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1. Temps et espaces de la gestion de l’eau : perspectives critiques

Bill and Mike: How Two Irishmen Slaked the Thirst of California’s Great Cities

Bill et Mike : Comment deux Irlandais ont étanché la soif des grandes villes de Californie
Glen Gendzel

Résumés

Los Angeles et San Francisco, avec près de 20 millions d’habitants dans les deux zones métropolitaines, sont les villes les plus célèbres de Californie. Pourtant, sur plusieurs centaines de kilomètres, les volumes d’eau sont très insuffisants pour combler leurs besoins. D’énormes prouesses d’ingénierie hydraulique sont nécessaires pour stocker l’eau des rivières et pour la transporter depuis les montagnes de Californie jusqu’aux grandes villes de la côte semi-aride de l’État en traversant d’immenses étendues de territoire. Au début du XXe siècle, deux ingénieurs issus de l’immigration irlandaise nommés Bill et Mike ont pris en charge la construction des systèmes d’approvisionnement en eau de Los Angeles et San Francisco. William Mulholland (« Bill ») était un autodidacte dont les projets pour Los Angeles étaient de grande envergure, mais simples dans leur conception ; dans un cas, le projet était extrêmement défectueux. Michael M. O’Shaughnessy (« Mike ») était un ingénieur de formation académique, dûment qualifié et très expérimenté avant de prendre en charge la conception et la construction du système hydraulique de San Francisco. Le travail de ces deux Irlandais a permis à leurs villes d’adoption de continuer à croître, mais au détriment de deux vallées pittoresques qui ont été desséchées et sacrifiées au nom du progrès urbain. Les carrières de Bill et Mike ont démontré la valeur de la formation professionnelle et de l’expertise par rapport à la pratique autodidacte, mais aussi le paradoxe qu’impliquait le type d’impérialisme hydraulique qu’ils pratiquaient. Plus ils fournissaient d’eau pour leurs villes, plus les gens s’installaient dans ces villes, accroissant la demande plus rapidement que l’offre. Aujourd’hui, alors même que leurs populations déclinent, les villes de Los Angeles et San Francisco sont confrontées à des défis hydrauliques plus importants que jamais en raison de la sécheresse, du changement climatique et d’enjeux environnementaux qui n’ont jamais préoccupé Bill ou Mike.

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1How is it possible for almost 40 million people to live in a semi-arid coastal region of North America where rain falls unpredictably, and even then, in only one season of the year? How can California’s warm, dry, sunny climate support a chain of vibrant, bustling conurbations along the Pacific Coast, teeming with multi-millions of people, despite the lack of any substantial fresh-water source within hundreds of miles? What daily marvels of hydraulic engineering are required to sustain California’s two best-known cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco, with nearly five million residents between them, plus over 20 million more in their metropolitan areas? And, most improbably of all, how did two immigrants from a small, impoverished, well-watered island halfway around the world solve two of America’s toughest urban infrastructure problems by bringing water to California’s parched metropoli more than a century ago? That rather incredible story is the subject of this chapter.

  • 1 See, for example, Adam Nagourney, Jack Healy, and Nelson D. Schwartz, “California Drought Tests Hi (...)
  • 2 James Bovard, “Dear Texas, How Many Times Do We Have to Rebuild the Same House?,” USA Today online (...)

2California’s water problems are well known, but poorly understood. TV news stories of drought-caused water shortages in California invite a simple knee-jerk response: why would anyone build big cities in a drought-prone area in the first place?1 TV news viewers in other parts of the country are likely to change the channel in a huff, grumbling to themselves: “What were those crazy Californians thinking? What did they expect when they built cities in a desert? Don’t they all have lawns and swimming pools anyway?” Some of these skeptics presumably build their own homes in flood or hurricane zones where they expect U.S. taxpayers to bail them out—literally, figuratively, and repeatedly—when the inevitable floods occur.2 But aside from hypocrisy, what else is wrong with this common misconception regarding California’s alleged lack of water to support its cities?

  • 3 Public Policy Institute of California, Does California Have the Water to Support Population Growth (...)
  • 4 Lawrence J. Jelinek, Harvest Empire: A History of California Agriculture (San Francisco: Boyd & Fr (...)
  • 5 Paul F. Starrs and Peter Goins, Field Guide to California Agriculture (Berkeley: University of Cal (...)
  • 6 Mark Hertsgaard, “Water Hogs: How Growers Gamed California’s Drought,” The Daily Beast, thedailybe (...)

3California has plenty of water—more than enough for nearly 40 million people who live there, in fact.3 But the state does have two water problems that cause cyclical shortages in drought years, which climate change has made more frequent. The first problem is that most of the state’s water (about 80% of total human water usage) goes to agribusiness, not cities. Billions of gallons a year are captured, stored, transported, and delivered below cost by various government entities to subsidize the profits of the state’s sprawling corporate mega-farms, which consume all that liquid bounty to make money and grow crops. Vast and expensive water projects, built at public expense, have enabled California to claim first place among all states in agricultural output, measured in dollar value, for over a century.4 Nearly half of all fruits, nuts, and vegetables consumed in the United States are grown in California, along with more than 90% of certain specialty crops (much of them exported) such as almonds, pistachios, broccoli, and strawberries.5 But the enormous diversion of the state’s precious water resources to the profit of corporate agribusiness leaves everybody else in the state, including cities, scrambling to scoop up whatever meager droplets are left after the big landowners and corporate farmers have gulped their fill.6

  • 7 William L. Kahrl, “Water for California Cities: Origins of the Major Systems,” Pacific Historian 2 (...)
  • 8 David Carle, Introduction to Water in California, 2nd ed. (Berkeley: University of California Pres (...)
  • 9 Richard G. Luthy, Jordyn M. Wolfand, and Jonathan L. Bradshaw, “Urban Water Revolution: Sustainabl (...)

4California’s second water problem, more relevant here, is that most of the state’s water is not located anywhere near the big coastal cities where millions of people live. Water is California’s blessing, which makes it possible for so many city-dwellers to congregate along a sunny, temperate, semi-arid coastline.7 But water is also California’s curse, because it does not fall from the skies where or when it’s needed. Instead, the bulk of California’s water supply accumulates each winter in the Sierra Nevada Mountains from typically heavy annual snowfalls along the eastern edge of the state, far from the crowded coast. Few people realize, even in California, that the sun-drenched Golden State is also home to some of the world’s most intense blizzards, which occur at the sparsely populated highest elevations of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Up there, annual winter snowfalls create a dense snow pack that slowly melts in the spring and summer, flowing down into the state’s 450-mile long Central Valley through a chain of rivers that drain into the Sacramento River in the north and the San Joaquin River in the south. These two great rivers meet and converge in the San Joaquin Delta, which flows westward and empties into San Francisco Bay.8 This is the basis of California’s water problem: to supply water to coastal cities, not to mention valley farms, one must tap mountain rivers hundreds of miles away. The melting snow that flows down from the distant mountains must be captured at its source, stored, and transported hundreds of miles to where most people live. “California simply couldn’t become habitable or productive,” a group of environmental engineers declared in 2020, “without a statewide water system of heroic magnitude.”9

Figure 1: California Water Engineering Projects.

Figure 1: California Water Engineering Projects.

Adapted by author from https://sites.uci.edu/​energyobserver/​2015/​04/​28/​california-water-projects-feeding-southern-california/​ and from https://en.wikipedia.org/​wiki/​California_State_Water_Project. Credit: Dennis Silverman, UC Irvine Energy Blog, posted 28 April 2015.

Figure 2: Major Rivers of California.

Figure 2: Major Rivers of California.

Source: Adapted by author from https://commons.wikimedia.org/​w/​index.php?curid=22194638. Credit: Wikimedia Commons, posted 6 September 2010. Public domain.

  • 10 J. B. Lippincott, “William Mulholland—Engineer, Pioneer, Raconteur,” Civil Engineering 2 (February (...)

5Who were the heroes who created water systems for Los Angeles and San Francisco? These astonishing feats of hydraulic engineering were accomplished over a century ago by a pair of Irish Catholic immigrants named Bill and Mike. These two very practical men left their famously green and damp homeland in the late nineteenth century to travel halfway around the world, eventually to solve California’s urban water problem. The first of California’s improbable water-saviors was Bill, better known as William Mulholland. Born in Belfast in 1855, Mulholland grew up in Dublin, where his father worked as a guard for the Royal Mail. Young Bill’s father beat him regularly, until finally, after one last beating for a bad report card, the boy had had enough. Mulholland ran away to sea, signing up as a common sailor at the tender age of fifteen. He worked aboard steamers and sailing ships for a few years, crossing the Atlantic nineteen times before he decided to jump ship and stay in America. After a few years working in various states as a lumberjack, store clerk, mechanic, and miner, Mulholland wound up in Los Angeles in 1877, when he was just 22 years old.10

  • 11 Mulholland quoted in Elisabeth Mathieu Spriggs, “The History of the Domestic Water Supply of Los A (...)
  • 12 Dick Roraback, “The L.A. River Practices Own Trickle-Down Theory,” Los Angeles Times, October 27, (...)
  • 13 Meyer Lissner, “’Bill’ Mulholland.” The American Magazine 73 (April 1912): 674-676; Matson, Willia (...)

