Historical Watershed Management in Los Angeles

Before 1913 when William Mulholland built the Los Angeles Aqueduct, the Los Angeles River was the sole source of water for the city. The additional water that the aqueduct provided facilitated a population explosion in the region (and devastated Mono Lake). The growing population became dependent on the imported water supply and engineers searched for more sources.

At the same time, other engineers, searching for a solution to the river’s periodic flooding designed a system to get rid of all the rainwater that fell in the region as quickly as possible, flushing it out to the sea. This allowed even more development, replacing agriculture with asphalt and preventing nature's ability to cleanse and absorb rainwater.

Today, our stormwater runoff is polluted and only 15% of the drinking water supply for the City of Los Angeles comes from our depleted aquifers. Good minds working in a disintegrated fashion - each solved the single problem they were given, yet by doing so in a vacuum, they ultimately caused more problems for each other.