Page 1




Los Angeles Aqueduct Centennial Edition


Los Angeles Aqueduct Centennial Edition

Š Los Angeles Times 1913. Used with permission.

A Pivotal Day in the History of Los Angeles By Dr. Abraham Hoffman On Wednesday, November 5, 1913, automobiles, horses, horse-drawn carriages and a train all pulled towards the northern end of the San Fernando Valley bringing nearly 40,000 people to celebrate the historic opening of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Many spectators brought their own personal drinking cups, ready to have a taste of Owens River water at the end of its long trip from the Owens Valley in the Eastern Sierra. Enterprising vendors took advantage of the moment, selling 10-cent sandwiches, coffee, soft drinks and ice cream, along with little vials containing a few drops of the main cause of the celebration. Activities at the aqueduct cascade began at 11 a.m., highlighted by the Catalina Military Band’s version of “America,” a speech by Congressman William D. Stephens, and Ellen Beach Yaw’s rendition of her own composition, “Hail the Water.” Former California Governor George C. Pardee compared the city’s accomplishment to the aqueduct system of the ancient Romans, claiming that what Los Angeles had done “ranks higher than the bloody accomplishment of all the Caesars; sets high among the great men of the world whose genius had made it possible; and records among the great people of the earth the Californians who commanded that it should be built.” The band then played the state’s anthem, “I Love You California.”

© Los Angeles Times 1913. Used with permission.

Chief Engineer William Mulholland stepped up to the microphone shortly after 1 p.m. to present the aqueduct to the City of Los Angeles. He gave a heartfelt speech describing why the aqueduct needed to be built, and crediting former Mayor Fred Eaton for his foresight in calling for its construction. Mulholland said, “This rude platform is an altar, and on it we are consecrating this water supply and dedicating this aqueduct to you and your children and your children’s children�for all time. That’s all.” At that moment, the engineers at the aqueduct gates halfway up the hill saw the signal of an unfurling American flag. They turned the wheels, the gates opened, and water soon gushed down the steps of the cascade. Guns were fired, aerial bombs set off, and hundreds of people raced to the cascade to be among the first to dip their drinking cups into Owens River water. Mulholland, who was supposed to make more comments, was overcome with all the cheering and said nothing else to Los Angeles Mayor Henry H. Rose but his famous words, “There it is,�take it.” The water flowed from the cascade down to the San Fernando Reservoir, from where it would lead into a distribution system that would be completed in April, 1915.


Compared to the dramatic event highlight, the rest of the celebration was anticlimactic. Mayor Rose accepted the aqueduct on behalf of the City of Los Angeles; the Board of Public Works transferred the administration of the aqueduct to the Public Service Commission (later to evolve into the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power); and the band closed the event with the “Star Spangled Banner.” Later in the evening, a dinner for distinguished guests was held at the Hotel Alexandria in downtown Los Angeles. There were more oratories and presentations of medals, silver cups, and scrolls. Mulholland obliged and hurried home to his wife Lillie who was seriously ill and had missed the celebrations. For the rest of the week Los Angeles citizens continued to celebrate the completion of the aqueduct. The Los Angeles Times reported, “William Mulholland, the master of the aqueduct, the peer of the practical results of the world’s best engineers: every man, woman, and child acknowledges a debt impossible to pay.” The Los Angeles Evening News paid similar compliments. “Los Angeles sent forth her engineers; their instructions were to find water, plenty of water, the best of water, and complete their plans for bringing it any distance that might be necessary to serve in abundance the needs of this city for generations.“ Today, Los Angeles is no longer the trace of a shadow on the destiny of this wonderful city�all due to our Chief William Mulholland. News of the completion of the aqueduct traveled as far east as Massachusetts, the Boston Globe stating that it was “one of the monumental engineering achievements of all ages, and of all lands.”

Guest Writer Biography Abraham Hoffman is an adjunct assistant professor of history at Los Angeles Valley College. He earned his doctorate in History at UCLA and has had a lifelong interest in the history of Los Angeles. His books include Unwanted Mexican Americans in the Great Depression: Repatriation Pressures, 1929-1939, and Vision or Villainy: Origins of the Owens Valley-Los Angeles Water Controversy. In addition to being a member of the Los Angeles City Historical Society, he is also a member of the Historical Society of Southern California, Organization of American Historians, Western History Association, Western Writers of America, the Los Angeles Corral of Westerners, and a member of the Los Angeles Aqueduct Centennial Honorary Committee.


A Message From...

L.A. Aqueduct Centennial 2013 LADWP proudly presents

Christine Mulholland on the Mulholland Orchard Company family ranch

Christine Mulholland and her siblings. Tom 5, Betty 3, Jeannete 7, Christine 6

BEING A MULHOLLAND By Christine Mulholland, great-granddaughter of William Mulholland

• Water resources today • The future of water in L.A. • And much more

The Los Angeles Aqueduct: It’s our legacy, and our future.


• Aqueduct construction • Photo and movie archives • Owens Valley before the Aqueduct

My earliest memories are living on the Mulholland Orchard Company ranch in Northridge. Grandpa, one of William Mulholland’s sons, farmed the acres filled with orange and walnut trees. I was four when Daddy, William’s only grandson, bought raw land on the east side of the San Joaquin Valley and began developing it into a citrus ranch. In the small town where I grew up, Mulholland was not a name many people knew, and we didn’t see ourselves as being different because we had an illustrious ancestor. In fact, Daddy told us that the failure or success of one’s ancestors is no measure of our own worth.


Here we tell the story of this 100-year old engineering marvel that was dedicated on November 5, 1913.

Aunt Catherine


I’ve been asked what it means to be a Mulholland. It’s not an easy question to answer, without being flippant. Is it different from growing up a Smith or a Jones? Well, they probably haven’t been asked if they are related to a road, Mulholland Drive!

We learned bits about Southern California history and our great-grandfather’s involvement as we grew up, and there were precious artifacts in the family home such as the beautiful hand painted resolution presented by the Los Angeles City Council on the event of William’s death, and the silver loving cup that was another recognition of the importance of his great works for the city. In the days before the Interstate system was built, our family drove Highway 99 to visit our grandparents in the San Fernando Valley for holidays. I remember Daddy exclaiming, when we passed the Cascade in the foothills, “There’s Grandpa’s waterfall!” So we knew at an early age

that the old guy in photos on the wall was a relative, and was the Chief Engineer of the Los Angeles Aqueduct that brought water from Owens Valley. In my adult years, the Mulholland name has become of greater importance to me, as I have learned more of the family history. I have a sense of pride in knowing about the people who came to Southern California long ago and worked to build something for the future. I have also found that many people have faulty and preconceived notions about William Mulholland, and it can be hard to hear poorly informed folks make harsh or cutting remarks with no foundation in fact. On the other hand, the Mulholland name has opened some doors for me. In the 1990s, a seat on the San Luis Obispo County Water Resources Advisory Committee came open. I was approached to serve as the 3rd District Supervisor’s representative by someone who said, “You have to do this. You have water in your blood!” And I continue to serve, in one capacity or another, on that committee, which has so much input into water issues in this county. I’m pleased that my aunt, Catherine Mulholland, the Southern California historian, designated me to be the family spokesperson, to take her place after she died. It has been a gift to meet people who hold my great grandfather in high esteem and are now celebrating the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. William Mulholland’s legacy is one of service to his community, and we of later generations can learn from those who came before us.


General Manager’s Message


Th is issue of Intake magazine commemorates the centennial year of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Inside are photographs and stories that document the legacy of the L.A. Aqueduct and its significance to the City of Los Angeles. Without the aqueduct, it’s unlikely that L.A. would have grown to become the nation’s second-largest city, home to 4 million people. But as the population grew, so did the need for more water. L.A. joined with the rest of Southern California, drawing water from the Colorado River and the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta. A second aqueduct from the Owens Valley to Los Angeles was also built, as well as an extension to Mono Basin. The story of the L.A. Aqueduct is a story of balancing interests and sharing a precious resource. As we celebrate this grand accomplishment, we also recognize the environmental impact it created. As you will read, even before the Owens River was diverted to the L.A. Aqueduct, the terminus saline Owens Lake was drying up and the lake levels varied from year to year. Historic accounts show that high winds kicked up dust and choked the air as early as 1871. LADWP has made a tremendous commitment to improving air quality in the Owens Valley since water diversions began. As a result, our customers have funded the largest dust control project in American history. The project has produced remarkable results, improving air quality even beyond pre-diversion levels. Going forward, our goal is to meet our obligations to control dust for which LADWP is responsible, but use methods that reduce the amount of water that is used to control dust. Along with impacts have also come great benefits to the Owens Valley. To protect the quality of water flowing into the aqueduct, LADWP has maintained over 300,000 acres of undeveloped land, remarkably unchanged and untouched by commercialization. We have worked with Owens Valley leaders on agreements for groundwater pumping and land management policies that allow sharing resources for farming and ranching. We provide land leases at nominal rents. We have spurred the local economy by keeping the land in its


O 20


On November 5, 2013, the Los Angeles Aqueduct turns 100 years old and, to this day, it remains one of the greatest engineering marvels in the world. The L.A. Aqueduct moves water for 233 miles by gravity alone, traversing rugged hills in the shadows of the Eastern Sierra Nevada, built by men who lived in harsh conditions for five straight years.



Searching for the Truth in Chinatown

The aqueduct story would not be complete without discussing our water policies today and in the future. In the past, the department relied on importing water across great distances to support the city’s growing population. Today, our policies are guided by the philosophy that we will meet future needs for additional water by expanding our local water supply through measures such as increasing water conservation and water recycling, cleaning up local groundwater, and capturing more local stormwater. I hope you enjoy this special aqueduct centennial issue, and remember that we are all a part of the LADWP family, its legacy and its future.

A Pivotal Day in the History of Los Angeles


uct Cente

nnial Edit





Being a Mulholland





L.A.’s Water Future is Now



e of ered som ra has off alike enjoy ern Sier loca ls on the in the East tors and activ ities water WP land the west. Visi s, LAD outdoor in able limitless to prov ide valu ly 100 yearal opportunities land almost For near WP significant and recreation clean air and d by LAD LADWP has ice the best erve es, Serv st n spac and pres While es Fore as LADWP. nesses. wide-ope miles owned ed Stat re and busi the Unit s as much land in the area, 487 squa eles residents land o counties, 10 time Ang and Mon manage nearly 97 percent of the ia left virtually to Los in Inyo st ent forn holdings Land Managem own almo places in Cali of last ic agencies Bureau three publ ains one of the . the HIP tion Because ra rem OWNERS and pollu ern Sier the East by development d untouche AND OTHER PRIVATE




Ronald Nichols General Manager

es Aqued

On the Cover: Many generations of hard work and care have been spent constructing, maintaining, and continually safe-guarding the life-blood of Los Angeles: the L.A. Aqueduct. May this legacy of fruitful effort continue for another 100 years.


pristine state, supporting recreation and tourism, and providing good jobs for hundreds of employees who live and work in the Owens Valley.

Los Angel



Blue Collar Kindness


Continuous Maintenance Keeps the Water Flowing

Lower Owens River Flourishes with Water Flows


New Owens Lake Dust Control Approach Aims to Stop the Waste of Precious Drinking Water




INTAKE November, 2013 Volume 89, Issue 1

DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS Joseph Ramallo MANAGING EDITOR Brooks Baker EDITOR Terry Schneider CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Walter Zeisl GUEST WRITERS William Deverell, Abraham Hoffman, Christine Mulholland CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Fred Barker, Jane Galbraith, Chris Plakos, Terry Schneider, Carol Tucker DESIGN GRAPHIC DESIGN SUPERVISOR Virginia Candia

Follo w

@ LA

GRAPHIC DESIGN Eric Botero, Giao Dang, Chih-Hong Hsieh, Paul Sierra




Check us

out on





SPECIAL THANKS Jon Klusmire, Inyo County Eastern California Museum, Kenny and Dennis Majors

Letter from the Editor

BLUE COLLAR KINDNESS This year, the year of its centenary, we celebrate the Los Angeles Aqueduct. A monumental feat for all time, the design and engineering of this famous public works project was the vision and passion of a man who understood that this small pueblo would never meet its potential without a proper water source. But a project this ambitious could never have been realized without the grueling hard work of countless laborers and other support personnel who worked along the 233-mile route from the Owens Valley to Sylmar. But who were the 100,000 men and women who built Mulholland’s dream? Who willingly braved the desert’s extremes to bring water to a burgeoning Los Angeles? One of these men was my great uncle Joseph Frank Wasson. I know very little about him besides his work as a horse and mule teamster during the aqueduct’s construction. And I can only imagine what his days looked like during those famous six years in the desert (see “Building Bill’s Ditch” on page 16). But the story of the aqueduct is bigger than any single man. Bigger even than the famous Chief Engineer William Mulholland himself. The story of the aqueduct is our city’s shared story. The men who built it are our earliest benefactors—the first generation of city workers laying the foundation for our city’s great water department. Underneath the famous story of the aqueduct’s construction are countless personal stories of determination, teamwork, and the pursuit of happiness. These are the lives upon which this city was built. Even today, the caretakers of the LADWP Water System are preparing it for its next generation of service so when our grandchildren turn on the tap, the fresh water will flow. And when they visit the wide-open spaces of the Owens Valley, the sage-scented desert air will still lap at their hair. A very wise man once told me that whether or not a person who had shown me a kindness intended to be kind to me; was paid to do a job; or didn’t even know who I was, if I came out ahead somehow, I am still a recipient of their kindness and have them to thank. Five generations later, Los Angeles is still benefitting from the kindness of all the public servants who helped build the aqueduct. It would serve us well to recognize their kindness every time we turn on the tap.

