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Oakland Tribune from Oakland, California • 103

Oakland Tribunei
Oakland, California
Issue Date:
Extracted Article Text (OCR)

The Water Supply Of the East Bay WATER is a most important ingredient for the growth of any community. Follow the old Spanish missions in California and this common knowledge becomes even more evident. The pioneer fathers who founded Oakland must have had great admiration for the numerous small streams draining the coastal hills behind the townsite. When Oakland was created in 1852 and Horace W. Carpentier took over the reins of government as the citys first mayor two years later, one of his first utterances concerned water.

It is to be regretted, said Mayor Carpentier, that the city charter confers no powers upon the common council to authorize con-structionofa water-works by which some of the mountain streams might be brought into the city at comparatively small expense, thereby affording an abundant supply of water for common use Thirty-six inch water pipes pass the old Manzanita School at 24th Avenue and East 27th Street enroute to the Peoples Water Company job site in Oakland and hints of the thorough research completed by the trained reporter in order for him to do such an outstanding book as Its Name Was M.UJ). Of course, EBMUD was already a dozen years old when Johnny came to work as a news reporter. Prior to tackling the M.U.D. history, John Wesley Noble had done several other outstanding books as well as a score of more magazine articles after departing The Tribune in 1948. Among the books were I Want to Quit Winners, written for Harold Smith of Harolds fame in Reno, and Never Plead Guilty, a biolgraphical work about trial attorney Jake Erlich of San Francisco, which he co-authored with Bernard Auerbuch.

Its Name Was M.U.D. is a large 8Ms by 11-inch volume with a handsome four-color hardback cloth cover. Illustrations include two maps and more than 60 historical photographs. The book is nearly 200 pages in length. and say So, thats how it happened.

Anthony Chabot, properly tagged as the father of water supply both in San Francisco and the East Bay at a time when Oakland covered only spots on the wide plain spread along the coastal hills. Heres the way the author if Its Name Was M.UJ). tells it: Actually, the first water piped into Oakland did not, as planned, come from Temescal Creek. The story has it that Chabot was eager for revenue and the Temescal facility being not quite ready he arranged for a supply from a private well to be pumped by steam into an elevated tank from which it flowed downhill to fill the mains along Broadway. This was sometime in late March or April of 1867, and among those supplied was the gas company and a nursery at Ninth and Broadway, with a special tap at Sixth Street for the sprinkling carts to dampen down the dust By June Temescal Creek water replaced the private supply.

This was mild, says Noble, to complaints that followed. At this point in his story he tells of a reservoir that has long perturbed all East Bay historians: There was at one time a reservoir on the' hill we know today as Pill Hill, but in earlier times called College Hill and Hospital Hill. Is it possible that someone somewhere might have a picture of that reservoir? Noble makes only' a mention of the Pill Hill water storage basin: With a new reservoir set for gravity flow on College Hill, he (Chabot) began work on a permanent -dam in Temescal Canyon. Temescal Dam was completed in 1869. The Pill Hill reservoir was certainly anything but a myth in those late years of the 1860s.

His creek system probably was as good as could' be expected though dependable only for eight to nine months of the year. The new earthen dam farther up the creek valley would provide a reserve for the three to four dry months. Here Chabot showed the skill developed in bringing water to the Mother Lode diggings. First, all earth was removed from the lake bottom and the rock John Wesley Noble tells the story well in It's Name Was M.U.D. a history of the Oakland areas struggle for water in a state noted for its controversies and clashes over water for farms, industries and homes.

Nobles story has been bound into a handsome book by the East Bay Municipal Utility District and is being distributed solely by them for the nominal price of $5. Theres a special order form that was sent out with last months water bills. No library of Oaklandia will ever be complete without this particular work. Opders should not accompany water bill payments, but should include a separate check to EBMUD for the amount of the book only. Only a limited number of copies of the book have been printed.

We cant help but feel that it will be many a long month before Its Name Was M.U.D. shows up at the antiquarian book dealers. JOHN Wesley Noble was just plain Johnny Noble when he was a Tribune staffer for13 years, 1935 to 1948. He arrived in Oakland in 1928, his early home and schooling having been in Oregon at a small town called Gladstone." In Oakland he became a member of the first class to go all the way through the new Oakland High School on Park Boulevard; freshman year through senior class and graduation. He was an outstanding news reporter and feature writer during Jiis Tribune career.

This brief information" about the writer identifies him as a grammar school pupil in Oregon at the. time the East Bay Municipal Utility District was being organized here back in 1923 and 1924, DEVELOPMENT and transition stages of all theotilities that have supplied water to the East Bay communities and ultimately merged into the East Bay Municipal Utility District is one of the highlights of the Noble book, along with a chronology, records of service by EBMUD directors, general managers, chief engineers, and attorneys. WITH the coming and going of the seasons and the mains often exposed by street graders, the water itself wasnt or fresh. And it wasnt uncommon for editors of the day to speak their minds, as did the the Daily Morning Journal in Decern- on both sides scraped' clean. Then tons of tenacious clay were mixed with earth and puddled actually trampled underfoot by horses 53 The dam itself was of earth, much of it sluiced down the hillsides, The water obtained from the mains of the Contra Other pertinent graphs and charts are also made available which definitely marks the book as the only document in existence covering this ground.

It will even surprise the many East Bay residents who are apt to casualty remark that I remember. New Costa Water Company (Chabots organization) last evening was quite muddy and almost unfit for household purposes. Water from almost any well was superior, the newspaper pro- raising a levee 86 feet from bedrock to crest and faced bn its inner side with broken rock to erosion. Some of the techniques 4 Continued on Page 24 4 -t i 4 5 comers here are more apt to grin.

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