You Really Should Meet William Mullholland

William-Mulholland-in-1924There should be a parade for William Mullholland. We’d be in big trouble without him. He died in 1935, but he’s why Los Angeles exists as it does today.

Mullholland brought water from the Sierras, Owens Valley to be precise, to the San Fernando Valley. That’s 233 miles with no pumps! The entire system is gravity fed. He brought water to the desert!

When the Los Angeles Aqueduct opened, the city had around 300,000 people. That same aqueduct continues as a main source though L.A. proper is now at 3.9 million.

Portrait_of_William_Mulholland_with_a_surveyor's_scope_on_a_tripod,_ca.1908-1913_(CHS-14459)We are in the midst of a horrible drought. Sierra Mountain streams which feed the system are low. Yet conservation related restrictions are very gentle.

It’s getting tight, but we’re all still getting by. The level of overcapacity Mullholland built for 300,000 is crazy.

Did WM’s contemporaries understand the true magnitude of what was happening? Who could see what time and water would bring?

Mullholland put this all in place 101 years ago. He made life in this climate possible.

Cat45-mojaveMy read on Mullholland the person is: arrogant putz. Bad decisions, like declaring a dam safe 12 hours before it failed, saw him drummed from public life. He had no shortage of enemies. But this good work should be his legacy–and is.

There is a beautiful road which winds on the spine of the Santa Monica Mountains. It’s been used in hundreds of movies. Twisting curves. Breathtaking views. Expensive homes built on stilts. When I can, I try to spend a little time on Mullholland Drive.

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