The Lincoln Avenue Water Company has enjoyed a long history in the foothills of Altadena, California. The private water utility has evolved tremendously over the years, starting as a simple irrigation operation and developing into a trusted mutual water company serving the unincorporated community of northwest Altadena.
Settlement of Altadena, Pasadena, and South Pasadena was originally made possible when the first Pasadena water sources were developed there in the 1860’s. Citrus groves and ranches sprang up along the foothills, and the need for water continued to increase. To meet the growing water demands, five prominent Altadena families – the Woodbury, Webster, Clark, Hartwell, and Giddings families – formed the Millard Canyon Water Company.
The area got its name from the Spanish “alta” meaning upper and “dena” from Pasadena. Over the next decade, Altadena continued to develop as a number of prominent millionaires built mansions in the area. As Altadena’s population began to rise, so did its need for a water utility service.
On March 2, 1896, The Millard Water Company was acquired by the Lincoln Avenue Water Company. With the additional acquisitions of the Pasadena Improvement Company and water rights in El Prieto Canyon, Lincoln Avenue continued to develop. In 1913 the Company drilled its first ground water well. A second well was drilled in 1917.
During the 1920’s, the population of Altadena began to boom and Lincoln Avenue responded by taking on the functions of a water utility company and shifting away from its agricultural water utility services. The population boom of the 1920’s also prompted the Altadena water company to dig its third and fourth wells. By the 1970’s, the water utility had five wells and eleven water reservoirs.
As Lincoln Avenue developed, so did drinking water standards. In 1984, the Altadena water utilities discovered harmful contaminants in some of their wells as a result of proximity to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
Concerned for the health of their residents, Lincoln Avenue shut down its active wells. In 1992 a liquid phase granular activated carbon adsorption system was installed to treat the contaminated ground water. Unfortunately, in 2004, a new contaminate was discovered in the drinking water.
However, with assistance from JPL and NASA the company was able to construct an Ion Exchange Perchlorate Removal System. This system was the first in Los Angeles County to be approved by the State Department of Public Health.
Today Lincoln Avenue Provides water to over 16,000 people through 4500 service connections. The company continues its groundwater clean-up efforts to provide safe, high quality drinking water to the community.