6Los Angeles at that time had about 10,000 people who relied on the small Los Angeles River as their main water supply. Later, Mulholland would recall that the river held “the greatest attraction” for him, right from the start. “It was a beautiful, limpid little stream, with willows on its banks,” he wrote. “It was so attractive to me that it at once became something about which my whole scheme of life was woven, I loved it so much.”11 Today, the Los Angeles River is a desolate, industrial, concretized channel choked with trash, shopping carts, old tires, and weeds, ringed with barbed wire and chain-link fences, frequented by feral rodents and unhoused people.12 No one is likely to fall in love with this urban eyesore, but the Los Angeles River was rather more idyllic in Mulholland’s day. His love affair with the riparian namesake of his adopted hometown was consummated in 1880 when Mulholland got a job digging ditches and laying pipes to bring water to local residents and businesses. Like most Irish immigrants to America in the nineteenth century, Mulholland had little education; he was a school dropout, but at least he could read. On his own now, Mulholland began to teach himself the rudiments of hydraulics and civil engineering by reading textbooks from the public library at night. Within a few years, Mulholland the self-taught water expert knew enough about the subject to take over as superintendent of the Los Angeles water department in 1886, largely because he had memorized the town’s entire network of wells, ditches, pumps, pipes, and levies.13

  • 14 On the growth of Los Angeles in this period, see Glen Gendzel, “Not Just a Golden State: Three Ang (...)
  • 15 William Mulholland, “The Municipal Water Supply of Los Angeles,” Pacific Municipalities 29 (Novemb (...)
  • 16 Blake Gumprecht, “51 Miles of Concrete: The Exploitation and Transformation of the Los Angeles Riv (...)
  • 17 Remi A. Nadeau, The Water Seekers, 4th ed. (Santa Barbara, CA: Crest Publishers, 1997), 9-10; C. M (...)
  • 18 William Mulholland, Third Annual Report of the Board of Water Commissioners of the City of Los Ang (...)
  • 19 C. Mulholland, William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles, 348.

7With Mulholland in charge of its water supply, Los Angeles kept growing rapidly, reaching 50,000 in population by 1890 and then 100,000 by 1900.14 The hard-working Irishman struggled mightily to slake the thirst of his burgeoning city. “There is nothing concerning the life of a municipality more important than its water supply,” Mulholland firmly believed.15 He installed water meters in homes and businesses for the first time in an effort to encourage Los Angeles residents to conserve the city’s most precious resource. Right away, per-capita water usage was cut in half.16 Local families had to share bathwater by taking turns dousing themselves in the same small tub. Some residents bought precious drinking water by the pitcher from handcart peddlers who roamed the dry, dusty streets.17 Mulholland knew that the city needed more water, but the meagre Los Angeles River, his first love, was tapped out, and he lamented to his superiors in 1904 that “every mountain stream within a radius of a hundred miles of this city has been appropriated long ago.”18 That same year, Mulholland took a long trip considerably beyond the hundred-mile radius to which he alluded. He rode off toward the far distant southern Sierra Nevada Mountains with his friend Fred Eaton, former mayor of Los Angeles. Eaton and Mulholland, “two sots on a spree” as Bill’s granddaughter put it, supposedly left a trail of whiskey bottles behind their wagon on their epic desert trek some 200 miles northeast of their hometown.19 Their destination was the Owens River Valley, where Eaton had gone hunting and fishing in the past. Fred was familiar with the territory and now he showed it to his Irish friend, Bill—who proceeded to fall in love all over again with yet another river.

  • 20 W. A. Chalfant, The Story of Inyo (Bishop, CA: self pub., 1922); Gary D. Libecap, Owens Valley Rev (...)
  • 21 Complete Report on Construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct (Los Angeles: Department of Public Ser (...)
  • 22 Mulholland, “Municipal Water Supply,” 541.
  • 23 Complete Report on Construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, 18-29; Les Standiford, Water to the A (...)
  • 24 Don Jackson Kinsey, The Romance of Water and Power: A Brief Narrative (Los Angeles: Department of (...)

8Eaton introduced Mulholland to the pristine, high-altitude Owens River as it bubbled and gurgled with fresh Sierra Nevada snowmelt waters in the springtime. The surrounding valley was already filling up with prosperous farms and orchards that drew on the Owens River for irrigation.20 Eaton persuaded Mulholland that this river should supply not the people of the Owens Valley, who lived along its banks, but rather, the much more distant and numerous people of Los Angeles, who, Eaton and Mulholland agreed, needed it more, deserved it more—and could pay more for it.21 At first, “I thought the project was chimerical on account of the remote distance, and the great physical difficulties that interposed between there and our city,” Mulholland later recalled. “But the city was growing so fast that we all realized that heroic measures were necessary, and if we were going to have continued growth and prosperity in the city, we would have to be brave and courageous and enterprising in securing a water supply.”22 Perhaps the scheme appealed to Mulholland most of all from an amateurish low-tech engineering standpoint: the Owens Valley is much higher in elevation than the city of Los Angeles, so even though mountain ranges lay in between, the waters of the Owens River could be transported over 200 miles downhill, uphill, and downhill again by a simple gravity siphon, with no dams or pumps. The water would flow like a giant backyard garden hose.23 Even a marginally trained engineer like Mulholland could grasp the basic principle behind what Los Angeles publicists would call “the most gigantic and difficult engineering project theretofore undertaken by an American city.”24

Figure 3: Los Angeles Aqueduct, Original Extent (ca. 1908).

Figure 3: Los Angeles Aqueduct, Original Extent (ca. 1908).

Map showing the full extent of the 233 miles long Los Angeles Aqueduct running from its intake in Owens Valley to the point at which the water cascades down into the northeast San Fernando Valley.

Credit: Water and Power Associates, Mulholland-Scattergood Virtual Museum. Source: https://waterandpower.org/​museum/​Construction_of_the_LA_Aqueduct.html. Public domain.

  • 25 Carle, Introduction to Water in California, 123. See, in addition, Vincent Ostrom, Water and Polit (...)
  • 26 Marc Weingarten, Thirsty: William Mulholland, California Water, and the Real Chinatown (Los Angele (...)
  • 27 Abraham Hoffman, “Origins of a Controversy: The U.S. Reclamation Service and the Owens Valley-Los (...)

9The hard part was that Mulholland would have to convince the Owens Valley farmers and ranchers to sell or sign over their water rights to the city of Los Angeles. Only with the consent of Owens Valley residents could a faraway city quench its thirst by depriving a blossoming farming and ranching community of its liquid lifeblood. As California water expert David Carle has explained, echoing many other historians, Mulholland and Los Angeles applied “imperialistic pressure,” compounded by subterfuge, to appropriate the waters of the Owens River.25 The inglorious aspects of this transaction were later immortalized, albeit inaccurately and anachronistically, by screenwriter Robert Towne and director Roman Polanski in their classic film Chinatown (1974).26 Mulholland recruited secret agents to pose as federal officials from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation who were ostensibly in the area to build an irrigation project that would benefit the fruit orchards, grain fields, and cattle ranches of the Owens Valley. Mulholland’s bogus agents convinced a good number of the valley’s farmers and ranchers to sign over water rights and land options to what they believed was a local irrigation project financed by the United States government. In fact, the Owens Valley populace had unwittingly sold out their landed livelihoods at a pittance to faraway Los Angeles, a city that many of them had probably never even seen.27 To reference another Hollywood classic, The Wizard of Oz (1939), it was as if the Munchkins had been duped into draining all the wells in Munchkinland to send their water to the Emerald City.

  • 28 Marc Reisner, Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, rev. ed. (New York: P (...)
  • 29 Bishop Citizens’ Committee quoted in John Walton, Western Times and Water Wars: State, Culture, an (...)
  • 30 William Dehy to Theodore Roosevelt, quoted in ibid., 146.
  • 31 Complete Report on Construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, 14; Hoffman, Vision or Villain, 79-99 (...)

10The truth came out in 1905, when the Los Angeles Times gleefully revealed that Mulholland had captured practically all of the Owens River to serve the city’s future water needs. “Titanic Project to Give the City a River,” ran the headline, although “give” was a charitable choice of words. Owens Valley newspapers portrayed the story somewhat differently, such as in this headline from the Inyo Register: “Los Angeles Plots Destruction, Would Take Owens River, Lay Lands Waste, Ruin People, Homes, and Communities.”28 The farmers and ranchers of the Owens Valley realized with dismay that L.A.’s gain would be their own existential loss, and that bringing water to the city would mean the desiccation and desolation of their valley. A local town meeting demanded an investigation by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, claiming that loss of access to the Owens River would mean “the eventual ruination of this beautiful valley and conversion of the same into a barren waste of desert.”29 The local district attorney wrote despairingly to President Theodore Roosevelt that shunting the Owens River to Los Angeles “will mean the depopulation and devastation of the whole Owens River Valley and homes here cannot, in the very nature of things, withstand the encroachments of a large and wealthy city.”30 But it was too late: Mulholland had already acquired the necessary water rights, and in short order, Los Angeles voters approved funds for Mulholland’s aqueduct by a vote of 10,787 to 755.31

  • 32 Carey McWilliams, Southern California: An Island on the Land (Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith Book (...)

