Oral Histories

Interview of Gerard A. Wyss

Assistant chief engineer of waterworks for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
Subtitle:
Water for Los Angeles: Gerard A. Wyss
Series:
Water for Los Angeles
Topic:
Urban Planning and Land Use
Water Resources
Interviewer:
Basiago, Andrew D.
Interviewee:
Wyss, Gerard A.
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.
Length:
4.5 hrs.
Language:
English
Copyright:
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."
Abstract:
Childhood and early work experience; works for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD); employed by the Los Angeles City Department of Water and Power (DWP) on the Mono Basin Project; experiences during construction of the Mono Craters Tunnel; environmental impact of Mono Basin Project; collapse of the Mono Craters Tunnel; army service; assigned to the University of Tennessee for advanced engineering training; transferred to England; Battle of the Ardennes; captured by the Germans; prisoner of war camp; escape to American lines; postwar work for DWP; promoted to senior waterworks engineer; helps develop safety standards for work areas on public streets; Japanese trade missions to the DWP; differences between Japanese and American labor force; failure of Baldwin Hills Dam; role of oil company drilling practices in failure of the dam; effectiveness of DWP in meeting the crisis; attempt to drain the Baldwin Hills Reservoir; legal activities following the Baldwin Hills Dam break; DWP leadership; DWP training of new engineers; potential water shortage in Southern California; role of news media in DWP-related issues; use-rate blocks for industrial water use; impracticality of separating water for potable and nonpotable uses; possibility of sabotage of the water system; work on fire-hydrant efficiency; gradual replacement of water mains in Los Angeles; water from the Coachella Valley; operation of the DWP trouble board; 1971 Sylmar earthquake.