Things You May Not Have Known

Top Facts

  • When it was dedicated in 1998, Los Vaqueros was the first dam built in California in more than 15 years.
  • CCWD has a history of long-serving board members. Ralph Bollman was the District's first and only Board President for 32 years, retiring in 1968. Craig Z Randall was on the Board for 20 years, and was called back to fill a deceased Director's term in 1991. He was Board President for 18 years. Director Bette Boatmun has been on the Board since 1974 -- was president from 1989-91-- and is still serving. Joseph L. Campbell was on the board for 25 years and for 19 was President. There have only been 10 District presidents in the long history of the water district.
Ralph D. Bollman
Paul C. Tuft
Craig Z Randall
Ernest R. Lasell
Bette Boatmun
Donald P. Freitas
Ronald E. Butler
Jospeh L. Campbell
James Pretti
Lisa A. Borba. AICP

  • The Contra Costa Canal is 48-miles-long, and has bike and hiking trails along most of its length. In addition, almost the entire length of the canal is fenced to deter swimming and fishing. The fencing project was finished in 1981.
  • There have been six General Managers (the equivalent of CEO) at CCWD. Like the Board, they usually have long careers. O.N. Christiansen was the first hired, in 1951 and stayed 15 years. John Devito was here the longest at 21.5 years. Walter J. Bishop - who left in 2010 - was General Manager for 18 years. Jerry D. Brown's tenure at CCWD started in 2001 and served as General Manager for nine years, from 2010 to 2019. Other managers include:
    • O.N. Christiansen
    • John DeVito
    • Ed Seegmiller
    • Walter J. Bishop
    • Jerry D. Brown
    • Stephen J. Welch
  • Until 2011, CCWD was the only water district in the state whose only source of water was the Sacramento San-Joaquin Delta. In 2011, CCWD completed facilities and agreements to operate an intertie with East Bay Municipal Utility District that would provide CCWD with EBMUD water from Freeport during times of drought. CCWD can also supply water to EBMUD.
  • Though it was incorporated in 1936, CCWD didn't deliver its first drop of water until 1940, to the city of Pittsburg, and its first glass of drinking water until 1961.
  • The largest fish caught at Los Vaqueros - a striped bass, also known as a striper - weighed 45.2 pounds and beat the previous lake record (held by a catfish) by 16 pounds. The angler, Todd Brusco of Danville, took the striper home and invited friends over for a huge meal.
  • Bollman Water Treatment Plant can produce up to 75 million gallons of water per day.
  • The Water District asked voters before it started fluoridating water, winning the election on June 2, 1964
  • The Contra Costa Water District is a special district, with its own elected Board of Directors. Though "County" was in its name until 1981, the District is not affiliated with Contra Costa County.
  • The Contra Costa Water District's logo represents a lot in its 13 blue and green bars. The logo was introduced in 1988. 
The slanted bars represent energy and commitment. The horizontal bars symbolize order and solution.
The green represents land and concern for the environment. The blue - you guessed it - water and also purity.

The upper portion is a stylized profile of Mt. Diablo, but also represents the Sierra, the ultimate source of CCWD water. The energy of the logo suggests an ongoing or progressive attitude.
The largest fish caught at Los Vaqueros, a 45.2 pound striper.
Water Fiesta Parade
Contra Costa Canal Construction Featured in 1942 Popular Mechanics Magazine
While looking for information on the CCWD's history for the 75th anniversary observance, we stumbled across an article about building the Contra Costa Canal in the April 1942 edition of Popular Mechanics.

The brief article includes a picture of the canal construction and a brief description of the project, stating the construction operation has a "huge concrete spreader and mechanical trowel."
Of course, construction of the canal had stopped - or was about to stop - at this time, since the U.S. was now fully-involved in World War II.

The cover of the magazine features a battleship's firing and smoking guns with a title across the top: "A Call to Battle Stations."

It wasn't the first time PM had discussed the canal construction project. In the June, 1939 edition, there was a large story discussing the variety of irrigation projects in California titled: "Rescuing American's Valley of the Nile."

The story mentioned the Contra Costa Canal, and included the canal in its many maps.

Popular Mechanics covers from this era are considered art objects today, and that one featured a thundering black locomotive
Contra Costa Canal Construction Featured in 1942 Popular Mechanics Magazine
In May of 1941, the canal was mentioned again in an article titled: "Reclaiming a Farm Empire."

This was a similar story about all of the massive irrigation projects in the Valley, including the Contra Costa Canal and its mechanized canal maker. The story concludes by calling the developments: "the greatest irrigation cycle in history."
Willing Water Served as CCWD's Mascot
One of the symbols of CCWD's earliest days of serving treated drinking water was that happy, incredibly skinny, and nimble mascot: "Willing Water."

Adorned with a huge water drop-shaped head, permanent smile and upturned collar -- though he wore neither a shirt, jacket or pants for that matter -- it appears that "Willing" arrived with the District's entry into the treated water business in February of 1961.

His perpetual cheeriness and helpful "At Your Service" slogan adorned District bills, sides of trucks, and publications at least through 1976 when a new logo was introduced featuring 2 stacked "c's" It's also possible that Willing remained on the staff until 1981 when the District dropped "County" from its name.
Willing Water Served as Mascot
The Willing Water character was part of an American Water Works Association marketing campaign, used by water agencies throughout the country from the mid-1940s into the 1980s. "Reddy-Killowatt" was a similar character used nationwide by electric utilities.

Willing Water also had key roles in cook books and comic books published by the association.

Water drop mascots - though most are no longer named "Willing Water" - are still used by many water agencies. Among their names are: "Precious" of Waco Water Utilities, "Willie" of El Paso Water Utilities, and "Wendy the Water Drop" from the District of Columbia.
Water Fiesta
The first deliveries of water to the city of Pittsburg from the Contra Costa Canal launched a 3-day party in October of 1940.

Not only did the first canal water go to Pittsburg, but the Delta city was the home of the-then Contra Costa County Water District.

The "Water Fiesta" was an extravaganza that drew thousands of people. From newspaper articles in the Martinez-based Contra Costa Gazette, the headlines told the story: "Throngs Pack Pittsburg for Water Fiesta."
Randall-Bold Water Treatment Plant
The Randall-Bold Water Treatment Plant is named after legendary CCWD Board President Craig Z Randall and Frederick Bold, Jr.

Frederick Bold is lesser known today. He was a lawyer and state recognized water law expert. Starting in 1963, he served as the general counsel for CCWD and the Oakley Water District (forerunner to the Diablo Water District) when it was established in 1953. He negotiated the contracts with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation providing both districts with water from the Central Valley Project. He was a tireless water quality advocate. Frederick Bold died in 2003, the law firm he helped found still represents CCWD.
Frederick Bold, Jr.