11Historians have documented a sordid side-story of this tragic tale: before plans for the Los Angeles Aqueduct became public knowledge, Mulholland’s allies in and out of city government secretly bought up thousands of acres in the San Fernando Valley, near the aqueduct’s planned end point. The syndicate of speculators included some of L.A.’s leading luminaries, such as streetcar magnates, power company executives, bankers, newspaper publishers, and most importantly, Moses Sherman of the Los Angeles Board of Water Commissioners, who was privy to inside information about Mulholland’s aqueduct plans. These men anticipated the rising value of San Fernando Valley real estate after it would be irrigated with Owens River water before anyone else, including the San Fernando landholders, knew that the water was coming. Naturally, the unsuspecting ranchers of San Fernando had no idea what the future held in store when they sold their scrubby brown pastures to the Los Angeles syndicate at low prices. After Mulholland’s aqueduct brought irrigated water to the San Fernando Valley on its way to Los Angeles, those same pastures became lush citrus groves capable of producing a very handsome income per acre, and still later, prime suburban developments of tract homes worth much, much more.32

  • 33 Mulholland quoted in Margaret Leslie Davis, Rivers in the Desert: William Mulholland and the Inven (...)
  • 34 Mulholland quoted in ibid., 21.
  • 35 W. W. Hurlbut, “The Man and the Engineer,” Western Construction News 1 (April 25, 1926): 44.
  • 36 Complete Report on Construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, 274.

12Mulholland himself has not been implicated in the San Fernando land scheme. Instead, the Irish engineer was busy convincing Los Angeles taxpayers to pony up the money for his aqueduct. Mulholland worried that voters might be reluctant to approve the expensive bond measures necessary to finance his grand project. “If only we could make the people see the precarious condition in which Los Angeles stands,” he fretted. “If only we could pound it into them! If Los Angeles runs out of water for one week, the city within a year will not have a population of 100,000 people. A city quickly finds its level and that level is its water supply!”33 Mulholland’s public appeals grew increasingly alarmist: “If you don’t get the water now, you’ll never need it,” he warned the anxious residents of Los Angeles in the hot, dry summer of 1905. “The dead never get thirsty.”34 Mulholland meant, of course, not that the city would actually die, but that it would stop growing if it couldn’t get more water, and growth itself was already L.A.’s biggest business in the form of the construction and real estate industries. Voters got the message: indeed, the wide margins of approval for aqueduct bonds represented a mass public vote of confidence in Mulholland himself. As a fellow engineer noted, “the public at large realizes his untiring efforts in providing the city with the most essential element of its growth—nay, its very life blood,” meaning water from the Owens River.35 Los Angeles voters did not seem to care, or even notice, that the Owens Valley would lose its own “life blood” in the process. Indeed, the city’s official report on the project asserted pitilessly that “the waters diverted from Owens Valley to the City of Los Angeles are waters saved from loss and which have been of little beneficial use.”36

  • 37 Burt A. Heinly, “Carrying Water through a Desert: The Story of the Los Angeles Aqueduct,” National (...)
  • 38 Mulholland, “Municipal Water Supply,” 542.
  • 39 Henry Z. Osborne, “The Completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct,” Scientific American 109 (November (...)
  • 40 Mulholland quoted in C. Mulholland, William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles, 4.
  • 41 John Walton, “Picnic at Alabama Gates: The Owens Valley Rebellion, 1904-1927,” California History (...)
  • 42 Mulholland quoted in Reisner, Cadillac Desert, 92.

13From 1908 to 1913, Mulholland worked himself to exhaustion by personally supervising the construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which he had conceived and designed as a 250-mile long steel-pipe siphon. The mammoth project employed over 4,000 men working in high mountains and remote deserts where temperatures soared over 110 degrees F. in the daytime and fell below freezing at night.37 “We had to pass through a country that was wholly uninhabited, that was forbidding in the extreme,” Mulholland boasted. “There was but one idea, and that was to save the city, and we came through with flying colors.”38 With much sweat and muscle, his men dug over 150 tunnels, laying hundreds of miles of giant steel pipes that were forged on the East Coast and then shipped by sea all the way around South America. It was the world’s second-greatest civil engineering project of its day, after the Panama Canal, which was under construction at the same time.39 When Mulholland’s aqueduct was completed in 1913, on time and under budget, the worn-out engineer gave a pithy dedication speech: “There it is. Take it.”40 Within a few years, however, he had much more to say, none of it nice, about the Owens Valley farmers and ranchers who struck back against what they perceived as nothing less than L.A.’s water theft. After their pleas for additional compensation went unanswered, some of the Owens Valley townsfolk resorted to terrorism: they dynamited sections of Mulholland’s precious aqueduct on multiple occasions in the 1920s. Horrified, Mulholland sent armed guards with machine guns up to the Owens Valley to chase away the saboteurs who dared to harm his handiwork.41 Now he regretted, Mulholland said, that there were not enough fruit trees left in the Owens Valley “to hang all the troublemakers who live there.”42

  • 43 Mulholland quoted in David Carle, Water and the California Dream: Historic Choices for Shaping the (...)

14In the 1920s, as bombings periodically disabled the aqueduct, Mulholland realized, belatedly, the need for more large-scale water storage closer to the city. Los Angeles needed to keep a ready supply on hand to sustain its fast-growing population in times when drought, earthquakes, technical failures, or foul play might temporarily interdict the flow from the Owens River. This is why Mulholland, while he was preoccupied with battling aqueduct dynamiters, made the fateful decision to build a large dam in the San Francisquito Canyon, northwest of Los Angeles. Mulholland’s plan was to store water from the aqueduct close by the homes of the half-million people (with more coming all the time) who relied on it. Mulholland’s concrete dam was of grand scale, but very simple design, just like the aqueduct itself, both drawn up on the self-taught engineer’s well-smudged drafting table with little input or oversight from anyone else. The St. Francis Dam, as he called it, was finished in 1926, and by then the population of Los Angeles was booming more than ever. In the single decade of the 1920s, the already giant city nearly doubled in size from 576,000 to 1.2 million residents. “Whoever brings the water, brings the people,” Mulholland had predicted—and he was right.43 Now the Irish engineer frantically drew up new plans to bring even more water to his city from the far-off Colorado River by an even longer desert aqueduct. But others would have to build that project; Mulholland would not be around to see it through.

  • 44 C. E. Grunsky and E. L. Grunsky, “St. Francis Dam Failure at Midnight, March 12-13, 1928,” Western (...)
  • 45 Doyce B. Nunis, ed., The St. Francis Dam Disaster Revisited (Los Angeles: Historical Society of So (...)

15One day in March 1928, the St. Francis Dam developed cracks and started leaking. Mulholland, the great engineer, was summoned to inspect his handiwork. He pronounced the dam safe, and then he went home and went to bed. That very night, however, the St. Francis Dam collapsed from the weight of the waters it held—and from flaws in its design. Mulholland had chosen an unstable dam site and had not anchored the edges of his dam deep enough into the surrounding canyon walls.44 At close to midnight on March, 12, 1928, the St. Francis Dam gave way on both sides. Only a solitary block of ragged concrete was left standing in the middle like a towering tombstone. Over 12 billion gallons of water burst forth in a violent, rampaging flood that obliterated farms, orchards, and homesteads across rural Ventura County. The rushing waters were mixed with rocks, trees, boulders, mud, and huge chunks of shattered concrete from the dam itself. The biggest chunk weighed some 10,000 tons, which did considerable damage as it rolled rapidly downhill in a 100-foot-high tidal wave that flattened whole towns and laid waste to the landscape. Over 430 people were killed in the St. Francis Dam disaster of 1928, a higher official death toll than the much better-known San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906.45 Even at this writing, it still ranks as California’s deadliest single disaster.

  • 46 John R. Freeman quoted in Hundley and Jackson, Heavy Ground, 324.
  • 47 Report of the Commission Appointed by Governor C. C. Young to Investigate the Causes Leading to th (...)
  • 48 Mulholland testimony quoted in Hundley and Jackson, Heavy Ground, 268; Milkman, Floodpath, 182, 19 (...)
  • 49 “Mulholland Retires After 50-Year Service at Los Angeles,” Engineering News-Record 101 (November 2 (...)
  • 50 C. Mulholland, William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles, 326.

16Mulholland was immediately blamed for the collapse of the St. Francis Dam. The bursting of a poorly built dam washed away this Irishman’s feet of clay. A consulting engineer well acquainted with Mulholland examined the ruined dam a few days after its collapse, and he wrote: “This site plainly required many precautions that were ignored, and William Mulholland trusted too much of his own individual knowledge, particularly for a man who had no scientific education.”46 Governor C. C. Young’s official investigation of the disaster concluded that “the ultimate failure of this dam was inevitable,” given its flawed design and “defective foundations.” The state’s investigating engineers delicately pointed out that “while the benefits accrue to the builders of such projects, the failures bring disaster to others who have no control over the design, construction and maintenance of the works.”47 At the coroner’s inquest, Mulholland testified somberly that “if there is an error of human judgment, I was the human. I won’t try to fasten it on anybody else.” The stricken engineer, aghast at what he had wrought, now said that he envied the dead.48 For a time, there was talk of indicting Mulholland for murder, which would have marked a sad denouement to his illustrious career. Instead, Mulholland, age 73, was simply allowed to retire without fanfare.49 He died a few years later, a bitter recluse, a broken man no longer loved by the city that had once worshipped him as its savior. Indeed, his granddaughter recalled that in his final years, the disgraced Mulholland received frequent death threats and “he lived with an armed guard around his home.”50

  • 51 Perhaps the reason that Mulholland is better known than O’Shaughnessy is that, according to a top (...)
  • 52 Damian L. Reynolds, “How He Made Good: Some High Lights in the Career of M. M. O’Shaughnessy,” Pro (...)

