What Goes Around Comes Around Again


In the mid-1800s, a water wheel graced the Los Angeles River, bringing water from El Rio Porciuncula to Los Angeles, which was a newly established pueblo. The Zanja Madre (or Mother Ditch) was the open-air earthen ditch that carried the much-needed water from the river, across the present day Corn Fields to a brick reservoir, which was located in what is now the plaza at the south end of Olvera Street. Sadly, the water wheel was destroyed in a flood around the turn of the 20th century.

Now there are plans to once again create a water wheel on the Los Angeles River.  This project, entitled Siempre Agua: A Water Wheel for the Los Angeles River, will create a water wheel on the west bank of the Los Angeles River, just south of the Broadway Bridge. The plans are to have the water wheel take water from the Los Angeles River and deliver it to the planned wetlands at the state park across the street.

If you’d like to learn more about this exciting project, there will be a community open house at 6 p.m. on Thursday, August 9 at Metabolic Studio, 1745 North Spring St. This open house will include a presentation by the artist Lauren Bon and the project’s consultants La Noria. It will also include a working prototype and a site visit. This flyer provides more information.

This will be the first water wheel connected to the LA River in more than 100 years. It’s nice to know that something that once “went around” on the Los Angeles River, will soon be coming around once again.

Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Siempre Agua water wheel graphic courtesy of La Noria.


Comments (2)

  1. A Scott
    February 28th, 2013 at 11:46 am

    I’m always glad to see some function over form coming from the high-art world here in LA, though I am concerned about the longterm viability and maintenance of such a structure. Spectacles wear, interests wane, finances fluctuate even among the super rich.

    But more this, is my concern about the plan to use untreated stormwater and runoff for irrigation. There are plenty of recycled water purple pipe fed parks, but that water us hightly treated. A good percentage of the water in the LA River is untreated street runoff – and with it comes E. coli, a pretty gut wrenching bacteria. Picnic in the park anyone?

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