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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 operated by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Designed by engineer and LADWP director, William Mulholland, the system delivers water from the Owens Rivermarker in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains into the city of Los Angeles, Californiamarker.


The project began in 1905 with a budget of . With 5,000 workers employed in its construction, the Los Angeles Aqueduct was finished in 1913.

It consisted of of diameter steel pipe, of railroad track, two hydroelectric plants, of power lines, of telephone line, a cement plant, and of roads. The aqueduct used gravity to carry the water, so it was relatively autonomous and cost-efficient. Apart from the catastrophic failure of the St. Francis Dammarker in 1928 that flooded the Santa Clarita Valleymarker and parts of Ventura Countymarker (resulting in disgrace and financial ruin for Mulholland), and an incident of sabotage by displaced Owens Valleymarker farmers a few years previously, the aqueduct system has worked well throughout its history, and is still in use.

The construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct effectively ended the development of the Owens Valley as a farming community and devastated the ecosystem of Owens Lakemarker. Mulholland and his associates, including Los Angeles Times publisher Harrison Gray Otis have often been criticized for using deceptive tactics to obtain Bureau of Reclamation rights to the Owens Rivermarker's flow. The problem was that it was a bilateral monopoly: only one buyer (LA water board) and one seller (Owens Valley Irrigation District). Thus, it was difficult to find the appropriate price that both buyer and seller could satisfy. Typically market price is used to determine the price of the sale of a good, however in this situation it was not possible. The actual price was determined by a series of negotiations between the buyer and seller. Unsavory methods outside of negotiation came into play; Los Angeles forced out farmers and even used the violent tactics to intimidate the farmers who refused to sell. In retaliation and protest, some farmers destroyed portions of the aqueduct. However, the aqueduct's water was crucial in the development of Los Angeles, and Mulholland's role in this expansion is recognized.

Second Los Angeles Aqueduct

The second Los Angeles Aqueduct added transport capacity in order to exhaust the city's water rights permits from the Mono Basin. It starts at the Haiwee Reservoir, just south of Owens Lakemarker. Running roughly in parallel to the first aqueduct, it carries water and merges near the Antelope Valley community Warm Springs. Construction cost for the five year project that began in 1965 were .

file:LA Aqueduct Antelope Valley.jpg|The Los Angeles Aqueduct in Antelope Valleymarkerfile:Cat45-mojave.jpg|Steam tractors at work during construction of the first aqueduct in 1909file:LAAqueductUnlined2.jpg|Unlined section of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, just south of Manzanarmarker, near US Highway 395file:LA Aqueduct Cascades.jpg|The Cascades on the Los Angeles Aqueduct near Newhall Passmarker

See also


  1. * Includes construction photos.

Further reading

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