Metropolitan Water District of Southern California celebrates 75th anniversary

Dec. 10, 2003
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California announced an online public vote for the public's 75 favorite native and California-friendly plants on its "" web site.

Water district formed to build Colorado River Aqueduct; Today, more than half the region's water needs are met through conservation, recycling and other local sources.

PASADENA, Calif., Dec. 10, 2003 -- Keying off its 75th anniversary, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California announced an online public vote for the public's 75 favorite native and California-friendly plants on its " " web site.

"For the next 75 days, Southern Californians will be able to vote online for their favorite native plants, choosing from among the 1,200 pictured and described at," announced Metropolitan board Chairman Phillip J. Pace.

Pace was joined in the announcement by actress and native plants enthusiast Rene Russo, who said, "This is a wonderful way to show the public the incredible variety, beauty, history and water-saving sense of our region's native plants."

Metropolitan, the region's largest water importer and wholesaler, launched the native plants vote and unveiled its restored official seal at a 75th anniversary program at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

"We are delighted to co-host this celebration, since Pasadena civic leaders spearheaded the drive to form a Metropolitan Water District to build an aqueduct bringing water to the region from the Colorado River," said Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard. "And Metropolitan's first board of directors meeting was held in Pasadena on Dec. 29, 1928."

Speakers noted that Metropolitan's focus has changed markedly in recent years, from a primarily engineering-and-construction focus, while maintaining a strong engineering and construction capability.

Metropolitan's Chief Executive Officer Ronald R. Gastelum observed, "Seventy-five years ago, Metropolitan's focus was on constructing dams and aqueducts and on importing water. While imported supplies remain paramount for urban Southern California, Metropolitan's present and future is in maintaining its regional water conveyance infrastructure and in helping urban Southern California water agencies enhance their local supplies through conservation, recycling, desalination, groundwater clean-up and other resource-management programs."

Metropolitan was formed to supplement the region's water supplies by building an aqueduct 242 miles from the Colorado River. Representatives of 11 cities gathered in 1928 for the new public agency's first board meeting: Anaheim, Beverly Hills, Burbank, Colton, Glendale, Los Angeles, Pasadena, San Bernardino, San Marino, Santa Ana and Santa Monica.

Voters approved a then-whopping $220 million bond issue to finance aqueduct construction. Ground was broken in January 1933 and construction continued around-the-clock for nine years. The project crossed the Mojave Desert and tunneled through 92 miles of mountains; boring 13 miles through Mt. San Jacinto took 5 1/2 years.

Colton and San Bernardino later withdrew, but the cities of Fullerton, Long Beach, Torrance, Compton and San Fernando joined the district, as did 12 municipal water districts (groups of cities), and one county water authority. Today, Metropolitan is comprised of 26 member public agencies in six counties, and its shares of Colorado River and California State Water Project supplies provide nearly half of the region's drinking water.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving 18 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and other water-management programs.