17The story of Mike, California’s other great Irish hydraulic engineer, is much less well-known or dramatic—but it, too, has an ironic ending.51 Michael Maurice O’Shaughnessy was born to a prosperous farming family in Ireland’s County Limerick in 1864, nine years after Mulholland’s birth. O’Shaughnessy was well-schooled at the Queen’s Colleges in Cork and Galway, and in 1884, he graduated from Royal University, Dublin, with a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Mike, unlike Bill, was no autodidact who cribbed the craft of engineering from library books; he was a highly trained and certified professional. A year after graduation, O’Shaughnessy immigrated to America and, following relatives, he wound up in San Francisco, where his career, like Mulholland’s in Los Angeles, flourished from the start. It helped that there were precious few engineers in the Far West with credentials as sterling as O’Shaughnessy’s. More common in those days were self-made, by-the-bootstrap types of the Mulholland variety. The better-qualified O’Shaughnessy found himself constantly employed. He designed railroads, dug tunnels, dredged harbors, built fairgrounds, laid out towns, graded roadbeds, and, auspiciously, consulted on water systems. His local reputation rose so far so fast that before his 29th birthday, he was named chief engineer of the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1893-1894.52

  • 53 O’Shaughnessy, “Engineering Experiences,” 49, 54.
  • 54 Ibid., 76-77; “M. O’Shaughnessy Among Pioneers of Mill Valley,” Mill Valley Record, October 19, 19 (...)
  • 55 Ibid., 78-98. On the origins of the Spring Valley water monopoly, see James P. Delgado, “The Humbl (...)
  • 56 O’Shaughnessy, “Engineering Experiences,” 149-157.
  • 57 “Report on Water Supply and Fire Protection,” May 26, 1906, San Francisco Municipal Reports for th (...)

18In an extraordinarily detailed (but unpublished) memoir of his early career, O’Shaughnessy recalled that upon arrival in California, his first impression of the climate and scenery “led me to believe I had reached the promised land.” It was in California that “a resolute intent to develop my practical engineering [became] the dominant note in my life.”53 In fulfilling this ambition, O’Shaughnessy achieved notable success. He built a home in Mill Valley, Marin County, California, where “the water supply problem was one of much interest.” The challenge of solving that problem for his new home drew him into his first foray with western hydraulic engineering. On the 4th of July, 1890, while hiking with friends on the slopes of Marin’s scenic Mt. Tamalpais, O’Shaughnessy accidentally discovered a hidden stream that he believed could “solve the water supply of Mill Valley without a large and expensive dam.”54 Later that year, he moved to San Francisco, where the Irish engineer acquired valuable experience working for the Spring Valley Water Company, which possessed a lucrative monopoly on supplying water to San Francisco.55 O’Shaughnessy then took on a series of consulting jobs in Hawaii, building his career as a private engineer-for-hire specializing in water works. He rushed back to San Francisco after the earthquake and fire of April 18, 1906, arriving a week later, when charred buildings were still smoldering and the parks were full of homeless refugees.56 No doubt the grim spectacle impressed upon him the dangers of inadequate civic water supply such as the poorly engineered system in San Francisco that had failed so utterly—and catastrophically. The city’s own official investigation of the causes of the 1906 disaster starkly concluded: “The protection against fires afforded by the system of the Spring Valley Water Company was inadequate.”57

  • 58 “Engineers Told of Water Project: M. M. O’Shaughnessy Lectures on Source of Supply for San Diego,” (...)
  • 59 Kendrick A. Clements, “Politics and the Park: San Francisco’s Fight for Hetch Hetchy, 1908-1913,” (...)
  • 60 For surveys of O’Shaughnessy’s many projects upon taking office, see “The Municipal Engineering Wo (...)

19O’Shaughnessy worked for the next five years on designing and building San Diego’s water system, but in 1912, he returned to San Francisco. Mayor James Rolph convinced him to leave his consulting work elsewhere and take over as the city’s chief engineer—at a salary less than half of what he was earning in the private sector.58 Still, in San Francisco, the better-qualified O’Shaughnessy was paid more than Mulholland was in Los Angeles. He would have to work hard to earn his salary. In 1912, San Francisco was still rebuilding from the earthquake and fire that had destroyed half of the city a half-dozen years earlier. The previous city engineer, Marsden Manson, resigned from the strain of overseeing multiple large-scale and rushed municipal construction projects all at once.59 San Francisco was building new roads, reservoirs, streetcar lines, tunnels, sewers, and fire protection systems in great haste, even as private property owners were rebuilding everywhere in the city, too. The challenges facing the next city engineer would be numerous and onerous—but O’Shaughnessy confidently took up his predecessor’s unfinished plans and drew up more of his own.60

  • 61 Augustus Ward to Robert Underwood Johnson, July 21, 1908, quoted in Robert W. Righter, The Battle (...)
  • 62 M. M. O’Shaughnessy, “Regional Planning for San Francisco,” Transactions of the Commonwealth Club (...)
  • 63 C. E. Grunsky, “The Water Supply of San Francisco, Cal.,” Journal of the Association of Engineerin (...)
  • 64 “Big Earth Dam to Double City Water Supply,” Popular Mechanics 28 (August 1917): 188-189.
  • 65 M. M. O’Shaughnessy to John R. Freeman, October 14, 1913, reprinted in O’Shaughnessy, Hetch Hetchy (...)
  • 66 Allen Hazen and Leonard Metcalf, “Middle Section of Upstream Side of Calaveras Dam Slips into Rese (...)
  • 67 Peter Fimrite, “Last Days of Aged Dam,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 16, 2011; Dominic Fraca (...)

20Water was San Francisco’s most pressing problem. A local engineer spoke for most city residents in the years after the earthquake and fire when he asserted that “we have the poorest water-system of any city in the United States.”61 Finding local water supplies was a perennial challenge: “We are not situated here in San Francisco, as in Los Angeles, with a great big river in our backyard,” O’Shaughnessy liked to point out, implying that his Irish counterpart Mulholland had it easy.62 To make matters worse, San Francisco’s city leaders had to deal with the privately owned Spring Valley Water Company, which failed to invest adequately in developing or expanding its water works. The company preferred to reap profits from its undersized system—with disastrous results in the 1906 fire.63 The inadequacy of Spring Valley’s method of doing business was driven home to O’Shaughnessy one day in 1913 when he inspected the company’s new Calaveras Dam in Alameda County. None other than William Mulholland himself had designed this dam for Spring Valley on a consulting basis.64 O’Shaughnessy was not impressed: he scoffed at the “sloppy way” and “reckless manner” in which Mulholland’s dam was built, deeming it “slipshod and crude.”65 It turned out that O’Shaughnessy’s suspicions were justified: five years later, in 1918, the Calaveras Dam suffered a partial collapse of some 800,000 cubic yards of earthen fill and it had to undergo a thorough reconstruction to remedy original design flaws.66 The dam had to be completely rebuilt again less than a century later in 2016.67

  • 68 O’Shaughnessy quoted in San Francisco Chronicle, October 13, 1934, 3.
  • 69 O’Shaughnessy, Hetch Hetchy Water Supply of San Francisco, 1.
  • 70 “M. M. O’Shaughnessy Dies as Hetch Hetchy is Completed,” Engineering News-Record (October 18, 1934 (...)

21O’Shaughnessy’s training and experience taught him to use first-class methods and materials in major construction projects, whatever the cost. Not everyone agreed with him, however—especially not the politicians who had to raise the money to pay for O’Shaughnessy’s premium designs. He discovered that the greatest challenge of his job was not designing or building anything, but rather, working with the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. “I had to run an engineering school,” he complained, “where as fast as I could teach the Supervisors what it was all about, the public turned them out and sent me new pupils.”68 O’Shaughnessy was painfully aware that, as he put it, “enthusiastic amateur critics among the public at large are prone to demand tangible results at the very inception of any great public improvement and to indulge in unbalanced criticism, with a lack of knowledge of the facts, at the expense of the officials in charge.”69 It was no secret, as the Engineering News-Record reported, that “Mr. O’Shaughnessy [is] particularly well known for his disregard for politicians’ political methods in the carrying out of engineering work.” He did not like newspaper reporters much better: “San Francisco papers, like its people, are famous for their petty antagonisms,” he sneered.70

  • 71 Rolph quoted in O’Shaughnessy, Hetch Hetchy: Its Origin and History, 14. On Mayor Rolph’s heavy re (...)
  • 72 John Van Der Zee, The Gate: The True Story of the Design and Construction of the Golden Gate Bridg (...)
  • 73 M. M. O’Shaughnessy, Hetch Hetchy Water Supply of San Francisco: Report of M. M. O’Shaughnessy, Ci (...)
  • 74 Donald C. Jackson, “The Engineer as Lobbyist: John R. Freeman and the Hetch Hetchy Dam (1910-13),” (...)
  • 75 Ray W. Taylor, Hetch Hetchy: The Story of San Francisco’s Struggle to Provide a Water Supply for H (...)

22Nonetheless, O’Shaughnessy always had the full support of Mayor “Sunny Jim” Rolph. The city’s Irish engineer could disregard political considerations as he calmly decreed where to build the dams, dig the tunnels, lay the pipes and reservoirs, and run the streetcar lines, confident of the mayor’s support. “Chief,” Mayor Rolph told him, “you are in the saddle, you’re it, you are in charge.”71 O’Shaughnessy’s authority was constrained only by the need to raise funds to pay for whatever civic infrastructure improvements he deemed necessary. O’Shaughnessy commissioned the first feasibility studies for bridges over San Francisco Bay, three of which were eventually built, but he doubted that politicians and taxpayers could be persuaded to pay for them.72 Instead, his main preoccupation became the construction of San Francisco’s epic Hetch Hetchy water project. O’Shaughnessy considered this “stupendous enterprise” to be third in scale in all of North America behind only the New York and Boston water systems, and he ranked it as “the greatest asset that San Francisco possesses.”73 Previous engineers had already started planning Hetch Hetchy, which would require building a dam on the Tuolumne River inside Yosemite National Park.74 After Congress gave the go-ahead in 1913, O’Shaughnessy finished the plans and then directed construction of the elaborate system that brought mountain-fresh water down from the high Sierra, across the Central Valley, across San Francisco Bay, and up the San Francisco peninsula to the city.75

Figure 4: Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct.

