Water Conservation Timeline

From the ‘Great Drought’ to This One: Dealing With California’s Wildly Unpredictable Climate Through the Decades

For more than 150 years, the Irvine Company has searched for and implemented innovative ways to sustain and protect Irvine’s precious water resources on The Irvine Ranch.



At the height of the “Great Drought” of the 1860s, James Irvine and three partners purchase the land that becomes The Irvine Ranch. Droughts plague Southern California and the ranch through the end of the century.



The Irvine Company spends millions on water resource development and conservation. This includes drilling hundreds of wells and constructing a series of dams and storage reservoirs on the various streams on the ranch, including Santiago Canyon Dam (Irvine Lake).



Irvine Company plays leading role in formation of the Irvine Ranch Water District to serve the master-planned development of The Irvine Ranch, which was announced in 1960.



With funding from The Irvine Company, Irvine Ranch Water District opens the Michelson Water Reclamation Plant, a national model for the capture, treatment and reuse of water.



The infrastructure backbone of the plant is an elaborate dual pipe system. One set of pipes delivers potable (drinkable) water to homes and businesses, while the other transports treated reclaimed water used to irrigate large landscaped areas including parks, golf courses, community greenbelts and roadway medians.


Early 1970s

The Irvine Ranch becomes a pioneer of water-conserving drip irrigation for agricultural operations; today, it is also used extensively to irrigate community landscaping throughout the City of Irvine.



Irvine Company begins the extensive use of water-saving fixtures – such as low-flow shower heads and toilets – in homes, hotels and office buildings in Irvine and elsewhere on The Irvine Ranch.


Early 1990s

Irvine Company and IRWD pioneer use of reclaimed water in restrooms throughout several of the company’s high-rise office buildings, using the dual-pipe delivery system.


Early 2000s

The use of reclaimed water throughout Irvine is made even more impactful by the company’s commitment to leading-edge irrigation systems that feature “smart” irrigation controllers, drip and low-flow water-delivery equipment, and satellite-based weather data controls, among other technologies.


Mid 2000s-Current

Underscoring its commitment to efficient water use and reuse, the Irvine Company creates a dedicated member team whose members continually monitor water usage across its portfolio and make adjustments when needed.