Intake Magazine Publishing Offices 111 North Hope Street, Room 1531 Los Angeles, CA 90012 for general and editorial inquiries Printed by City Printing Services on 100% recycled post consumer content.

Like us on

Watch LADWP1 on




Serving as head of the LADWP Water System is an honor, bringing with it a legacy of responsibility and triumphs. From Chief Engineer William Mulholland to Jim McDaniel, our present-day Senior Assistant General Manager of the Water System, 14 men and one woman have taken on the enormous responsibility of ensuring that Angelenos receive a safe and reliable water supply. Today’s Water System supplies about 187 billion gallons of water annually, and an average of 513 million gallons per day to the 679,000 residential and business water service connections. This monumental feat is testament to the foresight and continued ingenuity of these Caretakers of the Aqueduct.



el Owens Lake, Ke

25 er, CA circa 19


By Chris Plakos

After 100 years, and a virtual stream of mostly negative media portrayals of the water diversion from the Owens Valley to Los Angeles, a “romanticized” view of the Owens Valley has emerged. Some people believe there was a time in the Owens Valley’s recent history, before the Los Angeles Aqueduct was built, when the valley was a verdant oasis with tens of thousands of acres of lush vegetation and wetlands. People believe there were ranches and orchards spread across the landscape, numerous waterways teeming with fish ready for the taking, and wind-blown dust was non-existent. But history, and historical accounts, prove otherwise. In July of 1864, Professor William Brewer, member of the State Geological Survey under Josiah Whitney, noted that the vegetation of Owens Valley was about 10 percent grass meadow and the rest sagebrush desert, and no trees grew on the valley

floor. In the spring of 1904, high winds blew down a dozen or more Power and Light Company poles, and on May 11, 1904, the Inyo Register reported that the wind blew extremely hard over the weekend and that Mr. L. Butler saw so much of his real estate moving north that he considered bringing suit against the town for recovery of about 40 acres. The matter was remedied a day or two later, he said, by a “zephyr from the north.” Owens Lake has been painted as brimming with water prior to being dried up by L.A.’s water diversions. But again, the stories do not match the historical reality. Beginning in 1895, 18 years before L.A. began diverting water, a decade of unparalleled drought combined with the diversion of much of the Owens River flow through some 250 miles of Owens Valley canals for local irrigation, brought about a dramatic lowering of the lake level.

The lake was dropping at a rate of 30 inches per year, and by 1899, the old Cartago Wharf that stood in eight to 10 feet of water in the 1870s sat some two miles from shore. By 1904, the lake level had dropped 32 feet from its 1870 level–none of this caused by Los Angeles. It is also believed by some that the Owens Valley was dust-free prior to the 1913 opening of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. However, historic newspaper accounts also show this to be untrue. There are a number of accounts showing that epic wind storms and blowing dust existed in the Owens Valley long before L.A. land purchases began. According to an 1871 Inyo Independent story, “An unusually high wind blew from the north night before last, and ordinary houses afforded no protection whatever from the clouds of dust and sand, and the result was to make everybody uncommonly gritty.”

Photos courtesy of Inyo County, Eastern California Museum

LA Aqueduct

tent cabins

west of Ow en

s Lake

, circa 1910 Owens Lake 15 INTAKE MAGAZINE LAA Centennial

Hauling salt from Owens Lake, circa 1920

In 1873 the Inyo Independent said, “Wednesday evening last, old Boreas dropped down from the western mountains at a most terrific rate… the dust in their eyes moving the stoutest men to tears, while the ladies whose kitchen parlors and bedrooms were filled with dust were moved-well they took on considerably.”

“The wind got one of its best moves on last Wednesday afternoon and when it struck the alkali flat it gave that vicinity the appearance of being enveloped in a fog bank.”

As the local paper told, life in the early Owens Valley was not as simple and idyllic as many paint it. It is evident that the entire Owens Valley, including Owens Another 1873 Inyo Independent story Lake, where LADWP customers told, “People’s eyes were filled with dust and their mouths with words the continue to fund the largest dust mitigation project in U.S. history, same as ministers use but differently arranged and accented. Good mothers were dusty places in the past. LADWP General Manager Ron sat in their dust proof houses, and aimed by solacing smiles to cheer the Nichols said it best in an op-ed piece he penned in late 2012. “The desponding hearts of their smuttyLADWP has devoted enormous faced little ones, but rarely or never financial and water resources to live succeeded in effecting more than a up to its fundamental obligations to smurky grimace. The dads looked control dust at Owens Lake related daggers and bottled lightning, and wondered if boiler iron could be made to LADWP water diversions. Our work has resulted in substantial and impervious to dust and sand.” enduring environmental progress – leading to an enormous reduction An 1882 account in the Inyo in dust coming from Owens Lake Independent said, “During the week and improved habitat in the Lower we have had strong winds, hurling Owens River. We remain committed clouds of dust up and down the country.” In 1895, the paper reported, to meeting our environmental

Downtown Keeler, CA

obligations at Owens Lake. With more than a billion dollars already invested, the LADWP is insistent on seeing our customer’s investment succeed. However, LADWP believes there are better ways to protect the Owens Valley environment, save scarce water and treat L.A. residents fairly. We are hopeful that our efforts now underway to implement reasonable long-term dust control plans will produce just such a result.” To learn more about the early history of the Owens Valley, visit “Our Legacy” on To learn more about Owens Lake, visit the “Los Angeles Aqueduct” on LAA Centennial INTAKE MAGAZINE 16

By Fred Barker

Bold and ambitious. This is how many detractors regarded the construction of a 233-mile long aqueduct with a fixed budget and no infrastructure to support a workforce. However, through the exceptional hard work, innovation and perseverance of its labor force over its sixyear construction, the Los Angeles Aqueduct, a modern marvel for its time, was built on time and under budget. This success is particularly notable because, in comparison to today’s standards for safe and comfortable workplaces, and the modern conveniences of project and supply management, the aqueduct workers circa 1907 through 1913 faced extremely difficult conditions. There was good reason why, while there were about 3,900 workers on the job at any given time, a total of 100,000 men and women worked on the aqueduct during its entire construction period. The quick turnover of the labor force during a time of scarce work opportunities was due largely to the harsh working and living conditions that came with the job.

Aqueduct Work and Life Life along the aqueduct line was characterized as challenging at best. The workers lived in remote makeshift camps of portable canvas structures, often many miles away from the nearest town. They were subjected to extreme weather conditions–summer temperatures exceeded 100 degrees and winter brought below freezing temperatures. To sustain themselves, workers had no choice but to eat at the camps, paying 25 cents per meal out of daily wages of $2.25 to $3.00, depending on their position. The food was pricey, the quality was substandard, and the choices were limited. For recreation, there was little to do at the camps, and nowhere nearby to go–even if there was a way to get there. The closest town was Mojave, where workers went on the weekends after a payday. Since it was mostly a town of bars, dance halls, fancy houses and gambling

joints, many workers either lost all their wages, never returned to the work camps, or both. Sometimes workers, and their hard-earned money, never reached Mojave to lose their wages as bandits lurked in the darkness along the roads that led to the town. Transportation for the workers along the aqueduct was nothing like we are used to today. Roads were unpaved, rutted and either dusty or muddy. There were few bridges over the creeks and washes. Cars had no tops and often broke down. Driving distances that would take only a few hours today took days. As one could imagine, the task of an aqueduct worker was mostly laborious and difficult but also hazardous, for many reasons. Work on the 52-mile aqueduct tunnel was potentially deadly with the use of dynamite to blast the rock at the tunnel headings. Approximately five million pounds of gun powder was also used. To move the sediment out of the confined tunnels, the blasted rock was loaded by hand into rocker dump muck cars. This became more challenging and complicated with the entry of unwanted water into the tunnels. The workers had to constantly work in standing water and keep pumps running to keep it to a minimum. There were other risks as well: falls, cave-ins, rock slides, vehicular accidents, teamster accidents, falling debris, and possible drowning in the dredged sections of the aqueduct among them. During its more than five year construction, 43 men lost their lives from illnesses and accidents while working along the aqueduct. To address the medical needs of the workforce, a medical service and a $1 per month health care plan were instituted. Nurses and medical stewards from the larger camps tried to visit the smaller ones regularly. Nine field hospitals were also maintained along the aqueduct, where medical supplies and attending physicians were available. Despite all this, it took many hours for medical care to reach workers who were injured or suffering from other ailments like tuberculosis, typhoid fever and pneumonia. LAA Centennial INTAKE MAGAZINE 18

Deadlines, Funding, and Accounting Accessing medical resources, transportation, food and other essentials were not the only challenges for aqueduct workers. There were also issues with finding, procuring and transporting the materials needed within the project’s time and budget limitations. Buyers had to be located for the construction bonds, and some materials–like the large diameter steel pipes–had to be purchased from as far away as New Jersey and Pennsylvania. To manage a shortage of funds, the engineers tapered the diameter on several of the steel pipe sections to save on the tonnage. The city also opened its own cement manufacturing plant in an effort to save money. Every dollar spent on the aqueduct was watched carefully. As the work progressed month by month, methods were developed to carefully track unit costs and compare them to the estimates. A regular cost report was distributed throughout the organization so the superintendents could compare their costs to all the others. Adjustments to methods and materials were made as necessary. For example, the engineers switched from internal combustion engine-powered machinery to mules. The machines were fairly new but the harsh desert conditions quickly took their toll on them. The city sent two councilmembers to


Kansas City in 1909 to purchase 261 of the more reliable, sturdy animals. They were said to be the finest mules that had ever crossed the Rocky Mountains. The time it took to hurdle the many construction obstacles posed an issue with keeping up with the project schedule. The city had only a specific amount of money to spend, so the work had to stay on pace or else the money would run out before the job was done. The Elizabeth Tunnel, the most critical tunnel on the aqueduct, fell behind schedule in its first year of construction. In order to speed up the work, a bonus system for the workers was implemented. The system paid the workers more per foot when their crew exceeded its bi-weekly target footage. The bonus system was so successful that the tunnel was finished 450 days ahead of schedule and at a savings of almost $500,000. The bonus system also improved morale among the tunneling crews. In fact, several tunneling records were set by these crews.

of the aqueduct line to bring water to our region. Through their dedication, endurance and creative project management by the engineers, the aqueduct remains Los Angeles’ lifeline, providing up to half of the water needs of the second largest city in America.

important ry was an e in h c a m ction, and “Efficient g constru in it d e p x e er of t for f all mann o componen lf e s it d peed uct availe edented s c the aqued e r p n u e es, but th queduct new devic he L.A. A t n o k r o my of w achines.” and econo hind the m e b n e m e to th were due port on mplete Re o C e h t ed from educt, 1916 --Excerpt e LA Aqu h t f o n tructio the Cons

As challenging as it was, the construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct was completed in 1913, and the engineering feat continues to sustain Los Angeles today. On the 100th anniversary of the aqueduct, all Angelenos should pause to think of the diverse workforce—an all city force, not private contractors–who braved the conditions


Whatever one’s point of view, it is fact that neither LADWP nor the City of Los Angeles, or arguably, all of Southern California, would have become what they are today without water deliveries that began a century ago from the watershed of the Eastern Sierra. No one could have marked this historic achievement better than aqueduct engineer William Mulholland when he declared, “There it is. Take it!” at the opening of the aqueduct cascades on November 5, 1913. It was a time of great pride for the builders of the aqueduct, and for 40,000 Angelenos who viewed the spectacle of sparkling fresh water spilling down the concrete structure for the first time.

