A New Supply
16 years Mulholland had watched the effect of Los Angeles’ growth.
The city, flourishing in a semi-desert environment, had already
prompted initial concerns about conservation.
the 1902 Annual Report he stated, “with a closely estimated population
of 85,000…we reached the astounding consumption of over 26 million
gallons per day, or about 306 gallons per capita…By the application of
a few hundred meters the consumption was cut down nearly three million
gallons per day.”
led to reduced consumption, but growth itself proved to be the pivotal
issue. Mulholland began to
feel the pressures of growth as head of the new Bureau of Water Works
constant reflections on the City’s needs were divided between
conservation and additional
supply. In 1902, he
estimated that water metering could reduce per capita consumption to 150
gallons per day. By 1903,
per capita consumption was actually reduced to 200 gallons per day from
the previous high of 306. In
the same period, however,
Los Angeles had grown to a population of 175,000.
concerns about the inadequacy of Los Angeles’ supply were realized
during ten days in July 1904. For
two years the Los Angeles River had been about 30% below normal. Water demands created by the city’s breakneck growth
overtook the river’s supply and for those ten days the daily
consumption exceeded inflow into the reservoirs by nearly four million
began efforts to determine what the City’s actual needs would be.
He used a per capita demand of 150 gallons per day and estimated
population growth based on the previous 10 years.
He foresaw a city of 390,000 people using more than 58 million
gallons per day by 1925.
required volume was more than double the minimum flow of the Los Angeles
River. Even the maximum
recorded flow would fall ten percent short of meeting the city’s
needs. Only later would the
superintendent learn that the actual growth of Los Angeles during the
20-year period would exceed his estimate by more than four times.
began to search for a new supply. The
local area yielded nothing. In
his search for a new source, he surveyed all of the rivers and
groundwater basins south of Tehachapi.
He found groundwater limited and gradually being depleted by
groundwater use would limit the development of the surrounding country,
the source of wealth of the area.