Water is not only the most essential element in sustaining life; but also a vital component of almost all manufacturing process'. Los Angeles is the second largest city in the United States with a population just over 3.8 million people; founded in a desert. The result of the demands of local populations for limited resources of water - has spurred a century of controversy regarding water rights More
In the early years until the 1890's; Los Angeles lacked the infrastructure to publicly provide water into homes. Water procurement was handled by private investors; who brought water into communities by cart, or make-shift pipe systems. Acts of corruption; such as the construction of underground tunnels to secretly pump excessive amounts of water - led to recognition of the need for public control over water-rights, and the formation of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) in 1902.
Los Angeles' growing demand for a stable water supply led towards efforts to dam the Colorado River; which initially began with the design and construction of the St. Frances Dam by the LADWP between 1924 and 1926. However, just two years later; the St. Frances Dam collapsed, flooding communities - killing over 600 people. According to Wikipedia, the disaster was "second-greatest loss of life in California's history".
Realizing the risks of another disaster; a second attempt was made between 1931 and 1936 to dam the Colorado River with the construction of the Hoover Dam - the largest Dam ever constructed at the time. The LADWP operated Hoover Dam until 1987; when responsibilities were transferred to the Bureau of Reclamation.
As early as 1922, conflicts between water-rights for use of the Colorado river had become a contentious issue between California, and the six other states which share the Colorado River as a source of water (California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming). Communities have tapped sources so heavily - that most months of the year no water flows through the mouth of the Colorado River. The affects of water diversion included environmental affects such as the disruption of natural wildlife, and death of vegetation from areas where water was diverted. It took until 1983; when in a State Supreme Court ruling - that the expansion of Los Angeles' consumption of water resources were halted in a case concerning the pumping of Mono Lake. Litigation concluded in 1994 over water-rights concerning the Colorado River and other bodies of water.