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Los Angeles Aqueduct

Los Angeles Aqueduct

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The Los Angeles Aqueduct system comprising the Los Angeles Aqueduct (Owens Valley aqueduct) and the Second Los Angeles Aqueduct, is a water conveyance system operated by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is the largest municipal utility in the United States, serving over four million residents. It was founded in 1902 to supply water and electricity to residents and businesses in Los Angeles and surrounding communities...

. Designed by engineer and LADWP director, William Mulholland
William Mulholland
William Mulholland was the head of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, in Los Angeles. He was responsible for building the water aqueducts and dams that allowed the city to grow into one of the largest in the world. His methods of obtaining water for the city led to disputes collectively...

, the system delivers water from the Owens River
Owens River
The Owens River is a river in southeastern California in the United States, approximately long. It drains into and through the Owens Valley, an arid basin between the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada and the western faces of the Inyo and White Mountains. The river terminates at Owens Lake, but...

 in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains to Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

.

Construction


The project began in 1908 with a budget of . With 5,000 workers employed for its construction, the Los Angeles Aqueduct was completed in 1913.

The aqueduct consists of 223 mi (358.9 km) of 12 feet (3.7 m) diameter steel pipe, 120 mi (193.1 km) of railroad track, two hydroelectric plants, 170 mi (273.6 km) of power lines, 240 mi (386.2 km) of telephone line, a cement plant, and 500 mi (804.7 km) of roads. The aqueduct uses gravity alone to move water and also uses the water to generate electricity, so it is cost-efficient to operate. The catastrophic failure of the St. Francis Dam
St. Francis Dam
The St. Francis Dam was a concrete gravity-arch dam, designed to create a reservoir as a storage point of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. It was located 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles, California, near the present city of Santa Clarita....

, in 1928, flooded the Santa Clarita Valley
Santa Clarita Valley
The Santa Clarita Valley is the valley of the Santa Clara River in Southern California. It stretches through Los Angeles County and Ventura County. Its main population center is the city of Santa Clarita. The valley was part of the Rancho San Francisco Mexican land grant...

 and parts of Ventura County
Ventura County, California
Ventura County is a county in the southern part of the U.S. state of California. It is located on California's Pacific coast. It is often referred to as the Gold Coast, and has a reputation of being one of the safest populated places and one of the most affluent places in the country...

 (resulting in public disgrace for the city of Los Angeles and the end of Mulholland's career),. Excluding incidents of sabotage by Owens Valley
Owens Valley
Owens Valley is the arid valley of the Owens River in eastern California in the United States, to the east of the Sierra Nevada and west of the White Mountains and Inyo Mountains on the west edge of the Great Basin section...

 residents in the early years, the aqueduct system has been operated safely throughout its history and is still in operation.

The construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct effectively eliminated the Owens Valley as a viable farming community, and devastated the Owens Lake
Owens Lake
Owens Lake is a mostly dry lake in the Owens Valley on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada in Inyo County, California. It is located about south of Lone Pine, California...

 ecosystem. Mulholland and his associates (known as the "San Fernando Syndicate"), including Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times is a daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California, since 1881. It was the second-largest metropolitan newspaper in circulation in the United States in 2008 and the fourth most widely distributed newspaper in the country....

publisher Harrison Gray Otis have been criticized for using deceptive tactics to obtain Bureau of Reclamation rights to the Owens River
Owens River
The Owens River is a river in southeastern California in the United States, approximately long. It drains into and through the Owens Valley, an arid basin between the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada and the western faces of the Inyo and White Mountains. The river terminates at Owens Lake, but...

's flow. Mullholland, his associates, and the City of Los Angeles forced farmers off of the land, using violent tactics to intimidate any farmers who refused to sell land to them. In response to these violent tactics, numerous Owens Valley residents sabotaged and destroyed portions of the aqueduct. The aqueduct's water provided developers with the resources to quickly develop the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles through World War II. Mulholland's role in the vision and completion of the aqueduct and the growth of Los Angeles into a large metropolis is recognized and well-documented. The William Mulholland Memorial Fountain, built in 1940 and located at Riverside Drive and Los Feliz Blvd. in Los Feliz is dedicated to his memory and contributions. Mulholland Drive
Mulholland Drive
Mulholland Drive is a street and road in the eastern Santa Monica Mountains of Southern California. It is named after Los Angeles pioneer civil engineer William Mulholland...

 is named for him as well.

Second Los Angeles Aqueduct


The second Los Angeles Aqueduct starts at the Haiwee Reservoir, just south of Owens Lake
Owens Lake
Owens Lake is a mostly dry lake in the Owens Valley on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada in Inyo County, California. It is located about south of Lone Pine, California...

, running roughly parallel to the first aqueduct. Unlike the original, it does not operate solely via gravity and requires pumping to operate. It carries water 137 mi (220.5 km) and merges with the original aqueduct near the Cascades, visibly located on the east side of the Golden State Freeway near the junction of State Route 14. Construction cost for the five year project that began in 1965 was .

See also

  • American Water Landmark
    American Water Landmark
    An American Water Landmark is a landmark within the United States or Canada that is a historic location and is associated in some way with water...

     - for the Aqueduct Cascades (awarded 1970)
  • California Water Wars
    California Water Wars
    The California Water Wars were a series of conflicts between the city of Los Angeles, farmers and ranchers in the Owens Valley of Eastern California, and environmentalists. As Los Angeles grew in the late 1800s, it started to outgrow its water supply. Fred Eaton, mayor of Los Angeles, realized that...

  • California Aqueduct
    California Aqueduct
    The Governor Edmund G. Brown California Aqueduct is a system of canals, tunnels, and pipelines that conveys water collected from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and valleys of Northern- and Central California to Southern California. The Department of Water Resources operates and maintains the...

  • Colorado River Aqueduct
    Colorado River Aqueduct
    The Colorado River Aqueduct, or CRA, is a water conveyance in Southern California in the United States, operated by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California . The aqueduct impounds water from the Colorado River at Lake Havasu on the California-Arizona border west across the Mojave...


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