Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District
Where Solutions Flow
602 E. Huntington Drive, Suite B., Monrovia, CA, 91016 | (626) 443-2297


89.3 KPCC

By Sharon McNary

January 23, 2017


Los Angeles County storm water capture systems have shunted enough water from rain-swollen rivers into percolation ponds this rain season to serve the annual water needs of about a half-million people, an official said Monday.

More than 22 billion gallons of storm water has been collected since mid-October  along the San Gabriel and Los Angeles rivers, said Steven Frasher, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Public Works Department.

However, most of the water that falls on the region is still lost to the Pacific, partly because the kinds of investments made over the years in spreading grounds along the San Gabriel River have been lagging along the Los Angeles River, said Mark Gold of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability

“You see a storm year like this and you see all the water that ends up going through the LA River and Ballona Creek and Dominguez Channel, and you say, “Wow. That could have been our water supply for the next year,” Gold said.

“I think this storm here has really demonstrated where the shortcomings are in our local water system,” Gold said. “We’ve barely scratched the surface on what we can do in the eastern San Fernando Valley in trying to capture more of that precious rainfall from the sky and have it actually infiltrate into the ground and get into our groundwater supply.”

Why do we lose so much rain water?

The flood control system was initially built to speed water to the ocean to avoid damage to communities along the rivers during heavy rain storms. So it took decades for the region to adapt to the idea of capturing that water for later use.

Every few decades from the first settlements to early 1900s, big rainstorms would cause flooding and destruction along the rivers that run through Los Angeles and surrounding counties. And while local governments raised some money to channelize parts of the river and build dams,  the 1938 flood became was a turning point.

In late February and early March 1938, record-setting rain caused a disastrous flood on the Los Angeles River. Homes were swept away, bridges torn out. That’s back when the L.A. River was a natural river.

After that storm, Congress authorized federal money to build a new system designed to flush stormwater out to the Pacific as fast as possible.  The Los Angeles and the San Gabriel rivers were  mostly lined with concrete.  Orange County’s Santa Ana River and some of its larger creeks also were lined for much of their reach. That system was mostly built out by 1960.

In recent decades, as the region has struggled through repeated droughts, the sight of all that water being lost to the Pacific Ocean has motivated water agencies to install more projects to capture storm runoff. A network of spreading grounds has been built up along the region’s rivers. In some places, rubber dams are used to redirect the flow of water.

However, some of these groundwater aquifer recharge projects go back to the late 1930s, like one along the Rio Hondo tributary of the Los Angeles River. They’ve become more common in the past two decades.

Can those spreading grounds absorb all this rain?

Nope. There’s just too much rain coming down at once for the spreading grounds to soak up. That’s where the dams come in.

High up in the San Gabriel  Mountains is a series of dams that capture and control rainwater falling on the slopes. The Morris, San Gabriel and Cogswell dams are visible alongside Highway 39 above Azusa. Farther down in the San Gabriel Valley are the Santa Fe and Whittier Narrows dams.

And the water in those dams is parceled out to the spreading grounds a bit at a time over many months.

How much rain is being saved this way?

L.A. County Flood Control estimates that from the latest storm, they were able store 433 million gallons of stormwater. That’s about 656 Olympic-size pools of water, about enough to serve the water needs of 10,600 people a year.

Since the rainy season started in mid-October, the spreading grounds have saved enough water to serve more than a half-million residents, Frasher said.

All that rain takes months or years to percolate down through layers of soil and rock to filter into the groundwater where it can be pumped out.

How else are we hanging onto all this rain?

There are some pretty remarkable water saving projects in the works.

One in Sun Valley is a series of human-made caverns built underneath a park’s baseball field. The water from flood-prone Sun Valley flows to the park and drains into these catacombs to be filtered into the groundwater. More projects like these are being built across the region.

What still needs to be done?

Where local history is full of mega-projects like large dams and river-fed groundwater recharge fields covering hundreds of acres, others see the potential water supply that could come from micro-projects like residential rooftop water capture systems put on millions of homes and businesses.

“Right now there are a number of these missed opportunities when we get these wonderful rainstorms,” said Cindy Montanez, CEO of Treepeople. The water advocacy nonprofit is collaborating in a project with the large local water utilities including Los Angeles DWP to make such projects achievable.

“The Trump administration has said they want to spend more on water infrastructure. We hope that means that our front yards and distributed storm water will be seen as an opportunity for storm water capture, and not just build big dams that are more difficult to site in California,” Montanez said.

She also hopes the region can get new federal funding to clean pollution from underground water aquifers in the San Fernando Valley, making them more suitable for storing large amounts of stormwater.

Gold, the UCLA sustainability expert, said he’d like to see the state put money toward aquifer cleanup and other stormwater storage projects from the $7.5 billion that voters approved for water projects in Prop 1. Like Montanez, Gold also sees potential for more groundwater recharge with “green streets” designs that use porous ground coverings to soak water into the earth.

Read Article Here…

Jan. 10, 2017

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California


Bob Muir, (213) 217-6930; (213) 324-5213, mobile
Rebecca Kimitch, (213) 217-6450; (202) 821-5253, mobile


San Gabriel Valley water leader Charles M. Treviño returned today as a member of the board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Treviño represents the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District on Metropolitan’s 38-member board. He previously represented Central Basin Municipal Water District from March 1999 to December 2000. He succeeds Michael Touhey, who had served on Metropolitan’s board since February 2013.

