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University of California Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office University of California 

The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 

East Bay Municipal Utility District Oral History Series 

Walter R. McLean 


With an Introduction by 
James V. Zeno 

Interviews Conducted by 

Ann Lage 

in 1991 

Copyright 1993 by The Regents of the University of California 

Since 1954 the Regional Oral History Office has been interviewing leading 
participants in or well -placed witnesses to major events in the development of 
Northern California, the West, and the Nation. Oral history is a modern research 
technique involving an interviewee and an informed interviewer in spontaneous 
conversation. The taped record is transcribed, lightly edited for continuity and 
clarity, and reviewed by the interviewee. The resulting manuscript is typed in 
final form, indexed, bound with photographs and illustrative materials, and 
placed in The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, and 
other research collections for scholarly use. Because it is primary material, 
oral history is not intended to present the final, verified, or complete 
narrative of events. It is a spoken account, offered by the interviewee in 
response to questioning, and as such it is reflective, partisan, deeply involved, 
and irreplaceable. 


All uses of this manuscript are covered by a legal agreement 
between The Regents of the University of California and Walter R. 
McLean dated May 21, 1991. The manuscript is thereby made available 
for research purposes. All literary rights in the manuscript, 
including the right to publish, are reserved to The Bancroft Library 
of the University of California, Berkeley. No part of the 
manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written 
permission of the Director of The Bancroft Library of the University 
of California, Berkeley. 

Requests for permission to quote for publication should be 
addressed to the Regional Oral History Office, 486 Library, 
University of California, Berkeley 94720, and should include 
identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated 
use of the passages, and identification of the user. The legal 
agreement with Walter R. McLean requires that he be notified of the 
request and allowed thirty days in which to respond. 

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows: 

Walter R. McLean, "From Pardee to 
Buckhorn: Water Resources Engineering and 
Water Policy in the East Bay Municipal 
Utility District, 1927-1991," an oral 
history conducted in 1991 by Ann Lage , 
Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft 
Library, University of California, 
Berkeley, 1993. 

Copy no . 


Oakland Tribune 


WALTER R. MCLEAN, passed away peace 
fully at home on Thursday, February 8, 2001 sur 
rounded by family, friends and devoted care- 
givers. He was 97. Bom in Boderick, California on 
July 16, 1903,'he jad been a resident df San Le 
andro since 1932. 

H reached a milestone few achieve, he spent 
53 years working for EBMUD. During forty of 
those years he was a supervising engineer in 
volved in major projects that brought water to the 
Bay Area. He served another 12 years on the Dis 
trict's Board of Directors. One of his early chal 
lenges was working on the Pardee Dam where 
there now is a McLean Conference Hafl com 
memorating his contributions. He often. spoke of 
his affection for the District saying that "he dkln't 
know any place with such fine people." After re 
tiring he continued his career as a consultant. 

Mr. McLean left school at an early age to sup 
port his widowed mother but as an aduft, con 
tinued his education at the University of California 
Berkeley. Over his long career he earned the es 
teem of his peers in the American Society of En 
gineers, American Public Work Association, East 
Bay Engineers Club, and was awarded a lifetime 
membership in the American Water Works Asso 

Besides his work, "Mac" had other passions 
in his life. During the. years his 3 sons were 
growing up, he was involved in many projects for 
the Boy Scouts of America anf their summer 
camp. In addition, Mr. McLean was active in San 
Leandro City affairs participating in the planning 
of the San Leandro Marina. 

Walter is survived by his daughters Phyllis 
Click and Claudette Rogers, his sons Bruce 
McLean and James McLean. He also had 10 
grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren. He was 
predeceased by Ins son Donald,, killed during 
WWII, his son pick and his wives Margaret and 
Ula Three loving caretakers brought joy and 
comfort to his test years; Adona Celestial, Eliza 
beth Gab, and Jose Luzurgia. His last night on 
this earth was spent listening to some of his fa 
vorite music, singing, and eating a bowl of 

He will be sorely missed by his numerous 
friends, colleagues, hunting buddies, community 
members, and extensive family. 

Friends are invited to call at Santos Robinson 
Mortuary, 160 Estudillo Ave., San Leandro be 
tween 4:00 and 8:00 PM Monday, February 12. 

Services are scheduled for 11 AM. Tuesday, 
February 13 at First Presbyterian Church of San 
Leandro, 180 EstudSo Ave. Interment wiH be pri 
vate in Sacramento. 

Contributions can be made in his memory to 
the Boy Scouts of America 




Walter R. McLean, 1990 

Photograph by Bordanaro & Zarcone 

Cataloging information 

McLEAN, Walter R. (b. 1903) Water resources engineer 

From Pardee to Buckhorn: Water Resources Engineering and Water Policy in the 
East Bay Municipal Utility District. 1927-1991. 1993, ix, 330 pp. 

