Water and Power

Water and Power: The Conflict over Los Angeles Water Supply in the Owens Valley

WILLIAM L. KAHRL
Copyright Date: 1982
Edition: 1
Pages: 584
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt7zw4j7
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  • Book Info
    Water and Power
    Book Description:

    Water and Power:The Conflict over Los Angeles Water Supply in the Owens Valley.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-90741-6
    Subjects: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
    William L. Kahrl
  4. CHAPTER ONE Organizing for Development
    (pp. 1-25)

    The history of California in the twentieth century is the story of a state inventing itself with water. The principal centers of urban settlement and industrial and agricultural production in California today were in large part arid wastelands and malarial bogs in their natural condition. The modern prosperity of the state has consequently been founded upon a massive rearrangement of the natural environment through public water development. The largest of these artificial water systems operate today principally for the benefit of agriculture in California’s interior valleys. The impetus for water development on this scale, however, originated not on the farms...

  5. CHAPTER TWO Competing Public Interests
    (pp. 26-79)

    When William E.Smythe, first executive secretary of the National Irrigation Congress, editor ofIrrigation Age,and author of the seminal history of the American reclamation movement,The Conquest of Arid America,surveyed the prospects for economic development in California in 1900, he saw no future for Los Angeles and the other communities of the South Coast. Though he applauded the success of the irrigation colonies of Southern California and the rapid pace of settlement they had encouraged, he noted as well that land values there had grown exorbitantly by the beginning of the twentieth century and that the region’s water...

  6. CHAPTER THREE The Politics of Appropriation
    (pp. 80-147)

    The Reclamation Service, apart from Lippincott’s active encouragement, had stood until this time as the principal obstacle to Los Angeles’ plans for the aqueduct. The decision of the review panel did not remove this obstacle; it simply placed the federal government’s project in suspension. The city’s land and water rights acquisitions had effectively nullified any threat that the Reclamation Service might proceed with its project in the Owens Valley. But even so, Mulholland could not afford to have the service as his adversary because federal approval of the aqueduct was essential, both to remove the service altogether from the Owens...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR Forging the Link
    (pp. 148-179)

    In many respects, Los Angeles’ victories on behalf of the aqueduct until this point had been won on a long bluff. The way was now clear for construction to proceed, but the project had not yet been defined, the funds to build it had not been raised, and the technical capability of the city to undertake an endeavor of such magnitude was very much in doubt. Most important were the state-mandated limitations on the amount of money Los Angeles could raise through the sale of bonds. The city did not have a sufficient amount of assessed valuation in the 1905-1906...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE Years of Excess
    (pp. 180-229)

    The year 1912 was not a good one for William Mulholland. It began with the decision by A.B. Leach and the Kountze Brothers not to take up their final option on the city’s bonds, thereby further complicating Los Angeles’ troubled financing of the aqueduct. The disgruntled Socialists and local power companies meanwhile stepped up their attacks on the project, forcing a formal municipal investigation by midyear These problems in turn intertwined with the continuing debate over disposition of the surplus waters the aqueduct would provide. And it was in the resolution of this last question that the future of the...

  9. CHAPTER SIX The Politics of Exploitation
    (pp. 230-317)

    In 1920, William Mulholland was sixty-five years old. He stood now at the pinnacle of his career. The controversies of the past were all but forgotten; as one admiring reporter put it in recalling the attacks on the concrete used for the aqueduct, “If Bill Mulholland should say that he is lining the aqueduct with green cheese because green cheese is better than concrete, this town would not only believe the guff but take oath that it was so.”¹ To the city he had served for more than forty years, he was “the most indispensable citizen.”² For this was the...

  10. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Legacy
    (pp. 318-374)

    There is no statue of William Mulholland at the Department of Water and Power today. His portrait has been relegated to an obscure corner outside the commissioners’ meeting room at the department headquarters. But the building, like the agency it houses, is a testament to his achievement. Its seventeen stories command the top of a hill overlooking the complex of local, state, and federal offices in downtown Los Angeles. Whereas the other government structures in the city center are clad in white stone, the department has chosen to sheath itself in black glass. The main entrance is approached by a...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT The Ties That Bind
    (pp. 375-436)

    In his last annual message to Congress, Theodore Roosevelt reflected upon the changes occurring in American life as a result of the growth of giant corporations, national labor organizations, and the new urban metropolises. “The chief breakdown is in dealing with the new relations that arise from the mutualism, the interdependence of our time,” he wrote. “Every new social relation begets a new type of wrong-doing—of sin to use an old-fashioned word—and many years always elapse before society is able to turn this sin into crime which can be effectively punished.”¹

    In the case of the Owens Valley,...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 437-452)

    It is a truism that Los Angeles today would not exist without the panoply of reservoirs and cross-country conduits that make up the modern water system of California. What is perhaps not so self-evident, however, is that the reverse may also be true. The early and overwhelming success of Los Angeles’ aqueduct to the Owens Valley provided a forceful demonstration of the efficacy of public water development. And in inspiring officials at the state level to press for the construction of still larger delivery systems to benefit California as a whole, the example of the city’s aqueduct established a tradition...

  14. Maps
    (pp. 453-456)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 457-544)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 545-574)
  17. Index
    (pp. 575-583)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 584-584)