Oral Histories

Interview of Gerard A. Wyss

Assistant chief engineer of waterworks for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
Water for Los Angeles: Gerard A. Wyss
Water for Los Angeles
Urban Planning and Land Use
Water Resources
Biographical Note:
Assistant chief engineer of waterworks for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
Basiago, Andrew D.
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.
4.5 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."
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.