Valley of the Moon Water District serving the Valley since 1962

 

History

The Valley of the Moon Water District encompasses a significant portion of the area known as “The Valley of the Moon”.  This well known phrase supposedly comes from the Indian word “Sonoma”.  The Indian era ended in 1823 but the name “Sonoma” remained. The City of Sonoma, adjacent to Valley of the Moon Water District is the oldest town north of the San Francisco Bay, incorporated in 1850 and is also the site of the most northerly mission of the 21 California missions.  In 1834, the Mexican government sent General Mariano Vallejo to colonize the Sonoma area.  In 1836, he was named Commanding General of all Mexican military forces in California, and remained the ruler of lands north of the San Francisco Bay while California was under Mexican rule.

In 1846, while the United States was at war with Mexico, Sonoma and California became officially occupied by the United States.  The City of Sonoma was incorporated as a City in 1850 and then unincorporated in 1862 over various boundary disputes.  The City was then reincorporated in 1883 after the boundary disputes were settled.

Since mid 1880, small unincorporated centers northwest of the City of Sonoma such as El Verano, Boyes Hot Springs, Agua Caliente and Fetters Hot Springs were established as spas and resorts around the natural mineral hot springs and promoted by the railroad companies.  Those communities are now all within the service area of the Valley of the Moon Water District.

Some of the major attractions of the Sonoma Valley today include its historical setting and its wine industry.  Many of the original and restored adobe buildings remaining from the Mexican era are state historic landmarks.  The Sebastiani and Buena Vista wineries are also state historic landmarks and attract many visitors as well as local residents.

Water service in the Valley of the Moon and City of Sonoma area was originally provided by private water companies of which the Sonoma Water and Irrigation Company, incorporated in 1904, was one of the oldest.  In 1921, a major consolidation of water companies took place.  The Sonoma Water and Irrigation Company purchased the Sonoma Valley Water, Light and Power Company, the Sonoma Vista Water Company, and the Sonoma Water Works.  The Sonoma Water Works system which basically served the area within the City of Sonoma boundaries was sold to the City of Sonoma in 1933.  The Sonoma Water and Irrigation Company purchased the Boyes Hot Springs Company and the Agua Caliente Water Works in 1927, the Boyes Springs Park Company in 1943, and the Donaghy Water Company in 1959.

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Fall leaves along the Sonoma Creek courtesy of www.paulfgill.com

Another major water company serving this area was established in 1921 by the late Mr. N. M. Petersen, Sr.  He bought four smaller water companies and combined them as the Mountain Avenue Water System.  Acquisitions of other water systems by the Mountain Avenue Water System  continued through 1935.

In 1957, the Valley of the Moon Fire District was evaluated by the Pacific Fire Board which at that time noticed the lack of a dependable water supply source.  Subsequent inquiries of Fire District Board members, J. Udvic. T. Polidori and F. Serres, revealed that many wells in the area were failing due to drops in the groundwater levels in the Valley.  Early attempts to have Sonoma County build an aqueduct from Santa Rosa to the Sonoma Water and Irrigation Company failed due to the inability of the latter to deposit a $25,000 cash bond with the County. 

Through the efforts of Mr. Tom Polidori, representing the Valley of the Moon Fire Commission, and Supervisor Mitchell, an election was scheduled for the purpose of organizing a public water District and to authorize the issuance of bonds.  Proceeds of the bond issue were to be used for the acquisition of the two major private water companies operating in the area, for installation of new mains connecting the distribution systems of the two companies and for providing a tie to the future Sonoma Aqueduct.  The special election was held on May 24, 1960 and the formation of the District and the issuance of bonds were approved by the voters by a margin of 9 to 1.  The first five-member Board of Directors consisted of the following: Thomas F. Polidori, President, A. L. Ford; Martin Carlsen, Oscar M. Larson, and Arnold E. Griewe.  The staff included: Wes Hill, Manager, Alma Loyal, Secretary, Jack Coffey, Legal Advisor, and Richard Thomssen, Auditor.

Acquisition of the Sonoma Water and Irrigation Company and the Mountain Avenue Water System was completed in early 1962 and the Valley of the Moon County Water District started management and operation of the systems on June 1, 1962.

As was pointed out in an engineering report prepared at the time of formation of the Valley of the Moon County Water District, additional water supply sources needed to be developed to allow normal growth of the communities served.  Many other communities in the Sonoma County had found themselves in a similar situation and in 1955, voters in the Sonoma County Water Conservation and Flood Control District issued bonds for projects to provide water to different parts of the County.  The Sonoma County Water Conservation and Flood Control District, later called the Sonoma County Water Agency, awarded a construction contract for the first of those projects, the Santa Rosa Aqueduct in 1956.  In 1963, the construction of the Sonoma Aqueduct project was completed.  This project consisted of a booster pump in Santa Rosa, 17 miles of 16” and 20” diameter pipeline from Santa Rosa through the center of the Valley of the Moon and El Verano to the City of Sonoma and one 2.5 million gallons and two 2 million gallon tanks.

To the north of the service area of the then newly formed Valley of the Moon County Water District is the community of Glen Ellen.  Water distribution in this area dates back to the 1890’s when the Chauvet family agreed to supply some of their neighbors with drinking water.  Different private parties operated water systems in this area until 1963 when the newly formed Valley of the Moon County Water District acquired the facilities of the Glen Ellen Water Company and annexed its service area.

Until 1979, Water Districts organized under the powers of Division 12, Section 30,000 et seq. of the California Water Code carried the term “County Water District” in their name.  In late 1979, the legislation approved a change in Section 30,006 which allowed water Districts organized under this code to drop the word “County” from their titles.  On January 21, 1980, the Board of Directors of the Valley of the Moon County Water District passed a resolution to change the name to Valley of the Moon Water District as provided for in this changed section of the California Code.
Today, VOMWD is a public agency that provides high-quality drinking water to 23,000 people in a 12 square-mile area in the Sonoma Valley.