The area of Huntington Beach was originally occupied by the Tongva people, also known as Gabrielinos, whose lands stretched from what is now Topanga Canyon through Aliso Creek in Laguna Beach. European settlement can be traced to a Spanish soldier, Manuel Nieto, who in 1784 received a Spanish land grant of 300,000 acres, which he named Rancho Los Nietos, as a reward for his military service. The Stearns Rancho Company ran cattle and horses and raised barley crops on what is now the city of HB. In the early 1800s, a portion of the property was sold to Col. Robert Northam, who raised and sold barley to surrounding ranchers. By 1889, the city was called Shell Beach and consisted of a small group of settlers. In 1901, Shell Beach was changed to Pacific City when P.A. Stanton formed a local syndicate and purchased 40 acres along the beach with 20 acres on each side of Main Street. Stanton’s dream was to build a town on the Pacific Coast which would rival Atlantic City on the East Coast.
Huntington Beach incorporated in 1909 under its first mayor, Ed Manning. Its original developer was the Huntington Beach Company, a real-estate development firm owned by Henry Huntington, a railroad magnate after whom the city is named. The Huntington Company is still a major land-owner in the city. Huntington Beach remained a sleepy seaside town until the famous oil boom in the 1920s.
The initial growth of the city began with the oil boom in 1920. This was the largest California oil deposit known at the time. Wells sprang up overnight and in less than a month the town grew from 1,500 to 5,000 people. After a final oil strike in 1953, the fire department began clearing out oil derricks within the city and along the coast to make room for the population explosion that began in the 1950s. Beginning in the late 1950s and continuing into the 1960s and 1970s, residents by the thousands moved into the City. Huntington Beach became the fastest growing city in the continental U.S. as a housing tract after the housing track was built. In the 1970s and 1980s, oil production rigs were concealed to improve the beach’s image. Forty years ago, Donald Douglas Jr. acquired the bean fields across from the current U.S. Weapons Station bordering Bolsa Chica in HB. He began building the Douglas Aircraft Space Systems Center. The plant produced the upper stage of the Saturn V rocket that took the Apollo astronauts on their successful mission to the moon. Douglas aircraft became McDonnell Douglas, and in the 1990s Boeing purchased the combined firms. Today Boeing is one of the largest employers in HB.
In 1925, Duke Kahanamoku brought the sport of surfing to Huntington Beach and the Southern California shores. The city’s first surf shop, Gordie’s Surf Boards, opened in 1953. Six years later, the first U.S. Surfing Championships were held in Huntington Beach. The following year, the Surfing Championships were covered on television, which rocketed Huntington Beach’s international fame as a surfer’s paradise. In 2005, the USA Surf Team adopted Huntington Beach as its official home and the Association of Surfing Professionals-North America moved to the city.
The City’s water supply is a blend of groundwater from 7 City wells and 3 imported water connections originating from Northern California and the Colorado River by MWDSC via the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC). Groundwater comes from a natural underground aquifer that is replenished with water from the Santa Ana River, local rainfall, Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) recycled water, and imported water. The groundwater basin, which is managed by OCWD, is about 350 square miles. It lies beneath north and central Orange County, from Irvine to the Los Angeles County border and from Yorba Linda to the Pacific Ocean. More than 19 cities and retail water districts draw from the basin to provide water to homes and businesses.
In 2018, the City of Huntington Beach water consisted of 77% local groundwater and 23% imported treated surface water. Huntington Beach also has emergency water connections with the
neighboring cities of Fountain Valley, Seal Beach, and Westminster.
The sources of drinking water (both tap water and bottled water) include rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, reservoirs, springs and wells. As water travels over the surface of the land or through the layers of the ground it dissolves naturally-occurring minerals and, in some cases, radioactive material, and can pick up substances resulting from the presence of animal and human activity.
Contaminants that may be present in source water include:
Pesticides and herbicides, which may come from a variety of sources such as agriculture, urban stormwater runoff, and residential uses.
Microbial contaminants, such as viruses and bacteria, which may come from sewage treatment
plants, septic systems, agricultural livestock operations, and wildlife.
Radioactive contaminants, which can be naturally occurring or be the result of oil and gas production or mining activities.
Inorganic contaminants, such as salts and metals, which can be naturally occurring or result from urban storm runoff, industrial or domestic wastewater discharges, oil and gas production, mining and farming.
Organic chemical contaminants, including synthetic and volatile organic chemicals, which are by-products of industrial processes and petroleum production, and can also come from gasoline stations, urban stormwater runoff, agricultural application, and septic systems
Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population. Immuno-compromised people, such as those with cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy, persons who have had organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly persons and infants can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers.
The USEPA and the federal Centers for Disease Control guidelines on appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection by Cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants are available from USEPA’s Safe Drinking Water.
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