Our History

Water & Sewer Service History

While our department has varied in both size and scope over 100 years, our mission remains the same: to provide exceptional customer service. We are here to serve our community with a high quality, reliable drinking water supply and collect wastewater in an environmentally responsible manner. 

To learn more about the history of the former Long Beach Water Department, now Long Beach Utilities, click on the links below:

The Long Beach Water Department was established by a vote of the people in 1911.

Logo 100 Years

In 1931, the Water Department was put under the direction of an independent, five-member Board of Water Commissioners. That same year, the Water Department also became one of the founding member agencies of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD).

Measure M

In 2018, Measure M was approved by Long Beach voters, which facilitated the annual transfer of money from the Long Beach Water Department to the city’s general fund. A lawsuit challenging the legality of the measure was filed in 2018 and resolved in March 2022 when the California Supreme Court denied a petition for review requested by the city of Long Beach.

Learn more about Measure M on our Measure M FAQ page.

Natural Gas History

Long Beach’s natural gas utility was first established in 1924 under the Energy Resources Department. Today, Long Beach Utilities provides natural gas service to approximately 500,000 residents and businesses in the cities of Long Beach and Signal Hill. Delivered through over 1,800 miles of gas pipelines, our natural gas is safely provided to your home to keep you warm in the winter, cook your food, heat the water in your showers and baths, and dry your clothes. As the citizens of Long Beach are also the owners of our gas utility, our revenues provide not only our gas services and maintenance of our pipeline system but also are used to help pay for vital community services such as police, fire, parks, and library services.

Timeline of Long Beach’s Natural Gas Utility

  • 1900 - Domestic gas introduced to Long Beach via United Electric Gas and Power Company - today's Southern California Edison Company. | Population: 2,250; Gas consumers: 160
  • 1905 - Inner Harbor Gas and Electric Company established | Population: 15,000; Gas consumers: 4,000
  • 1910 - Long Beach Consolidated Gas Company is incorporated. The 3 major gas providers are merged into one. | Population: 17,800; Gas consumers: 4,600
  • 1916 - The Southern Counties Gas Company purchases Long Beach Consolidated Gas Company.
  • 1921 - Oil is discovered in Signal Hill with Long Beach owning rights to the natural gas on City-owned parcels of land.
  • 1923 - Long Beach citizens vote to establish a municipal gas department and approve $3,000,000 in revenue bonds for purchase of the existing gas system.
  • 1924 - May 24, 1924, City of Long Beach Gas Department is operational.
  • 1933 - The "Long Beach Earthquake". 119 major breaks occur. The gas plants, however, suffer almost no damage.
  • 1938 - All gas requirements provided from City Tideland holdings.
  • 1952 - High pressure line from Huntington Beach to Long Beach Harbor is built.
  • 1957 - Long Beach installs transmission connections to the Southern California Gas Company to meet growing demand.
  • 1965 - City begins receiving natural gas from off-shore islands located in Long Beach Harbor.
  • 1971 - 2400 E. Spring Street base facility opens - today's operations and administrative office.
  • 1986 - Oil Prices Collapse (May)
  • 1986 - Increase in Electric Generation Allocation (June)
  • 1986 - Major Increase in Demand Charges From Southern California Gas Company (September)
  • 1988 - Natural gas industry begins deregulation. Long Beach purchases and transports its own gas from the southwestern United States.
  • 1992 - The first public natural gas fueling station in the County is opened at the Spring Street facility.
  • 1994 - Over 300 City and private Natural Gas Vehicles are in operation. Long Beach is designated a "Clean City" by the U.S. Department of Energy, the first to be so designated in Southern California.
  • 1997 - Electric industry deregulation begins. Long Beach Gas Department becomes the Long Beach Gas & Electric Department.
  • 1999 - Long Beach Gas & Electric Department celebrates its 75th Anniversary.

1921 Signal Hill Oil & Gas Field Discovered

The Signal Hill Oil & Gas Field, at one time the leading source of natural gas supply in California, was discovered in 1921. Soon, enormous quantities of natural gas and oil were produced here. Because of its proximity to Long Beach, considerable public attention was directed to this field. The City of Long Beach, owning several large tracts of land in the heart of this area, leased certain properties for oil and gas development. It also retained the right to gas produced over that required for field purposes should the City decide at any time to operate its own gas utility. Gas production from City leases reached 25 million cubic feet per day, thereby triggering a citizens' movement for a municipally-owned utility which would deliver gas to residents at a lower price than that charged by a private company.

May 1988 - Deregulation of Natural Gas

On May 1, 1988, the California Public Utilities Commission unbundled natural gas service in California. They divided gas acquisitions into two major categories, i.e., core customers, residential customers and those that cannot fuel-switch, plus non-core customers, those customers who have the capability to fuel-switch. The Gas Department, as a wholesale customer of Southern California Gas Company, has both core and non-core requirements. However, in the new scenario, we have the right to acquire supplies directly from the Southern California Gas Company or from producers outside the State of California. We are currently providing service to you from sources both locally and outside the state.