West Marin History
The Point Reyes Station Water Company was established in the early 1920s by the Burdell family and was transferred to the ownership of Waldo Giacomini in 1944. In 1946 the system was sold to H. S. Porter, who, in turn, sold to James J. Downey in 1947. Downey had also purchased the Inverness Park Water Company in 1944. Under private operation, the two water systems experienced a history of water outages, low pressure and boil-water orders from the Marin County Health Department. Primary causes of inadequate service were flooding of intake wells on Lagunitas Creek, inadequate finished water storage, pump failures, main leaks, breakdown of surface supply sources (mainly springs) in Inverness Park, and contamination of supplies.
Local residents finally turned to a public agency for help, which led to annexation of the area encompassing Point Reyes Station, Olema, Bear Valley, Inverness Park and Inverness to North Marin Water District in March, 1967. Formation of an improvement district (PR-2) to investigate water supply to the entire area was turned down by the voters in November 1967, by a 56% “no” vote. In January 1970, inundation of the wells left the community without water. An emergency joint meeting of the County Board of Supervisors and the North Marin Board was held on a Sunday afternoon. The Supervisors urged the District to assume operation of the community water system on an emergency basis, and the District consented. Portable water treatment facilities were immediately dispatched to the community and water was flowing again by Monday. In March, a more limited improvement district, encompassing Inverness Park, Point Reyes Station and a part of Bear Valley, was approved and the District was authorized to study the acquisition and upgrading of the two private water companies serving these areas.
In November of 1970, by a 70% “yes” vote, voters approved the formation of an improvement district for the purpose of acquiring and improving the Inverness Park and Point Reyes Water Companies. A maximum bond indebtedness of $250,000 was also approved. Bonds in this amount were purchased by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farmers Home Administration on a 5%, 40-year payback basis. Upgrading of the system commenced immediately and included replacement of a major portion of the distribution facilities, installation of a treatment plant, addition of a 100,000-gallon storage tank in Point Reyes Station and connection of the Inverness Park System to the Point Reyes Station water source (Lagunitas Creek). Financing for the acquisition and rehabilitation costs was assisted by participation from the U.S. Coast Guard Point Reyes Housing Facility.
In 1981, work commenced on rehabilitating the remnants of the system needing attention. In Point Reyes Station and Inverness Park, 18,865 feet of pipeline was either replaced or installed, a 300,000-gallon tank was added in Point Reyes Station and a 100,000-gallon tank was added in Inverness Park. Total cost of these improvements was $820,015. A 72% grant and a loan for the balance (5%, 40-year) were acquired from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farmers Home Administration to finance this project.
In June 1973, after petition and creation of an improvement district (OL-1) for the investigation of water service to Olema and the Point Reyes National Seashore Headquarters, voters in Olema, by a 92% “yes” vote, approved formation of an improvement district (OL-2) to acquire and improve the Olema Water Company owned by W. Robert Phillips and others and to service that area. A bond debt of $70,000 was also approved. The Farmers Home Administration purchased the bonds. In June of 1974, the District took over operation of the Olema Water Company. On June 6, 1973, just prior to the election, an agreement providing for payment of actual costs was also entered into with the National Park Service’s Point Reyes National Seashore, for service to the Seashore Headquarters. The agreement was contingent on the election outcome. Service to Olema and the Seashore was provided by interconnecting to the Point Reyes System via a 4-inch pipeline constructed along State Highway 1 and “buying into” the basic production, treatment and storage works of the Point Reyes/Inverness Park System. In 1991, at the demand of the Farmers Home Administration, the Novato Water District repurchased the remaining $56,760 balance in the Olema bond debt.
PARADISE RANCH ESTATES
This private water system with 85 customers was created by David S. Adams and Sons in 1952 to provide water for homes constructed in the Paradise Ranch Estates subdivision located to the north of Inverness Park. For the first 20 years, the developer gradually expanded the system, relying mainly on springs as a source of supply. Problems with water quality and quantity progressively developed and worsened until finally, in 1969, the Marin County Health Officer issued a boil-water order to all customers of the company. Subsequently in 1972, the County declared a moratorium on issuance of further building permits. A suit by homeowners and owners of undeveloped lots resulted in an agreement reached in Marin Superior Court in late 1978, providing for the existing water system owners to finance a feasibility study by the District for the takeover, operation and improvement of the system. This culminated in formation of Improvement District PRE-1 and a successful election authorizing a $240,000, 5% 40-year, debt secured by revenue bonds, which, in conjunction with a $720,000 Farmers Home Administration grant, financed system rehabilitation. Service was provided from the Point Reyes System by installation of an additional well, expansion of the treatment plant, and a 6-inch pipeline connection at the Inverness Park pump station extending about 1.6 miles along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the newly reconstructed Paradise Ranch Estates distribution system. In October of 1995, the Mount Vision Fire destroyed 42 homes within the Paradise Ranch Estates Improvement District. The majority of the fire victims immediately commenced plans to rebuild.
In June of 1996, the Board voted to merge the Olema Improvement District’s financial records into those of the Point Reyes/Inverness Park Improvement District, with the understanding that Olema property owners would remain responsible for paying the OL-2 general obligation bond debt. In July of 2001, the Board voted to merge the Paradise Ranch Estates Improvement District’s books into those of the Point Reyes/Olema financial records, with the understanding that Paradise Ranch Estates customers would remain responsible for paying the PRE-1 Revenue Bond debt. At the close of FY15/16, 780 customers were served from the consolidated West Marin Service Area system.