Water has long been the most prized resource in Los Angeles. Indeed, the city’s history and growth is inextricably linked to the development of infrastructure required to import water from the Eastern Sierra and other regions.
While the Los Angeles River was the main water source for El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles when it was founded in 1781, population growth outstripped the river’s ability to meet the city’s increasing thirst. Enter William Mulholland, the first superintendent of the new municipal Water Department. Under his leadership, the city constructed the Los Angeles Aqueduct, a five-year project completed in 1913 that brought water from the lush Owens Valley to semi-arid Los Angeles.