Pioneer San Francisco family; youth in Sacramento, California; work conditions 
and construction techniques for H. M. Byllesby Company's El Dorado 
Hydroelectric Project, 1923-1927; civil engineer and projects manager for East 
Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) , 1927-1968: building Pardee Dam, 
Mokelumne Aqueducts, Bay Area water works, supervising construction of sewage 
disposal facilities, recreation areas, dam and aqueduct projects of 1950s- 
1960s; recollections of supervisors, coworkers, management policies at EBMUD; 
member, EBMUD board of directors, 1979-1990: water supply policies, water 
conservation projects, internal policies, board and district management; 
designing a Honduran shrimp farm and other work as a consulting engineer, 

Introduction by James V. Zeno. 

Interviewed 1991 by Ann Lage for the East Bay Municipal Utility District Oral 
History Series. Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, 
University of California, Berkeley. 


INTRODUCTION --by James V. Zeno i 

INTERVIEW HISTORY- -by Ann Lage ill 



Water Supply and Water Quality 1 
Rationale for Building Buckhorn Reservoir: Mitigating a 

Failure of the Aqueducts 4 

Potential Failure of the Tunnels 7 

Buckhorn as an Emergency Facility 9 


Scottish Roots: The Maclean Clan 11 

Mother's Family in Early California 12 

McLean Family History 13 

Parents' Marriage and Father's Early Death 17 

Mother's Work and Terminal Illness 18 

Recollections of Youth and Family in Sacramento 24 


Dropping Out of School in Seventh Grade to Support Family 27 

With the State Highway Commission, 1917-1923 28 

1921 Survey Party in Lassen County 29 

Life in Construction Camps: Tents, Meals, Baths, Dances 30 

Return to Sacramento: Night School and Marriage to 

Margaret Sherman 35 

Instrument Man on El Dorado Hydroelectric Project, 1923 36 

Investigating Echo Lake Dam, 1924 38 

Plum and Alder Creek Siphons: Dealing with Migrating Deer 41 

The El Dorado Project: Penstock, Surge Tank, Wood Stove 

Pipeline for a High-Head Power Plant 44 

The Caples Lake Dam: Unique Gunite Core Construction 48 

Wood- Fired Steam Shovels 52 

Wages, Hours, Food on a Round -the -Clock Project 54 

Keeping the Men on the Job: Camp Followers and Good Food 56 

Preliminary Work on the California Water Project, 1924-1925 60 

Investigations of the Middle Fork of the Feather River, 

1925-1927 61 

Survey Parties in Remote Countryside 63 

Frenchie the Cook and His Replacement 66 

1927 Survey of Grizzly Valley 67 

PG&E Purchase of H. M. Byllesby Company's California Interests 67 


PARDEE DAM, 1927-1930 69 

Inspecting Concrete Vork on the Aqueduct 69 

Transfer to Pardee Dam 71 

Accident at Dedication for the Aqueduct 72 
Personnel at Pardee : From Photographer to Concrete 

Technologist to Gold Diggers 73 

Mining and Hauling Aggregate for Concrete 75 

The High Line 78 

Atkinson Construction Company, Contractors on the Pardee Job 78 

Drilling and Shooting 80 

Dangers and Deaths of Workers 81 

Pardee as the Guinea Pig for Other Big Dams 84 

Recalling Early District Managers and Supervisors 87 

Day Laborers : Changes in Work from Pardee to Boulder 90 

Organizing by Railroad Divisions and Schedules 93 

Influence of Supervisors Macdonald, Longwell, and Edmonston 94 

Family Living in the Construction Camp 97 

Mishap and Potential Disaster, April 1930 99 

Layoff and Rehire at EBMUD 100 


Building a Supply Line to Serve San Francisco, 1932 103 

Construction of the Orinda Filter Plant, 1934 104 
Further Thoughts on the Design and Construction of the 

Orinda Filter Plant 107 

Rush Job on Pipeline to Crockett Sugar Refinery, 1935 111 
Using Work Projects Administration Workers in Pipeline 

Construction 113 

Wartime Service with the District 115 

Son's Service in Army Air Force and Death 118 

Wartime Precautions 120 

Increased Use of Outside Contractors during Postwar Years 121 


Raw Sewage Discharge along East Bay Shore 123 

Staffing Special District 1 126 
Determining Outfall Location with Float Studies of Bay 

Currents 128 

Locating Sewer Line Interceptors 130 
Problems with Sandfill under the Eastshore Freeway: 

Breastboarding the Headworks 131 

Treatment Plant and Pumping Plants 132 
Installing the Outfall Sewer Line and Connecting the 

