Course: Science Subtest I
Lesson: Earth's Resources
Topic: California's Fresh Water      Page 31 of 39  

Los Angeles' acquisition of Owens Valley River water was also highly controversial.

In 1902, Fred Eaton, an engineer and former mayor of Los Angeles, created the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (now the nation's largest municipal utility). Eaton and his associate William Mulholland began buying land and water rights in Owens Valley in 1905. Owens Valley residents were under the impression they were selling land and water rights for a federal irrigation project, and were outraged to find out later that the water was for the city of Los Angeles. The first aqueduct bringing water from Owens Valley to Los Angeles, which was completed in 1913, is the Los Angeles Aqueduct (although it is sometimes referred to as the Owens Valley aqueduct). Some aspects of this story inspired the 1974 film Chinatown.


Two Caterpillar 45 steam tractors pull a wagon train in the Mojave Desert during construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1909. Source: Wikipedia