Graduation Year

Spring 2011

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environment, Economics, and Politics (EEP)

Reader 1

William Ascher

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Rights Information

© 2011 Blake Kos


Contrary to popular belief, the L.A. region is more of a desert than a tropical oasis. Little rainfall during the winter months and practically no rainfall during the summer months is characteristic of Southern California’s desert-like weather patterns. Due to these low precipitation levels, water is considered the most important commodity in the Los Angeles region. Prior to 1900, the inhabitants of this area were fully aware of the importance of water. Most settlements were established near water sources and had adopted various techniques and constructed small-scale dams to conserve and reuse rainwater. Yet these measures were not sufficient to sustain large populations during drought conditions. Most settlers were forced to seek other areas where more reliable sources of water were found. The construction of early engineering feats like the Los Angeles aqueduct quickly changed prior perceptions of the region’s potential. Such systems allowed for cheap and previously inaccessible water to flow to the abundant land, spurring an unprecedented population and agricultural boom. For decades, the construction of more aqueducts and canals provided a sufficient amount of water to meet the demand in the region’s growing agricultural and financial economy. As the abundance of land and favorable weather attracted more businesses and industries into the region, more and more homes were built to accommodate the workforce. By 1936, the Hoover Dam had been built and California had signed and agreed to the Colorado River Compact, which granted Southern California 4.4 million acre-feet annually of the Colorado River’s water. As a result, relatively cheap water was able to meet the demands, thus catapulting California’s agricultural industry and residential development.