Interceptors 133 

VII GROWTH AND EXPANSION, 1950s-1960s 135 

Planning for Growth: the 1958 Bond Issue 135 

Population Growth, Annexations, New Pipelines 137 

Need for Additional Water Supply 140 

An Aside on Slide Rules and Calculators 143 

Building the Pardee Recreation Area 145 

Managing Recreation on Reservoirs: Sanitary Considerations 146 

Feasibility Study of the Middle Bar Project, 1950s 148 

Rejection of Plan for a High Dam at Middle Bar 151 

The High Dan at Camanche 153 

Geological Problems with the Site 153 

Efforts to Prevent Dam Failure, 1966 154 

The Decision to Build Camanche 155 

Serious Fear of A Failure of the Dam 156 

Digging Relief Wells and Slurry Trench 157 

Wearing Two Hats: Special Projects and Field Engineering 164 

Storm Damage at Briones Dam, 1962 166 

Working with the State Division of Dam Inspection 168 


Cost -Saving Innovations on the Third Mokelumne Aqueduct 170 

Using the Single Fillet Weld 170 

Reducing the Number of Pressure Relief Valves 172 

River and Freeway Crossings, Third Aqueduct 174 

Avoiding Lawsuits with Accurate Written and Photographic 

Records 175 
Building the Second Lafayette Tunnel: Experimenting with New 

Technology 179 

Assessing Liquidated Damages on the Lafayette Tunnel 181 

Neighbor Relations in Relocation of Lafayette Aqueduct 182 

Successful Use of Boring Machine and Laser Technology 184 

Recalling General Manager and Chief Engineer John Longwell, 

1934-1949 186 
New Leadership under General Manager John McFarland, 

1950-1968 187 
From an Engineering-Oriented to a Business-Oriented 

Management 190 

Rewards of Working for the District 192 

Relations with Board Members 194 

Board Decisions on the Middle Bar Project 195 

Need for More Water Projects in California 196 


Retirement from East Bay MUD, 1968 199 

Expert Witness for Kaiser Steel in 1969 Lawsuit 200 

Testifying for the Bureau of Reclamation, 1969-1970 204 

Thoughts on Being an Expert Witness 206 

The Case of the Leaky Sewer Line, Bethel Island 208 

Designing a Honduran Shrimp Farm 212 

Troubleshooting on a Pipeline in Ghana 219 

Consulting on BART's Market Street Tunnel 221 

Cathodic Protection, Under-Bay Cables, and Ships' Anchors 222 


Running for the Board 224 

The Contracting-Out Issue 229 

Representing Ward Constituency on the Board 232 

Back- Flow Devices for Veils 232 

Stand on Buckhorn Dam and Elevation Charges 235 

The Proper Role of the Board vis a vis Staff 238 

Hiring Jerry Gilbert as General Manager, 1981 240 

General Managers from Davis to Gilbert: A Firsthand 

Assessment 243 

Regrets about Abandonment of High Middle Bar Dam 247 

Gilbert's Role in Tightening a Lax Adminstration 250 
Urgent Need for Understanding of California's Unique Vater 

Problems and Needs 252 


Water Conservation and the Rate Structure 258 

Limitations and Successes of Water Conservation 259 

District Water Recycling Projects 262 
The Charged Issue of Supplying New Development Outside 

District Service Areas 266 

Using Water District Policy to Control Growth 268 

The Tri -Valley Sewer Connection 271 

Limits to Controlling Growth in the Bay Area 274 

Proposed Merger with Contra Costa Water District 275 

The Wet Weather Project 278 

More on the Need for Middle Bar Dam and Buckhorn Reservoir 281 

Problems with the South Spillway of Pardee Dam 283 
Other Issues: Fluoridation, Watershed Rangers, Watershed 

Protection 285 

Fishing and Boating on District Reservoirs 289 

Problems with Recreation at Camanche Reservoir 290 


Instituting Affirmative Action Policies 292 

District Employment of Minorities 294 

Difficulties of Bonding Minority Contractors 295 

Comparable Worth 297 

A Controversial Contract Award Decision 297 

Value and Problems of Public Involvement in Board Policy 299 

Neighborhood Objections to Building Buckhorn Dam 299 

Objections to Adeline Yard and Lafayette Maintenance 

Center 302 

Costs of the EIR Process 305 
The Long Overdue Administration Building in Oakland's 

Chinatown 306 

Sandy Skaggs as EBMUD Board President 311 

The Board's Role in Labor Negotiations 313 

The Board's Responsibility to the Public 315 


INDEX 324 

INTRODUCTION- -by James V. Zeno 

Walter R. McLean ranks as one of the nation's foremost civil 
engineers specializing in water resources development. 

His distinguished career embraces fifty- three years of dedicated 
service to the East Bay Municipal Utility District, plus fifteen years as 
a consultant to water related projects in the United States, South 
America, and Africa. 

McLean's forty-one years on the engineering staff of EBMUD spanned 
the period 1927-1986, during which most of the foundation facilities of 
the water district were created. Among the projects bearing the McLean 
touch are the Pardee Dam; the First and Third Mokelumne Aqueducts; Upper 
San Leandro Reservoir and filter plant; Briones Dam; and the Lafayette 
Tunnel and Aqueduct. Indeed, as manager of both the Field Engineering 
Division and the Special Projects Construction Division, he was 
associated with or responsible for studies, design, construction, and 
development of all water and waste water facilities. 

