Background to the Water Wars
Since the beginning of time water has shaped California, and since the arrival of the first people, it has shaped its communities as well. California is a rich, lush, almost crazily diverse collection of biospheres and geography and so, naturally, as different peoples have discovered and explored it, they have evolved in divers ways as well. One thinks of the Tehama and Butte peoples of the Sacramento River flood plain or the Russians of Mendocino or the nomads able to exist in the parched wastes of San Bernardino. But whether it is the Pomo of Clear Lake, the Chinese of Fresno Township doing battle with the San Joaquin River, or the first Anglo settlers in Greater Mar Vista, water or a lack of it is a central force in the history of virtually all of the 58 county-states that ultimately were part of the Feudal Order.
In California, it has been said, there is much water, but not always at the right time and not always in the right place. By a strange twist of fate, the deserts of Southern California (particularly the area now known as Los Angeles) were more densely settled sooner than the natural gateway to the San Francisco Bay Area, present day San Francisco. Historians disagree on whether or not the desert climate was instrumental in the development of L.A.s racially segregated political structure (they even disagree on how many centuries ago that was), but all agree that the development of water resources was always key to the growth of this powerful county-state. Development in this sense means the use of water resources that do not naturally occur within the frontiers of a given county-state. As the Angelenoes became a strong regional force, the Angelenoes expanded eastwards for their water, like most of the original coastal settlements. For some generations this was enough.
Meanwhile, the few inhabitants of San Francisco not only had some naturally occurring water but had the use of a primitive but elaborate pumping system that gave them control of Hetch Hetchy, a huge reservoir in the Sierra Nevada. It is not known why or what civilization built this waterway, but coupled with the natural resources of the Delta, it seemed to offer the potential for great self-reliance. Nevertheless, superstition had grown up around the San Francisco peninsula area, particularly a belief that a plague had been visited upon these early people of San Francisco. This led to a strong irony: some of the most densely populated areas and cultures of Californias Feudal Order were clustered around the San Francisco Bay, but the Golden Gate area itself was virtually deserted. Because the southern Bay Area was the home of the Silicane peoples, the Golden Gate was further isolated. These factors, coupled with the persistent fog, meant the area was sparsely settled until Los Angeles developed the water colony at Lobos Creek (within the modern day limits of San Francisco).
As the needs grew, Los Angeles had developed a strategy of creating water colonies. There were many, but the two most famous were Inyo and Lobos Creek (San Francisco). Settlement of these colonies was encouraged, in some cases the local inhabitants were driven off; in others an accomodation was made. The legendary Junipero Serra founded many of them. But the key was the settlements developed always with a sense that their primary duty was to send water to the South. But after several generations had past, these water colonies developed their own culture and set of values. Indeed, in the case of San Francisco, the rigid racial categorization that characterized LA was almost immediately abandoned and a more egalitarian culture developed. The more liberal policies in turn encouraged people of like minds to travel there. Tensions between the colonies and the mother city-state began to rise. In Inyo, the cultural differences were less marked, but nevertheless when water supplies began being diverted at a higher rate, there was much resistance both at a political and grass roots level. Interning part of the population at Manzanar had little impact. LA decided it was time to teach all their subject peoples a lesson.
The entire Owens Lake was drained for LA . Then the Owens River was dammed and the water completely diverted to LA. Farmers became utterly dependent on the sparse rainfall. A thriving agriculture community was turned literally to dust. To this day, the inhabitants of the Owens Valley suffer an unhealthily high level of lung problems due to the air pollution cause by wind sweeping over the flats of the lake bad. Many (in fact, most) left, becoming refugees who ironically had no choice but to go to Los Angeles. This of course meant that Los Angeles became still larger and began running out of water again. One of the consequences of all this, as any schoolchild will tell you, was the mis-named First Water War.
The details of both Water Wars are available in any reasonable text on p-California. The important thing from our standpoint here is that the Racial Junta that ran Los Angeles realized that the power vacuum after that war created an opportunity and so began to work on a final solution for the water problem. It was called the Peripheral Canal. Diverting the water from Hetch Hetchy would only be the first step, a temporary solution which, though devastating to San Francisco, would only provide enough water for a few more years of development. The Peripheral Canal would divert most of the
Sacramento River (coming from the Northern watersheds into the Delta) to the South. In secret, engineers of LAs powerful DWP beginning designing the Peripheral Canal in Los Angeles and then constructing it to be shipped north. Its existence was well known, but always denied.
Then things began to get out of control in the San Francisco area. An election seemed inevitable and the hand picked candidate of the p-LA forces was facing an inevitable loss. Though political control of San Francisco was not necessary to simply turn some valves and divert the Hetch Hetchy water to the South, the Delta situation was different. Military control of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge would be key to imposing the Peripheral Canal on the other nations of the Bay Area such as Eastbay and the Silicane producing areas among others. Though the Silicane Valley folks were well known for their amorality and had been promised all the water they needed, the Racial Junta of Los Angeles felt strongly that control of San Francisco was critical to their goals. It was in this environment that the last days of San Franciscos Mayoral Campaign played out. And it was the reason why Nora Hawkes could never feel completely secure as the events of Wartime California begin to unfold . . .