By Jane Galbraith

The legacy of the Los Angeles Aqueduct is incalculable. One hundred years after its dedication, water continues to be diverted from the Owens River and delivered 233 miles away to the City of Angels. To this day, the aqueduct itself continues to marvel both engineers and everyday people. But it also remains a source of constant debate, dispute and drama.

OUR LEGACY At the turn of the 20th century, the City of Los Angeles was a city on the move. The Central Pacific Railroad had chosen Los Angeles as its Southern hub over San Diego, and settlers were arriving in droves. They were drawn by the City’s fair climate and its idyllic setting between the ocean and mountains. The land was fertile for crops. The discovery of oil promised jobs and expansion. The port in San Pedro was thriving.


It was an era when large public projects like dams and reservoirs were equated with progress and cities were defined by them. Mulholland, together with former Mayor Fred Eaton, shared a view that an untapped water source was a wasted water source, especially when the thirst of a city couldn’t otherwise be easily quenched. And besides, they could not accept that all that beautiful Owens River water flowing through high desert terrain was ending up in the shallow, highly alkaline and saline Owens Lake. The two men will be forever linked by the monumental achievement that resulted in the longest gravity-fed aqueduct in the world at the time, but also in the dissolution of their decades-long friendship until they reconciled

many years later. Their relationship mirrors that of the City of Los Angeles and Owens Valley, separate and together, forever, in the history books and in reality. Picture a crowd in the northeast San Fernando Valley on-hand for the dedication, hardly a tree anywhere, no houses or anything else around and the bald San Gabriel hills as the backdrop. In other words, the place was dry, dusty and in the middle of nowhere. “Glorious Mountain River Now Flows to Los Angeles Gates” proclaimed the top headline across the front page of the Los Angeles Times the following day, followed by a second frontpage headline, “Silver Torrent Crowns the City’s Mighty Achievement.” It went on to read: “From the mountain fastnesses of the snow-capped Sierras, through the world’s longest man-made conduit of steel, cement and solid granite, sparkling water poured in a mighty torrent from the aqueduct’s mouth at 1:15 o’clock yesterday afternoon. It gurgled and splashed its cheerful message of good health, great wealth, long life and plenteous prosperity to Los Angeles and her people.”

The aqueduct includes a series of five storage reservoirs, 164 tunnels totaling 52 miles in length, 12 miles of steel and concrete sag pipes, 24 miles of unlined conduit, 37 miles of open, cement-lined conduit, and 98 miles of covered conduit.

The American record for hard rock tunnel driving was set at the Elizabeth tunnel–604 feet in one month.

But there was one thing missing: water. So the Los Angeles Aqueduct was built and completed in 1913, bringing water from the Owens Valley to feed a thirsty population. The following timeline illustrates the evolution of the city’s water history as it grew, sought new sources of water, and grappled with the consequences.

1880: Population: 11,183

1889: First water meter installed

1890: Population: 50,400 Water Supply: <10,000 acre-feet (AF)

1900: Population: 140,000 Water Supply: <20,000 AF

1902: City buys out all private water companies for $2 million.

1905: Bonds approved to buy land and water rights in the Owens Valley.


Senator Frank Putnam Flint throwing his weight behind the proposal. He said in his support of the application that Owens River water “is a hundred or a thousand fold more important to the state and more valuable to the people as a whole if used by the city than if used by the people of the Owens Valley.” President Theodore Roosevelt agreed, and the aqueduct was officially sanctioned.

Among the day’s prized souvenirs was a small glass vial filled with aqueduct water and a bright red pennant. No longer would the populace–around 300,000 at the time–have to rely solely on the Los Angeles River or local groundwater for life, gardens and crops. Rain was never much. In a good year, there were perhaps 15 inches, but often less and every few years, much less.

The aqueduct provided the City of Los Angeles with 434 cubic feet of water per second, enough to supply the population of 2 million for the first 20 years of operation, until the system needed expansion as people flocked to Los Angeles.

The city’s water infrastructure had evolved from earthen ditches (zanjas) in the Spanish era to brick conduits and wooden pipes as it expanded in the early 1800s during the Mexican era. After statehood in 1850, the water system expanded as the city grew to include its first reservoir in the plaza, to which water was lifted by a water wheel from the Zanja Madre, and its first iron pipes. In 1868, the city leased the water system to the Los Angeles City Water Company for 30 years. By the end of the lease, citizens realized that the water system should belong to the municipality, and in 1902 the city paid the private water company $2 million for it. The city had grown from 5,700 people to more than 100,000 during this time. By then, Mulholland, whose earlier job was deputy zanjero (ditch tender), had since been promoted to Superintendent and Chief Engineer of the Los Angeles Water Department. He may have been an

1906: The three fathers of the LA Aqueduct: Joseph B. Lippincott, Fred Eaton and William Mulholland. (above L-R)


1907: Bonds approved to build the Los Angeles Aqueduct. L.A. Aqueduct construction starts.

1913: Population: 396,400 Water Supply: 58,400 AF L.A. Aqueduct Aqueduct is completed.

Irish immigrant with limited formal education, but Mulholland was a quick study. He recognized that since Los Angeles had geographically doubled in size four times in 30 years, it would need a new water supply.

The goal was to import “50,000 miner’s inches” of Owens River water to Los Angeles in a conduit at a cost of $23 million. The volume was, at the time, estimated to be enough to sustain a population of two million people.

Eaton had been to the Owens Valley several times in the 1890s. He was trained as an engineer and saw that the Owens River flowed southward. He convinced Mulholland to make a trip to the Owens Valley where they walked the river and Eaton located the very spot to divert the flow and allow gravity to take the water on its long journey to Los Angeles. The spot would become the Aqueduct Intake, 12 miles north of Independence, and the aqueduct idea would become a reality within nine years.

The genius of Mulholland was getting it done. He refined Eaton’s route to move the water along the eastern base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, through the Mojave and then the Sierra Palona Range. Construction began in 1907. Workers blasted and drilled 164 tunnels totaling 52 miles, excavated 61 miles of lined and unlined open channel using innovative electric shovels, built 98 miles of covered conduit, and constructed 12 miles of concrete and steel pipeline.

In 1906, Los Angeles submitted an application for rights of way across federal lands to construct an aqueduct, a plan that was not wholeheartedly embraced in the Owens Valley. The fight went all the way to Washington, D.C. with California’s

Under his leadership, the project was built on time and under budget, with a workforce that never numbered more than 3,900 at any given time and assisted by hundreds of mules and a network of others connected to

1923: Population: 775,000 Water Supply: 145,000 AF

1924: Voters approve contract to build Hoover Dam.

1928: L.A. and 12 other cities form the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD).

1928: Owens Lake goes dry.

1930: MWD takes over design and construction of Colorado River Aqueduct.

the project, from the financiers who handled the sale of municipal water bonds to the Pennsylvania steel pipe manufacturers. The project drew an international workforce with varying skills. They labored under very arduous circumstances, achieving construction feats never accomplished before. Most workers lived in isolated, portable camps, scattered from Los Angeles to the Owens Valley, and endured hazardous working conditions, poor food and extreme heat and cold. A total of 43 workers died in construction accidents, including one in January 1913 when a flammable substance ignited and killed three men working inside the Jawbone Sag Pipe. World records were achieved. The city would grow and prosper. Unincorporated areas would annex to Los Angeles in order to obtain water rights. Fallow land became fertile land. And Mulholland’s name was burnished forever in his adopted city – Mulholland Drive, Mulholland Dam at Hollywood Reservoir and, after his death, Mulholland Memorial Fountain. It was a very different story in the Owens Valley, however. In the 1920s, Owens Valley residents began to challenge the export of water. All kinds of accusations were leveled

1933: Population: 1.3 million Water Supply: 228,500 AF

1934: Construction starts on Mono Basin Extension.

1940: Mono Basin Extension completed.

About 10 million tons of freight was transported through largely unoccupied desert, without existing roads.

The Antelope Valley siphon is the longest—at 15,600 feet.

The Jawbone Sag Pipe—while not the longest or largest in diameter—has the greatest amount of pressure, up to 368 pounds per square inch, or a head of 850 feet.

1941: First Colorado River water delivered.

Colorado River Aqueduct completed.


at those representing Los Angeles’ interests. The confrontations escalated when anti-L.A. factions dynamited the aqueduct. Even silent screen star Tom Mix, who made many Westerns in the Alabama Hills, sided with the locals and joined in when Owens Valley residents took over the Alabama Gates in 1924. To secure its water rights, Los Angeles began to purchase extensive tracts of land in the Owens Valley in 1905. The city proposed a plan that would leave 30,000 acres in the Bishop area free of Los Angeles’ ownership, and offered to help promote the construction of a state highway to the area, thereby creating a local tourist industry.

The Southern Pacific Railroad built a rail line in 1910 to transport the enormous loads of construction material and equipment. Additionally, 505 miles of roads were constructed.

1943: Population: 1.5 million Water Supply: 288,000 AF


The controversy was at its height when suddenly Owens Valley resistance was undermined. The Watterson brothers, owners of the Inyo County Bank and leaders of much of the opposition, were arrested, tried and convicted of 36 counts of embezzlement. Many depositors were ruined financially. In the face of the collapse of both resistance and the Owens Valley economy, the city sponsored a series of repair and maintenance programs for aqueduct facilities that stimulated local employment. Los Angeles also continued to buy land holdings and water rights to meet the city’s increasing water demands.

1953: Population: 2.1 million Water Supply: 444,000 AF

1963: Population: 2.6 million Water Supply: 498,000 AF

One hundred years on, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the successor agency that grew out of water and aqueduct hydroelectric operations, owns 487 square miles in the Eastern Sierra, the third-largest holding after the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management and more than the entire area of land underlying the City of Los Angeles today. Other than aqueduct operations, which are not insignificant but comprise a relatively small percentage of the vast region, the area is remarkably unchanged and unspoiled by commercialization and development. The same spectacular vistas and wide open high desert landscape captured in historic photographs of the era can easily be captured today. In this centennial year, the LADWP can look back on its management of its Owens Valley land and reflect on the great accomplishments it has achieved–many by initiative and others by mandate. Throughout the aqueduct’s history, LADWP has asserted its legal claims to land and water rights. In the 1930s, it went north and acquired licenses to export water from the Mono Basin, extending the aqueduct infrastructure north by another 27 miles. It completed a second aqueduct in 1970 to add 50 percent to the capacity of the 1913 aqueduct as thirsty Los Angeles’ population soared. It built additional hydroelectric plants and reservoirs. Although distrust of LADWP and the City of

1965: Construction starts on Second L.A. Aqueduct.

1970: Second L.A. Aqueduct is placed into operation.

1972: Inyo County files suit against L.A. over operation of the Second L.A. Aqueduct

Los Angeles has been a popular sentiment in the Eastern Sierra, it has lessened in recent decades. The times changed dramatically for LADWP with the founding of the environmental movement in the 1970s. There is little disputing that the department was pushed and prodded by lawsuits and activists into its mitigation programs such as refilling Mono Lake, Owens Lake Dust Control and the restoration of the Lower Owens River. If the department went along grudgingly, it also has done things well, earning praise for many of its remediation efforts. The recent and current era has seen LADWP be more open to engaging others in joint strategies to mitigate the environmental effects of water diversion, a willingness to meet its joint obligations to save precious water and export it to L.A., while fostering a sense of stewardship over its landholdings. From its early days, the department developed extensive recreational opportunities for vacationers in the Eastern Sierra and promoted the area as a destination. It allows access to much of its holdings for the public to fish, hike, camp, boat, rock climb, kayak and more. Also, it has been LADWP policy to make these lands available for use by local farm and ranch operators, pack outfits, businesses, schools, city and county governments, state and

1973: Population: 2.8 million Water Supply: 567,000 AF

1973: California Aqueduct State Water Project begins water deliveries to L.A.

federal agencies, and college and university researchers as well. The significance of the Los Angeles Aqueduct Centennial is evident to many, and prompted the Los Angeles City Council to proclaim 2013 “Year of the Los Angeles Aqueduct,” stating: “WHEREAS, on November 5, 1913, thousands of people converged at the northeast end of the San Fernando Valley to celebrate the opening of the Los Angeles Aqueduct Cascades bringing water from the Owens Valley hundreds of miles away to a thirsty city in need of additional resources to sustain its people and their endeavors, and WHEREAS, the completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct 100 years ago is a significant historical event that led to the growth and prosperity of Los Angeles and Southern California, helped spur an economy that today rivals many nations’ and supports a distinct culture synonymous with invention, creativity and entrepreneurship, and WHEREAS, the City of Los Angeles is an excellent steward of its Eastern Sierra land, and has a vested interest in preserving the resource in perpetuity for the people of Los Angeles as well as for Eastern Sierra residents and visitors…”

Workers laid 269 miles of pipe paralleling the aqueduct from the San Fernando Valley to the intake, connected with large storage tanks and branch lines up side canyons that were fed by creeks and springs. Ironically, drinking water for camp and construction was one of the most challenging problems. For a time, mule teams were replaced by a new kind of traction engine— called the caterpillar— for short-distance hauling because of cost. After an initial trial period with one tractor, the city government bought 28 more. Eventually maintenance and repair proved too costly, so construction crews reverted back to using mules.