McLean faced mandatory retirement at age sixty- five from EBMUD in 
1968. However, after completing his EBMUD employee status, McLean was 
neither "retired nor tired," as the reader will learn from this oral 
history treatise of the McLean Water Era. So, in 1969, McLean embarked 
on another career- -this time in the private sector. He joined the civil 
engineering consulting firm Goslinger/McLean Associates, Inc., under the 
presidency of his son, Robert J. McLean. 

From 1969 to 1991, his time was fully occupied on water projects on 
state and national levels plus participation in numerous volunteer events 
in the Bay Area. 

He returned to EBMUD in the capacity of a public servant in 1979 
after his election at the polls to the water district's board of 
directors. He was re-elected by the people twice and served three four- 
year terms. Combined with his forty-one years as a civil engineer 
district executive, this role as public servant rounded out his 
fifty- three years of service expertise to EBMUD. 

As a Registered Professional Engineer (in California, Arizona, 
Nevada, Washington, and Oregon) McLean gained the high esteem of his 
professional peers. His other water resources membership credentials 

Fellow, American Society of Civil Engineers (Life Member) 
Consulting Engineers Association of California 


Society of American Military Engineers 

Past President, American Public Works Association (Life Member, 

Samuel Greeley Award) 

American Water Works Association (Life Member) 
California Water Resources Association 
East Bay Engineers Club 
Engineers Club of San Francisco 
United States Committee on Large Dams 

McLean's volunteer civil activities includes: board of directors, 
San Francisco Bay Area Council, Boy Scouts of America (presently, 
chairman of Properties Committee); Silver Beaver Award, Boy Scouts of 
America; Arthur Greulich Award, Camp Fire Girls of America; Society of 
California Pioneers; California Alumni Association, UC Berkeley; 
Commonwealth Club; Chairman of the San Leandro Shoreline Commission, 
whose feasibility studies led to creation of San Leandro Marina and Tony 
Lema Golf Course. McLean resides in San Leandro with his wife, Lila, 
where his other community services include: chairman, Board of Appeals; 
Cherry Festival board of directors; California Waterfowl Association; 
Ducks Unlimited; and numerous other organizations. 

McLean still is an Izaak Walton devotee --his main hobby is hunting, 
and he is active in the administration of the Rich Island Duck Club and 
belongs to the Black Point Pheasant Club. 

Walter Reginald McLean truly exemplifies the adage, 
get a job done, give it to a busy man!" 

'If you want to 

James V. Zeno 

Public Relations Consultant 

March 1993 

San Leandro, California 



Walter R. McLean's career in water resources engineering in 
California spans nearly three-quarters of a century. Fifty- three of 
those years were devoted to service to the East Bay Municipal Utility 
District [EBMUD] : from 1927 to 1968 as a civil engineer working on or 
managing a vast array of district projects, and, following his 
retirement, as a member of the district's board of directors from 1979- 

Shortly after Mr. McLean left the EBMUD board of directors, the 
district asked the Regional Oral History Office to conduct his oral 
history. Mr. McLean was an ideal candidate for an oral history memoir. 
At age eighty-eight, he had a remarkable memory and a raconteur's ease 
with the spoken word, recalling vividly his coworkers and details of dam, 
aqueduct, and tunnel construction from more than sixty years earlier. 

At our initial session on a rare rainy day during an extended 
drought, <Mr. McLean displayed his intense interest in current water 
policy by beginning his oral history with a discourse on the need for 
more water storage the controversial Buckhorn dam project in the East 
Bay. We then put current issues on hold and delved into the past for the 
next several of our ten interview sessions. Occasional interruptions for 
phone calls indicated that his interest in history coexists with a 
continuing involvement in the district's water supply and storage 
concerns . 

Mr. McLean was born in 1903 in Sacramento. His father was member of 
a prominent San Francisco pioneer family, but after his death in 1907, 
McLean's mother struggled alone and with no financial resources to raise 
her son. McLean's story of his boyhood- -how he dropped out of school at 
age fourteen to work full time, took care of his mother during her 
terminal illness, and put his life together after her death in 1921- -is a 
compelling piece of social history, as well as an aid in understanding 
his subsequent life and career path. 

He describes his assignments in the early and mid- twenties for the 
California State Highway Commission and H.M. Byllesby Company 
(predecessor to Pacific Gas and Electric Company) on survey parties, 
investigation teams, and dam construction in the Sierra Nevada and 
creates a picture of life in the field for engineering crews and 
construction workers. His detailed recollections of work on EBMUD' s 
Pardee Dam and the first Mokelumne Aqueduct in the late twenties portray 
a bygone era in large dam construction. 


In the 1930s and 1940s, Mr. McLean supervised district projects in 
the East Bay, including construction of the Orinda Filter Plant and a 
network of pipelines for water distribution. From 1945-1952 he was in 
charge of investigations and construction of the sewage collection and 
treatment facilities that ended the routine discharge of the area's raw 
sewage into San Francisco Bay. 

