Talk:California Water Wars

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Farmers and ranchers tried to band together to sell water rights to Los Angeles as a group, but again through deceit, Los Angeles managed to buy the water rights at a substantially reduced price.

Deceit is a pretty strong word. Does the book cited use it? If so, the author of the book should be cited in the text as source for the word, don't you think?


GeorgeLouis 00:09, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

I wrote that sentence almost 3 years ago, and I don't currently have reference [5] at hand. When I wrote the material, I worked from notes that I made from [5] -- this sentence was a summary of multiple pages of historical material. So, I just don't know wheter [5] used "deceit" or not. [5] went into detail about the misrepresentations that LADWP made to the farmers and to the local water authorities in the Valley, so I think "deceit" was a legitimate NPOV word to use. hike395 03:59, 19 August 2006 (UTC)
I disagree with "some have called deceit". Can you find reference where it is not a deceit? Or misrepresentations or some other word? Who thinks it was done on the up-and-up? hike395 14:27, 19 August 2006 (UTC)
Well, I put the reference into the body of the text and changed it to misrepresentation, which is what I believe you said was the word used in your source. If the word was actually "deceit," then please put it back, but at least keep the source within the text instead of requiring the reader to parse it out for himself. That's my opinion, anyway, and frankly it is not one of an expert, only an editor. Sincerely, GeorgeLouis 15:11, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

Removal of LA Times and New York Times reference URLs[edit]

It seems to me that keeping the URLs is most consistent with WP:V. I'd like to put them back in. hike395 03:58, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

Where did material come from?[edit]

The first five sections were written by User:Wenrick --- I poked around with Google and in the Kahrl book, and could not find any evidence of copying. I think we'll have to assume good faith and thank User:Wenrick for his fine contribution.

I wrote the last three sections, mostly from notes from [12], but with consulting other sources. I wrote these myself, they have been subsequently edited. Feel free to verify. hike395 12:50, 8 May 2007 (UTC)

move history of LADWP to LADWP article?[edit]

The section titled "Public vs. private: early problems of water control in Los Angeles" is a good backgrounder on LADWAP -- should it belong at Los Angeles Department of Water and Power or here? I'm uncertain. What do other people think?

I agree. Either there or History of Los Angeles, California. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 05:37, 5 July 2007 (UTC)


The article portrays Eaton and Mullholland in a negative light, without listing any sources. (Lucas(CA) (talk) 06:24, 17 December 2007 (UTC))

The sections about Eaton and Mullholland ("Water rights and profit", "The building and operation of the aqueduct") seem to be adequately cited to me. hike395 (talk) 18:49, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

Article tags[edit]

I just re-added the citations missing and refimprove tags. There are quite a few statements made in the article that should have a citation provided. Additional sources would help as well. -- Gmatsuda (talk) 12:13, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

I can't fathom the reason the refimprove tag was removed from this article when it clearly is missing a boatload of citations for stated facts and even quotations. I've added the fact template where necessary, and cleaned up some of the existing citations. I didn't have time to go through the entire article, however.

I cleaned up as much as I could in the "Water rights and profit" section, as an example for the rest of the article. Note how the same citations for multiple statements (and how to avoid having to add the entire citations over and over again) have been added. I hope this helps. -- Gmatsuda (talk) 08:37, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

I agree that this article needs more citations, and it needs a better lede.
To quote "when not to use this template" at Template:Citation needed/doc:
While an editor may add this template to any uncited passage for any reason, many editors object to what they perceive as overuse of this tag, particularly in what is known as "drive-by" tagging, which is applying the tag without attempting to address the issues at all. Consider whether adding this tag in an article is the best approach before using it, and use it judiciously. Wikipedia's verifiability policy does not require reliable sources for common facts (e.g., "The Moon orbits the Earth"), or that citations be repeated through every sentence in a paragraph. All direct quotations and facts whose accuracy might be challenged (e.g., statistics) require citations.
This template is intended for specific passages that need citation. For entire articles or sections that contain significant material lacking sources (rather than just specific short passages), there are other, more appropriate templates, such as {{Unreferenced}} or {{Refimprove}}.
I object to the overuse of this template, marking every sentence in some sections. It is more appropriate (and better for the readers) to mark the specific sections as refimprove or unreferenced. The refimprove at the top of the article is too unspecific: it looks like there are a few sections that need it. I am going to mark the specific sections as refmprove, and remove the citation needed templates from those sections and the refimprove from the top of the article. —hike395 (talk) 16:21, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
Works for me. Glad to see that the need for citations is being recognized here. There are a lot of "facts" stated in this article, and even a few quotations, as I mentioned earlier, that are (or were, depending on the section you're looking at) unreferenced. That violates Wikipedia's policy on verification. Note that the same citation can probably be used multiple times to back up a lot of the facts presented, I'm sure. -- Gmatsuda (talk)


This article would be greatly improved by a map specific to the subject or even a general map of the area. --TjoeC (talk) 18:20, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

Northern California[edit]

There's been plenty of disputes over water in the Central Valley and up further North in the Klamath River. It would be good to add sections about those as well. (talk) 17:29, 16 July 2009 (UTC)

Deletion of material from Cadillac Desert[edit]

User:Imveracious has twice deleted material from the article supported by Cadillac Desert: once with a somewhat obscure edit summary ("correction of format and reference"), the second time apparently claiming that the material was not supported by the source.

I invite User:Imveracious and any other editor to double-check the references --- the quoted words are directly from Cadillac Desert and page numbers were provided. It's a simple matter to check that the deleted material was well-supported by the reference. See the old version at [1].

Cadillac Desert is a standard reference on water conflicts in the West. Several other references confirm the fact that Eaton and Mullholland were dishonest in the acquisition of water rights. See, e.g.,

  • Kahrl, WL (1982). Water and Power: The Conflict over Los Angeles' Water Supply in the Owens Valley
  • Smith, Genny; Putnam, Jeff; James, Greg; DeDecker, Mary; Heindel, Jo (1995). Deepest Valley: Guide to Owens Valley, its Roadsides and Mountain Trails.
  • Prud'homme, Alex (2011). The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Fresh Water in the Twenty-First Century

If any editor believes that the article was not WP:NPOV, then the correct action is not to delete well-supported material, but to find reliable sources that support the opposite claim that the water rights were acquired honestly, and add those sources to the article.

Instead of engaging in an edit war, I invite other editors to discuss these issues and see if we can come to a consensus. —hike395 (talk) 03:20, 21 July 2012 (UTC)

Later: here are the passages from "Cadillac Desert" that support the material that was deleted.
Page 62:
Page 64:
Page 66:

I agree that Cadillac Desert may be cited as a source and that the disputed portion of the article should be returned. I recommend that when the material is returned that they are string cited with the other material you just provided here. Geodanny (talk) 16:24, 21 July 2012 (UTC)

By "string cited", you mean put the direct quote into the footnotes as part of the reference? That sounds like a good idea. I may need to shorten the page 64 quote to just the last sentence. —hike395 (talk) 17:02, 21 July 2012 (UTC)
A string cite means there are two or more citations back-to-back. In which case they are strung together. Putting the direct quote in the footnote also sounds like a fine option. This is a sufficiently controversial issue that string cites would be appropriate.

This subject remains, as it has from its origins, highly controversial and polarizing to many. As such, to be informative, truthful, and to remain within Wikipedia's polices makes a NPOV even more important. Notwithstanding that I myself do not know of any recognized historical organization or society which considers this book to be a "reference" the problem remains in that although it does contain a fair amount of factual materiel, the wording is so highly biased that it can not be used as quoted. Further, though there are, as exampled, a few areas that if included in their entirety, would be acceptable, they would then lessen the articles appeal simply on length alone. We need to keep in mind that an article must be, as far as possible, in an Encyclopedic format and it is not to be a forum to prove or disprove a point. My intentions here are, as with any article, to lessen or remove the inflammatory expressions while retaining the factual text. I do not read any factual and non-inflammatory section which I did remove. Please indicate to which area you refer as I may have been mistaken. Thanks Imveracious (talk) 20:59, 21 July 2012 (UTC)

I think you are misunderstanding what WP:NPOV means. It does not mean removing material that may offend people (i.e., "inflammatory"). It does not mean deciding between "factual" and "inflammatory" (because there is no general method for Wikipedians to reach such a decision). Instead, look at the first sentence of WP:NPOV:
Editing from a neutral point of view (NPOV) means representing fairly, proportionately, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources.
For this case:
  1. It is a significant view (supported by multiple reliable sources, including Cadillac Desert) that Mulholland and Eaton engaged in dishonest tactics to get the water rights for the Los Angeles Aqueduct
  2. It is also a significant view supported by an RS that Eaton was an agent for the Bureau of Reclamation through Lippincott (more than "appeared to be").
  3. Further, it is a significant view supported by an RS that Eaton posed as a cattle rancher willing to overpay for land.
The right way to be NPOV is not to censor what one side says, because it is "inflammatory". Instead, if you can find reliable sources that contradict these statements, let's add those sources to the article and describe the contradiction. That is the way that Wikipedia is supposed to work. It's always good to add more in-depth research for potentially controversial historical topics. (I have not found reliable sources that contradict these points, but it's definitely possible that they exist).
Until we can dig up contradictory reliable sources, the statements seem well-sourced. Both User:Geodanny and I think that the material should be restored to the article. What do other editors think? —hike395 (talk) 00:42, 22 July 2012 (UTC)
Edits in question are well-sourced. Besides that, this is fairly well-known history. The City of Los Angeles did indeed use underhanded tactics, to say the least, to acquire water rights, land, etc. in the Owens Valley, and even in the Mono Basin later on. This is all well-documented in several books and articles. -- Gmatsuda (talk) 08:29, 22 July 2012 (UTC)
One possibility is to not quote "chicanery" and "subterfuge" directly from Cadillac Desert, but use a term like dishonest or underhanded and cite multiple sources (per Geodanny, above). I have made this change, but we can continue to discuss, if needed. —hike395 (talk) 12:20, 22 July 2012 (UTC)

In short and to a large part, I agree. My point was simply that the article should be such that it does not use judgmental or biased, which I had termed as inflammatory, language and in a disinterested tone. An article written from a neutral point of view is one that neither sympathizes with nor disparages its subject. This includes use of the language, which was in question, even though it was how a cited reliable source choose to use about the subject. It is only natural that we have our own points of view, although we should strive in good faith to provide the information in such a manner that we achieve the needed level of neutrality so that it is appropriate for an encyclopedia. Thanks Imveracious (talk) 20:07, 23 July 2012 (UTC)

Verify sources?[edit]

User:Imveracious marked several citations as needing verification. I double-checked some of the sources, and they indeed support the sentences that they are associated with. I would remove those verification tags, but perhaps Imveracious meant something else? —hike395 (talk) 09:34, 22 May 2014 (UTC)

Indeed I did and still contend that most, if not all, do not. "The water wars began when Frederick Eaton..." can not be found in the source cited. Nor "From 1902 to 1905, Eaton and Mulholland used underhanded methods to obtain water rights..." be found in the Mullholland-PBS cite. Page 66 of Cadillac Desert does not support the claim of "Eaton posed as a cattle rancher in 1905..." while in fact on page 78 it states - "When Eaton moved up from Los Angeles as promised and began his new life as a cattle rancher, the valley people were reassured."
I apologize for and have removed the tag at "The brothers claimed that the fraud was done for the good of the Owens Valley against Los Angeles, and this excuse was generally believed in Inyo County." as there I misread the page number cited. Thanks Imveracious (talk) 17:35, 22 May 2014 (UTC)
I think you may be expecting verbatim quotes, rather than paraphrasing or summarizing. However, extensive verbatim quotes (such as what you added from Smithsonian magazine) constitute a copyright violation. First off, please summarize or paraphrase the Smithsonian magazine quote.
As for the other citations:
  1. The citation on "the water wars began.." are on the date of when Eaton was elected (1898).
  2. Underhanded methods: Mulholland-PBS says "The local agent of the Reclamation Service was a political crony of Eaton's, and he allowed his friend to examine critical land and water rights documents on the pretense that it was necessary for the orderly advancement of the Owens Valley project. Eaton, in turn, hired his friend -- at a generous salary -- to develop the city's plan to take the Owens River. In this way, by the end of 1905, through a combination of normal land purchases and near bribery, the city had acquired enough land and water rights to block the Owens Valley project.". We had a discussion, above, of how to summarize the three citations. "underhanded" seems to be a consensus summary that is certainly consistent with the material I just quoted. I believe it is verified.
  3. Page 66 of Cadillac Desert states that Eaton was a "would-be cattle rancher" and "the stories were enough to make Wilfred skeptical about Eaton's true intentions. Was he rich enough to pay those prices? Where did he get the money?" It is true that the "posed" summary is contradicted by page 78 of Cadillac Desert. I'll see if I can re-summarize to cover both pages (and do a bit more research)
hike395 (talk) 02:24, 23 May 2014 (UTC)
Firstly, take both what was written in Smithsonian and what I wrote and compare the two, you will see they are not verbatim as I do well understand copyright violation. No, I do not expect verbatim quotes--(read above)--although you need to take care in paraphrasing or summarizing as well. One can begin to inadvertently add what they wish it would say or their own thoughts/beliefs if they are not.
As to the other citations~
  1. The citation on "the water wars began.." can not be found there. The word 'water' is used three times within that entire source and not once can I find 'wars' let alone the two together.
  2. Underhanded methods: Mulholland-PBS, the same as above, it is not there. What you have written in response is very close, if not crossing into OR. What is written in the source and you are using, is speaking directly toward and about Fred it...the name Mulholland is not even mentioned in that.
  3. Page 66 vs 78 of Cadillac Desert can be troublesome, perhaps the author should have spent a bit more time. Good luck & Thanks Imveracious (talk) 20:16, 23 May 2014 (UTC)