Oral Histories

Interview of Samuel B. Nelson

General manager and chief engineer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
Water for Los Angeles: Samuel B. Nelson
Water for Los Angeles
Urban Planning and Land Use
Water Resources
Biographical Note:
General manager and chief engineer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
Basiago, Andrew D.
Nelson, Samuel B.
Persons Present:
Nelson and Basiago.
Place Conducted:
Conference room at the headquarters building of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California in Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Andrew D. Basiago, UCLA Oral History Program; B.A., History, UCLA.Basiago prepared for the interview by consulting sources in the DWP's municipal reference department and in the Water Resources Center Archives at UCLA. He looked at in-house material, including DWP memoranda and the employee magazine Intake. In addition, he also read several academic histories and reviewed the Los Angeles Times dating from 1913 to the present.
Processing of Interview:
George A. Hodak, editorial assistant, edited the interview. He checked the verbatim transcript of the interview against the original tape recordings, edited for punctuation, paragraphing, and spelling, and verified proper names. Words and phrases inserted by the editor have been bracketed.In January 1987 the edited transcript was sent to Nelson, who began to review it, but became incapacitated and was unable to finish. Mrs. Nelson returned the manuscript in September of 1987. Robert V. Phillips assisted in the verification of unanswered queries.Bryce Little, editor, prepared the table of contents and biographical summary. Gary White, editor, prepared the index.
7 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
This series made possible by a grant from the Division of Water, Los Angeles City Department of Water and Power, complements the earlier University of California series “Oral History of California Water Resources Development."
Education; civil engineer for the Los Angeles City Department of Water and Power (DWP) on 1928 Colorado River Aqueduct survey team; San Francisquito Dam failure; the Colorado River Aqueduct and formation of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD); mapping the Mono Basin; influence of San Francisquito Dam failure on formation of MWD; obstacles to building aqueducts; benefits of working in the field for DWP; legislation relating to water development projects; roots of regional conflict in California; Owens Valley residents' antagonism toward DWP; the DWP as protector of Owens Valley environment; United States Supreme Court grants Arizona rights to more Colorado River water; ideas for further large-scale water-transportation projects; need for conservation of water in Southern California; advantages of dual water supply systems; water needs of regions adjacent to the Colorado River; water reclamation; establishment of MWD signals end of city of Los Angeles territorial expansion; Baldwin Hills Dam failure; nuclear power plants in Southern California; regional integration of power systems in the West; DWP involvement in water supply project in the Philippines; Nelson asked to help improve New York City's water supply system; Samuel W. Yorty and the International Utilities (Canada) contract; DWP relationship with out-of-state power sources; competition between United States and foreign manufacturers; internment of Japanese-Americans; security precautions taken by DWP during World War II; sewage disposal problems in Southern California.