In the late fifties and sixties, he participated in planning and 
building water facilities to accommodate projected population increases 
in the East Bay. As manager of the Special Projects Construction 
Division during these years, he oversaw construction of Camanche Dam, the 
Third Mokelumne Aqueduct, Briones Dam, the Lafayette Aqueduct and Tunnel, 
and the Walnut Creek Tunnel. His oral history recounts significant 
advances in construction techniques on these projects, as well as 
describing changes in district management policies and personnel during 
these years of growth and modernization. 

Following his retirement in 1968 at the mandatory age of sixty-five, 
Mr. McLean built an active second career as an engineering consultant, 
serving as expert witness in lawsuits and advising on a variety of 
construction projects, from the BART tunnel in San Francisco to a shrimp 
farm in Honduras to a pipeline in Ghana. His consulting work continues 
to this day, at age eighty-nine. 

In 1979 he was elected to the board of directors of the East Bay 
Municipal Water District. In the following twelve years, he brought to 
bear on board decisions his engineering expertise, his intensive 
knowledge of district facilities, and his firm belief that continued 
development of water resources projects is essential to California's 
future. In his oral history he speaks candidly and with conviction about 
the sometimes heated controversies regarding internal management issues, 
annexation decisions, and water supply and storage policies. 

Mr. McLean was interviewed at his home in San Leandro on ten 
occasions from March to August 1991. The interview transcripts were 
lightly edited in this office for clarity and continuity and reviewed by 
Mr. McLean, who made some minor changes in wording and a few elaborations 
[noted by brackets]. In several instances during the interview, he had 
drawn hasty sketches to make clear design features and construction 
techniques he was describing. During the editing process he prepared, 
and we have included, several drawings to illustrate these sections of 
the transcript. Many of Mr. McLean's papers will be placed in the Water 
Resources Archive in O'Brien Hall at the University of California, 
Berkeley. The tapes of this oral history interview are in The Bancroft 

We are grateful to the East Bay Municipal Utility District for 
sponsoring this project. They have recognized the importance of 

preserving district history and documenting an important aspect of the 
history of water resources development, management, and policy issues in 

For the introduction to this volume we want to thank James V. Zeno, 
public relations and media consultant who managed Mr. McLean's four 
election campaigns for the EBMUD Board of Directors. 

The Regional Oral History Office was established in 1954 to record 
the lives of persons who have contributed significantly to the history of 
California and the West. One of its major areas of investigation has 
been the history of California's water resources; a listing of oral 
history interviews in this series follows. The office is a division of 
The Bancroft Library and is under the direction of Willa K. Baum. 

Ann Lage 

June 15, 1993 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California, Berkeley 


June 1993 


The following interviews have been completed by the Regional Oral History 
Office, a department of The Bancroft Library. The Office was established to tape 
record autobiographical interviews with persons who have contributed significantly 
to the development of the West. Transcripts of the interviews, typed, indexed, and 
bound, may be purchased at cost for deposit in research libraries. 

Single Interview Volumes 

Adams, Frank (1875-1967) Irrigation engineer, economist 

Irrigation. Reclamation and Water Administration. 1959, 491 pp. 

Banks, Harvey (b. 1910) Director, Dept. Water Resources 

-California Water Project. 1955-1961. 1967, 82 pp. 

Downey, Stephen^W. (1876-1958) Attorney 

California Water and Power Attorney. 1957, 316 pp. 

Durbrow, William (1886-1958) Manager, irrigation district 

Irrigation District Leader. 1958, 213 pp. 

Gianelli, William R. (b. 1919) Director, Dept. Water Resources 

The California State Department of Water Resources. 1967-1973. 1986, 86 pp. 

Harding, Sidney T. (1883-1969) Professor of Irrigation, UC Berkeley 

A Life in Western Water Development. 1967, 524 pp. 

Jones, Herbert (1880-1970) 

California Government and Public Issues. 1958, 318 pp. 

Lambert, Charles F. (1887-1959) Land promoter, irrigation district official 
Sacramento Valley Irrigation and Land. 1957 376 pp. 

Leedom, Sam R. (1896-1971) Newspaperman, water project administrator 

California Water Development. 1930-1955. 1967, 83 pp. 

Leopold, Luna B. (b. 1915) 

Hydrology. Geomorphologv. and Environmental Policy: U.S. Geological Survey. 1950- 
1972 and UC Berkeley. 1972-1987. 1993, 309 pp. 

Mason, J. Rupert (1886-1959) Municipal bond broker 

J. Rupert Mason on Single Tax. Irrigation Districts, and Municipal Bankruptcy. 
1958, 372 pp. 


McLean, Walter R. (b. 1903) Water resources engineer 

From Pardee to Buckhorn: Water Resources Engineering and Water Policy in the East 
Bay Municipal Utility District. 1927-1991. 1993, 330 pp. 

Robie, Ronald (b. 1937) Director, Dept. Water Resources 

The California State Department of Water Resources. 1975-1983. 1989, 97 pp. 

