September, 2002

Rain falls on Mt. Tamalpais and runoff flows into reservoirs. The Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) treats the water chemically and pumps it through its pipeline network to Homestead Valley homes. After use, most of it goes down the drain as sewage. The Homestead Valley Sanitary District (HVSD) sends the sewage through its pipeline network to a treatment plant operated by the Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin (SASM). Thus, the rain used by Homesteaders ends up in the bay slightly contaminated.

Early residents of Homestead Valley didn’t have such services. No MMWD, no HVSD and no SASM. Until 1905, water supply was local. Three examples: 1. John Bone’s house on the corner of Hawthorne and Evergreen was in the flat part of the valley where the water table is close to the surface in the Spring and only about ten feet down in the Fall. He had a brick-lined hand-dug well which survived the 1906 earthquake – nearby wells collapsed. 2. Fred Stolte’s cabin was on a hillside at the end of Montford. He tapped a spring at the top of his property near Ridgewood where he installed a wooden tank. A pipeline ran down the hill to his cabin and a concrete tank, which was the water supply for the house across the street in Three Groves. 3. Alexander Eells’ house was on 8 acres between LaVerne and Montford below Three Groves. In 1904, he paid $661 in US gold coin for a 1.44-acre parcel across LaVerne so he could obtain water from a spring up the hill. The deed gave him the right to run two pipelines under the road to his house. He built dams on Reed Creek to provide irrigation water for his farm.

In 1905, residents in the area bounded by Reed, LaVerne, Melrose, and Montford accepted an offer by the North Coast Water Co. to supply them with water from Mill Valley. In 1904, an eight-inch, wrought iron pipe had been laid from Fern Creek on Mt. Tam to the Belvedere reservoir at Edgewood and Sequoia Valley Road. From there, a pipeline went to Belvedere and Tiburon. In 1910, a small tank was installed below Cowboy Rock to hold Belvedere reservoir water for supplying Camp Tamalpais. By 1913, a larger tank near Edgewood and Marion was installed to supply Belvedere reservoir water to Upper Homestead Valley. Although MMWD was formed in 1912 to supply water throughout southern Marin, many residents of Homestead Valley did not obtain MMWD water until the 1920’s.

The fascinating history of sewage disposal will be covered next month.

If you have comments or questions about this article or other topics
pertaining to the history of Homestead Valley,
please feel free to e-mail Chuck Oldenburg.