Figure 4: Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct.

Map of San Francisco's Hetch Hetchy Project and appurtenant facilities in California, USA.

Source : https://commons.wikimedia.org/​wiki/​Category:Hetch_Hetchy#/​media/​File:Hetchhetchyprojmap.jpg Crédit : Shannon 1 CC BY-SA 4.0.

  • 76 M. M. O’Shaughnessy, “The Hetch Hetchy Water Supply of the City of San Francisco,” 750, 752.
  • 77 O’Shaughnessy, Hetch Hetchy: Its Origin and History, 20-53; John Warfield Simpson, Dam! Water, Pow (...)
  • 78 O’Shaughnessy, Hetch Hetchy: Its Origin and History, foreword.
  • 79 Ibid., 79-81; S.F. Public Utilities Commission, A History of the Municipal Water Department and He (...)

23Hetch Hetchy didn’t happen fast or come cheap. “The completion of the entire aqueduct will require several years’ time,” O’Shaughnessy warned the public when it was still under construction, “and a great expenditure of money.”76 At the outset, the project was slowed by years of political battles between conservationists, who wanted to preserve the natural beauty of Yosemite National Park, and San Francisco city officials, who were eager to dam the Tuolumne River and turn Hetch Hetchy Valley into a reservoir. Behind the conservationists were privately owned utility companies, not least the Spring Valley, that lobbied against all publicly owned water and power projects such as San Francisco proposed to build.77 “I never handled any proposition where the engineering problems were so simple and the political ones so complex,” O’Shaughnessy said after the project was complete.78 Nonetheless, both O’Shaughnessy and San Francisco civic leaders prevailed, and to this day, the dam that forms the centerpiece of the Hetch Hetchy project is called O’Shaughnessy Dam. This arched slab of reinforced concrete, unlike Mulholland’s ill-fated St. Francis Dam, is still standing at over 300 feet tall, nearly twice the height of the St. Francis Dam. O’Shaughnessy Dam has served the people of San Francisco for nearly a century, supplying the city and many other Bay Area communities with cheap, clean water and hydroelectric power from 150 miles away.79

  • 80 Roderick Frazier Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind, 4th ed.(New Haven: Yale University Press, (...)
  • 81 Muir quoted in Donald Worster, A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir (New York: Oxford Unive (...)
  • 82 John Muir, The Yosemite (New York: Century Co., 1912), 261-262. See also John Muir, “The Hetch-Het (...)
  • 83 O’Shaughnessy, Hetch Hetchy: Its Origin and History, 24, 22.
  • 84 O’Shaughnessy quoted in Bruce Sinclair, “Engineering the Golden State: Technics, Politics, and Cul (...)

24Tragically, San Francisco’s mountain marvel of hydraulic engineering came at the cost of desecrating Yosemite National Park. As nature-loving critics protested at the time, O’Shaughnessy Dam turned the second-most beautiful valley of the Sierra (after Yosemite Valley) into a sterile mountain bathtub. Submerged in the flooding of Hetch Hetchy were the same sort of eye-popping natural wonders—sheer granite cliffs, glacial domes, towering waterfalls—that still draw millions of visitors each year to Yosemite.80 Nonetheless, O’Shaughnessy and his civic allies argued persuasively that San Francisco needed a reliable, publicly owned water supply, given that half of the city had recently burned down for the lack of one. Environmentalists who pleaded for protecting the park were led by John Muir, the Scottish immigrant who in 1892 founded the influential Sierra Club and who is often considered the father of the American conservation movement. Muir angrily denounced what he called San Francisco’s “damn-dam-damnation.”81 He charged that flooding Hetch Hetchy would despoil one of God’s finest works of natural splendor. “These Temple destroyers, devotees of ravaging commercialism, seem to have a perfect contempt for Nature,” cried Muir. “Dam Hetch Hetchy! As well dam for water-tanks the people’s cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man.”82 But O’Shaughnessy replied that a mountain reservoir could be aesthetically appealing, too. “The construction of a dam,” he blandly informed the so-called nature-lovers, “would add to the scenic features of the country.” O’Shaughnessy even suggested that flooding the marshy valley floor “would be a blessing and a comfort to the neighborhood and to all visitors” because, he said, it would kill off mosquitoes.83 Whatever the merits of such arguments, two U.S. presidents and Congress ultimately sided with San Francisco, which is why, in the end, the Irishman O’Shaughnessy and his city prevailed over the Scotsman John Muir and the Sierra Club. “Hetch Hetchy is ours,” crowed the triumphant city engineer. “We’ll do what we wish with it and no one can take it away from us.”84

  • 85 Rolph quoted in Taylor, Hetch Hetchy: The Story of San Francisco’s Struggle, 156.
  • 86 Robert W. Cherny, “City Commercial, City Beautiful, City Practical: The San Francisco Visions of W (...)
  • 87 See, for example, “O’Shaughnessy Reports Hetch Hetchy Progress,” San Francisco Municipal Record 10 (...)
  • 88 Gray Brechin, Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin (Berkeley: University of Californi (...)
  • 89 James C. Williams, Energy and the Making of Modern California (Akron, OH: University of Akron Pres (...)
  • 90 M. M. O’Shaughnessy, “Construction Progress of the Hetch Hetchy Water Supply of San Francisco,” Pa (...)

25For two decades, O’Shaughnessy was the moving force behind Hetch Hetchy and many other monumental public works in San Francisco. Mayor Rolph heaped praise on his city engineer for “great knowledge,” “wide experience,” “genius,” “beneficence,” “inspired vision,” and “courage undaunted.”85 Likewise, historians have identified “long-term planning,” “technological expertise,” “efficiency,” and “effective, low-priced service to the public” as hallmarks of O’Shaughnessy’s distinguished career.86 For two decades, he patiently educated the public about the city’s urgent needs so that politicians and voters would approve expensive bond measures necessary to foot the bill.87 Such efforts were not always successful. O’Shaughnessy faced constant carping about the skyrocketing price of his infrastructural spending spree. So often did he appeal for funds that critics charged that his initials “M. M.,” which stood for Michael Maurice, actually stood for “More Money.”88 In response to cost concerns, O’Shaughnessy came up with the clever expedient of developing Hetch Hetchy’s hydroelectric power first, so that San Francisco could start selling the electric power that the project generated in order to raise money for completion of the water system.89 “It is to the advantage of San Francisco,” he patiently explained to cost-conscious critics, “to begin as soon as possible to generate the power which is a by-product of the water development, so that the revenue from power sales can be used to pay interest and redemption charges on bonds, reducing the burden to be carried by the taxpayers on the water project.”90 Electricity revenues never covered anywhere near the project’s total cost, but O’Shaughnessy arranged for at least part of Hetch Hetchy to be built on a pay-as-you-go basis.

  • 91 Taylor, Hetch Hetchy; Williams, Energy and the Making of Modern California, 252-253; Brechin, Impe (...)
  • 92 “M. M. O’Shaughnessy Dies as Hetch Hetchy is Completed,” 512; “Mountains to Metropolis,” TIME (Oct (...)
  • 93 O’Shaughnessy quoted in Nora-Ide McAuliffe, “The Limerick Man Who Built San Francisco,” The Irish (...)

26Another source of delays and rising expenses for Hetch Hetchy was San Francisco’s protracted, difficult negotiations with Spring Valley to purchase the company’s existing reservoirs and pipelines. After several deals fell through, and as the price kept jacking upwards, O’Shaughnessy finally got San Francisco voters to approve purchase of the Spring Valley system in 1930, including its network of distribution pipes already installed throughout the city. This made it possible to distribute Hetch Hetchy water to masses of residential customers. Hetch Hetchy took a decade longer to complete, and it cost twice as much as O’Shaughnessy had originally estimated, but nonetheless, in 1934, the first Tuolumne River water flowed across the state to San Francisco’s eager taps.91 Sadly, O’Shaughnessy himself never lived to see that day: he had suffered a fatal heart attack just two weeks earlier at the age of 70.92 No doubt the constant battles with politicians, the press, and the public had worn him down before his time. O’Shaughnessy wrote to a friend: “No Irishman you ever heard of has run away from a fight and I have had all the entertainment of that kind that any countryman of mine could desire in the last twenty years.”93 Four days after writing those words, he was dead.

  • 94 John T. Andrew, “Adapting California’s Water Sector to a Changing Climate,” in Allison Lassiter, e (...)
  • 95 State of California, Department of Water Resources, Hetch Hetchy Restoration Study (2006), https:/ (...)

