LA Aqueduct Centennial Celebration

11/06/2013 1:07 pm0 commentsViews: 60
 Mayor Eric Garcetti, Christine Mulholland with actors impersonating historical figures. Photos by Gary McCarthy

Mayor Eric Garcetti, Christine Mulholland with actors impersonating historical figures.
Photos by Gary McCarthy

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Los Angeles Aqueduct engineer William Mulholland’s
famous words, “There it is, take it!” rang out again today in a historical re-
enactment of the events of Nov. 5, 1913, when water first flowed 233 miles from
the Owens Valley into Los Angeles.
Mayor Eric Garcetti and city officials, mingling with actors
impersonating historical figures, gathered today in Sylmar, where the snow melt
from the eastern Sierra Nevada cascades down a studded flume into the San
Fernando Valley, to celebrate the aqueduct’s 100th anniversary.
The massive public works project is widely credited with transforming
Los Angeles from a sleepy agricultural town into a modern metropolis, allowing
for rapid expansion of the city and the development of the San Fernando Valley.
It was also considered a great feat of engineering, since the flow was
powered solely by gravity.
With city officials looking on, Department of Water and Power workers
cranked opened the gates of the aqueduct gates to unleash a torrent of water,
recalling the moment in 1913 when Mulholland gave the city what it needed.
Owens Valley residents were as angry as Angelenos were happy, since the
loss irrigation water decimated farming in Inyo County.
The aqueduct brought “water that truly created the city of Los Angeles,
without which we would not be sitting here today,” Department of Water and
Power chief Ron Nichols said.
From the Los Angeles River, which lent the city its name, to the
aqueduct that was built when the river proved insufficient, “our city’s
destiny has always been linked closely to water,” Garcetti said.
Los Angeles’ population grew from about 300,000 to about 800,000 in the
decade after the completion of the waterway.
“Think about that. In a decade, half a million people moving here
because of what this aqueduct was able to do,” he said. “Today we’re a global
capital of 4 million and a metropolitan region of 12 million.”
Descendants of major players in the construction of the aqueduct –
including Christine Mulholland, the great-granddaughter of the aqueduct’s chief
engineer, William Mulholland — were also among the featured guests.
The descendants and period actors recounted the lengths taken to
conceive of and plan for the $23 million project, the newspaper boosterism
employed to pitch a bond issue to taxpayers and the political lobbying required
to get federal authorization.
But even as they celebrate the “marvel of engineering, the marvel of
foresight” that made the aqueduct possible, Nichols acknowledged Los Angeles
gained not just water, but also a “century of tension” with¬†¬†Owens Valley
land owners. In recent years, the city agreed to return some water to the
mostly dry Owens River to help reduce dust storms and restore habitats.
“The last 20 years, there’s been a fair amount of compromise with
respect to that,” Nichols said.
In June, LADWP agreed to pay $10 million, continue dust control measures
in the Owens Valley and to preserve historic Native American artifacts as
part of a settlement reached with the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control
District in Inyo County.
Garcetti said the city was now faced with shedding its dependence on
imported water, not only from the Los Angeles Aqueduct but the Colorado River.
“After years of taking our water for granted, something radical again
must be done,” he said. “There are no more sources to tap. There are no more
pipelines to build … Los Angeles can, must and will protect its destiny.”
The city will need to clean up its own polluted aquifers, he said,
adding that pavement also needs to be broken up where possible to let rain
water seep into the ground to recharge acquifers.
“So, as we might have said in the past, ‘Here it is, take it,’ I say to
you today, ‘Here it still is,”’ he said. “Let us treasure it, let us
conserve it, let us share it.”

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