Taylor, Paul S. (1895-1984) Professor of Economics .specialist in reclamation 
California Social Scientist. (Three volumes) 

Volume I: Education. Field Research, and Family. 1973, 342 pp. 
Volumes II and III: California Water and Agricultural Labor. 1975, 519 pp. 

Multiple Interview Volumes 

California Water Issues. 1950-1966. 1981, 458 pp. 
(Goodwin Knight/Edmund G. Brown, Sr. Project) 
Interviews with: 

Edmund G. Brown, Sr. Attorney general, Governor of California 

"The California Water Project: Personal Interest and Involvement in the 
Legislation, Public Support, and Construction, 1950-1966." 

B. Abbott Goldberg Dep. Attorney General, Dep. Director, Dept. Water Resources 
"Water Policy Issues in the Courts, 1950-1966." 

Ralph M. Brody. Attorney, manager of Westlands Water District 

"Devising Legislation and Building Public Support for the California Water Project, 
1950-1960; Brief History of the Westlands Water District." 

William E. Warne Director, Dept. of Water Resources 

"Administration of the Department of Water Resources, 1961-1966" 
Paul R. Bonderson 

"Executive Officer, Regional and State Water Pollution and Water Quality Control 
Boards, 1950-1966." 

Save San Francisco Bay Association. 1961-1986. 1987, 220 pp. 
Interviews with: 
Barry Bunshoft, Esther Gulick, Catherine Kerr, Sylvia McLaughlin. 

The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. 1964-1973. 1986, 
98 pp. (Reagan Era Project) 
Interviews with: 

Joseph E. Bodovitz, first executive director 
Melvin Lane, first chairman 
E. Clement Shute, Jr., first legal counsel representing the attorney general. 

See also lists of interviews on Land-Use Planning and Sanitary Engineering in 








/ tf 

Trc?*? ' 



[Interview 1: March 26, 1991 ]## : 

[The first interview with Mr. McLean took place in March 1991 
during a late -season rainstorm, which he was hopeful would 
mitigate the drought conditions. Before turning to historical 
matters, he spoke about water supply issues.] 

Water Supply and Water Quality 

McLean: The water year goes from October 1 to October 1. At the 

commencing of the water year, if we come up with 300,000 acre feet 
or more, then that's enough to carry us over into a normal year. 
It won't eliminate the drought completely, but it will give us a 
cushion for next year. 

Lage : What if we don't have a normal year next year? 

McLean: Well, then, of course, we will have to continue rationing. We're 
still in a drought. If they decide to take the American River 
water from the delta, that'll fill the local reservoirs. But when 
you use American River water out of the delta, you get into a lot 
of problems with turbidity and pollutants. That's the reason that 
you must put it into San Pablo and Upper San Leandro reservoirs, 
because they have filtration plants with sedimentation basins 
where you can treat the water from the delta source. You also put 
other organic material into the reservoirs, which takes a long 
time to eliminate when you return to the Mokelumne source. That's 
why the district shouldn't use the delta water if they can get by 
without it. The last time we used delta water was during the 
drought of '76, '77. It created a real problem. It took four or 
five years to really get the reservoirs back to normal with 
Mokelumne water. 

[Another option would be to construct a treatment plant in 
the delta at the source of supply. This would require aeration 

1 This symbol (#//) indicates that a tape or segment of a tape has begun 
or ended. For a guide to the tapes, see end of interview. 





and large sediments . The plant would have to be large enough to 
treat at least 200 mgd (million gallons per day) . This treated 
water could then be used at Orinda, Lafayette and the Walnut Creek 
filter plants, as well as the San Pablo, San Leandro and Briones 

A treatment plant in the delta would be a very costly project 
requiring additional pumping, aeration, sedimentation and probably 
odor and taste control. It is much better to take the American 
River supply at the present proposed location on the Folsom South 
Canal and certainly less expensive, than in the delta.] 1 

What happens to water quality if you use delta water? 
water taste bad? 

Does the 

No, you get organic material with the turbidity. When you 
chlorinate, you create what they call tr ihe lame thane , which is 
partly carcinogenic. This is one of the problems you create when 
you use delta water and then chlorinate that water because of the 
high pollution. 

Do we not have to chlorinate the Mokelumne water? 

Yes, you have to chlorinate because of public health regulations. 
But the Pardee Reservoir water, the water that comes from the 
Mokelumne River, has very low turbidity, practically zero, and the 
Orinda, Walnut Creek, Lafayette treatment plants have no 
sedimentation basins. The Mokelumne water is taken directly into 
those plants, and it's just as clear as crystal. The Mokelumne 
River water comes from a granitic watershed, and there is very 
little erosion. As a result, very little sedimentation comes into 
Pardee Reservoir. The water is extremely low in turbidity. 

Tell me what turbidity is. 
Well, turbidity is muddy water. 
I see. Not pathogens? 

No, the water is muddy from clays or soil that is in solution, 
may occur during storms and in flood waters. 


Lage: So that means they have sedimentation? 

