Water Watch 2014

Stage 2 – Key Water Conservation Measures

The following water conservation measures are needed to make the most of our watersupply, which has been reduced by 37% because of the drought. More than 70% of our annual water use takes place outside the home.

The measures below will help us makethe most of our precious water supply this year

1. There shall be no water hose washing of sidewalks, walkways, driveways,parking areas, patios, porches or verandas.

2. Outdoor watering for lawns and gardens is restricted to the following schedule:

a. No outdoor watering on Sunday, Monday and Thursday.

b. No outdoor watering between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m Sunday - Saturday.

c. Even addresses outdoor watering is allowed on Tuesday and Friday.

d. Odd addresses and non-residential customers (irrespective of  addressoutdoor watering is allowed on Wednesday and Saturday.

3. Emptying your swimming pool requires permission and will only be granted onetime during a 12-month period.

4. The use of a water hose for outdoor watering with a shut-off valve shall bepermitted at any time.

5. Failure to follow these measures and the other measures in the City’s Water Conservation Ordinance will lead to an initial warning and then monetary fine and up to shutting off your water service.

We are going to share information with the community weekly on how we are doing. We hope that by sharing this information we may not have to go to Stage 3 where thereis no watering outside whatsoever.

During the Drought - Make Every Drop of Water Count!

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Welcome to Coalinga

For many centuries numerous tribes of Indians, all belonging to the Yokut, inhabited the San Joaquin Valley.  Although it is not clear when the first people made their way to Coalinga, it is known that the Tache (Tachi) one of the largest of all the Yukot tribes, found a permanent water supply at a place called Posa Chanet near the City’s present site. From this encampment, they scoured the hills for trade goods. They discovered oil seeps and thick tar.  Oil was to be an important item to early inhabitants of the Pleasant Valley.  Seepages in the area provided asphalt used to line baskets and was a good traded among other tribes. Eventually, Spaniards and Basques who wanted the land for its cattle and sheep grazing potential displaced the Indians.

As new settlers came to the west seeking a new life and greater opportunities, interest in oil seepages inspired an “oil rush” to the area in 1865.  In 1867 a specialized oil-drilling rig, shipped from the east coast, began drilling for oil north of the present site of Coalinga. However, shipping problems caused early interest to die down; the world had not yet discovered the full potential of petroleum.

In the late 1800’s, stories of sheepherders who burned rocks at night to keep warm drew the attention of Messer’s Robins and Rollins, English second sons.  Excited by the promise of coal in the area, they established a mine in a slash of hillside where the Coalinga Rifle Range now exists.  From the first, it wasn’t profitable. The coal was actually an oil soaked rock called shale, producing two scoops of ash for every one burned.  However, the potential of coal from the mine and more in nearby Priest Valley was enough to induce the Southern Pacific (SP) Railroad to extend its frost-free southern route.  It crossed Huron and stretched slightly beyond the Coalinga area to a place called Alcalde. 

There is debate about how Coalinga got its name.  The usual version is that while deposits of oil saturated shale or "coal" in the hills nearby were being mined “Coaling Station A”  “Coaling Station B” and “Coaling Station C” were situated along the rail line for loading purposes.  “Coaling Station A” was eventually shortened to “Coalinga.”  This story does not stand close scrutiny and a more likely explanation is that Coalinga was given the final “a” for musical effect.  The truth may never be known, since the great quake and fire in San Francisco in 1906 destroyed the SP Railroads office and all its records.  Whatever the origin, it is known that the name “Coalinga” was in use fairly quickly after the rail line opened in July 1988.  On October 5, 1888 The Railroad Gazette announced: "The extension west from Huron in Fresno County, Cal., has been completed for about 21 miles. A new town called "Coalinga" has been laid out at the end of the track.”

The extension of the railroad coincided with a significant worldwide interest in oil production; the second oil rush of 1890.  By 1910, Coalinga was the third largest shipping point for the railroad in California with nearly all tonnage connected to oil production.

The town grew quickly during these years.  In 1889 the Coalinga post office was established.  In 1891 Southern Pacific Railroad purchased the 160-acre homestead of M. L. Curtis for the sum of $900 and laid out the town site of Coalinga as a square cut diagonally by the railroad tracks.  Street numbers from one to eight went north to south, and letters A to H from west to east. The Coalinga Women’s Improvement Society later changed the alphabetical names to botanical ones.  A succession of historically important wells, starting from the discovery well called “Blue Goose” in 1897, was developed.  This and subsequent discoveries brought “boomers” into Coalinga by the thousands.