The legacy of our City’s aqueduct endures.

1977: Emergency Water Conservation Ordinance adopted. Within one year, 650,000 water conservation kits were distributed.

1978: City Council lifts emergency water conservation requirements.

1982: City of L.A. begins first use of reclaimed water to irrigate Griffith Park golf courses.




AQUEDUCT By Carol Tucker

Most people know the Los Angeles Aqueduct is historically significant for bringing a steady, reliable water supply to Los Angeles that enabled the city to grow into the major metropolis it is today. But less is known about the aqueduct’s role in providing the city’s first power generation resource. Today, the 14 small hydroelectric generating stations in the Owens Valley, the Owens Gorge, San Francisquito Canyon, and northern Los Angeles provide over 160 megawatts of combined net capacity when all generating units are operating. Equally important is the fact that these power plants produce clean, renewable energy, averaging about six percent of LADWP’s renewable power and three percent of its total power supply each year. “The hydropower plants in San Francisquito Canyon and along the L.A. Aqueduct marked the beginning of the city as a municipal power utility. Yet these plants are just as significant today, providing a highly valued renewable resource to help meet our renewable energy goals and transition out of using coal power,” said Aram Benyamin, Senior Assistant General Manager of the LADWP Power System. William Mulholland and his team of engineers designed the aqueduct with hydroelectricity generation in mind, realizing power opportunities along the aqueduct and natural streams could provide enormous benefits for the city. These opportunities resulted from several dramatic elevation drops that assured power generation from water consistently flowing between 400 and 430 feet per second. In fact, early boosters of the aqueduct touted the potential for power generation as a selling point. In her book


William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles, Catherine Mulholland quotes one of the first engineers appointed to the Board of Public Works, “urging the city to develop hydroelectric power, as the subsequent revenues would pay for the entire project.” In 1909 the Bureau of Los Angeles Aqueduct Power was created to build hydroelectric power plants along the Los Angeles Aqueduct. When Los Angeles acquired water rights in the Owens Valley to construct the L.A. Aqueduct, it also obtained water-power sites along the way. Ezra F. Scattergood was selected as the Bureau’s first chief electrical engineer. Scattergood led the way in developing hydroelectric power along the aqueduct and became Mulholland’s counterpart for the Power System. Together, they were a visionary and unstoppable duo. The first small hydroelectricity generators were built at Cottonwood and Division Creeks to provide power for the aqueduct construction. In conjunction, workers built a 212-mile, 30,000-volt transmission line extending along the aqueduct from the Owens Valley Intake to Pinto Hills near Mojave. The two power plants and 45 miles of transmission in the Owens Valley were intended to remain as permanent power supply infrastructure. The ultimate goal was to generate enough power for the city itself, which required 200,000 horsepower during periods of peak demand in the early 1900s. (Horsepower was the standard measure of power at that time. 200,000 horsepower is equivalent to about 150 megawatts.)

Locations of hydroelectric power plants, and related elevation drops, along the L.A. Aqueduct route.


“The opportunity for development of large quantities of hydroelectric power along the line of the Aqueduct and on certain natural streams tributary to the Aqueduct water supply…(is) destined to be of immense value as a reliable source of hydroelectric power, which may be developed and supplied at very low cost, thus assuring low rates to electric consumers…”

The general plan for power development called for four power houses along the aqueduct at points with the biggest elevation changes: the San Fernando plant with 9,000 horsepower; two in San Francisquito Canyon that would produce a combined 113,000 horsepower, and a fourth at Haiwee reservoir, which provided 6,000 horsepower.

–from the Complete Report on Construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, 1916

On March 18, 1917, the San Francisquito Power Plant No. 1, Unit 1 was placed in service and energy was delivered to Los Angeles over a newly constructed 115 kV transmission line. The 200 kilowatts generated by Unit 1 were the first commercial kilowatts generated by the newly established Los Angeles Bureau of Power and Light. Subsequently, on April 16 and April 28, 1917, Units 2 and 3 respectively were placed in operation. This was the bureau’s first step in becoming an independent electricity provider. “We are quite proud of the distinctive role that all of the aqueduct hydroelectric plants have played in LADWP’s history, and indeed the City of Los Angeles, and we are pleased to be associated with Mr. Mulholland’s aqueduct,” said Galen Steward, LADWP Manager of Hydro and Renewable Generation. “The hydroelectric plants built nearly 100 years ago remain a vital part of our power system and a reliable source of energy for the city.”

Ezra F. Scattergood

To maintain and upgrade these vital power plants, LADWP’s Internal Generation Division has embarked upon a $54 million capital rehabilitation project to improve the reliability, efficiency, and life expectancy of the three Owens Gorge Power Plants built in the early 1950s. Supported in contract administration and project management by the Energy Services Division, the rehabilitation of these key renewable power plants will result in the continued reliable delivery of water supplies for Los Angeles, as well as providing up to 112MW of reliable and clean green power for Los Angeles. The project is scheduled to be completed in late 2014. “Whether old or new, our hydro-generation power facilities along the aqueduct will continue to play a significant role in LADWP’s renewable energy goals going forward,” Steward said.




UR FUTURE By Jane Galbraith

t where it gets its water. When Los Angeles has never been shy abou me inadequate at the turn of the local Los Angeles River supply beca s away to divert the Owens mile the last century, the city went over 200 population swelled, the the As . River into the Los Angeles Aqueduct Colorado River, more the tap to east increasingly thirsty city looked t decades, booming Southern than 240 miles away. Within a few shor r from the Sacramento-San California began taking deliveries of wate Aqueduct. L.A. tapped into this Joaquin Delta by way of the California llel pipeline to the Los Angeles source too. Then it added a second, para Aqueduct in 1970. population keeps growing. Today, the water keeps flowing and the and is 187 billion gallons. Los Angeles’ average annual water dem ly reliability but is increasingly Imported water is critical to our supp lenges and mitigation limited by legal and environmental chal me more frequent. So beco programs. Dry winters are expected to where does this leave Los Angeles?

OUR FUTURE In the 1980s, the city’s population surpassed 3 million people. The following timeline portrays the growing pains leading to today’s water policies, which focus on creating a sustainable supply that no longer relies upon purchases transported thousands of miles from distant sources. Instead, LADWP has committed to meeting all new water demand through conservation and expanding local water resources.


1982: City of L.A. and Inyo County sign a MOU to form the Inyo/Los Angeles Standing Committee and a Technical Group to resolve issues over Owens Valley water resources. This agreement marked the start of cooperative efforts to resolve legal disputes between the parties.

“Los Angeles is remarkable in so many ways—from early last century when we built the longest gravityfed aqueduct to today’s era of water awareness and conservation,” said James B. McDaniel, Senior Assistant Manager, Water System. “We are the least thirsty big city in America, and proud of it.” LADWP, in its vision, laid out its water future many years back and has already made impressive strides. Expanding local water supplies is the key, and Angelenos are getting the picture. Consider the following: in 1913, when L.A.’s population was fast approaching 400,000, the average per capita daily water use was 132 gallons per day when the city got most of its water from the Los Angeles River and local groundwater. With the seemingly unlimited supply of water from the Los Angeles Aqueduct, the average per capita daily water use went sky high—to 193 gallons per day by 1930—as the population grew to 1.24 million. Now, with 3.9 million residents, the average has dropped to 123 gallons per day. Did we mention all the lawns and swimming pools that have since been added to the mix? Los Angeles has conserved water like no other major city in the country. Between LADWPsponsored programs, such as installing 1.3 million low flow toilets to setting a tiered rate structure that incentivizes water savings, Los Angeles has the

1983: Population: 3.1 million Water Supply: 593,000 AF

lowest per capita water use of any city in the country of a million or more population. Conservation is just one of the investments LADWP is pursuing to reduce our reliance on imported supplies, along with expanding recycled water, enhancing stormwater capture, and groundwater remediation and replenishment. In 2012, the Board of Water and Power Commissioners adopted guiding principles to accelerate these local water supply goals and objectives established by the 2010 Urban Water Management Plan, which is updated every five years. Where Los Angeles once received nearly 90 percent of its water from the Owens Valley, LADWP must now purchase the bulk of its supplies from the Metropolitan Water District (MWD), which brings water from the San Francisco/San Joaquin Bay Delta and Colorado River, at a higher cost to customers. The amount varies largely based on the prior year’s snowpack in the Eastern Sierra, but it is also affected by our commitments in the Owens Valley. It is projected that in the coming year, the city will need to purchase up to 80 percent of its supplies from MWD–the most in its history–following a second straight year of below average precipitation.

In 2012, L.A. residents and businesses cut their water use to record-low levels not seen since the statewide drought of 1977-78, when the city’s population had one million fewer people. With its water-wise attitude, Los Angeles has the lowest per capita water use of any U.S. city with over one million people.

Lack of seasonal snowpack that feeds the aqueduct is a big factor. Other factors are the various allocations of Los Angeles Aqueduct water for

1984: L.A. Aqueduct and California Aqueduct are connected to ensure water deliveries to Southern California.

1985: Court approves historic five-year Inyo-L.A. Agreement on groundwater management plan for the Owens Valley.


At one time, the Los Angeles Aqueduct provided Los Angeles with the majority of its water; today, that amount averages just over one-third of L.A.’s total water supply, as much of that water remains in the Owens Valley for environmental mitigation.

LADWP has tossed 11 million “shade balls” on to three reservoirs to block the sun, minimizing algae growth and disinfection by-products. The innovative and cost-saving solution was the brainchild of Dr. Brian White, a recently retired LADWP biologist.

environmental mitigation in the Owens Valley. For more than a decade, LADWP has controlled dust at Owens Lake primarily by flooding the dry lake bed at a cost of more than $1.2 billion–a practice that consumes up to 95,000 acre feet of water each year. Earlier this year, the Board of Water and Power Commissioners endorsed a new Master Project that will save 50,000 acre feet of water each year, provide new habitats for Owens Lake wildlife, and improve visual aesthetics while mitigating dust.

water savings is instituting the city’s mandatory water conservation ordinance that has been in effect since the early 1990s, but promoted aggressively in the last several years as dry climate conditions persist in the Eastern Sierra. In fact, LADWP water customers’ consume less water today than they did 40 years ago, despite a population increase of over one million people. This is a remarkable and quite possibly unparalleled achievement for any major U.S. city.

LADWP’s stewardship of the Eastern Sierra watershed and the Los Angeles Aqueduct will ensure that water from Owens Valley continues to be an important component of Los Angeles’ water supply, even as we lay the groundwork for a sustainable, locally developed water supply. The department’s initiatives will also help to address the city’s dependence on the more expensive Bay Delta water via the California Aqueduct, which comprised 80 percent of Los Angeles’ supply in the dry 20122013 water year.

The next big conservation focus is on outdoor watering, where 40 percent of all drinking water in Los Angeles is used. LADWP is paying Angelenos to literally cash in their grass through a generous rebate program that encourages homeowners and businesses to switch out water-guzzling vegetation with California Friendly landscape that could include low water-using plants as well as permeable hardscape. For those who love to keep the look of a lawn but don’t want to water and maintain it, there’s also a rebate for artificial turf. In neighborhoods all over the city, customers have gotten creative, incorporating river rock and pavers together with decomposed granite, salvias, grasses, succulents and other natives into front yard designs that create gardens with enviable curb appeal.