27The stories of Bill and Mike encompass multiple ironies. Bill of Los Angeles is by far the better known of the two Irish immigrant engineers who brought water to California’s two iconic cities, thanks to the classic, though historically inaccurate Hollywood movie Chinatown, plus a scenic namesake boulevard that snakes 8 miles through the Santa Monica Mountains. Bill lived to see one of his grand designs tragically fail—at the cost of hundreds of lives. Mike of San Francisco, much less well known, the subject of no Hollywood film treatments, and namesake of only a short one-mile road (plus a dam), died before he could see his grandest project succeed for the benefit of some 2.3 million grateful users who still rely on the Hetch Hetchy system that was built under his supervision. Clearly, O’Shaughnessy’s career is a testament to the superiority of legitimate professional training over Mulholland’s amateur autodidacticism. And yet, in different ways, with varying success, these two enterprising Irish engineers brought water to their big, bustling cities, which kept growing despite California’s semi-arid climate and inadequate, unreliable water supplies. Ironically, the more water that the engineers appropriated for their cities, the more people moved into those cities, raising demand faster than supply long after Bill and Mike had vanished from the scene and California had run out of rivers to tap. In the twenty-first century, even as their populations decline, Los Angeles and San Francisco face profound new water supply challenges due to drought, climate change, and the sort of environmental concerns that never bothered Bill or Mike.94 San Francisco is under pressure to restore the Hetch Hetchy Valley, Los Angeles must reduce its withdrawals from the Owens and Colorado rivers, and state residents are forced to drastically reduce their water usage.95 Bill and Mike’s handiwork, for all its technical merits, left a troubling long-term legacy for California that becomes more problematical all the time.

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Notes

1 See, for example, Adam Nagourney, Jack Healy, and Nelson D. Schwartz, “California Drought Tests History of Endless Growth,” New York Times, April 4, 2015; Gilbert T. Sewall, “Overpopulation, Not Climate Change, Caused California’s Water Crisis,” The American Conservative, July 30, 2019, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/overpopulation-not-climate-change-caused-californias-water-crisis/.

2 James Bovard, “Dear Texas, How Many Times Do We Have to Rebuild the Same House?,” USA Today online, September 1, 2017, https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/09/01/harvey-proves-flood-subsidies-must-end-james-bovard-column/619926001.

3 Public Policy Institute of California, Does California Have the Water to Support Population Growth?, Research Brief #102, July 2005, ppic.org/wp-content/uploads/content/pubs/rb/RB_705EHRB.pdf; Allison Lassiter, ed., Sustainable Water: Challenges and Solutions from California (Oakland: University of California Press, 2015); Francis Wilkinson, “Maybe California Actually Does Have Enough Water,” Bloomberg.com, August 14, 2021, bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2021-08-14/california-drought-maybe-the-state-actually-has-enough-water.

4 Lawrence J. Jelinek, Harvest Empire: A History of California Agriculture (San Francisco: Boyd & Fraser, 1979); Donald Worster, Rivers of Empire: Water, Aridity, and the Growth of the American West (New York: Pantheon, 1985); Donald J. Pisani, From the Family Farm to Agribusiness: The Irrigation Crusade in California and the West, 1850-1931 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984); Richard A. Walker, The Conquest of Bread: 150 Years of Agribusiness in California (New York: New Press, 2004).

5 Paul F. Starrs and Peter Goins, Field Guide to California Agriculture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010).

6 Mark Hertsgaard, “Water Hogs: How Growers Gamed California’s Drought,” The Daily Beast, thedailybeast.com/how-growers-gamed-californias-drought, March 30, 2015; Jeff Guo, “Agriculture is 80% of Water Use in California. Why Aren’t Farmers Being Forced to Cut Back?” Washington Post, April 3, 2015; Mark Arax, The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California (New York: Vintage Books, 2019).

7 William L. Kahrl, “Water for California Cities: Origins of the Major Systems,” Pacific Historian 27 (Spring 1983): 17-23.

8 David Carle, Introduction to Water in California, 2nd ed. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2016), 1-36.

9 Richard G. Luthy, Jordyn M. Wolfand, and Jonathan L. Bradshaw, “Urban Water Revolution: Sustainable Water Futures for California Cities,” Journal of Environmental Engineering 146 (July 2020): 1. See also Erwin Cooper, Aqueduct Empire: A Guide to Water in California (Glendale, CA: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1968).

10 J. B. Lippincott, “William Mulholland—Engineer, Pioneer, Raconteur,” Civil Engineering 2 (February-March 1941): 106; Robert W. Matson, William Mulholland: A Forgotten Forefather (Stockton, CA: Pacific Center for Western Studies, University of the Pacific, 1976), 1-6; Catherine Mulholland, William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), 3-13.

11 Mulholland quoted in Elisabeth Mathieu Spriggs, “The History of the Domestic Water Supply of Los Angeles,” MA thesis, University of Southern California, 1931, 67.

12 Dick Roraback, “The L.A. River Practices Own Trickle-Down Theory,” Los Angeles Times, October 27, 1985; Blake Gumprecht, The Los Angeles River: Its Life, Death, and Possible Rebirth (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001).

13 Meyer Lissner, “’Bill’ Mulholland.” The American Magazine 73 (April 1912): 674-676; Matson, William Mulholland: Forgotten Forefather, 6-12; C. Mulholland, William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles, 14-47.

14 On the growth of Los Angeles in this period, see Glen Gendzel, “Not Just a Golden State: Three Anglo ‘Rushes’ in the Making of Southern California, 1880-1920,” Southern California Quarterly 91 (Winter 2008/2009): 349-378.

15 William Mulholland, “The Municipal Water Supply of Los Angeles,” Pacific Municipalities 29 (November 1915): 540; Abraham Hoffman, “Water Famine or Water Needs: Los Angeles and Population Growth, 1896-1905,” Southern California Quarterly 82 (Fall 2000): 257-278.

16 Blake Gumprecht, “51 Miles of Concrete: The Exploitation and Transformation of the Los Angeles River,” Southern California Quarterly 79 (Winter 1997): 447.

17 Remi A. Nadeau, The Water Seekers, 4th ed. (Santa Barbara, CA: Crest Publishers, 1997), 9-10; C. Mulholland, William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles, 14-22, 34-37, 100.

18 William Mulholland, Third Annual Report of the Board of Water Commissioners of the City of Los Angeles for the Year Ending November 30, 1904 (Los Angeles: Geo. Rice & Sons, 1904), 26.

19 C. Mulholland, William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles, 348.

20 W. A. Chalfant, The Story of Inyo (Bishop, CA: self pub., 1922); Gary D. Libecap, Owens Valley Revisited: A Reassessment of the West’s First Great Water Transfer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007), 32-37.

21 Complete Report on Construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct (Los Angeles: Department of Public Service, 1916), 10-14; Norris Hundley, Jr., The Great Thirst: Californians and Water—A History, rev. ed. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), 144-151; C. Mulholland, William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles, 100-111.

22 Mulholland, “Municipal Water Supply,” 541.

23 Complete Report on Construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, 18-29; Les Standiford, Water to the Angels: William Mulholland, His Monumental Aqueduct, and the Rise of Los Angeles (New York: HarperCollins, 2015), 91-94.

24 Don Jackson Kinsey, The Romance of Water and Power: A Brief Narrative (Los Angeles: Department of Water and Power, 1926), 12.

25 Carle, Introduction to Water in California, 123. See, in addition, Vincent Ostrom, Water and Politics: A Study of Water Policies and Administration in the Development of Los Angeles (Los Angeles: Haynes Foundation, 1953); Abraham Hoffman, Vision or Villainy: Origins of the Owens Valley-Los Angeles Water Controversy (College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 1981); William L. Kahrl, Water and Power: The Conflict Over Los Angeles’ Water Supply in the Owens Valley (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982); Hundley, The Great Thirst, 141-171.

26 Marc Weingarten, Thirsty: William Mulholland, California Water, and the Real Chinatown (Los Angeles: Rare Bird Books, 2015); William Deverell and Tom Sitton, “Forget It, Jake: Searching for the Truth in Chinatown,” BOOM 3 (Fall 2013): 3-7. Less well known is that this story inspired at least two novels as well: Mary Austin, The Ford (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1917); and Frances Gregg and George Palmer Putnam, Golden Valley: A Novel of California (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1950).

27 Abraham Hoffman, “Origins of a Controversy: The U.S. Reclamation Service and the Owens Valley-Los Angeles Water Dispute,” Arizona and the West 19 (Winter 1977): 333-346; Kahrl, Water and Power, 107-127; Hoffman, Vision or Villainy, 55-90; Hundley, The Great Thirst, 141-171; Robert A. Sauder, The Lost Frontier: Water Diversion in the Growth and Destruction of Owens Valley Agriculture (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1994).

28 Marc Reisner, Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, rev. ed. (New York: Penguin Books, 2017), 70; headlines quoted in Kahrl, Water and Power, 103.

29 Bishop Citizens’ Committee quoted in John Walton, Western Times and Water Wars: State, Culture, and Rebellion in California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), 145.

30 William Dehy to Theodore Roosevelt, quoted in ibid., 146.

31 Complete Report on Construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, 14; Hoffman, Vision or Villain, 79-99; Kahrl, Water and Power, 80-103; Hundley, The Great Thirst, 141-156; C. Mulholland, William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles, 112-125.

32 Carey McWilliams, Southern California: An Island on the Land (Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith Books, 1973; orig. pub. 1946), 183-202; Mark Wheeler, “California Scheming,” Smithsonian 33 (October 2002): 104-112; Nadeau, Water Seekers, 24-25; Hoffman, Vision or Villainy, 125-128; Kahrl, Water and Power, 80-103; Hundley, The Great Thirst, 156-162; Reisner, Cadillac Desert, 73-80.

