November 5, 1913: Los Angeles Aqueduct is dedicated; 1881: How Croton Water is Wasted

1105 LA Aqueduct openingNovember 5, 1913: First Los Angeles Aqueduct is dedicated. “A carnival atmosphere prevailed for the dedication ceremonies at the “Cascades” on November 5, 1913.  The San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce distributed bottles of Owens River water to the 30,000 celebrants who arrived by car, wagon, and buggy.  The Southern Pacific charged $1 for a round trip ticket from Los Angeles to the site of the San Fernando Reservoir near Newhall.  Pennants proclaiming the event sold for 10 cents.

Mulholland rose to begin the ceremonies.  He thanked his assistants and the City of Los Angeles for their loyal support.  His address to the crowd was brief, ‘This rude platform is an altar, and on it we are here consecrating this water supply and dedicating the Aqueduct to you and your children and your children’s children-for all time.’

He paused for a moment as if contemplating his words.  Then satisfied, he abruptly said, “That’s all,” and returned to his seat amid a tremendous roar from the crowd….

The program had called for Mulholland to formally turn the Aqueduct over to the Mayor, J.J. Rose, who would accept it on behalf of the people.  However, all semblance of order had been lost.  Mulholland turned to Rose, next to him on the platform, and said, ‘There it is Mr. Mayor.  Take it.’”

New Croton Dam

New Croton Dam

November 5, 1881: Article in Engineering News—How Croton Water is Wasted. “The inspectors of the Department of Public Works are busy searching for houses where water is wasted. Their method is to have a man enter a sewer in the night-time through a man-hole and apply a gauge to the water flowing into the sewers from houses. In cases where the flow is great an inspector is sent to the house the next day to examine the plumbing. When a serious leak is found the water is cut off summarily. In this way a number of houses have been deprived of water within the last few days. The police have been notified to be especially vigilant to prevent the waste or water, and the result of the order has been that several houses have been reported. In one case yesterday the water was cut off from a row of three houses on a police report. The water will not be let on again until the owners or occupants take measures to prevent waste. The officials of the Department of Public Works find the most fault with apartment houses. One of them visited by inspectors had a tank on the top floor containing 3,300 gallons of water. This was filled and emptied twice a day, making the water supply 6,600 gallons a day. Ten families live in the house, so that 660 gallons are used by each family, which is considered an excessive amount. This does not include hot water, which is supplied from boilers in the basement. The officials have no power to limit the supply unless a waste of water can be shown. Some trouble is experienced by the inspectors in gaining admittance to houses in the daytime, as servants object to letting them in while their employers are out.”

Reference:  “How Croton Water is Wasted.” Engineering News. 8 (November 5, 1881): 450-1.

Commentary: Ah, those pesky servants. Seems like a tough way to find water wasters. Universal metering would solve this problem many decades later.

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