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By Susan Wiggins

Tehachapi Water Woes – 1968

A Page of History


I found an article my mother Marion Deaver written about water in Tehachapi in 1968 and which was discussed by the city council during a special meeting.

The city engineer, whose name was only listed as Mr. Simpson, gave a report to the council outlining several programs which could help the “water situation.” Of course, he added that he “could not categorically ensure the council that these programs would work.” (Note: Much has changed since 1968 concerning technology and other factors, and the current City Engineer Jay Schlosser knows what will work before he addresses the council.)

The 1968 city engineer outlined his proposals. They included pinching down the wells to eliminate as much air as possible while still supplying the water needed to serve the city customers.

He thought the current pumps might be too large and so suggested putting in smaller pumps, new bowls, and sandtraps if the current pumps were too large. He also wanted to put in a parallel line next to the lines running to the reservoir on Curry Street above White Oak. This would allow the city to have water in case there was major trouble in the current lines.

He believed the city needed to increase the city water supply by another reservoir or new well, or both.

He recommended that the current wells be tested to determine if they were pumping the maximum amount of water, regardless of air. He then said the city could pinch down the wells, so that they would pump the maximum, while still pumping with minimum air.

Simpson said that the reservoir should be checked for volume of water and for leakage. This way the council would know the exact amount of water available including storage and pumping capacity.

For corrective measures, he wanted the Mojave and Snyder Street wells to go directly into storage where the water could lose its air and then feed into city lines for use by the city. He added that the city could use the water tank in the maintenance yard. However this would require installing additional valves, a booster pump and other equipment and would be temporary.

The council did not warm to the idea of spending $14,000 on a “temporary measure” and would not be in the city’s “best interest.”

The council did like the idea of checking the Allied Gardens well and putting in a two inch test hole in that area with an electric log to determine if it was feasible to drill a new well there.

The council liked the idea so much that they instructed the city engineer to contact a company to put down the test hole with a cost not to exceed $1,000.

They also instructed the water superintendent and city engineer to pinch the wells to reduce air and sand to a minimum. The city engineer was also instructed to check the clocks on the test hole and to read the output of the wells in the city every day.

Improving the water system costs money. The council mulled over the idea of raising water rates for those who used more than 20,000 gallons of water each month. They did not act on that, and someone suggested that a newspaper campaign be tried first to educate the consumers about water conservation before raising rates.

Why did I force you to read this minutia about water?

Next time you turn on your faucet or flush your toilet think about what it takes to get that water to your home. We have not even discussed the sewer, which carries all that waste water away from your house.

The City of Tehachapi works with the area Water Master, Tehachapi-Cumming Water District, to ensure that water is used properly and that there is enough water for the future in the valley.

The city still encourages water conservation, even though some rain during the winter helped ease the drought.

And last time I turned on my faucet I did not have any sand or air come out, so since 1968 that problem appears to have been solved.


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