How many gallons of water can I conserve with my little green watering can?

My quantity of available blogging time has been limited. Summer is a busy time for most of us anyway, but on top of what I usually try to fit into my after-work life I’ve been hand watering as much of my garden as I can cover with good old-fashioned methods. We have automatic sprinklers and an excellent watering system, but my goal has been to minimize overusing automatic sprinklers and using more water than we absolutely need to keep plants alive.

Strategic watering takes a great deal of time. I’m doing the best I can to conserve in a state that is seriously parched. You may have heard about freak lightning strikes this past weekend that sadly resulted in one death and multiple injuries. It was a very weird weather condition, but don’t mistake reports of lightning as an indication we had any REAL rain. In my weekend experience the few sputters did little more than contribute to an even dirtier car…and we’re not really supposed to be washing them.

We spent the weekend in our San Jacinto Mountain resort–well…we spent time with our trailer in our Silent Valley home away from home. This was my first visit since last year’s wildfire  came dangerously close to the main campground. The scorched areas are very evident and it is incredibly dry.

And while neighboring cities have adopted specific water rationing measures, this evening we have been glued to our television sets watching millions of gallons of precious water lost to a broken water pipe–a pipe first installed in 1921. This would be one of the earliest water pipes in the city of Los Angeles, dating back to the father of the Los Angeles water system, William Mulholland.

Millions of gallons of water have been lost. To see some incredibly breathtaking–and devastating photos, click HERE. The damage to the surrounding area, and in particular to the historic UCLA Pauley Pavilion is staggering. You can see Pauley Pavilion photos HERE. The Pavilion underwent a $136 million renovation in 2012 and is more than likely completely ruined by the flood.

At 75,000 gallons of water per minute, do you want to do the math? Early reports–8 to 10 MILLION gallons of water–GONE!

I’ll be thinking about that tomorrow as I carry around my little green watering can saving a few drops. We’re in trouble here.



The Water Wars Revisited…This time with an anniversary.

If you have followed along with me for a while you already know I have a tremendous interest in California’s Water Wars. 

In 1910 Los Angeles covered a mere 44 square miles with a population of 319,000– but growing. By 1911 the first movie companies had set up shop bringing even more people to an already water-starved little city. Despite the fact that at one point the need for water was considered critical enough to be a health hazard, there was no design or plan to remedy the situation.

But that’s where the story gets really good.

Political subterfuge, dirty politics and lots of “the end justifies the means” conniving and a rather grand scheme was hatched.

Today marks the 100th  anniversary of the christening of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, the engineering marvel responsible for delivering water, the precious resource rightly belonging to the farmers and ranchers of the Owens Valley, across 240 miles to water starved Los Angeles.

On November 5, 1913, Water Chief William Mulholland, the self-taught, hardworking Irish immigrant and engineering brains behind the structure, stood in front of 40,000 cheering Angelenos, and opened the sluice gates saying, “There it is. Take it.”

And that’s just what the thirsty population did.

Foggy L.A. skyline from Mulholland Drive
Foggy L.A. skyline from Mulholland Drive

The city no longer required centralization. Dependence on the Los Angeles River and local aquifers was of little significance and by 1915, just two years after the water began to flow, the city of 44 square miles had spread to 500 square miles.

Real estate advertisements of the day promised plenty of water stating it was “neither precious nor dear.”  Imagine believing the water was unlimited!

One of my favorite passages from a fantastic book, Cadillac Desert by the late Marc Reisner, describes the effect the Owens Valley water had on Los Angeles.

“The same uncharacteristically engorged desert river that was keeping the Owens Valley green was responsible, in Los Angeles, for the most transfixing change. Santa Monica Boulevard, once a dry dusty strip, became an elegant corridor of palms; in Hollywood, where the motion picture industry had risen up overnight, outdoor sets resembled New Guinea; and since most Los Angelenos were immigrants from the Middle West, every bungalow had a green lawn. The glorious anomaly of a fake tropical city with a mild desert climate brought people from everywhere…All things were possible; anyone could get rich; the cardinal sin was doubt.”