One of the easier and most cost effective programs to cut water use is continuing to emphasize conservation with LADWP customers, who have cut their use by impressive levels but with solid planning and investments can institute additional measures to save more. In the last two decades, LADWP has emphasized indoor water savings such as switching out inefficient water fixtures and appliances with efficient ones, and incentivized this action with customer rebates for such items as low flow toilets, washing machines and dishwashers. Also prompting

1985: LADWP adopts first five-year Urban Water Management Plan.


The department is on a course to make over its own facilities’ landscaping into passive demonstration gardens as well, so that anyone walking or driving by one of our distribution stations or water facilities can get ideas for themselves about what they can do at their homes and workplaces.

1991: City Council approves mandatory water conservation, requiring a 15 percent reduction over 1986 usage.

1991: Board expands uses of recycled water.

1993: Population: 3.6 million Water Supply: 579,000 AF

Spreading Grounds

Groundwater cleanup falls right behind conservation as a top priority and there is high urgency to move this initiative forward. LADWP has long had rights to pump 87,000 acre feet a year mostly from the San Fernando Valley aquifer, but cannot draw its allotment due to contamination issues primarily resulting from the use of chlorinated solvents used in aerospace and industrial manufacturing dating to World War II and the Cold War. Where once the city received as much as 30 percent from these wells, now it pumps below 11 percent, and 57 out of 115 wells are out of service. While LADWP only delivers well water that meets federal, state and local water quality standards, shutting down production wells is not a long-term solution to developing local, reliable supplies.

1994: Minimum level of Mono Lake set.

1997: L.A.-Inyo reach agreement to restore Lower Owens River.

The department is now drilling new monitoring wells and mapping the contamination plumes to get a better handle on a clean-up strategy. Plans include construction of two of the largest groundwater treatment facilities in the country in North Hollywood Pump Station and at the Tujunga well field where contamination is most prevalent. LADWP aims to have treatment plants up and running by mid-2022. This is a massive and costly undertaking that will reverse the decline of the city’s leading local water asset and return it to the consistent, stable and reliable source it once was.

LADWP customers have funded the largest dust control project in American history at the Owens Lake. More than 42 square miles is covered with water, vegetation or gravel, and dust coming off the lake has been substantially reduced. Under the proposed new Owens Lake Master Project, future dust control measures will use about 40 percent less water while habitat will be increased for waterbirds, shorebirds, and migrating waterfowl.

Cleaning up the San Fernando Valley aquifer is essential in order to proceed with another of the department’s initiatives to increase local water

1998: The EPA approves state plan for dust control at Owens Lake.

2003: Population: 3.8 million Water Supply: 652,000 AF

2006: First permanent water flow is released back into the 62-mile Lower Owens River.

2008: LADWP adopts sustainable water policy to meet all new water demand through conservation and local water resources.


supplies–the ability to capture and store more stormwater in this underground basin. During L.A.’s rainy season, as much as 15 inches in a good year falls in the basin, but much of this runs off into storm drains, is collected in flood channels, and flows out into the ocean. Spreading basins are used to capture some of this water and work is already underway at Tujunga and Hansen spreading grounds to expand capacity. There are also pilot projects that will replicate this activity on a much smaller scale–in neighborhoods. In one such area of Sunland, LADWP partnered with other agencies and residents to transform a concrete and asphalt-dominated block of small homes along Elmer Avenue into a demonstration project the average person could easily replicate. Swales to capture runoff were installed in the sidewalk parkways that were camouflaged artfully with plants while on the homeowner side, rain barrels were installed on downspouts and the water diverted onto their yards. As a side benefit, the value of the homes along Elmer Avenue has increased due to the “greening” of their street. LADWP hopes to replicate this model elsewhere in the San Fernando Valley, which has seen so much of its surface covered with hard pavement, forcing runoff into storm drains when it otherwise would have soaked into the soil. Increasing the amount of recycled water Los Angeles produces is another key initiative.

2009: City Council approves mandatory water conservation ordinance after several consecutive years of drought.


2010: Mandatory water conservation ordinance is amended to limit watering to three days a week— determined by the customer’s street address.

and the result is purified water suitable for drinking. Even though L.A. has been using recycled water since 1979 for irrigation and industrial purposes– think golf courses, cemeteries, and cooling towers– the department is more aggressively pursuing expanding its groundwater recharge programs. Currently, LADWP, in partnership with the Department of Public Works Bureau of Sanitation, injects purified wastewater into the Dominguez Gap Seawater Barrier to protect groundwater supplies from seawater intrusion.

Proponents have a mantra–“all water is recycled”— and, of course, they are right. Mother Nature’s water cycle takes longer than technology to cycle the water through its stages, but the result is similar. The oldfashioned way: clean water is used, then wastewater is treated, discharged, collects together with ocean water, evaporates as water molecules, falls as snow or rain and is used again. The new-fashioned way: take wastewater and treat and filter it for nondrinking purposes, or take the purification process further by running the already cleaned water through a system using microfiltration and reverse osmosis, plus additional water treatment processes,

2011: LADWP demonstrates cost-effectiveness of investing in local water supply, compared to purchasing more expensive water.

2012: Population: 3.9 million Water Supply: 541,000 AF

As part of its initiative to strengthen local water supplies, LADWP is looking to increase its use of recycled water to offset potable demand from about 1 percent today to 8 percent in the future. Growing the recycled water program has numerous advantages, the greatest being that water for reuse is always available. Los Angeles consumes about 500 million gallons of water daily, 350 million gallons of which are treated and released into the ocean. In the view of many water experts, this is a whole lot of wasted water. In 2012, the department completed its Recycled Water Master Planning documents that explore the feasibility of extending L.A.’s existing purple pipe/non-drinking water system to deliver recycled water to more LADWP customers who can use it for irrigation and industrial purposes. The big push is in the Harbor area where refineries currently use large amounts of drinking water for industrial

2012: LADWP sets recycled water goal of 59,000 acre-feet per year by 2035 with an interim goal of 42,000 AF by 2025.

purposes. On the opposite side of the spectrum is the application of recycled water in relatively minor amounts such as for horse properties in the San Gabriel foothills where it is used to control dust. Water fill stations are now located throughout the city to dispense non-potable recycled water into recycled water tanker-trailers for other non-potable applications such as on construction sites and for street cleaning. Recycled water produced at the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys will continue to be used to fill Lake Balboa and to supplement natural flows in the Los Angeles River. Though the price tag on developing these initiatives is high, a cost-benefit analysis shows a longterm upside outweighs the investment in new infrastructure. Also, when demand falls, the department’s carbon footprint shrinks as less power is required to pump the water to Los Angeles. LADWP’s water future is a healthy one. Environmental awareness is influencing policies that emphasize sustainability over unbridled consumption. Water has and always will be precious as it sustains life and livelihoods. LADWP’s mission is not to waste one drop.

The City of Los Angeles first used recycled water for irrigating the Griffith Park golf course along with Mount Sinai and Forest Lawn Memorial Parks in 1979. In the future, LADWP plans to escalate recycled water to over 8 percent of the city’s total water use.

A new ultraviolet (UV) water treatment facility under construction at the Los Angeles Aqueduct Filtration Plant will process about 600 million gallons of water per day–enough to fill the Rose Bowl nearly eight times daily–and become the largest UV facility west of the Mississippi and second largest in the U.S.

2013: LADWP and Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District reach a major agreement for future dust control on portions of Owens Lake, which includes preservation of Native American artifacts and watersaving dust control measures. The agreement represents a first step toward safeguarding scarce water supplies while protecting air quality in the Owens Valley.


Preserving Every Drop Continuous Maintenance Keeps the Water Flowing Anything that’s 100 years old and

continuously exposed to the earth’s elements is bound to need regular maintenance to keep it in tip-top shape. This is certainly true for the Los Angeles Aqueduct as we celebrate its centennial anniversary this year. From relining the open-air concrete channel to recoating the exterior of the many sag pipes, or inverted siphons, from mowing the unlined “Big Ditch” to grinding off the old conduit concrete interior ceiling and replacing it with new, LADWP crews continuously work to keep valuable Eastern Sierra water flowing to L.A. This year, crews are relining portions of a seven-mile stretch of the open concrete-lined aqueduct channel north of Haiwee Reservoir. The project, which is expected to take several weeks, will require draining the section to be repaired, removing the old concrete using excavators and “shooting” on new concrete with a


robotic machine. Water barriers will be placed in the aqueduct to protect workers and equipment, and the city will be supplied with water via storage reservoirs to the south and from LADWP’s other sources, including the State Water Project and the Colorado River Aqueduct. At the same time, flows must be maintained above the work site to provide thousands of gallons of water each day to the Owens Lake Dust Mitigation Project. Begun more than 40 years ago and essentially completed, the First Los Angeles Aqueduct Top Pour Program replaced some 98 miles of exterior top covering of the “open channel” conduit sections from the Haiwee Reservoir Complex to the cascades. The new interior roof was installed over the old one, which is now in the process of being removed from the inside and is expected to take several decades to complete.


It’s no small task to replace more than 15,000 feet–nearly three miles–of conduit interior roof each year. But this is exactly what LADWP crews have been doing for over 10 years. The project has required the development and purchase of a special grinding machine called a “continuous miner,” featuring a huge grinding wheel. Crews lower the continuous miner into the conduit and it hydraulically lifts the grinding wheel to the ceiling, peeling off hundreds of feet of concrete daily. (To see this equipment in action, watch Inspector America: A Bridge Too Old on The History Channel.) When the old interior roof is removed, the new Top Pour Program concrete top is exposed. A crew following the continuous miner installs a layer of shotcrete to stabilize the bottom of the new ceiling. Another crew follows and removes the debris from the conduit. The new ceiling is expected to last another 100 years. It’s loud, dusty, tough work that the crews take great pride in doing. There are countless more jobs that are, and have been, done to keep the aqueduct in service. Recently, crews finished applying a new coating to 1,130 feet of the exterior of the First Los Angeles Aqueduct Jawbone Canyon Sag


Pipe to protect it from corrosion and weathering. Pipe supports are being rehabilitated on about 12 miles of the First Los Angeles Aqueduct and 18 miles of Second Los Angeles Aqueduct as the existing supports reach the end of their useful lives. Because aqueduct flows bring silt and sand, teams continuously clean the open-air lined and unlined sections of the aqueduct from the intake to Haiwee Reservoir. And crews are always maintaining the many gates, water diversions, measuring devices, access points, outlets and spill gates along the entire aqueduct system. In a time when many cities across the U.S. find it difficult to maintain their infrastructure, LADWP continues to make the upkeep of the aqueduct and all its facilities a top priority. Today’s LADWP staff boasts construction, engineering, procurement, safety, administrative, environmental and many other skills that continue a legacy that began more than 100 years ago when the First Los Angeles Aqueduct was built. And tomorrow’s crews will undoubtedly work just as hard to ensure that Los Angeles has the water and electricity it needs to continue to prosper.


2 1






After LORP



Before LORP



Before LORP

The 78,000 acre LORP area, consisting of the Owens River channel and its adjacent floodplains, follows 62 miles of the Owens River from the Los Angeles Aqueduct (LAA) Intake in the north to the Owens Lake bed in the south. The LORP area consists of a diverse mix of riparian, wetland, and upland vegetation, as well as open water, riverine-riparian channels, and seeps and springs. Fish and wildlife species have quickly colonized these renewed habitats. In addition, the Blackrock Waterfowl Management Area is a seasonally flooded wetland that supports a large variety of waterfowl and shorebirds.

10 11


Owens Dry Lake




LAA Intake

2 LAA Intake

3 Blackrock

On December 6, 2006, LADWP and officials from the City of Los Angeles and Inyo County made history when they released the first flow of water into the Lower Owens River since LADWP began diverting water from it nearly 100 years earlier. The long-dry Lower Owens River quickly came back to life. The river twists and turns, forming deep pools where it bends as it travels 62 miles through the pristine Owens Valley. Along the way, where the water’s ebb and flow wets the banks, the river


4 Blackrock

5 Pre-LORP River Channel

nourishes the soil and transforms desert brush into an assortment of riparian habitat. Immediately after the first water release, the river began to recover. Water reached the Blackrock Waterfowl area, approximately seven river-miles south of the intake, within a week. Flows reached the “Two Culverts” area east of Independence on December 29, 2006. On January 9, 2007 the new water flows joined with existing water in the lower reaches of the

6 Pre-LORP River Channel

7 River Channel

8 River Channel

river, re-watering the entire Lower Owens River.

willows, cottonwood trees and other riparian habitat.

