May 9, 1922: Birth of Edwin E. Geldreich; 1936: Contra Costa Water District Incorporated.

May 9, 1922: Birth of Edwin E. Geldreich. Born May 9, 1922, he was the only child of his late parents Edwin E. Geldreich, Sr. and Myrtle E. Geldreich (Tuthill) of Cincinnati. A graduate of Hughes High School (Class of 1940), he went on to receive Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in the biological sciences from the University of Cincinnati. He served in the US Army in Europe from March 1944 to March 1946 during the Second World War. After the war, he joined what was then the Department of the Interior, working in a microbiology laboratory on issues related to drinking water. This research division was moved into the new Environmental Protection Agency when it was formed in 1970. There he became a world-class expert in the quality of drinking water, and travelled the world under the auspices of the World Health Organization to help developing nations improve the quality of their drinking water. For this work he received numerous awards, and authored several scientific books on the subject as well as many technical journal articles. He married Loretta M. Eibel of Covington, Kentucky, in 1950, and they remained married until her death on November 9, 2006 at the age of 85. He had many interests and hobbies, including being a licensed ham radio operator who built his own radios. He was also a skilled gardener, loved to play the organ, and enjoyed photography and travel. Edwin Emery Geldreich, Jr., passed away on Tuesday October 7, 2014, after a brief illness. He was 92 years old.

Construction of the Contra Costa Canal

May 9, 1936: Contra Costa Water District Incorporated. “As heavy industry and agriculture were being established in the early 1900s, factories and farms sprang up along the Delta to take advantage of the fresh water supply. But trouble was brewing.

Cycles of extreme salinity in the Delta were reported in the late summer and early fall months, when fresh water flows from the Sierra dried up and salt water from the San Francisco Bay flowed into the Delta. Occasionally, water from the San Joaquin River near Antioch became too brackish to use.

In the early 1920s (as a 13-year drought gripped the area), industry began to suffer from the Delta’s increasing salinity. To keep the factories operating, fresh water was hauled into the area in tank cars. The drought ended in 1930. Local farmers had to stop irrigating and land values declined….

On November 7, 1937, ground-breaking ceremonies for the Contra Costa Canal were held in Oakley. Over the next 11 years, the 48-mile-long canal was dug from the Delta intake at Rock Slough near Knightsen to the city of Martinez. The first water was delivered to the city of Pittsburg in 1940, and the occasion was marked with a three-day celebration called the “Water Fiesta” that include the largest parade ever seen in Contra Costa County, the coronation of a Fiesta queen and more. The demands from World War II caused construction delays due to shortages of labor and materials, but the entire canal was completed in 1948.

As the canal was being considered and planned, the Bay Barrier Association drew up plans for the formation of the Contra Costa County Water District, a legal entity to contract, purchase, and distribute water provided by the Bureau of Reclamation.

The District’s formation was overwhelmingly approved by voters (8932-1068) on May 5, 1936, and just four days later the Contra Costa County Water District was incorporated as a special district on May 9, 1936.

Commentary: The Contra Costa Water District has been one of the technology leaders among California water utilities. Their early research on control of trihalomethanes has been recognized as groundbreaking. Their far-sighted water resources planning has been a model for other utilities.

1 thought on “May 9, 1922: Birth of Edwin E. Geldreich; 1936: Contra Costa Water District Incorporated.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s