A Brief History of DWP 49
In December 1902, the voters of Los Angeles created a Water Department by amending the city charter. The amendment placed control of the department in the hands of an appointed, five-member commission. The commissioners were to be appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the council. They were to serve staggered, four-year terms and no more than three of them were permitted to be members of the same political party. No one could be appointed a commissioner who had not resided in the city for five years.
Burton Hunter (1933, pp. 105–106) described the governance of the Water Department in a book published in 1933:
This board elected its own president, who served for one year at a salary of $3000 and was the executive officer of the water department. The superintendent of waterworks, the water overseer, the secretary and all employees of the department were appointed by the board, which had the power to determine the number of its employees, fix their hours of work and rates of pay and require bonds from any or all of them.
All moneys received from the sale or use of water were placed in the water revenue fund and such fund was under the complete control of the board, except that the council might apportion by ordinance such amount as was required to meet principal and interest payments on outstanding waterworks bonds. Also while water rates were fixed by the commission, the approval of the council was required. 50
Three members constituted a quorum; but a vote of three was required on any action involving the making of a contract, auditing a bill, expending money or incurring debt. The city auditor handled demands on the water revenue fund in the same manner as those on the school and library funds, demands re-