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The First 30 Years—Securing a Reliable Water Supply

 History of EID
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milestones in EID's history

In 1925, some 77 years after Marshall’s discovery of gold and in the face of growing competition for water from hydropower producers,  El Dorado County residents voted to form El Dorado Irrigation District. The reasons? To protect water filings, ensure a secure water  supply, keep irrigation rates reasonable, and increase the value of agricultural lands.

The emphasis on agriculture was understandable. By 1920, thousands of acres were in crop production, fed mostly by old mining ditches that relied on uncertain precipitation patterns and little storage. Indeed, adequate water for agricultural irrigation and domestic needs was the focus of the EID Board of Directors’ first meeting: “The question arose as to the water shortage for the coming irrigation season, and it was the consensus that every effort be made to bring about immediate relief.”

Two years later, the District purchased the water storage and distribution system of the financially troubled El Dorado Water Corporation. Facilities and infrastructure consisted of about 70 miles of main laterals and ditches as well as Weber Reservoir, which the corporation completed in 1924.

For the next few decades, EID sought new water supplies. Faced with the Great Depression and other woes, finances were tight. But demand for water continued to rise, spurred by more land in agricultural production and a growing population. By the 1950s, there were nearly as many people in El Dorado County as there were during the apex of the 1850s – 1860s mining days.

The culmination of a long-held dream came with completion of the Sly Park reservoir, now known as Jenkinson Lake, in the mid-1950s. Built by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as part of California’s Central Valley Project, the reservoir and surrounding recreation lands were officially transferred into EID ownership in late 2003.