Placer County Water Agency
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Workers on the American River Pump Station - 1964
Home » About PCWA » Our Story - PCWA History

Our Story - PCWA History

The Placer County Water Agency has a proud history with a water system that originated in the California Gold Rush.  PCWA boasts a rich and colorful history. Early canals and reservoirs have become part of a modern water supply system that is meeting the needs of the 21st Century.

PCWA - A Heritage of Water PCWA - A Heritage of Water

Here is a brief overview of water system developments that have become part of today's PCWA:

1850 - 2000

Early 1850's - First mining ditches are built in the County.

1890's -Transition of canal system from mining to fruit growing.

1940's - Local communities fear loss of water to downstream interests. Several water studies are conducted.

1948 - Board of Supervisors authorizes upper American River water project.

1957 - Placer County Water Agency Act signed July 3rd by Governor Goodwin J. Knight. (County supervisors serve as the PCWA Board of Directors until 1975.)

1961 - County voters approve by a 25-1 margin a $140 million bond issue to build the Middle Fork American River hydroelectric project.

1962 - PCWA and the United States Bureau of Reclamation reach an agreement to resolve water rights dispute between PCWA's proposed Middle Fork Project and the Bureau of Reclamation's proposed Auburn Dam. PCWA is granted 120,000 acre feet annually of water rights from the Middle and North Forks of the American River.

1963 - Construction begins on the Middle Fork Project.

1967 - The Middle Fork American River Hydroelectric Project is completed at a cost of $115 million. It included the American River Pump Station at Auburn and the Auburn Ravine Tunnel to deliver project water to Western Placer County.

1968 - PCWA is asked to purchase the South Placer Water System from PG&E for $1.2 million. Zone 1 is formed.

1970 - PCWA enters into an agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation for 117,000 acre feet annually of Central Valley Project (CVP) water to be delivered by gravity from the proposed Auburn Dam.

1972 - The United States Bureau of Reclamation reaches an agreement with PCWA to remove the American River Pump Station and acquire the land for the purpose of constructing the Auburn Dam. United States Bureau of Reclamation agreed to provide water to PCWA, if needed, until the Auburn Dam is completed.

1975 - On January 1, PCWA's first independently elected Board of Directors takes office and assumes governance responsibilities from the Board of Supervisors.

1976 - United States Bureau of Reclamation installed the first temporary pump station to deliver PCWA water.

1979 - At the request of residents, PCWA assumes ownership and operation of the well and water system serving Bianchi Estates, southwest of Roseville. Service Zone 2 is established.

1984 - PCWA is asked to purchase the Upper Placer Water System, Alta to North Auburn, from PG&E for $512,000. Zone 3 is formed.

1994 - On August 15, PCWA opens the doors to its new Business Center at 144 Ferguson Road in Auburn. The water agency now has a complete facility where a range of Customer Services is offered. Cost of the project is $2.5 million.

1996 - PCWA is asked to supply water in the Martis Valley, its first water supply involvement in eastern Placer County. Zone 4 is formed.

2000 - Current

2001 - PCWA completes design for a permanent pump station on the American River.

2003 - PCWA is asked to form Zone 5 to provide a reliable supply of irrigation water to commercial agriculture.

2003 - PCWA and other agencies begin initial environmental studies in a long-term effort to divert water from the Sacramento River to serve parts of Sacramento County and western Placer County.

2003 - In October, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation begins construction of the PCWA American River Pump Station. When complete, the pumps will supply up to 35,500 acre-feet of water to western Placer County.

2006 - In a special meeting held January 10, the PCWA Board of Directors and Placer County Board of Supervisors establish the Middle Fork Project Finance Authority, a joint powers agreement to help finance the federal relicensing of the PCWA Middle Fork Project American River Hydroelectric Project.

2007 - On Sept. 4, 2007, the old Auburn Dam tunnel is closed and after 35 years the American River is returned to its natural channel. The river restoration has been completed along with construction of the PCWA American River Pump Station, scheduled for full operation in 2008.

2007 - On Sept. 13, PCWA commemorates its Golden Anniversary. PCWA was formed on Sept. 11, 1957, ninety days after the Placer County Water Agency Act was signed by California Govenor Goodwin J. Knight. The 50th Anniversary celebration attracted more than 120 citizens, many of whom had been active in the Agency’s formation and development.

2007 - PCWA releases a book that tells its story. A Heritage of Water: The Golden Anniversary of the Placer County Water Agency, 1957-2007, is an illustrated, 88-page book prepared for the agency by the Water Education Foundation. Copies are available through the water agency.

Placer County Water Agency
Placer County Water Agency - 144 Ferguson Road, P.O. Box 6570, Auburn, CA 95604 - Telephone: (530) 823-4850