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'There it is, Give it Back': L.A. Aqueduct Ceremony Draws Protest

It was officially a centennial ceremony, but to call it a celebration would have been taking it too far.

The group of protestors who attended the ceremony at the Eastern California Museum in Independence were primarily from a local Paiute tribe, said Klusmire. | Photo: Jon Klusmire/Eastern California Museum/County of Inyo

100 years ago yesterday, the intake for the Los Angeles Aqueduct opened. It's the piece of infrastructure where the natural flowing Owens River, filled by melting snow of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, is diverted into the artificial engineering marvel that sends water over 200 miles to the city.

Without the aqueduct, L.A. wouldn't be what it is today (while it delivers less than half of the water supply today, it once brought 80 to 90 percent); with it, the Owens Valley has suffered a century of major environmental change. That fact was not lost upon Los Angeles officials Friday at an early celebration of the intake centennial in Independence. "It would be wrong not to recognize the controversy," said Department of Water and Power General Manager Ron Nichols, according to a report filed by Jon Klusmire, who heads up the Eastern California Museum for Inyo County, in the local newspaper.

Nonetheless, hard feelings felt by many locals were peacefully put on display by about 30 protestors at the ceremony. Klusmire snapped some photos and shared them with KCET:

"It's tough being married and living 286 miles away," said L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge, who also thanked the people of Inyo County for L.A.'s water. | Photo: Jon Klusmire/Eastern California Museum/County of Inyo
Photo: Jon Klusmire/Eastern California Museum/County of Inyo Photo: Jon Klusmire/Eastern California Museum/County of Inyo Photo: Jon Klusmire/Eastern California Museum/County of Inyo
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About the Author

Zach Behrens is KCET's Director of News, Region and State, working on digital and on-air news products that relate to Southern California and beyond.
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