Early Settlers

The earliest known inhabitants of the Morongo Basin were the Serrano Indians. They migrated each year to hunting grounds via Big Morongo Canyon, where a series of springs provided a dependable water source. The various camps they set up were eventually used by cattlemen who adopted the route through the canyon as an alternate to the lower route through Indio on their way to Arizona.

Discovery of Water

One cattleman, Mark "Chuck" Warren, and his family built a homestead in what is now Yucca Valley. Warren and his sons dug by hand the first well, which became known as Warren's Well. Over time, the family built a windmill to pump the water and established the first settlement in the area.

Formation of Water Districts

In 1945, a group of investors that included Ted Jurling recognized Yucca Valley's potential as the location for post-war housing subdivisions like those being developed across Southern California. The group bought three sections of land and installed the first functional pump, forming the Yucca Water Company, Ltd. This process was repeated by other groups of developers, resulting in community water companies serving the individual developments. Over time, consolidations took place, but seven of them are still delivering water in the communities of: 

  • Flamingo Heights
  • Joshua Tree
  • Landers
  • Morongo Valley
  • Twentynine Palms
  • Yucca Valley

Hi-Desert Water District was formed in 1962 under the name Yucca Valley County Water District. In 1964, the District purchased the Joshua Forest Water Company, followed the next year by the Rancho Ramon and Mountain Mutual Water companies. In 1971, the District changed its name to Hi-Desert County Water District and in 1980 to Hi-Desert Water District to avoid confusion with the County.

The District grew as assessment districts were formed, primarily in the Yucca Mesa area. In 1990, Hi-Desert Water District acquired the assets of Yucca Water Company, Ltd, adding an additional 3,000 service connections.


The District has more than 10,000 active water service connections in a 57-square-mile service area. We operate 16 storage tanks, 13 wells, and maintain more than 297 miles of pipeline. We provide water to the Town of Yucca Valley and a portion of the unincorporated area of San Bernardino County. Construction is complete on the first phase of the centralized sewer system and the Wastewater Reclamation Facility. The plant, which can treat 1.2 million gallons of wastewater a day, has began operations in late 2019 and private property connections for the first phase are actively connecting.