An illustrated story of how Southern California got its water supply

Almost all of the water for Southern California comes from the Sierra Nevadas and it is delivered via a complex system of estuaries. Our water also comes from the Colorado River and from the watersheds in the Santa Monica and San Gabriel mountains.

A century ago, when a thirsty Los Angeles was poised for growth, water chief William Mulholland masterminded the city’s greatest engineering feat, a 233-mile aqueduct from the High Sierra to the San Fernando Valley. “There it is,” he proclaimed as the waters gushed down the cascade on Nov. 5, 1913. “Take it!”

The L.A. Aqueduct, grandfather of an Aqueduct Empire across a semiarid Golden State, signified a ruthless but successful quest for water.