Ken Coverdell 1992- 2001, 2003-2022
Glenn Reynolds 2011-2022

Previous Directors

Jim Healey 1949 – 1970
Joe Nunes 1951 – 1983
Homer Riddell 1951 – 1978
Wayne Stockwell 1967 – 1972
Norman Francis 1970 – 1983
Robert Rathborne 1972 – 1984
Gerald Pera 1988– 1992, 1996-1998
Charles Feldman 1978 – 1981
Ronald Mickelsen 1983 – 1987
Joe Reid 1983 – 1996
Robert Mascall 1984 – 1988
Albert Adreveno 1982- 1994
Major Gates 1988 – 2001
Anthony Kash 1990 – 1999
Roger Goodrich 1995 – 1999
Michel Raynor 1988-1990
Beverly Miller 1998-1999
Eva Colman 2000
Carol Cupp 2000-2001
Eleanor Wittrup 2000-2003
James Marsh 2002
Everett Ascher 2003-2009
Jerry Donovan 2009-2012
Bryan Hannegan 2011-2013
Jim Larimer 2002-2011, 2019-2020
Arnie Glassberg 2013-2019
Steve Flint 2014-2016

Coastside County Water District

© Coastside County Water District. All rights reserved. Site developed by Rogue Web Works.
Home page photos and interior header photo by Noah Boyer.