Fillmore Irrigation Company Celebrates 120 Year Birthday

Fillmore Irrigation Company, a local mutual water company, is celebrating a milestone anniversary this month. The Articles of Incorporation were filed with the Secretary of State on October 4, 1888, making this company 120 years old on Saturday.
Starting with five shareholders and originally formed to utilize water from the Sespe River and to develop infrastructure to transport water to homeowners and their orchards in the Sespe area west of town as well as to the east and south of the Santa Clara River, Fillmore Irrigation Company now serves approximately 140 shareholders. Their water stock is appurtenant to the land they own, meaning the right to water stays with the land when property changes hands. The Board of Directors is comprised of five people, most of whom are shareholders, and they set policy and direct the affairs of the company. Current directors include Anne Burson, Jim Chaconas, Barbara Filkins, Joel Quintero, and Chris Woodard. Domestic water use is metered and billed monthly. Water Superintendent Mark Avila schedules irrigation water usage, performs repair and maintenance on water lines and equipment, and lately has been Fillmore Irrigation Company’s liaison with the City of Fillmore as the ongoing construction downtown has exposed old water lines.
Many changes have been witnessed in our rural areas since the incorporation of Fillmore Irrigation Company. The same family used to hand down their land from one generation to the next, a tradition less seen these days. An example of this continuity is that a current director’s great-grandfather was also a director. The emphasis is on water conservation now as underground aquifers and rivers and streams are affected by drought, and on water safety as wells are tested for contaminants on a regular basis. The uncertain economy requires continuing evaluation of water rates to keep up with regulatory and maintenance costs.
The Articles of Incorporation for Fillmore Irrigation Company originally listed the term for existence as fifty years, but this was amended in 1938 to state, “This Corporation shall exist perpetually.” As the saying goes, failure is not an option! So if you pass by the Fillmore Irrigation Company office in the McNab Building on Sespe Street, give a salute to this 120-year-old that is still going strong.