Each year, LADWP initiates a seasonal water release, allowing the flows to increase from 40 cubic feet per second to up to 200 cubic feet per second and then ramp down again. The amount that is released each year is dependent on runoff in the Owens Valley supplied by the snowpack in the Eastern Sierra. The annual two-week process emulates natural seasonal flows to flood the riverbanks, and promotes growth of

Since the first continuous flows were released into the Lower Owens River in 2006, the river has bounced back with a vengeance. Each year, teams of scientists from LADWP, Inyo County Water Department and project consultants conduct detailed monitoring to track the ecosystem restoration. The monitoring is conducted at periodic intervals, ranging from daily to yearly, noting changes during various seasons over

9 River Channel

10 River Channel

time. The monitoring plan includes a detailed land management program to ensure the proper management of livestock and other land uses to protect the habitat. The Lower Owens River Project is designed to provide mitigation for impacts related to ground water pumping by LADWP in the Owens Valley between 1970 and 1990. The project involves returning a steady flow of water into 62 miles of the Lower Owens River below Big Pine and down to the Delta

11 River Channel

12 Owens Lake Bed

of Owens Lake, located just south of Lone Pine. In addition to the river itself, the project has created hundreds of acres of wetland habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds and other species. And parts have become popular places for birding, fishing, kayacking and exploring. Returning water to a wild river is not without its challenges. It is a work in progress.



By Chris Plakos

New Owens Lake Dust Control Approach Aims to Stop the Waste of Precious Drinking Water For centuries, water from the Owens River flowed into Owens Lake. However, the water level in the lake naturally varied in elevation year to year, rarely being completely filled. Epic dust storms were common in the Owens Valley throughout its history, but as humans tapped into the river as a water resource and diverted it, first for farming and ranching in the Owens Valley and later to Los Angeles via the Los Angeles Aqueduct, areas of the lakebed were increasingly exposed. The lake dried up, and dust kicked up by high winds funneling through the valley increased, occasionally resulting in further dust storms that blew lakebed particulates up to 50 miles away.

Since 2001, LADWP has devoted immense financial and water resources to meet its obligations to control dust at Owens Lake related to its water diversions. LADWP customers have funded the largest dust control project in American history, covering almost 42 square miles of the lakebed with water, vegetation or gravel. The project has required massive construction, operation and maintenance efforts by LADWP, with a total cost of more than $1.2 billion to-date. This has resulted in substantial and enduring environmental progress, leading to an enormous reduction in dust blowing from the lakebed and a historic reduction in air pollution in the Owens Valley.

would supply the entire City of San Francisco for a year–more than 30 billion gallons of water a year.

In 1998, after many years of discussion with the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District (Great Basin), LADWP accepted responsibility for reducing the dust emissions caused by diverting water to the L.A. Aqueduct. Under an agreement reached with Great Basin, LADWP embarked upon one of the nation’s largest dust mitigation programs.

The effort has also used an enormous amount of scarce water resources. The amount of drinking water being used to control dust on Owens Lake each day would overflow the Pasadena Rose Bowl every day of the year. Put another way: now and for every year going forward, until other dust control methods are approved to replace some of this water use, the amount of water annually devoted by LADWP to Owens Lake

With the goal of saving water and its customers’ money, LADWP in March 2013 proposed to Owens Valley stakeholders a new Owens Lake Master Project to protect and enhance the Owens Valley environment. The Master Project, if implemented with the cooperation of State and Federal officials, would reduce water use on the lakebed and enhance dust control through a mix of tillage, vegetation, gravel, roads

As a result, LADWP now devotes nearly 50 percent of its historic L.A. Aqueduct water to dust and other environmental mitigation projects in the Owens Valley and Eastern Sierra, resulting in the need to purchase an equivalent amount of scarce water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California– putting increased pressure on water supplies from the Bay-Delta–and LADWP customers’ amazing conservation efforts that have reduced water use in the city to 1970s levels, despite a population increase of more than a million.

to enhance public access, and brine– while preserving and creating new wildlife habitat. The proposed master project is based on the work done over the past three years by a diverse group of Owens Valley stakeholders including State and local agencies, environmental organizations, interested citizens and LADWP as part of the Owens Lake Master Plan process. The Master Project would be implemented in five phases and would reduce the amount of water used to control dust to less than 50 percent of current levels. By the end of the final phase, habitat will have been remarkably increased across Owens Lake for diving water birds, breeding shorebirds, breeding waterfowl, migrating shorebirds and waterfowl, and mammals and reptiles.

environmentally sensitive dust control measures are available and can be utilized at Owens Lake if LADWP receives authorization to apply them. LADWP is proposing this new master project to accomplish the goals of saving water and improving Owens Lake habitat.”

The proposed master project would utilize four waterless dust control measures including brine, gravel cover, non-uniform meandering ridges and tillage. Brine is essentially water with very high salinity similar to that in the existing Owens Lake brine pool that experiences little to no evaporation. Gravel consists of a layer of locally-sourced crushed rock, similar to what LADWP finished placing on more than two square miles of the lakebed in 2012 that has proven to effectively control dust while visually blending with the “LADWP remains fully committed to its environmental protection efforts surrounding environment. Ridges are random, curving ridges of lakebed in the Owens Valley, but the use of soil, providing alcoves of protected drinking water for dust suppression playa. And tillage features low ridges is no longer environmentally sustainable or economically feasible,” of native soil oriented to allow for positive drainage and provide said LADWP General Manager topographic relief. Ron Nichols. “Fortunately, more

The decade-long LADWP dust control program has come at a steep price. More than half the water that once flowed through the L.A. Aqueduct is now diverted to Owens Valley and other Eastern Sierra environmental enhancement projects. It has also negatively impacted the average Los Angeles water customer, who now devotes nearly two months of every year’s water bill to dust control. In fact, this year, the L.A. Aqueduct will deliver more water to Owens Lake than to customers in Los Angeles. “We believe that we have found a sensible solution to a complex problem that will control dust, protect the environment and save our customers money in the long run. We look forward to working with stakeholders and state regulators to make the Owens Lake Master Project a reality,” said James McDaniel, Senior Assistant General Manager–Water System.

Master Project Conceptual Drawings




PROJECTS UNDER DEVELOPMENT • Big Pine northeast regreening • Independence east side regreening

COMPLETED PROJECTS • Owens Valley weed control • Owens Valley mosquito abatement • Land management plans completed for LADWP watershed • Habitat protection project implemented along Owens River south of Pleasant Valley Reservoir

IMPLEMENTED PROJECTS Water is provided to: • Shepherds Creek alfalfa field in Independence • Fish Springs and Blackrock Fish Hatcheries • Seeley Springs • Little Blackrock Springs • Independence pasturelands and native pastures (743 acres) • Lone Pine riparian park (320 acres) • Lone Pine regreening, east and west • Buckley Ponds • Lower Owens River Project • Laws native pasturelands (564 acres) • Farmer’s Pond • Klondike Lake & South Shore Habitat Area • Millpond Recreation Area • Owens Lake Dust Mitigation Project • Yellow Billed Cuckoo Habitat Enhancement Project • Freeman Creek • Warren Lake • Hines Spring • Aberdeen Ditch • Area North of Mazourka Canyon Road • Homestead • Well 368 Pup fish Habitat Area • Diaz Lake

Many of these projects are part of the Mitigation Program that was agreed to by Inyo County and the City of Los Angeles in the “1991 Environmental Impact Report on Water from the Owens Valley to Supply the Second Los Angeles Aqueduct.” Many were already being implemented and actually began well before the 1990s as ongoing enhancement projects.

ENVIRONMENTAL ENHANCEMENT PROJECTS When you are out and about in the Owens Valley, look for LADWP trucks and employees who may be working on projects that are changing things for the better. LADWP is working on dozens of projects that will enhance the environment for the people and wildlife of the Owens Valley (see map).







For nearly 100 years, LADWP land in the Eastern Sierra has offered some of the best recreational opportunities in the west. Visitors and locals alike enjoy wide-open spaces, clean air and almost limitless outdoor activities on the 487 square miles owned and preserved by LADWP to provide valuable water to Los Angeles residents and businesses. While LADWP has significant land holdings in Inyo and Mono counties, the United States Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management manage nearly 10 times as much land as LADWP. Because the three public agencies own almost 97 percent of the land in the area, the Eastern Sierra remains one of the last places in California left virtually untouched by development and pollution.


© Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved


© Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved

By Jane Galbraith

A special aqueduct centennial edition of Intake wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging the movie Chinatown that is well loved and admired by many despite its historical inaccuracies. People around the region are using this occasion to take in the sweep of the aqueduct’s legacy, including its impact in creative circles. Professor William Deverell, chairman of USC’s Department of History and Director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, and Tom Sitton, curator emeritus of the Natural History Museum and an author of several books on L.A.’s history, are two such individuals. For Boom: A Journal of California, they co-authored the following column that presents a fact versus fiction assessment of Chinatown.

It is also worthy to note some little known facts about the movie, notably that the department provided access to Roman Polanski, the director, and his crew for a scene shot at Stone Canyon Reservoir. LADWP water engineer William Straub was assigned to oversee the shoot as the fictional chief water engineer Hollis Mulwray’s body is pulled out of the overflow channel that runs from Upper to Lower Stone. Straub’s chief concern was to see that the water quality was not compromised in any way. What is not known is whether anyone in the Water System knew what the movie was about at the time the filmmakers sought the department’s cooperation. If LADWP management was provided a script beforehand, or even asked for one, is hard to verify some 40 years later.

To provide some context, it is not lost on LADWP employees, or most city employees, that many people believe Chinatown is the true story of L.A.’s water history. Most LADWP and city employees, and knowledgeable academics, know this isn’t the case, but the perception doesn’t seem to wane. Nearly anyone who has worked at LADWP at one time or another has had to answer to someone who says, once they know your department association, “Oh, yeah, Chinatown!” or some such response. So we welcome the analysis.

What is also true is that Robert Towne, who won an Oscar for best original screenplay for Chinatown, had never been to the Owens Valley or seen the Los Angeles Aqueduct until 2009, decades after he scripted his acclaimed work. For Paramount Pictures’ release of Chinatown: Centennial Collection DVD, Towne agreed to participate in a special featurette called “Water and Power” where he travels along the aqueduct, stopping at the intake and Jawbone Canyon, and comments on what he is experiencing–clearly awed by

the scope of William Mulholland’s impressive engineering achievement. Finally, movie critics like to point out the thinly-disguised correlation between Mulwray, the earnestbut-dull chief water engineer in Chinatown, and Mulholland, who by most accounts was earnest, but was hardly a milquetoast. Far from it, in fact. He was good natured and robust and had a close, loving relationship with his wife. One thing is certain, no one could have anticipated in 1974 that Chinatown would become a film noir classic and one of the most celebrated movies of the last half-century. It is a flight of fancy to envision Mulholland, Fred Eaton, Senator Frank Putnam Flint, President Theodore Roosevelt, J.B. Lippincott and others with glasses of Irish whiskey and a few cigars together in a screening room to watch a darklythemed movie about corruption and water in Los Angeles. They’d likely be confounded by the complex plot that bears no resemblance to their aqueduct involvement, but it’s also likely that, like the rest of us, they’d find it hugely entertaining.


GUEST WRITER BIOGRAPHIES William Deverell is director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West and chairman of the USC History Department. He earned his undergraduate degree in American Studies from Stanford University and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in American History from Princeton University. With Tom Sitton, he is co-editor of a forthcoming volume of primary sources focusing on the growth of metropolitan Los Angeles and the region’s relationship to three rivers: the Los Angeles, the Owens, and the Colorado. Dr. Deverell is also a member of the Los Angeles Aqueduct Centennial Honorary Committee. Tom Sitton is a curator emeritus of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, where he retired as head of the History Department in 2006. He earned his PhD in American History from the University of California at Riverside in 1983. He has written several books on the history of Los Angeles and Southern California, including a political biography of Dr. John Randolph Haynes, who was an LADWP commissioner from 1921 to 1937. Dr. Sitton is also a member of the Los Angeles Aqueduct Centennial Honorary Committee. © Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved


By William Deverell and Tom Sitton

Searching for the Truth in Chinatown Don’t ask us how many times we’ve seen it; it’s embarrassing. Chinatown is a justly famous triumph of American filmmaking, acting, directing, cinematic sound, and more. The screenplay is ingenious, filled with puzzles, puns, and side plots. Too much ink has been spilled discussing the merits of the film as history; that’s beside the point. What’s more interesting is to lay film and history alongside one another–as Robert Towne so clearly did in writing his screenplay and see how they compare. In that spirit, and recalling what a friend of ours recently said (“the movie is wrong and right all at once”), here are some 100th anniversary thoughts

about the movie and its non-fiction counterparts in Los Angeles history.

