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July 2012
Subscribe to Your Water - Metropolitan's E-Newsletter.

Pasadena Water & Power is Thriving at 100

Since 2003 PWP has been upgrading its 23-square-mile distribution system, in many cases replacing pipes that the municipal agency installed during its first major system renovation in the 1920s

Pasadena Water & Power is making a big splash this year by celebrating its centennial anniversary which includes educating its customers about the utility's long history and future, while celebrating 100 years of superior service to the community.

Pasadena's water system first took root in the 1860s when vintner Benjamin Eaton directed mountain runoff from Pasadena's Arroyo Seco to his budding grape fields. Drawn by his verdant crops, settlers flocked to the area and Eaton soon developed a ground-breaking water distribution system to serve the growing "Indiana Colony," as Pasadena was first known. The three-mile pipeline drew water from the Arroyo Seco to a 3 million gallon reservoir in the center of town, ensuring the growth of a city that has become a world-class cultural destination.

PWP crew replacing pipes

Today, that simple pipeline has been replaced by a 23-square-mile system of wells, reservoirs and pipelines that serve nearly 176,000 consumers in Pasadena, portions of Altadena and surrounding areas of Los Angeles County. One of the Metropolitan Water District's original founding cities, PWP imports about 58 percent of the city's water supply from MWD, while pumping the remainder from the local Raymond Groundwater Basin.

Early years of the WQ lab

As it reaches its 100th birthday, the utility has much to celebrate. One of the few cities in the state with its own high-tech Water Quality Laboratory, Pasadena's water continually meets or exceeds all government standards for drinking water quality. And despite the state's volatile water supply situation, PWP has worked aggressively to ensure Pasadena customers a safe, reliable, affordable, environmentally conscious water supply into the future.

PWP is one of few municipal water agencies in the region to operate its own full-time water quality lab. The team operates in the state-of-the art lab in PWP's LEED-certified Field Operations Building

In the past decade alone, PWP has made steady progress on a master plan to upgrade the city's World War I-era water distribution system, secured funding from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to clean up contaminated groundwater wells near the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and crafted a far-reaching water supply plan that emphasizes water efficiency and conservation while maximizing groundwater storage, stormwater capture and recycling.

When the regional water shortage of a few years ago was at its worst, PWP developed comprehensive water conservation strategies, including strict city ordinances on outdoor water use, new landscape design rules for new development and an aggressive, consistent public education campaign to sensitize customers to the issues and persuade them to make conservation a way of life for the next 100 years and beyond. To make it even easier to conserve, PWP promoted generous rebates on water-smart products and created a conservation toolbox called the "H2O Academy," which includes free community workshops, on-line landscaping guides, how-to videos and a conservation checklist. Although the city's water shortage was officially declared over and restrictions lifted in May 2011, Pasadena has continued to conserve. Usage in the last 12 months is down more than  14 percent compared to FY2006.

PWP's centennial celebration began during Water Awareness Month in May, when the utility hosted hundreds of local students on a field trip to Pasadena's brand new Monk Hill Water Treatment Plant near the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Students had an up-close look at one of the city's largest reservoirs, the new multi-million dollar water treatment facility funded by NASA, and a prototypical solar-power system installed on the reservoir roof. They also talked one-on-one with the Water Department's water quality and water conservations teams.

Design students studying PWP seal

Expanding the celebration citywide, PWP is working with a team of students from the renowned Art Center College of Design to develop a centennial logo and produce a short documentary on the department as part of a multi-media campaign recognizing PWP's 100 years of quenching the city's thirst.

Set to continue through the end of the year, the centennial celebration also includes historical exhibits, a commemorative edition of PWP's annual water quality report, and co-marketing sponsorships and water displays at Pasadena's special events. The celebration will peak in November, the month of the department's founding, with a community celebration, open to all.

Watch for more centennial news at

Pasadena City Hall








This newsletter is produced by:
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
700 N. Alameda St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012