The rival Examiner revealed the financial interest Otis, the Times' publisher, held in San Fernando Valley land to be served by the proposed aqueduct, but even the Examiner eventually supported the project.

"Every person who votes in the negative on Friday night will be placing himself in the attitude of an enemy of the city and will be opposing its progress and prosperity," The Times declared as a city-wide vote neared on a $1.5 million bond issue to start the aqueduct. The vote was 10,693 for and 754 against.

The $25 million aqueduct was completed in 1913. "There it is!" Mulholland said as the first water flowed at a ceremony. "Take it!"

In 1923, with the city population swollen to 600,000, a lighter than usual snowfall in Owens Valley forced the city to buy more land and reduce farming so it could take more water. By 1932, the city owned 95 percent of all farmland and 88 percent of all town property in the valley.

The city began to pump out valley ground water during a three-year drought beginning in 1929, severely lowering the valley's water table. Pumping resumed during another drought in 1960. A second barrel of the Los Angeles aqueduct, completed in 1970, increased the city's capacity to take valley water, and pumping increased.

Diverting the water caused the huge Owens Lake to dry up. What was once a 75-square-mile body of water at the southern end of the valley, broad and deep enough to carry large, ore-laden barges, became a dirt pit with a serious dust pollution problem.

Several valley residents said they had detected a new concern about their problems among Los Angeles officials. With the encouragement of Inyo County Supervisor Vernon E. (Johnny) Johnson, Los Angeles city council member Joy Picus visited the valley a year ago for daylong discussions about pumping. Picus said she hopes for an out-of-court solution.

Lillian Nelson said she hopes for the best. "All we want is enough water to keep our towns alive," she said. "We're willing to give up everything else."