The eyes have it. Eyes–Jake’s and more, generally–are the organizing principle of the film –more so than Jack Nicholson’s nose stuck where it shouldn’t go. We’re hardly the first to point out that so much of the movie revolves around ocular metaphors and both missed and unmissed clues. Jake Gittes is a private eye, of course, but he’s not seeing very well in the film. He misses a lot. He can’t detect. He tries, in the county archives, to see the truth, but the light works against him, truth is obscured. He can’t see

“across,” or “a Cross,” even when the truth is right in his face. Faye Dunaway has a flaw in her eye, and she can’t see what’s going on, either– and ends up getting shot through the eye in the end. Glasses, whose and what kind, are the key to the entire film. And who can forget the fish staring up at Jake from his luncheon plate, seeming to dare him to see, at long last, exactly what’s going on? Seeing is often a long ways from understanding, as Jake Gittes makes plain in the film.

What is going on? Conspiracy. The intricate Chinatown plot revolves

Reprinted with permission. Boom: A Journal of California, Fall 2013.


around a conspiracy in which wealthy Los Angeles businessman Noah Cross plots to bring Sierra Nevada water to his recently-acquired agricultural acreage in the northwest San Fernando Valley by murdering an opponent of a $10 million bond issue to finance building of an aqueduct and reservoir. Cross uses hired muscle and city personnel to enforce the secrecy of the fraud. Private investigator Jake Gittes eventually uncovers the plot to convince Los Angeles taxpayers that drought necessitates that they pay for the transfer of water, which would irrigate Cross’s land, raise prices, and make him another fortune. The conspiracy theory concerning the origins of the actual Owens Valley project evolved in the early 1900’s as newspaper editor Sam Clover and others sensed a plot by regional capitalists to use public funding to enrich themselves. In 1910, William T. Spilman wrote a little booklet called The Conspiracy, which spelled out the ramifications of the theory embellished by others (screenwriter Robert Towne most famously) ever since. Steven P. Erie, Abraham Hoffman, and other scholars have demonstrated that the overall theory does not hold up. In brief, the syndicate—including newspaper publishers Harrison Gray Otis and Edwin T. Earl, railroad magnates Henry E. Huntington and E. H. Harriman, banker Joseph F. Sartori, developer L. C. Brand, and several others—publicized their plans to develop agricultural land in the San Fernando Valley long before the aqueduct project was even a possibility. In fact, one invited investor, Dr. John R. Haynes, confided to Upton Sinclair that he declined to join the syndicate precisely because the water project was not mentioned, or even known of as he believed. The syndicate did not become aware of the aqueduct

project until city engineers had already decided to pursue it; one of the water department commissioners most likely passed on the inside information to them. After that, the syndicate members acted as typical Angeleno boosters in campaigning for a project that would advance the interests of the city as well as themselves. That said, there certainly was plenty of conflict of interest to go around, including on the part of former Los Angeles mayor Fred Eaton purchasing land in Owens Valley, a water commissioner who was also an investor in the San Fernando Valley, and an engineer working for the federal government and the City of Los Angeles at the same time.

Who do we see in Hollis Mulwray? The easy answer is that he’s supposed to be William Mulholland, chief engineer of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, as their names at least kind of echo off one another anagramatically. But he’s really multiple personalities and puns wrapped into one character. Somehow the reception of the film has tended, in popular consciousness, to amalgamate the real Mulholland with Noah Cross, the searing and sneering figure so brilliantly played by John Huston. Mulholland is kind of both figures, somehow, Mulwray and Cross. He’s the civil servant who wants merely to bring water to the people and he’s also the vainglorious titan that will stop at nothing to bring about an imagined future for the metropolis he both serves and rules. But there’s a dash of Collis Huntington in here, too. After all, it was Huntington atop the Southern Pacific that tried – and failed – to shove Santa Monica down the throat of Los Angeles as its Pacific port at the tail end of the 19th century.

And it could be that the screenwriter wanted to at least whisper, by way of Hollis-as-Collis, that filmgoers contemplate Henry Huntington, too. Collis’s nephew, the man who later married Collis’s widow, did exercise a lot of clout on the Los Angeles landscape of just this same time. Fred Eaton is in here, too; the former mayor of Los Angeles figured that the aqueduct offered a once-in-alifetime opportunity to do good and do well, very well, at the same time. Making the aqueduct happen was very much part of Eaton’s role, and he also thought he’d get very, very rich in the process, especially if he could see his “long valley” site in the Owens Valley for a holding reservoir for a lot of money. He couldn’t, and thus the aqueduct’s managers ended up, with Mulholland as the chief instigator, building a storage facility behind the fated St. Francis Dam. When it fell down in the late 1920s, and took hundreds of lives with it,

© Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved


which water gates are purposely and secretly opened to allow runoff of thousands of gallons of water held in a city reservoir. Wasting water was an important component of the overall conspiracy to grab more water for the city and enrich Cross. The motion picture made the most of it.

© Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved

Mulholland’s fame and reputation fell with it. In the film, the dam that has fallen down is the Vanderlip, which calls up yet another titanic figure – far lesser known – in Frank Vanderlip, banker, financier, and the man who laid out, with the help of Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., Palos Verdes as a would-be Italian hill village on Portuguese Bend in the same era as the aqueduct; and a scene or two from the film is made right there. Noah Cross might also be a bit of Harrison Gray Otis, though we’d have to watch the film again to see if there are any further clues in there.

“My sister, my daughter” One of the storylines that explodes towards the end of Chinatown is Jake Gittes’s discovery that Evelyn Mulwray; wife of the murdered water department head, had been raped at fifteen by her father Noah Cross. The daughter from this union is then rendered vulnerable to Cross at the movie’s shocking conclusion and thus evil, whether incest or corruption, moves forward through Los Angeles generations. This revelation of incest explains some of Evelyn’s erratic behavior throughout the movie and, more important, casts Noah Crossand perhaps the Los Angeles elite-as irredeemably treacherous. Greed is but one of his/their vices; he/they


aim to control everything within reach. “You see, Mr. Gittes,” Cross points out, “most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and the right place, they’re capable of anything.”

was secured, all well before news of the water project would encourage others to invest in acreage on the verge of a big increase in value. Jake Gittes shows them the truth so that they can see, if not comprehend, it.

While there is no known rape or incest incident attributed to any of the Los Angeles figures involved with the Owens River aqueduct project, rape became a common description and metaphor for what the city did to the Owens Valley. Critics such as Carey McWilliams castigated city officials for their actions in altering the environment while removing the valley’s water, its life blood. Author Morrow Mayo entitled one chapter of his 1933 book Los Angeles, “The Rape of Owens Valley.”

It is true that city water department officials quietly began to purchase property in the Owens Valley without informing residents there of the possible water project in order to avoid the escalation of land values should word get out that Los Angeles had begun a land buying spree alongside the Owens River. As to the syndicate with land in the San Fernando Valley, it already had options on big chunks of thirsty land well before the aqueduct project had developed; the syndicate proudly trumpeted news of its actions in city newspapers.

The Mar Vista Rest Home In order to hide his true identity in purchasing land that would increase in value when the water project is completed, Noah Cross had the title for his purchases placed in the names of residents of a senior citizen home. The movie depicted these seniors as uninformed about, or incapable of understanding, their role, as Cross could then easily manipulate them and see his nefarious plans through. Thus he exploited the seniors while hiding his machinations until the property

Drought The real-life argument in favor of the city’s need for more water was based on the needs of an expanding population coupled with the effects of crushing drought. In Chinatown, there is a heat wave, but the drought is treated as a myth generated by the elite conspiracy to bring Owens Valley water down from the mountains. In fact, it is depicted as man-made in several sequences in

William Mulholland’s grand-daughter Catherine has shown that there was a drought in the early 20th century, as the previous decade saw below average rainfall and more of the available ground and below-ground water was being consumed by the expanding population. There do not seem to be any substantiated reports of water being purposely drained away by water department personnel. There were always breakdowns in aging infrastructure at the time, but claims about dumping water seem more like overheated campaign accusations made by opponents of the project. That said, the demand for water would prove largely insatiable; one aqueduct became two, the Colorado River would soon be brought to the very borders of Los Angeles, and the State Water Project would follow in due course. As William Mulholland said of Los Angeles, its growth, and its water needs: “If Los Angeles does not secure the Owens Valley water supply, she will never need it.”

Government Officials, Noir, and the Depressionera Setting

The film’s set in the late Depression, calling up noir settings and plot lines. The events that the film is wrapped around are events of twenty five years earlier. The Depression setting has better cars. The distinctions between rich and poor (Evelyn Mulwray, for example) stands out sharper. The Depression setting helps create characters, too. Jake Gittes, for example, calls out his antagonist in the orange groves of the “northwest valley” as a “dumb Okie.” This is a

nod to the heavy migration of Dust Bowlers throughout the 1930s to greater Los Angeles. To state the obvious, the neo-noir atmosphere of Chinatown does not present public servants in the best light. Los Angeles City Council members are treated derisively in a scene where a flock of sheep bleat their way through not-so-august chambers. Are they sheep, too? Department of Water and Power employees seem to be aiding the secrecy of the water project, and the doomed chief engineer Hollis Mulwray is pictured as the lone dissenter. LAPD officers appear reasonably able, but in the end they are not going to pursue the wealthy and influential Noah Cross for his crimes. Given its setting in the 1930s, Chinatown is actually soft on local government officials and employees of actual Depression-era Los Angeles. Political reformers charged Mayor Frank Shaw’s administration with many misdeeds; city commissioners accused of corruption were fired or convicted of crimes, and Shaw was finally recalled from office in 1938. This followed a major police scandal based on an attempted murder and a cover-up of widespread corruption. Several county officials were also removed for malfeasance in the 1930s. The county district attorney was often accused of ignoring official corruption, protecting the leaders of an underworld syndicate amid gangland killings, and kow-towing to the demands of the anti-labor business elite, of which Noah Cross would have been a stalwart member. This was not the best decade for those who vowed to protect and serve the city and county and not just themselves. Let’s see. Water, power, intrigue, greed, corruption, murder, incest, rape, echoes – even shouts --- of Raymond Chandler, Nathanael West, James M. Cain. A dash of Carey

McWilliams. Faye Dunaway in her prime. Jack Nicholson as J.J. Gittes: dashing and bumbling all at once. Los Angeles as its own metropolitan character actor: on the make, grasping, secretive. Depression-era costumes and cars. Ensemble cast. What more could you want? Asking or expecting a motion picture to hew to historical fact and accepted interpretation is a tall order, even for documentaries, given that these are not the same thing. But asking a feature film, a screenplayed film drawn to storyline and narrative and make believe, is missing the point. Better yet to sit back and watch the film, eat some popcorn, clean your glasses, and then talk about it and read some excellent works of history and film criticism that touch upon it. Then go out into the greater Los Angeles landscape, a landscape at least partially re-made by the Los Angeles aqueduct a century ago, and see for yourself. Then see the movie again. And again.

MINI-DOCUMENTARY WATER & POWER REVEALS TRUTHS ABOUT CHINATOWN In 2009, Paramount Pictures re-released Chinatown as part of their Centennial Collection, which celebrates Paramount’s greatest films produced over the last 100 years. The 2-disc collector’s edition includes many special features. One in particular entitled Water & Power is a documentary examining the true history of the City of Los Angeles’ efforts to secure more water for its rapid growth, acquisition of land and water rights in Owens Valley; and the construction of The Los Angeles Aqueduct under the leadership of William Mulholland. Watch the documentary on the L.A. Aqueduct Centennial website at



How does your work benefit the community?

The job of A&R Keepers is vital to monitoring and maintaining the flow of water to our customers in Los Angeles. This is an inexpensive, yet vital water supply for the City. My job also benefits the Owens Valley community because of the how we maintain and use the water for mitigation efforts and promoting wildlife habitats.

With over 500 miles of man-made aqueducts, the Owens River, eight reservoirs and countless creeks and ditches, the LADWP’s Aqueduct and Reservoir Keepers play a crucial role in monitoring and maintaining the flow of water to Los Angeles. Intake Magazine spent a few hours “on patrol” with Northern District Aqueduct & Reservoir Supervisor David Bay learning the ins-and-outs of this vital job.

