California Water Wars - Building the Dream | 2

American History Tellers

By Wondery

California Water Wars - Building the Dream | 2

Wednesday, 29 January

By 1907, the city of Los Angeles had found a solution to its water problem. Two hundred miles north in the Owens River Valley was a never-ending source of water. Los Angeles Water Department superintendent William Mulholland set about constructing one of the largest public works projects the state of California has ever seen. But first, he would have to convince the voters of Los Angeles to approve the project. And then, he would have to build it himself. 

For five years construction crews filed into the desert, building a massive aqueduct system that would ferry the water all the way to the thirsty city. Along the way, Mulholland would encounter problems with bureaucrats, bad food, and dynamite. With the project hurtling towards completion, serious doubts would be raised about graft and self-interest. Was the Los Angeles aqueduct really just about water? Or was it set to make a handful of rich men even richer?


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