33 Mulholland quoted in Margaret Leslie Davis, Rivers in the Desert: William Mulholland and the Inventing of Los Angeles (New York: HarperCollins, 1993), 17.

34 Mulholland quoted in ibid., 21.

35 W. W. Hurlbut, “The Man and the Engineer,” Western Construction News 1 (April 25, 1926): 44.

36 Complete Report on Construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, 274.

37 Burt A. Heinly, “Carrying Water through a Desert: The Story of the Los Angeles Aqueduct,” National Geographic 21 (July 1910): 568-596; E. Roscoe Shrader, “A Ditch in the Desert,” Scribner’s 51 (May 1912): 538-550; Complete Report on Construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, 82-235; C. Mulholland, William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles, 141-248; Standiford, Water to the Angels, 122-211.

38 Mulholland, “Municipal Water Supply,” 542.

39 Henry Z. Osborne, “The Completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct,” Scientific American 109 (November 8, 1913): 364-367, 371-372; Standiford, Water to the Angels, 3.

40 Mulholland quoted in C. Mulholland, William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles, 4.

41 John Walton, “Picnic at Alabama Gates: The Owens Valley Rebellion, 1904-1927,” California History 65 (September 1986): 192-207; Nadeau, The Water Seekers, 62-97; Hundley, The Great Thirst, 162-165; Walton, Western Times and Water Wars, 154-197. For an update, see Adam Nagourney, “Century Later, the ‘Chinatown’ Water Feud Ebbs,” New York Times, January 21, 2015, A1.

42 Mulholland quoted in Reisner, Cadillac Desert, 92.

43 Mulholland quoted in David Carle, Water and the California Dream: Historic Choices for Shaping the Future (Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2016),, 7. On the phenomenal growth of Los Angeles in the 1920s, see Kevin Starr, Material Dreams: Southern California Through the 1920s (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990); and Tom Sitton and William Deverell, eds., Metropolis in the Making: Los Angeles in the 1920s, ed. Tom Sitton and William Deverell (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001).

44 C. E. Grunsky and E. L. Grunsky, “St. Francis Dam Failure at Midnight, March 12-13, 1928,” Western Construction News 3 (May 25, 1928): 314-320; Charles F. Outland, Man-Made Disaster: The Story of St. Francis Dam and Its Place in Southern California, rev. ed. (Glendale, CA: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1977). For a different view of the causes of the disaster, see J. David Rogers, “A Man, a Dam, and a Disaster: Mulholland and the St. Francis Dam,” Southern California Quarterly 77 (March 1995): 1-109. But see also Donald C. Jackson and Norris Hundley, Jr., “Privilege and Responsibility: William Mulholland and the St. Francis Dam Disaster,” California History 82 (2004): 8-47.

45 Doyce B. Nunis, ed., The St. Francis Dam Disaster Revisited (Los Angeles: Historical Society of Southern California, 1995); Norris Hundley and Donald C. Jackson, Heavy Ground: William Mulholland and the St. Francis Dam Disaster (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2015); Jon Wilkman, Floodpath: The Deadliest Man-Made Disaster of 20th-Century America and the Making of Modern Los Angeles (New York: Bloomsbury, 2016). On the likelihood that the San Francisco death toll was much higher than reported in 1906, see Gladys Hansen and Emmet Condon, Denial of Disaster (San Francisco: Cameron and Co., 1989).

46 John R. Freeman quoted in Hundley and Jackson, Heavy Ground, 324.

47 Report of the Commission Appointed by Governor C. C. Young to Investigate the Causes Leading to the Failure of the St. Francis Dam Near Saugus, California (Sacramento: State Printing Office, 1928), 16, 18.

48 Mulholland testimony quoted in Hundley and Jackson, Heavy Ground, 268; Milkman, Floodpath, 182, 190. Despite his testimony, Mulholland still suspected that the dam was destroyed by sabotage, or what he called “human aggression.” Ibid., 241. See also “Water Board to Demand Grand Jury Quiz on Dam,” Los Angeles Times, March 22, 1928.

49 “Mulholland Retires After 50-Year Service at Los Angeles,” Engineering News-Record 101 (November 22, 1928): 785; C. Mulholland, William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles, 319-332.

50 C. Mulholland, William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles, 326.

51 Perhaps the reason that Mulholland is better known than O’Shaughnessy is that, according to a top western water historian, “Los Angeles, as the West’s largest city and preeminent water hustler, has attracted more scholarly attention than any other metropolitan area. San Francisco’s water exploits run a distant second.” Norris Hundley, Jr., “Water and the West in Historical Imagination,” Western Historical Quarterly 27 (Spring 1996): 21.

52 Damian L. Reynolds, “How He Made Good: Some High Lights in the Career of M. M. O’Shaughnessy,” Professional Engineer 9 (February 1924): 14; M. M. O’Shaughnessy, “Engineering Experiences: From Honolulu to Hetch Hetchy,” undated typescript memoir, NUI Galway Digital Collections, 1-90.

53 O’Shaughnessy, “Engineering Experiences,” 49, 54.

54 Ibid., 76-77; “M. O’Shaughnessy Among Pioneers of Mill Valley,” Mill Valley Record, October 19, 1934.

55 Ibid., 78-98. On the origins of the Spring Valley water monopoly, see James P. Delgado, “The Humblest Cottage Can in a Short Time Afford Pure and Sparkling Water: Early Efforts to Solve Gold Rush San Francisco’s Water Shortage,” Pacific Historian 26 (Fall 1982): 26-39.

56 O’Shaughnessy, “Engineering Experiences,” 149-157.

57 “Report on Water Supply and Fire Protection,” May 26, 1906, San Francisco Municipal Reports for the Fiscal Year 1905-6, Ending June 30, 1906, and Fiscal Year 1906-7, Ending June 30, 1907 (San Francisco: Neal Publishing Co., 1908), Appendix, 783. On the failure of the Spring Valley water system in the 1906 earthquake and fire, see Herman Schussler, The Water Supply of San Francisco, California, Before, During, and After the Earthquake of April 18, 1906 and the Subsequent Conflagration (New York: Martin B. Brown Press, July 23, 1906); Philip L. Fradkin, The Great Earthquake and Firestorms of 1906: How San Francisco Nearly Destroyed Itself (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 69-74; Simon Winchester, A Crack in the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 (New York: Harper Collins, 2005), 288-291.

58 “Engineers Told of Water Project: M. M. O’Shaughnessy Lectures on Source of Supply for San Diego,” San Francisco Call, April 20, 1912; M. M. O’Shaughnessy, Hetch Hetchy: Its Origin and History (San Francisco: Recorder Printing and Publishing Co., 1934), 12.

59 Kendrick A. Clements, “Politics and the Park: San Francisco’s Fight for Hetch Hetchy, 1908-1913,” Pacific Historical Review 48 (May 1979): 207-208; Kendrick A. Clements, “Engineers and Conservationists in the Progressive Era,” California History 58 (Winter 1979/1980): 295-297.

60 For surveys of O’Shaughnessy’s many projects upon taking office, see “The Municipal Engineering Works of San Francisco,” Engineering News 73 (February 18, 1915): 289-336; and M. M. O’Shaughnessy, “Recent Municipal Activities in San Francisco,” Pacific Municipalities 29 (October 1915): 435-440.

61 Augustus Ward to Robert Underwood Johnson, July 21, 1908, quoted in Robert W. Righter, The Battle Over Hetch Hetchy: America’s Most Controversial Dam and the Birth of Modern Environmentalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 59.

62 M. M. O’Shaughnessy, “Regional Planning for San Francisco,” Transactions of the Commonwealth Club of California 18 (November 1923): 275.

63 C. E. Grunsky, “The Water Supply of San Francisco, Cal.,” Journal of the Association of Engineering Societies 41 (September 1908): 73-80; H. T. Cory, “Water Supply of the San Francisco-Oakland Metropolitan District,” Paper No. 1352, Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers 80 (1916): 28-29. For the company’s side of the story, see Schussler, The Water Supply of San Francisco; and Spring Valley Water Company, The Future Water Supply of San Francisco (San Francisco: Rincon Publishing, 1912).

64 “Big Earth Dam to Double City Water Supply,” Popular Mechanics 28 (August 1917): 188-189.

65 M. M. O’Shaughnessy to John R. Freeman, October 14, 1913, reprinted in O’Shaughnessy, Hetch Hetchy: Its Origin and History, 68-69. Later, O’Shaughnessy would similarly criticize Mulholland’s St. Francis Dam construction methods, though not in time to avert disaster. See Wilkman, Floodpath, 159.

66 Allen Hazen and Leonard Metcalf, “Middle Section of Upstream Side of Calaveras Dam Slips into Reservoir,” Engineering News-Record (April 4, 1918): 679-681; “Failure of Part of the Calaveras Dam,” Western Engineering 9 (May 1918): 173-174; “Calaveras Dam Slide—Report on Failure of Hydraulic Fill Dam During Construction,” Engineering and Contracting 51 (January 8, 1919): 39-40.

67 Peter Fimrite, “Last Days of Aged Dam,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 16, 2011; Dominic Fracassa, “New Star of S.F.’s Water System,” San Francisco Chronicle, November 24, 2017. A state water expert observed of Mulholland’s earthen dam that “the construction method wasn’t strong enough for the size.” Susan Hou quoted in ibid.

