DWP Institutional History

Kjel A. Ostenson - The Power Guy from Mageroy



Historical Notes

Kjell A. Ostensen, P.E,  started his career at Los Angeles Department of Water and Power in 1985 and retired in 2016 after working as an Engineer in various groups, last of which was the Planning and Development Section. He was involved with Development and Power Purchase Agreements, Geothermal, Biomass and Small-hydro Projects, as well as being Manager of the Fuel Cell Program.

Below is a link to a 2014 article in Nordys (Norwegian Publication) which highlights Kjell’s accomplishments:

Click HERE for article.


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Recollections by C. Clarke Keely


Historical Notes

In this paper, C. Clarke Keely writes about his time spent in Owens Valley and San Francisquito Canyon as an employee of Bureau of Power and Light during the early years of the LA Aqueduct.  Included are sections titled:  Bureau of Power and Light, Ranchers vs. the City, The St. Francis Dam Failure, and the Aftermath.  Later Mr. Keely would go on and become a DWP Commissioner.

The article shows the hardships, adventures, and risks that faced early DWP employees working on the aqueduct.    

Click HERE to see more.

This paper was submitted by his son, Russel D. Keely.


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DWP Partners with USC on Electric Vehicle Development

Intake Magazine - July 1972


Historical Notes

Electric cars might seem like the vehicles of the future, but they are actually a status symbol of the past. 

During the early years of the “Automotive Age,”—from about 1896 to 1930—as many as 1,800 different car manufacturers functioned in the U.S. While innovators in Europe had been working on battery-powered vehicles since the 1830s, the first successful electric car in the U.S. made its debut in 1890.

The production of electric cars peaked in 1912.  And while at the turn of the century electric cars had made up a good proportion of the market, advances in gasoline-powered vehicles meant that electric cars owned a smaller and smaller market share as time went on.

By 1935, electric cars had all but disappeared from the road.

It would take decades—and the persistent oil crises of the 1970s—before interest in electric cars once again fueled new technologies. In 1976, Congress passed the Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act to support research and development in electric and hybrid vehicles.^


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Early Use of Electric Vehicles by DWP

(1920s)* - View showing an early model electric-powered truck being used by a Bureau of Power and Light* crew as they work on an ornamental street light.  


Historical Notes

* In 1937 the Bureau of Power and Light consolidated with the Bureau of Water Works and Supply to become the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP). Click HERE to see more in DWP Name Change Chronology.


(1920s) - An electric powered streetlight truck used by the Bureau of Power and Light in the early 1920s. Click HERE to see more in Early Views of LA Streetlights.  


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Intake Magazine - July-August 1981


Note: Dennis Miller, Hoddy Rupp. and Nabil Assaf (all retired), continue to stay active by participating in hiking and biking groups. They still ride together regularly and compete in multiple Century rides every year. Dennis has completed an amazing 37 Grand Tour Double Centuries as of June 2018. All three are still going strong!


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David J. Oliphnat in front of the U.S. Supreme Court

Intake Magazine - June 1978


Page 2


Note: David Oliphant has served on the Executive Board of Water and Power Associates. He is the recipient of the distinguished 2023 McCarthy Service Award.


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John Caput Jr.

View showing John Caput Jr. (center) standing between two unidentified men at the Ducommun Meter Shop.  Photo courtesy of Tim Hayes in honor of his Grandfather and Great Grandfather (John Caput Jr. and John Caput Sr.) who both worked at DWP.  


Historical Notes

John Caput Jr. was born in Los Angeles in July 1912 to Croatian immigrants. He grew up in the Watts area and graduated from Jordan High School. John followed in his father’s footsteps, John Caput Sr., and began his career with Los Angeles Department of Water and Power on July 15, 1929. In December 1931 he took the test for Water Meter Repairman and was successful. He married his wife Mary in 1940, settling on the 1500 block of W. Gage Ave. John and Mary had two daughters, sadly losing one of them to cancer as an infant. He spent his career servicing water meters at the Ducommun meter shop, retiring July 1, 1971. After retirement, John and Mary moved to the Canoga Park area of the San Fernando Valley to be close to his daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren. Mary passed away in 1991. John Caput Jr. passed away in October 1993.


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Otto Ottmann


(ca. 1930s) - Photo showing Otto Oltmann standing next to his work truck.  Oltmann worked at the Chatsworth Reservoir

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Staton (granddaughter).

Note:  Lettering on truck reads: Bureau of Water Works & Supply.  In 1937, Bureau of Water Works & Supply merged with Bureau of Bureau of Power and Light to form Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP).*




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