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The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

 75 Years of Delivering Water

​In celebration of 75 years of water deliveries to Southern California, we wanted to take a moment to honor and reflect on the voices and people from Metropolitan’s past who were part of this major achievement.

Construction of the aqueduct began Jan. 25, 1933 at two locations in the Little San Bernardino Mountains. Work on the aqueduct progressed around the clock in three shifts.

Although the aqueduct was built during the nation’s Great Depression and jobs on the aqueduct were coveted, working conditions in the mountains and valleys of the Mojave Desert were grueling, particularly with temperatures ranging from freezing cold to extraordinarily hot. Probably the most dangerous of aqueduct jobs was tunneling; the aqueduct has 29 separate tunnels totaling 92 miles.

The aqueduct itself remains a vital and vibrant engineering triumph. It was closed from end-to-end and refurbished in 2003, ensuring its dependability for the next 75 years. It stands as a tribute to the foresight of the leaders, taxpayers and workers who built it.

Read more and view our timeline.

Videos of the Colorado River Aqueduct


Thirteen Golden Cities
In late 1938, MWD released this motion picture to major Southland movie theaters and schools that detailed the story of the Colorado River Aqueduct project with a background of California's romantic and colorful history.  The film was created to give a vivid account of the men and women involved in this historic project.

The Colorado River Aqueduct
This silent film (recently set to music) was created by the Metropolitan Water District in 1938 to record the history and details of the building the Colorado River Aqueduct and its delivery of water to the 13 original cities.

   Radio Broadcasts

In the 1930s to the late '40s the Metropolitan Water District's public affairs office wrote, produced and aired many extensive radio programs.  Take a journey down memory lane into Metropolitan's past and listen to some of the audio treasures from our archives.



1933 Record Label           

May 13, 1933 – Opening Ceremony of the San Jacinto Tunnel

Jan. 2, 1936 – Completion of the Coachella Tunnel

Oct. 28, 1943 – CRA's 20th Anniversary with Chet Huntley


Telling Their Stories Through Social Media

Using social media to bring history to life, Metropolitan will be “live-tweeting” as if it were the Depression years counting down to June 1941. Learn about the men and women who worked on the Colorado River Aqueduct. Starting March 2016 until mid-June 2016, we will be sharing their stories on Twitter (@mwdh2o_75years). Through their “voices” you will learn about their lives, the challenges they faced and how each of them contributed to the success of a massive, unprecedented effort. Follow us at

Read more about the featured men and women

Photo Gallery

The images below are from our photo archives of the men and women, spanning from 1927 to 1941, who were all part of the greatest engineering and construction projects, the Colorado River Aqueduct.

   Radio Broadcasts

May 13, 1933 – Opening Ceremony of the San Jacinto Tunnel

Jan. 2, 1936 – Completion of the Coachella Tunnel

Jan. 7, 1939 – L.A. Aqueduct Opening

Oct. 28, 1943 – CRA's 20th Anniversary with Chet Huntley

   More Videos

MWD's first talking films circa 1932.



Dream Comes True
MWD's video history created in 2010.


75 Years Photo Gallery