DWP ORAL HISTORIES - WATER

 

 

The following is a collection of oral histories covering the growth and development of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) as seen by the participants – its employees.  The collection preserves the stories of distinctive and diverse individuals whose historical experiences have shaped the collective memory of DWP.

It is our belief that the interviews are not only an important source of DWP history but are useful to today's management in providing context to current issues.

 

Water System and City Attorney Interviews

Alfred H. Driscoll - Employed by the Office of the City Attorney for Water and Power (1937-70).
The interview covers Driscoll's law education and employment. The bulk of the interview focuses on the thirty-three years he was employed by the Office of the City Attorney for Water and Power. Topics covered with respect to his work with the DWP include civil service, legislation, contracts, and revenue-bond financing for the department.

Gerald W. Jones – Career with DWP (1929-1973).  Retired as Engineer in Charge of the Water Operating Division. Topics covered include William Mulholland, Joseph Barlow Lippincott, the 1971 Sylmar earthquake, the DWP and the city government, litigation, and technical aspects of water supply.

Gerard A. Wyss – Career with DWP (1936-1973).  Retired as Assistant Chief Engineer of Waterworks. Beginning with Wyss's childhood and education, the interview covers his experience of events and operating procedures in the early years of the DWP. Particular attention was given to Wyss's work on the Mono Basin Project; his experience as a near victim of the Mono Craters Tunnel cave-in in January 1937; his time as a soldier and capture by the Germans during World War II; work as a crisis manager who led emergency water division and evacuation protocol during the 1963 Baldwin Hills Reservoir Dam break; his participation in the DWP response to the 1971 Sylmar earthquake; and work as an engineer studying work-area safety and fire-hydrant efficiency.

Mona Osborne – Career with DWP (1931-1972).  Retired as Principal Clerk, Owens Valley.
Many of the questions related to Osborne's standing as a longtime employee of the DWP. She spoke, for instance, about the general managers she had worked under, about the DWP's promotion policy, and about the department's reliance on nuclear power. Other questions, however, were related to the fact that Osborne is also a longtime resident of the Owens Valley.  In that capacity, she answered questions about the building of the controversial first Los Angeles Aqueduct, about valley residents' reaction to the aqueduct, and about environmental issues in the Owens Valley.

Robert V. Phillips – Career with DWP (1939-1975).  Retired as General Manager and Chief Engineer. The interview covers a broad time span, since it deals not only with issues which arose during Phillips's own thirty-five year career with the DWP, but even touches on several incidents which occurred during the years Phillips's father worked with the department. Among the topics covered are the DWP's role in the Owens Valley, water as the decisive factor in the growth of Los Angeles, the DWP's relationship to the city government, the environmental movement, the quality of DWP water, and the 1971 Sylmar earthquake.

Samuel B. Nelson – Career with DWP (1926-1967).  Retired as General Manager and Chief Engineer. The interview covers Nelson's forty year career with DWP. Topics covered include Nelson's work on the Colorado River Aqueduct, Nelson’s leadership of DWP during the 1960s, DWP's role in the Owens Valley, development of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), and DWP's activities during World War II.

 

For more DWP Oral Histories click one of the following: POWER SYSTEM - LA AQUEDUCT

 

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