Water Department History

Trusted, Quality Service Since 1905

On May 8, 1905, in accordance with the city charter, the Mayor appointed the first members of the Water Board for the San Bernardino Municipal Water Department. The Water Board met for the first time on May 16, 1905, and set in motion the events that led to today's Water Department and our role as stewards of our valuable water resources.

Our Water Resources

San Bernardino gets its water from an underground aquifer called the Bunker Hill Basin. The aquifer is filled by rain and snowmelt that percolates and filters down through our local mountains. Some of our wells reach down 1, 200 feet into the earth to draw the water up. Getting water from our own local aquifer means two things to our customers: First, our water is very high quality and second, it is very inexpensive.

Serving Our Community: Then and Now

San Bernardino's first water distribution system, valued at $160,000 in 1905, had to cover just one square mile and serve a population of only 6,000 people. Today, the Water Department delivers water to over 45,000 service connections using over 700 miles of water mains. In 2000, the Water Department's distribution system was valued at about $65 million and distributed 2.2 billion cubic feet of water (about 51,000 acre-feet or about 16.66 billion gallons).

City of San Bernardino Sign
SBMWD Spreading Basins
Water Department crew laying a pipe on 6th street in 1930s