From where does Mission San Jose obtain its water?

Tourist Attractions

By Kristy Tolley

Mission San Jose, also known as the Mission San Jose de Guadalupe, is a historic landmark located in Fremont, California. This mission was founded by Spanish missionaries in the late 1700s and played a significant role in the colonization of California. One of the essential requirements for the mission’s establishment was a reliable source of water, without which it would have been impossible for the missionaries to sustain themselves and the indigenous people they were trying to convert. This article will explore the different sources of water that the Mission San Jose has relied on in its history and how it meets its water needs today.

History of Mission San Jose

The Mission San Jose was founded in 1797, making it one of the oldest missions in California. The missionaries who established the mission were tasked with converting the native Ohlone people to Christianity and introducing them to European agriculture. Water was a crucial resource for the mission’s success, as it was needed for irrigation, drinking, and sanitation. The missionaries chose this location because it was close to several natural springs and streams that flowed through the area.

Water sources in the area

Water is scarce in California, and the Mission San Jose area is no exception. However, the missionaries were fortunate to be located near several sources of water, including Alameda Creek, which flows through the area, and several natural springs that are found in the hills surrounding the mission.

Natural springs around the mission

The hills surrounding the Mission San Jose are rich in natural springs that have been providing water to the mission for centuries. These springs are fed by underground aquifers that are replenished by rainfall and snowmelt. The missionaries built several aqueducts to bring water from these springs to the mission’s fields and buildings. Today, some of these springs are still active, and the water they provide is used for irrigation and landscaping around the mission.

Aqueducts built by the missionaries

To ensure a steady supply of water, the missionaries constructed aqueducts that connected the natural springs to the mission’s buildings. These aqueducts were built using a mix of adobe, stone, and brick, and were designed to transport water by gravity. The aqueducts were also used to create fountains and water features that were used for decoration and religious ceremonies.

The role of the Ohlone people in water supply

The Ohlone people who lived in the area before the arrival of the Spanish missionaries had been using the natural springs and streams for their water supply for thousands of years. When the missionaries arrived, they learned from the Ohlone people how to access these sources of water and build the aqueducts that were needed to transport it to the mission. The Ohlone people also helped the missionaries with the construction of the aqueducts and other water-related infrastructure.

Water collection and storage techniques

The missionaries used a variety of techniques to collect and store water. They constructed large cisterns to capture rainwater, and they also dug wells to access groundwater. These sources of water were used for drinking and cooking. The missionaries also built a dam on Alameda Creek to create a reservoir that could be used for irrigation.

Modern water supply at Mission San Jose

Today, the Mission San Jose obtains its water from the Alameda County Water District. The district provides water to the mission through a network of pipes that connect to the mission’s buildings. The water is treated to remove impurities before it is distributed to the mission.

Water conservation efforts

The Mission San Jose has implemented several water conservation measures to reduce its water consumption. These measures include using drought-tolerant plants in landscaping, installing low-flow toilets and faucets, and repairing leaks promptly. The mission also educates its visitors about the importance of water conservation.

Future plans for water sustainability

The Mission San Jose plans to continue its water conservation efforts and explore new ways to increase its water sustainability. Some of the plans under consideration include installing a rainwater harvesting system and using recycled wastewater for irrigation.


Water has been a critical resource for the Mission San Jose since its establishment. Over the years, the mission has relied on a variety of water sources, including natural springs, aqueducts, and wells. Today, the mission obtains its water from the Alameda County Water District and has implemented several water conservation measures to reduce its water consumption. The mission plans to continue its efforts to increase its water sustainability and ensure that it can continue to serve as a historic landmark for generations to come.


  • "Mission San Jose." National Park Service.
  • "History of the Mission." Old Mission San Jose.
  • "Water Conservation." Old Mission San Jose.
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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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