With over 15 years of continuous prosperity behind them, a handful of local citizens began the process of incorporation, which was completed in April 1906.  In 1909, the Coalinga Chamber of Commerce was organized and in its first report dated April 16, 1910, they excitedly spoke about the promise of the City. The Coalinga oil field was the largest in California.  In September 1909, the Silver Tip well, locate just one-half mile from the City limits, blew with the greatest gusher known in California at that time. This discovery caused enough excitement among the financiers of California that the Los Angeles Stock Exchange was closed on a Friday in November and a special excursion train traveled to Coalinga so that potential investors could marvel at the sight.

During the early years of production, several important developments happened in Coalinga. In 1904 a six-inch oil pipeline was laid from Coalinga all the way to Monterey on the coast (104 miles) for the purposes of providing tanker oil to be sold to overseas buyers. The pipeline was built in 90 days, and crossed two mountain ranges with a maximum elevation of over 2,000 feet.  In 1916, Coalinga oilfield workers fought for and won the industry’s first 8-hour workday.  In 1919 A&W Root Beer was formulated in downtown Coalinga.  During World War II, Signal Hill oil in Long Beach was brought in.  The supply was so great that the existing pipeline flow from Coalinga to the Los Angeles refineries was reversed and the excess Signal Hill oil was stored in a massive tank farm called Caliola about 10 miles east of Coalinga.  Coalinga’s oil field was to produce men and companies who were to become some of the giants of the industry including R. C. Baker, founder of Baker Oil Tools.  His original buildings in Coalinga are now home of the R. C. Baker Memorial Museum.  It focuses not only on oil, but all phases of pioneer life in the Coalinga area.

In those early days, there was no one to provide natural gas to customers in Coalinga.  The City simply contracted with nearby oil companies to supply natural gas from their wells, which was then re-sold to City residents.  To this day, Coalinga is one of just a handful of cities to operate this utility.  Natural gas is currently purchased from major suppliers for residents.

From the outset, it was said that whiskey was easier to get than water in Coalinga.   The natural well water supplies had high amounts of dissolved minerals in it, making it suitable for only the most basic uses of washing and irrigating.  To meet this challenge, Coalinga’s drinking water was imported.  Until 1960, the major source of drinking water was water wells in Armona owned by Southern Pacific.  This water was shipped, 44 miles, to Coalinga in tank cars for distribution.  “A dime a bucket, and carry it yourself” was the cry.  In time, a municipal water service was provided for the central area of town, leading to Coalinga’s famous third faucet (hot, cold and drinking).

In 1960 Coalinga was the site selected for experimental systems to soften hard water to a point where it was palatable for human consumption.  The first of these was an ionic system that was later replaced by the reverse osmosis method.  The third faucet was utilized until April 1972 when Coalinga received its first delivery of San Luis Canal water from the state water system.

While oil was the staple of the local economy, agriculture always played an important part. Before 1972 agriculture was limited to cotton and other salt water resistant crops.  With the arrival of canal water, the area has become a region of specialty crops including lettuce, tomatoes, asparagus and a variety of nut and fruit trees.

On May 2, 1983 a magnitude 6.7 earthquake hit Coalinga.  Buildings constructed from bricks from the 1906 San Francisco quake, toppled. Houses slipped off their raised foundations, chimneys fell and a significant portion of the business district was leveled. The quake caused over $31 million in damage and the City was left with numerous vacant parcels and city-owned lots.  Miraculously, there was not a single fatality from the quake, marking it for all time as “the miracle of Coalinga.” 

While there was open speculation Coalinga would not survive the disaster, the earthquake became the catalyst that inspired revitalization.  In 1988, to replace the one destroyed in the earthquake, the residents approved a bond issue for a new $14 million community hospital facility.  Coalinga completed an 800-acre annexation to include Pleasant Valley State Prison and the new airport in the City Limits in 1991.  In 1994, the Department of Corrections located a major prison facility in Pleasant Valley.  With this as an economic base, the City developed a 40-acre industrial park.  To address concerns about proximity to schools and associated noise hazards, the airport was relocated four miles to the east.  A brand new $8 million airport facility, with a 100’ by 5,000’ runway, was built in 1996.  In 2001 the College Farms, a 180-acre site devoted to school related operations with agriculture, was relocated north of the old airport.  The site has since been optioned to be sold to a developer.  The Coalinga Regional Medical Center was completed in 2002 and construction of a new mental health facility, the Coalinga State Hospital, was completed in the Spring of 2005.  Both the Unified School District and West Hills College have passed bond measures.  In the oilfields, a process of steam injection promises to produce 2.3 billion more barrels of oil, perhaps as much as has already been mined.

Since the 1983 earthquake, significant efforts have been made to rebuild and revitalize this City.  These efforts, combined with Coalinga’s central geographic location and proximity to the busy I-5 corridor, approximately 12 miles to the east, are expected to diversify the City’s economy as state growth continues.  As the City celebrates its centennial, it is clear that Coalinga is more than “the boom town that lived” it is “the boom town that thrives.”