water wheel LA river... zandre madre

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 flyerprovides 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.


A vision for the L.A. River

A vision for the L.A. RiverArtist Lauren Bon is proposing a 70-foot water wheel that would divert water from the Los Angeles River to create a stream and a shady, landscaped retreat for the public, as well as an irrigation system for area parks...

Mother Ditch and   the old wheel from 1863:

The Zanja Madre (English: 'Mother Ditch') is the original aqueduct that brought water to the Pueblo de Los Angeles from the Rio Porciuncula (Los Angeles River). It is referred to as an open, earthen ditch which was completed by community laborers within a month of founding the pueblo. The ditch underwent many alterations over the years and was in use until the early 20th century before it was replaced by modern piped water supply systems.