And although Mulholland was the brains behind the water delivery system, other masterminds were  pivotal in trickery and outright deceit, basically stealing the water rights east of the High Sierras along with most of  the Owens Valley, turning rich farm land into dust.

The stories, interpretations, implications then and now, conspire to create the most fascinating tale. The best fiction has nothing on these stories.

And if you’re interested in just a little bit more about this fascinating-to-me piece of history, this little clip is short and will show you some of the gorgeous Owens Valley.

Despite history’s record of supreme chicanery, there are recent efforts to “undo” some of the wrongs and create a spirit of cooperation between the two regions.

Memories are long. I guess only time will tell.

Above Los Angeles from Mulholland Drive…quiet and peaceful!

This year Los Angeles commemorates the 100th anniversary of William Mulholland’s engineering marvel, the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which delivers about half of the city’s water supply traveling  more than 200 miles from the Owens Valley.

The Los Angeles region’s gain has never set well with Owens Valley residents, and controversy and discord is still a relevant topic.

But we’ll stay away from anger and bitterness, and take a little road trip.

References to the famous civil engineer are everywhere. But nothing is more iconic than the famed Mulholland Drive, nicknamed “Bad Boy Drive” because at one time famous residents, Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, and Marlon Brandon all lived along the route.

Mulholland Drive offers views of the Los Angeles Basin on one side, the San Fernando Valley on the other, and on clear days you can spy the Pacific Ocean. This 21-mile stretch of Santa Monica Mountain ridgeline is a hot spot for locals as well as tourists.

A large portion of the road isn’t paved, but is popular with mountain bikers and hikers.

From one Mulholland overlook it’s possible to see three well-known Los Angeles icons. The Hollywood Sign recently enjoyed a facelift and looks bright and shiny.

THe Hollywood Sign

And typically I’m seated at the  Hollywood Bowl, enjoying the evening view of the hills above, but from Mulholland Drive the Bowl sits empty waiting for June and a full summer music season.Hollywood Bowl

Sitting on the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood is the Griffith Observatory. Three iconic Hollywood symbols all visible from one Mulholland Drive Lookouts!

Griffith Observatory

Some days you can see Catalina Island, but not today!

Downtown Los Angeles

No, that isn’t air pollution. Marine layers often linger long into the day and burn off by mid-afternoon. It might obstruct a perfectly clear view of downtown Los Angeles, but the weather is just about perfect.

Hollywood HillsThe Hollywood Hills are an amazingly beautiful and almost unexpected topographical feature that many Southern Californians never explore. They tend to be seen as anchors to hold up the famous sign, or house the Bowl, or divide coastal Los Angeles from inland San Fernando Valley.

The chaparral-covered hillsides provide hiking tails and unparalleled views.

Several thousand feet below one of the lookouts is a wonderful view of the 22-mile long San Fernando Valley with breathtaking views of the San Gabriel and Santa Susana Mountains.

It also offers an aerial view of Universal Studios.

Universal Studios

San Gabriel Mountains

Hollywood HillsNBC Universal

This 36-story office building is the tallest building in the San Fernando Valley, and home to NBCUniversal, owners of NBC, Telemundo, USA Network and SyFy.

Does the vicinity look a little crowded to you?

Approximately 10 million people live in Los Angeles County. That’s a lot of cars on the road! And there are times when I fantasize about living somewhere else, perhaps a little less congested–BUT…


When we exited the Hollywood Hills we headed right for Santa Monica.

Ocean, sand, sun–February!

Santa Monica BeachDoesn’t this look inviting? If I get my way I’ll be returning soon, book in hand.

Santa Monica Palm TreesHollywood Hills and ocean breezes all before noon.

Oh, and over 300 days a year of sunshine. That’s reason enough for me to put up with  accept that we live in a very beautiful, but yes, congested, landscape.

I find it interesting that everywhere I go I seem to find postings with information connecting to my interest in learning about Southern California’s Native People.

Native Story

So I must share it with you!

And at my next opportunity to take advantage of a clear, sunny day, I’ll be back to take more pictures from the top of Mulholland Drive. There were more lookouts and trails I’d like to explore.

And I  am eager to explore the many beautiful canyons along the route–Laurel Canyon, Coldwater Canyon…there are so many!

I definitely need more weekends.