The population in Los Angeles was growing rapidly at the turn of the century, and the demand for water in this semi-arid region was critical. In 1904, three Los Angeles engineers - William Mulholland, Frederick Eaton and J.B. Lippincott - developed a plan for future sources of water for the thirsty city. The men recommended construction of a 233-mile-long aqueduct from the Owens River to Los Angeles. Faced with a prolonged drought at the time, citizens approved a $23 million bond issue (roughly equivalent to $1.5 billion today) to build the aqueduct.
The aqueduct began supplying water from the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada to Los Angeles in 1913. It was considered a miracle of engineering at the time, because the abundant water flowed the entire distance between Owens Valley and Los Angeles by gravity alone.