First elected to Upper District’s Board of Directors in November 2008, Treviño has since served two consecutive four-year terms, representing all or parts of Arcadia, Rosemead, San Gabriel, South Pasadena, South San Gabriel, and Temple City. During his Upper District tenure, he has served as board president in 2011 and vice president in both 2009 and 2010. Treviño’s water sector experience also includes 10 years on Central Basin’s Board of Directors, which he was first elected to in 1994.

He currently is Upper District’s representative to the Association of California Water Agencies’ Joint Powers Insurance Authority and the San Gabriel Valley Protective Association and is a board member of the Main San Gabriel Basin Watermaster. He also is a member of the Los Angeles County Water Appeals Board, the vice president of the Los Angeles County Commission for Older Adults, and a former chair of the South Pasadena Senior Commission.

Treviño retired from Metropolitan in 2014 as a principal public affairs representative within the education unit of the district’s external affairs group. Prior to that, Treviño was a Metropolitan government affairs representative.

A U.S. Army veteran who served during the Vietnam War and received an honorable discharge in 1968, Treviño used the GI Bill to earn an associate’s degree from Los Angeles Trade-Technical College and a bachelor’s degree in political science from California State University at Los Angeles.

In addition, he received a teaching credential from UCLA, a master’s degree in school management and an administrative credential from San Diego’s Point Loma Nazarene University. He then worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District as a teacher and administrator until his retirement in 2002.

Treviño and his wife, Carmen, reside in South Pasadena.


The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a state-established cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving nearly 19 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and other resource-management programs.

Download the MWD Press Release…

January 05, 2017

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                     


 MONROVIA, CA – At the first board meeting of 2017, the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District (Upper District) Board of Directors conducted its annual reorganization of officers. Director Ed Chavez was elected as President and Director Alfonso “Al” Contreras will serve as Vice President.  Director Anthony Fellow, Ph.D., was elected to serve as Secretary and Director Charles M. Treviño as Treasurer.

Referencing his colleagues and the year ahead, Director Chavez stated, “With five consecutive years of unprecedented drought, we face many challenges moving forward as we continue to provide a reliable, affordable, and sustainable water supply to the San Gabriel Valley.  It is going to require a strong and unified leadership.  I look forward to continue working with my fellow Directors as we tackle these issues.”

Upon his reelection, this past November, Director Chavez is serving his third term on the board and will also serve as the district’s representative to the San Gabriel Basin Water Quality Authority (WQA).  Director Chavez, an educator, is a former Board Member of the Bassett Unified School District, Mayor and Councilmember of the City of La Puente, and three-term member of the California State Assembly representing the 57th District.  During his tenure with Upper District, Director Chavez previously served as the Board’s Secretary/Treasurer from 2009 to 2012 and Vice President in 2013 and 2014. Director Chavez represents Division 3 which includes all, or parts of, Avocado Heights, City of Industry, Hacienda Heights, La Puente, and South El Monte.

Newly elected to the board, Alfonso Contreras was officially sworn into the Board of Directors in December 2016 and will represent Division 4 of Upper District’s service area which includes all, or parts of, Azusa, Covina, Glendora, Irwindale, and West Covina. Director Contreras was first elected to the Board in 2002 and served two consecutive 4-year terms.  In addition to being elected Vice President, Director Contreras will serve as the alternate representative to WQA, chair of Upper District’s Administration & Finance Committee, and vice chair of the Water Policy Committee.

Dr. Fellow is currently serving his seventh term on Upper District’s Board of Directors and will serve as the Board Secretary and vice chair of the Government & Community Affairs Committee.  Dr. Fellow will also serve as Upper District’s representative to the Main San Gabriel Basin Watermaster, San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, San Gabriel River Discovery Center Authority, San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership, and an alternate representative to the San Gabriel Valley Water Association.  Additionally, Dr. Fellow is serving his second year as an appointed member of the Association of California Water Agencies’ Federal Affairs Committee.  Dr. Fellow represents Division 1 which includes all, or parts of, Arcadia, Bradbury, El Monte, Monrovia, Rosemead, and Temple City.

Director Charles M. Treviño was recently reelected this past November to serve a third term on the board. In addition to being elected as Board Treasurer, Director Treviño was also elected to serve as the Upper District representative on the Board of Directors for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.  He will continue serving on ACWA’s Joint Powers Insurance Authority, the Main San Gabriel Basin Watermaster, the San Gabriel Valley Protective Association, and as chair of Upper District’s Water Policy Committee.  Director Treviño represents Division 2 which includes all, or parts of, Arcadia, Rosemead, San Gabriel, South Pasadena, South San Gabriel, and Temple City.

Representing Division 5 which includes all, or parts of, Baldwin Park, Duarte, El Monte, and Irwindale, Director Urias is currently serving his second term on the board. He will continue as the board’s representative to the San Gabriel Valley Water Association, an alternate to the San Gabriel River Discovery Center Authority, and chair of Upper District’s Government & Community Affairs Committee.

Upper District’s mission is to provide a reliable, sustainable, diversified and affordable portfolio of high quality water supplies to the San Gabriel Valley; including water conservation, recycled water, storm water capture, storage, water transfers and imported water.  Upper District services nearly one million people in its 144 square mile service territory. Governed by a five member elected board of directors, Upper District is a member agency of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Annually, more than 78 billion gallons of water is used in Upper District’s service area.  For more information about Upper District, please visit our website www.upperdistrict.org or call 626-443-2297.


Download: press-release-2017-usgvmwd-board-reorganization