68 O’Shaughnessy quoted in San Francisco Chronicle, October 13, 1934, 3.

69 O’Shaughnessy, Hetch Hetchy Water Supply of San Francisco, 1.

70 “M. M. O’Shaughnessy Dies as Hetch Hetchy is Completed,” Engineering News-Record (October 18, 1934): 512; O’Shaughnessy, Hetch Hetchy: Its Origins and History, 47. O’Shaughnessy’s distaste for politicians, lawyers, and reporters can be richly sampled in “Remarks by M. M. O’Shaughnessy,” Transactions of the Commonwealth Club of California 18 (December 1923): 345-349; and O’Shaughnessy, Hetch Hetchy: Its Origins and History, passim.

71 Rolph quoted in O’Shaughnessy, Hetch Hetchy: Its Origin and History, 14. On Mayor Rolph’s heavy reliance on O’Shaughnessy, see William Issel and Robert W. Cherny, San Francisco, 1865-1932: Politics, Power, and Urban Development (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986), 175-176, 181-185; and James Worthen, Governor James Rolph and the Great Depression in California (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006), 49-50.

72 John Van Der Zee, The Gate: The True Story of the Design and Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988); Kevin Starr, Golden Gate: The Life and Times of America’s Greatest Bridge (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2010), 41-55; Stephen Mikesell, A Tale of Two Bridges: The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridges of 1936 and 2013 (Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2017), 32-33. Later engineers who designed the Bay’s great bridges acknowledged their debt to O’Shaughnessy’s early studies. See, for example, Joseph B. Strauss, “Here’s Your Bridge, Mr. O’Shaughnessy,” Saturday Evening Post (May 29, 1937): 20, 90-94.

73 M. M. O’Shaughnessy, Hetch Hetchy Water Supply of San Francisco: Report of M. M. O’Shaughnessy, City Engineer, to the Mayor, the Board of Public Works, and the Board of Supervisors of San Francisco (San Francisco: Rincon Publishing Co., March 1916), frontispiece; M. M. O’Shaughnessy, “The Hetch Hetchy Water Supply of the City of San Francisco,” Journal of the American Water Works Association 9 (September 1922): 743; M. M. O’Shaughnessy, Hetch Hetchy Water Supply (San Francisco: James H. Barry Co., 1925), 3.

74 Donald C. Jackson, “The Engineer as Lobbyist: John R. Freeman and the Hetch Hetchy Dam (1910-13),” Environmental History 21 (2016): 288-314; Clements, “Politics and the Park”; Clements, “Engineers and Conservationists.”

75 Ray W. Taylor, Hetch Hetchy: The Story of San Francisco’s Struggle to Provide a Water Supply for Her Future Needs (San Francisco: Ricardo J. Orozco Publisher, 1926); Richard Lowitt, “The Hetch Hetchy Controversy, Phase II: The 1913 Senate Debate,” California History 74 (Summer 1995): 190-203; San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, A History of the Municipal Water Department and Hetch Hetchy System (San Francisco: Public Utilities Commission, 2005), 25-27.

76 M. M. O’Shaughnessy, “The Hetch Hetchy Water Supply of the City of San Francisco,” 750, 752.

77 O’Shaughnessy, Hetch Hetchy: Its Origin and History, 20-53; John Warfield Simpson, Dam! Water, Power, Politics, and Preservation in Hetch Hetchy and Yosemite National Park (New York: Pantheon Books, 2005); Righter, The Battle Over Hetch Hetchy.

78 O’Shaughnessy, Hetch Hetchy: Its Origin and History, foreword.

79 Ibid., 79-81; S.F. Public Utilities Commission, A History of the Municipal Water Department and Hetch Hetchy System; Righter, The Battle Over Hetch Hetchy, 134-166, 191-244; Simpson, Dam! Water, Power, Politics, and Preservation, 222-235; Bill Van Niekerken, “Hetch Hetchy Water’s Long Trip from Sierra to San Francisco,” San Francisco Chronicle, March 6, 2018. O’Shaughnessy Dam was raised to its present height in 1938.

80 Roderick Frazier Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind, 4th ed.(New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001), 161-181; Righter, The Battle Over Hetch Hetchy; Simpson, Dam! Water, Power, Politics, and Preservation.

81 Muir quoted in Donald Worster, A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 451.

82 John Muir, The Yosemite (New York: Century Co., 1912), 261-262. See also John Muir, “The Hetch-Hetchy Valley: A National Question,” American Forestry 16 (May 1910): 263-269.

83 O’Shaughnessy, Hetch Hetchy: Its Origin and History, 24, 22.

84 O’Shaughnessy quoted in Bruce Sinclair, “Engineering the Golden State: Technics, Politics, and Culture in Progressive Era California,” in Where Minds and Matters Meet: Technology in California and the West, ed. Volker Janssen (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), 60.

85 Rolph quoted in Taylor, Hetch Hetchy: The Story of San Francisco’s Struggle, 156.

86 Robert W. Cherny, “City Commercial, City Beautiful, City Practical: The San Francisco Visions of William C. Ralston, James D. Phelan, and Michael M. O’Shaughnessy,” California History 73 (Winter 1994/95): 307.

87 See, for example, “O’Shaughnessy Reports Hetch Hetchy Progress,” San Francisco Municipal Record 10 September 13, 1917): 306; M. M. O’Shaughnessy, The Hetch Hetchy Water and Power Project, the Municipal Railway, and Other Notable Civic Improvements of San Francisco (San Francisco: n.p., 1922).

88 Gray Brechin, Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 114.

89 James C. Williams, Energy and the Making of Modern California (Akron, OH: University of Akron Press, 1997), 251-253; Sinclair, “Engineering the Golden State,” 62.

90 M. M. O’Shaughnessy, “Construction Progress of the Hetch Hetchy Water Supply of San Francisco,” Paper No. 1495, Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers 85 (1922): 871.

91 Taylor, Hetch Hetchy; Williams, Energy and the Making of Modern California, 252-253; Brechin, Imperial San Francisco, 113-117; Sinclair, “Engineering the Golden State,” 62-66.

92 “M. M. O’Shaughnessy Dies as Hetch Hetchy is Completed,” 512; “Mountains to Metropolis,” TIME (October 22, 1934): 16-18; Charles R. Boden, “Michael Maurice O’Shaughnessy,” California Historical Society Quarterly 13 (December 1934): 415-416.

93 O’Shaughnessy quoted in Nora-Ide McAuliffe, “The Limerick Man Who Built San Francisco,” The Irish Times online, February 26, 2018, https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/the-limerick-man-who-built-san-francisco-an-irishwoman-s-diary-on-michael-maurice-o-shaughnessy-1.3404881.

94 John T. Andrew, “Adapting California’s Water Sector to a Changing Climate,” in Allison Lassiter, ed., Sustainable Water: Challenges and Solutions from California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2015), 10-31; Hayley Smith and Sarah Parvini, “Big Population Drops in Los Angeles, San Francisco Transforming Urban California,” Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2022.

95 State of California, Department of Water Resources, Hetch Hetchy Restoration Study (2006), https://cawaterlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/hetch_hetchy_restoration_study_report.pdf; Gregory Thomas, “Is Hetch Hetchy Worth $100 Billion?” San Francisco Chronicle, August 1, 2019; Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Securing L.A.’s Water Supply (Los Angeles: Department of Water and Power, May 2008); Stephanie Pincetl et al., “Adapting Urban Water Systems to Manage Scarcity in the 21st Century: The Case of Los Angeles,” Environmental Management 63 (March 2019): 293-308; California Department of Water Resources, California’s Water Supply Strategy: Adapting to a Hotter, Drier Future (August 2022); “Four Million Los Angeles County Residents Asked to Halt Outdoor Watering,” CBS News.com, August 30, 2022.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1: California Water Engineering Projects.
Crédits Adapted by author from https://sites.uci.edu/​energyobserver/​2015/​04/​28/​california-water-projects-feeding-southern-california/​ and from https://en.wikipedia.org/​wiki/​California_State_Water_Project. Credit: Dennis Silverman, UC Irvine Energy Blog, posted 28 April 2015.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/siecles/docannexe/image/9928/img-1.png
Fichier image/png, 855k
Titre Figure 2: Major Rivers of California.
Crédits Source: Adapted by author from https://commons.wikimedia.org/​w/​index.php?curid=22194638. Credit: Wikimedia Commons, posted 6 September 2010. Public domain.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/siecles/docannexe/image/9928/img-2.png
Fichier image/png, 1,1M
Titre Figure 3: Los Angeles Aqueduct, Original Extent (ca. 1908).
Légende Map showing the full extent of the 233 miles long Los Angeles Aqueduct running from its intake in Owens Valley to the point at which the water cascades down into the northeast San Fernando Valley.
Crédits Credit: Water and Power Associates, Mulholland-Scattergood Virtual Museum. Source: https://waterandpower.org/​museum/​Construction_of_the_LA_Aqueduct.html. Public domain.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/siecles/docannexe/image/9928/img-3.png
Fichier image/png, 297k
Titre Figure 4: Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct.
Légende Map of San Francisco's Hetch Hetchy Project and appurtenant facilities in California, USA.
Crédits Source : https://commons.wikimedia.org/​wiki/​Category:Hetch_Hetchy#/​media/​File:Hetchhetchyprojmap.jpg Crédit : Shannon 1 CC BY-SA 4.0.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/siecles/docannexe/image/9928/img-4.png
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Glen Gendzel, « Bill and Mike: How Two Irishmen Slaked the Thirst of California’s Great Cities »Siècles [En ligne], 53 | 2022, mis en ligne le 11 janvier 2023, consulté le 16 juin 2024. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/siecles/9928 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/siecles.9928

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Glen Gendzel

San José State University

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