The original Los Angeles Aqueduct was designed by William Mulholland (an Irish immigrant who became a self-taught engineer and head of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power) to deliver water from the Owens River near Independence, California, to the city of Los Angeles, California.
The project began in 1905 with a budget of $24.5 million. With 5,000 workers employed in its construction, the Los Angeles Aqueduct was finished in 1913. It consisted of 223 miles (359 km) of 12-foot (3.7 m) steel pipe, 120 miles (190 km) of railroad track, 2 hydroelectric plants, 170 miles (270 km) of power lines, 240 miles (390 km) of telephone line, a cement plant, and 500 miles (800 km) of roads. The aqueduct used gravity to carry the water, so it was relatively autonomous and cost-efficient. Apart from the catastrophic failure of the St. Francis Dam in 1928 that flooded the Santa Clarita Valley and parts of Ventura County (resulting in disgrace and financial ruin for Mulholland), and an incident of sabotage by displaced Owens Valley farmers a few years previously, the aqueduct system has worked well throughout its history, and is still in use.
The construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct effectively ended the development of the Owens Valley as a farming community and devastated the ecosystem of Owens Lake. Mulholland and his associates, including Los Angeles Times publisher Harrison Gray Otis have often been criticized for using deceptive tactics to obtain Bureau of Reclamation rights to the Owens River's flow. However, the aqueduct's water was crucial in the development of Los Angeles, and Mulholland's role in this expansion is recognized.
 Second Los Angeles Aqueduct
The second Los Angeles Aqueduct added transport capacity in order to exhaust the city's water rights permits from the Mono Basin. It starts at the Haiwee Reservoir, just south of Owens Lake. Running roughly in parallel to the first aqueduct, it carries water 137 miles (220 km). It cost 89 million dollars and was completed in 1970.