A Look Back in History: Spring Valley Water Company’s Assets and Services 1925

The following 1925 overview is from “The Water Supply of San Francisco” as reported in 1925 by George A. Elliott, Vice President and Chief Engineer of Spring Valley Water Company (SVWC):

Capacity of the system in 1925 was 66 million gallons per day (MGD). Consumption of this amount was about 42.5 MGD. Of that, about 1.75 MGD was distributed along the transmission route outside of San Francisco. At this point in its history the company owned 81,681 acres of land.

425 Mason Street Headquarters of Spring Valley Water Company – Built 1922.

In 1925 the transmission of water from source locations to the city’s distribution system included seven miles of tunnels, 13.8 miles of flumes and concrete aqueducts and 90 miles of riveted pipes. These pipes ranged in diameter from 30 to 54 inches. Within the city’s distribution system there were 713 miles of pipeline. These pipelines fed 91.000 service connections and 4,683 fire hydrants.

Tabulation of SVWC Service Factors Showing Growth between 1875 and 1925

The following statement on the history of rate setting for water services is taken from Elliott’s 1925 report:

“From 1858 until the adoption of the new State Constitution in 1879, California water rates were made under the authority of the state by a commission of three – appointees of the city and water company respectively, and a third selected by these two. After 1879 rates were made in San Francisco by the Board of Supervisors. This method was superseded in 1915, then the Railroad Commission was empowered to fix rates.”

1925 Milestones for San Francisco Water History:

  • William B. Bourn is elected Chairman of the Board of SVWC and Samuel P.
  • Eastman is elected President of the company (replacing Bourn in this role).
  • SVWC Board pays tribute to Willis Polk for design of the water temple. This is a posthumous tribute as Polk had passed away in September of 1924.
  • A “new” Calaveras Dam was completed to a height of 215 feet and held the distinction of being the largest earth-fill dam in the world at that time. The 1925 dam was built by crews with horses and wagons, and created a lake three miles long. (It replaced the original Calaveras Dam which had been built in 1913 but collapsed in 1918.)
Early Intake Diversion Dam 1925
Westward View from Moccasin Penstock Line
  • April 10: Early Intake Diversion Dam completed (CCSF)
  • June 1: Moccasin Penstock is completed. (CCSF) Westward View from Moccasin Penstock Line
  • June 2: The Mountain Tunnel is completed letting the first water from Hetch
  • Hetchy Reservoir to pass into Priest Reservoir. (CCSF)
  • August 14: The Moccasin Powerhouse is completed and begins generating electricity for commercial operations. (CCSF)
  • September 12: Bay Crossing Pipeline #1 is launched into partial service. (CCSF)
  • November 27: Hetch Hetchy management moved from Groveland to Hetch Hetchy Junction, the junction where the Hetch Hetchy Railroad met the Sierra railroad coming up from the Bay Area. (CCSF)

More History of San Francisco Water: