San Vicente Aqueduct

1954: Final Pipe Installed for Pipeline 2, San Vicente Aqueduct

Thanks to an intensive lobbying effort and consensus building by the San Diego County Water Authority’s first chairman, Fred Heilbron, the San Vicente Aqueduct’s second pipeline was constructed between 1951 and 1954.

The effort paid off when the second pipeline, parallel to and the same size as the first, began delivering water to the San Diego region. But even the doubling of capacity was insufficient to supply the growing population. The Water Authority had grown to 18 member agencies, and was four times the service area it had when it was originally formed ten years earlier in 1944.

Planning immediately began for a third pipeline, Pipeline 3.

San Vicente Aqueduct

1951: Construction Milestone for Pipeline 2, San Vicente Aqueduct

When World War II concluded, most experts expected San Diego’s population to decrease, but that was not the case. Pipeline 1 proved inadequate to meet the region’s water needs. Drought years in 1950-51 increased concerns about water shortages.

The Water Authority appealed to the U.S. Navy to help build a second pipeline. It was willing, but its hands were tied by the Bureau of Reclamation, which built the first pipeline because of the wartime emergency. With the war over, it could not fund the project unless Congress authoritzed the Navy to request it.

The first chairman of the San Diego County Water Authority, Fred Heilbron, undertook the effort to create consensus to build Pipeline 2. Among his tactics: crashing a breakfast meeting between the Secretary of the Navy and then president of the Metropolitan Water District board of directors; and enlisting help lobbying Congress including Senator Richard M. Nixon.

The effort paid off. Officials celebrated every milestone of construction, including the installation of the first section of pipe.