Bracketed paragraphs added by Mr. McLean during editing process, 

McLean: That's right. When you get that in the local reservoirs, 

particularly local runoff that comes from streets and hillsides, 
it creates turbidity in the reservoir, and that's why we need a 
sedimentation basin at those treatment plants. Normally the 
Mokelumne water goes through filters directly into the system, 
with only a slight amount of chlorination. With the other 
reservoirs --San Pablo and Upper San Leandro-- where you have 
turbidity, and it has to go through sedimentation basins, 
aeration, and the filters before it goes into the system, that 
generally requires a little more chlorine than with the Mokelumne 

All of the water from the Mokelumne goes through the Walnut 
Creek, Lafayette, and Orinda filter plants. The Walnut Creek 
plant supplies all of San Ramon, Danville, and Walnut Creek. The 
Lafayette plant supplies Lafayette, Moraga, and Orinda. 

Then the Orinda Filter Plant, which is our largest filter 
plant, producing around 200 million gallons a day of water, takes 
water directly off the Mokelumne Aqueduct, and that water goes 
directly into what we call the "aqueduct zone" --the west side of 
the hills. That's the zone that is below elevation three hundred, 
and it supplies everything from Richmond to San Leandro and a 
small portion of Hayward. 

Lage: Now, what do San Pablo and San Leandro reservoirs supply? 

McLean: The San Pablo and the Upper San Leandro, as a general rule during 
the peak summer, are only brought on-line in just very short 
periods of time to make up the excess daily demand in the aqueduct 
zone that Orinda can't supply. As a general rule, those plants 
really don't produce much water and are used only for make-up 
water. San Pablo and San Leandro reservoirs are more costly to 
operate because of the chemicals required to treat the water. 

Lage: Oh, I see. And do they get Mokelumne water? 

McLean: They can get Mokelumne water, but only by means of tunnels from 
upper San Leandro and San Pablo reservoirs. 

Lage: Is that just local runoff, then? 

McLean: That is local runoff plus surplus from the Mokelumne. Water can 
be diverted from the Mokelumne supply into both San Pablo and 
Upper San Leandro reservoirs. When consumption is low in the 
wintertime and the aqueducts are at full gravity flow, 200 mgd, 
the district has a pumping plant at Walnut Creek where we can 
increase the flow to 325 mgd. But the minute you push the button 
at Walnut Creek, you create a "load factor." If you only turn it 

on for one minute, you have created a load factor with PG&E 
[Pacific Gas and Electric], and you pay that for the entire year. 

So you don't want to create this load factor unless you have 
to pump all the year. Normally there is no need to do any pumping 
for additional water. The three aqueducts will flow by gravity 
about 200 million gallons a day. During the wintertime, when 
consumption is low- -say 160 mgd or less- -the aqueducts are flowing 
at 200 mgd. So during the wintertime, if your demand is down, 
then you can put Mokelumne water into Upper San Leandro and into 
San Pablo. But you have to be careful, because if you get San 
Pablo and Upper San Leandro too full and then have heavy storms 
where there's a lot of runoff coming from the local watersheds, 
then you spill; you're wasting water. So it's a real balancing 
act. You have to do a lot guessing on the weather, etc. We have 
also had some lawsuits because of spill from both San Pablo and 
San Leandro reservoirs. 

Lage: Who are the people who do that guessing? 

McLean: Well, that is done by the Water Resources people and operations 
section. They are the ones responsible for operating the 
reservoirs and treatment plants. They have to be on the alert at 
all times. When I was talking to Wally Bishop the other day, they 
were putting water into San Pablo, and he told them, "Don't put in 
too much water, because we don't want to spill." 

Lage: That would be terrible. 

McLean: It's really all very interesting. Out at Willow Park in Castro 

Valley there's a golf course on San Leandro Creek, and we've had a 
law suit with Ren6 Viviani. He accused the district of filling 
Upper San Leandro Reservoir with Mokelumne water. Then in 1982 
the local runoff from a series of heavy storms flooded him out and 
damaged the golf course. Many years ago on San Pablo Creek we had 
the same thing. People living along the creek had built terraces 
down close to the creek where they had a barbecue area, etc. San 
Pablo Reservoir had been filled with Mokelumne water, and then we 
got some heavy storms. San Pablo overflowed and washed out a lot 
of these improvised areas . The people wanted damages , because 
they accused us filling San Pablo with imported water "from the 
Mokelumne . " 

Lage : How did that come out? 

McLean: The district paid some damages. So you have to be careful. 

Rationale for Building Buckhorn Reservoir: 
of the Aqueducts 

Mitigating a Failure 

McLean: As I say, it's a balancing act. In other words, when you have 

gravity flow, you like to fill the local reservoirs. That's one 
reason why the district needs to build Buckhorn Reservoir. We 
have Briones Reservoir, which is 567 feet elevation. We have to 
pump into that. We pump out of the aqueducts at Orinda and fill 
Briones Reservoir, which has a capacity of 63,000 acre feet. 