For 100 years, LADWP employees have worked to maintain the flow of water through the aqueduct. This photo depicts the long and storied history of this important job and two men who have made careers of it. At left is Aqueduct and Reservoir Supervisor David Bay, and across the channel from him is one of his predecessors Murdo McIver, a reservoir keeper who, in the 1920s, would conduct daily patrols of nearly 25 miles by horseback.

What’s your job title? I’m an Aqueduct and Reservoir Supervisor. Before promoting to supervisor, I spent five years as a hydrographer and before that, I was an Aqueduct and Reservoir Keeper (A&R Keeper) for 10 years. What are your responsibilities? Overall my job requires monitoring, maintaining and regulating the flow of water from the Owens Valley to Los Angeles. I’m responsible for 70 miles of aqueduct, re-watering of the Owens River (mitigation projects), the Lower Owens River Project (LORP), approximately 25 creeks, Owens & Diaz Lakes, more than 100 ditches and hundreds of square miles of ranch leases. I supervise a seven-man crew of A&R keepers that do most of the hard work, along


with help from our construction crews from Independence. As a supervisor, I’m always trying to help my crew do their job better in the safest possible way as well as help them to better themselves as employees. What kind of training did you receive to be able to do this? Most of my training has been on-the-job from supervisors I’ve worked for. But, through the years, I’ve taken advantage of any training available to me, like the supervisory series of classes offered by LADWP. This training has helped me be more consistent and more sure of myself when making decisions that affect people and property.

How long have you worked with LADWP? I have 27 years with LADWP and one with the city. I also bought back four years of time I served in the Air Force. So, right now I’m sitting with 32 years. Describe the most challenging on-the-job situation you’ve encountered. In 2002, I was on my regular patrol of the aqueduct between Alabama Gates and Lone Pine when I saw a doe and fawn in the aqueduct. Who knows how long they’d been in there and been trying to climb out the slick-sided canal. I stopped the truck and was able to lasso the little guy who was closest to me. I pulled him out and tied him to the fence that lines the aqueduct—I

didn’t want him to run right back. The water was flowing good, so I started running after the mother. I missed her a few times, and had to go back for my truck to get ahead of her. I went across a small bridge and lowered my lasso to see if she’d swim into it. She was scared and kept swimming away from me. I had to get into the truck and get in front of her again a few times. But finally, about a mile later, I got her lassoed right before Whitney Portal road. By that time, my supervisor and a couple others arrived and we got her pulled up and out of the water. She couldn’t stand up or even hold her head up. I left her where she was to rest and headed back to get the little guy. I named him “piss and vinegar” (P&V ). I had to wrestle him and then lie on him to calm him down! He kicked me a couple good ones but I was finally able to tie him up and put him in the back of the truck and I headed down to where I left the mom. She wouldn’t let anyone get close to her. So I started talking to her, sweet talking her, telling her how we already got her baby in the truck. She let me slip a rope around her neck, I hog tied her and took them both right up into the hills and let them go. I untied “P&V” first, I shoved him away and he took off like a bolt of lightning. I got on the mom and turned her loose. She was able to stand up and wandered off about 50 feet before turning back to look at us and then wandered into a group of trees. I went back the next day to see if she was still around but she and her fawn were gone. What does a typical day on the job include? I get into the office early so I can read the real-time system data: elevation, cubic feet per second incoming and outgoing, water and

It doesn’t come as naturally for me, but it’s something I try to improve upon. We remain friends to this day, 28 years later.

air temperature, and any intrusion warnings. This way, I can assign any unusual work to my crew before they begin patrolling and regulating the flows along the 76 miles of aqueduct from Tinnemaha south to Haiwee. There really is no “typical” patrol. Every day is different and you never know what you’re going to come across. Sometimes we break ice and shovel snow, sand bag, or cut up and remove tree branches from water ways and roads. If there’s something we can’t take care of, we let the construction crews know and they bring in the big equipment. We are the eyes and ears of the LADWP up here. Do you remember your first day on the job? I rode with A & R Keeper Buck Sweat who had the Alabama Patrol. He told me he was going to teach me the patrol in one day, because he was going on vacation and it was up to me to do his patrol. Little did I know, it was the most difficult of the four patrols. There is no manual on how to do this work, so I spent the whole time writing as much and as fast as I could. I soon realized that I couldn’t learn the job in one day or even one year! I got through the two weeks of Buck’s vacation and had pages and pages of questions for him when he got back. I ended up taking over his patrol when he retired a few years later. Thank you Buck! Did you have a department mentor?  Everywhere I’ve worked in the city, someone has mentored me. But, the most influential person was George Zucco, who I worked for in City Sanitation. Not only is he one of the best mechanics I’ve ever met, he is one of those people that are truly interested in others. Over the years, I’ve tried to adopt his people skills.

If your son or daughter told you they wanted to follow in your footsteps at DWP, what advice would you give them? I would say “dive in, the water is nice but a tad cold.” Then I would say, “But, go get your education first so you don’t have to start at the bottom and work your way up. You’ll have time to work hard and learn as you go. Then, teach others well and have some fun along the way. Here at DWP, you’ll surely go far.”

Describe your best day on the job— the kind of story you would tell your grandkids. I was working as a Construction Equipment Service Worker at the Valley Steam Plant in San Fernando when I got a phone call that changed my life. It was from LADWP in the Owens Valley. They asked if I would consider reverting to Garage Attendant and come to work in Independence in the Owens Valley. I said “yes,” and they offered me the job. I took the cut in pay and was able to come home and work. I was born in Bishop and raised in Big Pine. So this opportunity really was a dream come true. I’ve been working here ever since. What is one thing people might not know about what you do? For this job, I drive nearly 60k miles on mostly dirt roads each year—considered by some to be the roughest roads in the valley. We have to get to the furthest away spots to take our measurements and monitor the flows. In 1999, I had the first verified sighting of a flamingo in the Owens Valley! At first, I thought one of those yard ornaments found its way onto the edge of Haiwee Reservoir somehow. But, when I got a little closer, I saw it was real.





This milestone year of 2013 marks 100 years since the completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, a short time in the history of the world, or even for most great American cities, but not for Los Angeles and LADWP. It was a transformative moment when the gates were opened at the Cascades on November 5, 1913 –launching a century of progress for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power that ultimately resulted in the establishment of nation’s largest public water and power utility, as Los Angeles grew into the nation’s second largest city. LADWP is marking the achievement with a series of celebratory events that pay homage to those who built the aqueduct, a workforce who have kept the water flowing continuously for a century, and others who revere its significance. There are events tied to historic dates, and events that are unexpected, such as an artist/philanthropist-sponsored 100-mule walk from the Owens Valley to Los Angeles and a screening of the critically-acclaimed movie Chinatown—the sensational, yet untrue account of L.A.’s water history.

THE CENTENNIAL COMES TO L.A.’S CIVIC CENTER LADWP’s headquarters on Hope Street in L.A.’s Civic Center is decorated with a large building banner featuring the campaign’s key art hung above the entrance – forming a visual statement to pedestrians, motorists and Music Center patrons. Hung in tandem are centennial street banners from the lamp posts along Hope Street.

100 MULE MARCH ANNOUNCED BY METABOLIC STUDIO With LADWP’s cooperation and assistance, “One Hundred Mules Walking the Los Angeles Aqueduct,” a mule walk from Independence to Los Angeles, is launched by Metabolic Studio. The walk is an artistic endeavor conceived by Metabolic Studio’s Lauren Bon. Billed as “a commemorative artist action to connect Los Angeles to its water supply,” the mule teams will follow the route of the aqueduct through the southern Owens Valley, around Owens Dry Lake, high desert, stop at Pine Tree Wind and Solar Farm, and pass through Mojave before making its way to Los Angeles. Mules did not walk the length of the aqueduct route at the time of construction but were heavily relied upon to assist workers in short hauls of aqueduct pipe and other heavy equipment.

LA AQUEDUCT CENTENNIAL GARDEN UNVEILED In late October, LADWP dedicates the newly-installed Los Angeles Aqueduct Centennial Garden that surrounds the recently-refurbished Mulholland Fountain in Los Feliz. The centerpiece of the garden is a section of the original aqueduct pipe and a representation of the aqueduct route laid out in colored concrete done to scale with markings to show significant milestones. Landscapers replaced lawn with water-friendly landscaping and decomposed granite, thus using this occasion to upgrade a city landmark while also providing a demonstration garden to showcase the beauty of California friendly plantings as a water and money saving alternative to grass.

YEAR OF THE AQUEDUCT DECLARED The Los Angeles City Council declared 2013 “The Year of the Aqueduct” in January when LADWP announced the year’s celebratory theme-“L.A. Aqueduct Centennial: Our Legacy. Our Future.” LADWP was privileged to have Christine Mulholland, the great-granddaughter of the legendary William Mulholland, in Council Chambers for the proclamation. “That the Los Angeles Aqueduct, one of the modern wonders of the world of engineering, continues to bring fresh, clean water to the people of L.A., is a tribute to my great-grandfather and all the people who built, and now continue to maintain the system,” she said. Her stature, candor and humor won renewed respect of Mulholland’s legacy before the council.



CENTENNIAL BOOK PUBLIC AWARENESS CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED LADWP unveils the Los Angeles Aqueduct Centennial key art featuring a black and white photograph from the front page of the Los Angeles Times published on November 6, 1913, when water first flowed down the cascades as witnessed by William Mulholland and a crowd of thousands. This moment-in-time image is used as a unifying campaign image to identify all things centennial, including a dedicated website,, palm cards with facts and figures, posters and other education and awareness materials. Six different images comprise a series of street banners to bring the campaign to Los Angeles neighborhoods. “Our Legacy” banners depict historic black and white photographs taken during construction of the Aqueduct that alternate with a series of color ”Our Future” banners that feature images of children in contemporary situations that focus on LADWP’s commitment to maintaining water quality, expanding local water supplies and continued conservation. The banners are rotated among several hundred highly-visible street lights across the city.















Clois o behin nne style



In February 1913, before the water ceremoniously arrived in Los Angeles in November 1913, it was diverted from the Owens River near Independence at the Intake structure. Nearly 100 years later in February 2013, Christine Mulholland stood at the intake in the same frigid conditions as her great-grandfather did, to see firsthand how gravity continues to flow the water into the aqueduct.

A special reception followed at the Eastern California Museum with Ms. Mulholland joining LADWP om d fr . Commissioners, ose reas General Manager exp old a . g n g i e ” tallInyo County and City Ron lat Nichols, h t p old dicate by 1.5 h g o inLos E wit of ide Angeles officials, including t ing only s 1” w t n i r re ich i p a t s n se h Councilmember Tom LaBonge, r off desig n C w n A-E colo he sig sig full ht of t pt De ch de and LADWP water management. ith g a

xce re e ri ew styl s to th uare e 00) fo ne e q (10 ison . Imag inch s o l C ind s1 beh ll pin A

Cloisonn e st behind. Im yle with full color offset ages All pins 1 to the right of the printing with gold de inch squa plating ex re except signs are only to posed fro indicate m Design

d from

se plating expo

HONORARY COMMITTEE NAMED In June, LADWP hosted members of the Los Angeles Aqueduct Centennial Honorary Committee at a luncheon at the downtown LADWP headquarters, joining together for the first time several descendants of Los Angeles ‘first families’ including Christine Mulholland, Hal Eaton, Paul Workman and Harry Chandler, along with academics, elected officials and others, to garner support and engage them in centennial outreach.

A hardbound coffee table-style book will be produced to commemorate this important year in the department, and City of Los Angeles’, history with photographs, essays, personal stories from descendants of aqueduct builders and more. The limited edition book will be available for purchase in 2014.

NOVEMBER 5, 2013 – CENTENNIAL COMMEMORATIVE EVENTS A re-creation of the opening of the cascades kicks off Centennial Day. In the 100 years since Mulholland famously proclaimed, “There it is. Take it!” there has been change in the area: the Golden State Freeway has been constructed, the San Fernando Valley has boomed, and there are now two cascades–the second one came in 1970 and has since dominated the landscape. At the base of the cascades is the same spot where Mulholland stood one hundred years ago. As was done then, the wheels of the cascades gates will be turned by workers to allow water to rush forth to a crowd of guests and the news media. Simultaneously, downtown at LADWP headquarters, a celebration open to the public and including current and former LADWP employees will be held outside the building. It is not lost on the crowd, as the signature LADWP fountains play in the background, the value of water in the growth and prosperity of Los Angeles.