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Our name was established during the 1985 negotiations for the purchase of the Big Bear water and electric systems owned by Southern California Water Company. When the negotiations were finalized in 1989, only the water system was purchased. However, the name had already been formally established on all legal documents as the City of Big Bear Lake, Department of Water and Power (DWP). Additionally, final negotiations resulted in a service area that extends beyond the City of Big Bear Lake boundaries. Electric service is provided by Bear Valley Electric Service (a division of Golden State Water Company).
The DWP provides water service to approximately 15,520 water customers throughout the Bear Valley in the following areas:
Customers connected to the DWP water system are charged a "readiness to serve" charge based on the size of their meter. Residential customers are billed a bimonthly service charge and commercial customers are billed a monthly service charge. This amount is billed regardless of any water usage and whether the water is turned on or off.
Since the Bear Valley is a resort destination, it is not typical of other Southern California communities. The permanent population of full-time residents averages 25,000 but can soar to about 100,000 during peak holiday weekends. Consequently, our water system must be prepared to handle that peak population at any given time.
Like all water agencies, we recover costs via rates to maintain and operate our water system, which includes pipelines, wells, reservoirs, booster stations, treatment facilities, meters, equipment, staff, etc. Moreover, we are a public agency that does not make a profit. All of our rates and fees are based on costs of service. Since our population fluctuates so dramatically, we need to rely on fixed charges to recover costs needed to operate and maintain the water system. Learn more about water rates.
Every year several customers experience leaks that go undetected, until they receive a large water bill. A slow drip from your faucet can easily waste 170 gallons of water or more in a 24-hour period. Larger leaks can waste thousands of gallons and become very expensive.
The most common leaks are usually linked to problems with stop and drain valves, faulty sprinkler systems, not winterizing properly, broken pipes or fittings, or faulty toilets. Regularly check your plumbing fixtures, hose bibb, stop and drain valve, washer hookup, and water heater intake valve for possible leaks or worn fittings.
Toilet leaks are less noticeable because they may not be seen or heard. The DWP offers dye tablets to test for silent toilet leaks. These tablets are free to our customers and available at the office.
Climate in the Bear Valley, similar to the rest of California, cycles between wet and dry years. Our drinking water supply is groundwater pumped via wells, and even in years with a lot of precipitation, we still need to conserve water knowing that a dry cycle will return.
One way to help conserve water is by using Xeriscape, a water-wise landscaping method. Besides being an attractive and less demanding landscape, a properly maintained Xeriscape can help conserve a considerable amount of our limited water resources. We also offer rebate programs: toilet rebate and turf buyback. Low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators are available to all of our customers. Please come by the DWP office and pick up your free conservation devices.
The stop and drain valve is the customer's water shut-off valve, or water master valve, located between the water meter box and your house. Every property is required to be equipped with a working stop and drain valve.
This valve should be used to turn off your water and drain indoor water pipes. During the winter, using this valve is the best way to help prevent your water pipes from freezing and breaking. Go to the Winterization page for more information.
NEVER TURN OFF YOUR WATER BY USING THE VALVE INSIDE THE METER BOX. Not only is that a punishable offense, but turning this valve can cause extensive (and expensive) damage to the water system and/or cause serious injury due to water system pressure. Plus, it does not drain your indoor plumbing and therefore does not protect your water pipes from freezing and breaking.
Your home's master water valve is called the "stop and drain valve." This is the valve used to turn off water to your house and drain your indoor water pipes. Every property is required to have a working stop and drain valve and is the ONLY valve you may use to shut off your water.
Customers are not authorized to turn off their water at the meter. Not only is that a punishable offense but it can cause extensive damage and serious injury. Meter valves may ONLY be turned by DWP personnel.
In addition, water can not be turned off to avoid paying the service charge. Water must be on at all times for customer access, the safety of our system, and in case of emergency (such as fires). If you think you need your water shut off at the meter for a leak or other emergency, please call Customer Service at (909) 866-5050.
Our drinking water is groundwater that is pumped from aquifers. It does not come from Big Bear Lake. It is treated with the amount of chlorine required by the California Department of Public Health. We have a few wells that need additional treatment, such as manganese (Mn).
Water quality is regulated by the State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Drinking Water. All water agencies are required to test drinking water and make that information available to the public. Click here to access the Consumer Confidence Reports.
If water looks milky or cloudy when it first comes out of the faucet, it is because it is full of air. Air is soluble in water. As water percolates through the ground into aquifers, air gets trapped in the groundwater. Plus, water pipelines are pressurized to deliver water to your home, adding more air to the water.
Cold water and water under pressure are able to hold more air. So when the water comes out of your faucet, it becomes exposed to warmer air and is no longer under pressure. This results in the air being released as bubbles that rise to the surface and naturally disappear (similar to a soda or carbonated beverage).
Air bubbles are not a health concern and will disappear within a few minutes after filling your water glass. If the water does not clear up within a few minutes, please contact Customer Service at (909) 866-5050.