Lage : Do you fill Briones before San Pablo? 

McLean: It can be done in combination with San Pablo. The advantage of 
Briones Reservoir is that it is high enough in elevation so that 
if you have a failure of the aqueducts and have to shut everything 
off, then Briones Reservoir can supply the entire distribution 
system, not only the Walnut Creek Filter Plant but all the other 
facilities both east and west of the hills. Also, that's the only 
reservoir high enough to supply Lafayette, Moraga, Walnut Creek, 
and the San Ramon Valley- -the area east of the hills. 

Lage: Would that be used in the case of an earthquake also? 

McLean: Yes, it could be. For instance, the Hayward fault goes through 
three of our tunnels: the Upper San Leandro, Claremont, and San 
Pablo tunnels. Many years ago, in 1931, we had a failure in the 
San Pablo tunnel. We had to go in and clean out the debris, and 
it took us a year to clean the tunnel and reline the area where 
the break occurred. You need reservoirs that are high enough to 
supply both east and west of the hills in case we had a serious 
earthquake that severed those three tunnels. Upper San Leandro, 
San Pablo, and the main supply that comes in from the Mokelumne 
comes through the Claremont tunnel. The Upper San Leandro tunnel 
comes through the hills right near the Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, 
where the tunnel comes from San Leandro Reservoir and serves the 
filter plant, which is Just to the west of the Oak Knoll Hospital. 
The San Pablo tunnel comes from the San Pablo Reservoir; the west 
portal of it is in El Cerrito. 

All of those tunnels are crossed by the Hayward fault. They 
were supposed to make a survey of the Claremont tunnel this year. 
Back in the sixties, when we did some work in the Claremont 
tunnel, we found the fault. When the tunnel was built we located 
the Hayward fault and put monuments in the tunnel on each side of 
the fault area, as I recall, about twelve or fifteen hundred feet 
into the tunnel from the west portal. And we found that the 
tunnel west of the fault had moved several inches north. In the 

bottom of the tunnel there are two brass monuments each side of 
the fault. Originally the tunnel was a tangent from portal to 
portal. When we surveyed the tunnel in the 1960s, we found that 
it had a true S curve, showing that the west portal of the tunnel 
had moved north about seven and a half inches. 

Lage: But it didn't break? 

McLean: No, it ruptured. It ruptured in the fault area. It didn't break, 
but it had exposed the reinforcing steel. This area was heavily 
reinforced when we built the tunnel. It was a very heavy 
reinforcement, and it had exposed the reinforcing steel. The 
tunnel itself was still intact. They were going to go in the 
tunnel and check the movement again this year. Our measurements 
show that the west side of the fault is moving north. This was in 
'62, and the tunnel was completed in 1929. That is thirty- three 
years, with seven and a half inches movement. [divides thirty- 
three years by seven and a half inches] It shows that it's moving 
about two hundredths of a foot every year. So it's now been from 
1962 to 1991. [does more figuring] You multiply by twenty-nine, 
and that would show that it may have moved another 6 1/2 inches if 
the movement is uniform. If it has moved a half a foot since 
1962, you may have a total movement of a little over a foot. So 
far it hasn't severed the tunnel. At San Pablo it actually crushed 
the tunnel, because where the failure occurred the tunnel was un- 
reinforced concrete. The failure actually crushed the tunnel; the 
crown and the roof had fallen in, and the sides were crushed. 

San Pablo tunnel was plugged with the debris from the break. 
There was no water going through. We noticed this over a period 
of several years. The flow had kept decreasing yearly. Finally 
we went in to make an inspection. There was a shaft into the 
tunnel in Wildcat Creek in the Tilden Regional Park. The shaft 
goes down into the tunnel, and we put a hoist in the shaft so we 
could get into the tunnel. We tried to get to the break from the 
shaft, but the water was so deep that we couldn't get very far. 
We were able to get within about a thousand feet of the break. We 
finally went in from the west portal, and that took a long time, 
because we had to remove the outlet piping and everything. 

We did a lot of extra work- -a lot of grouting and repair 
work- -while we were there. We spent a year on the repairs to the 
tunnel. We worked night and day, with three shifts a day, six 
days per week to clean that tunnel out. We lined two hundred feet 
with reinforced concrete where the break occurred and grouted 
several hundred feet of the original tunnel. 

Lage: Let's finish this discussion, and then we have to go back to the 
old days. But you were explaining why we need the Buckhorn dam. 
Would that be another high elevation dam? 

McLean: Yes. See, Buckhorn Dam is designed to be at elevation 760 [feet]. 
Vater from the Lafayette Aqueduct would be pumped into Buckhorn 
Reservoir; that elevation is high enough to serve the area both 
east and west of the hills. It would contain 145,000 to 150,000 
acre feet of water. With the other two reservoirs, Briones and 
Upper San Leandro, that would give us a capacity of over 200,000 
acre feet. That amount of storage would be enough, with 
conservation, to provide a year's supply. This is in the event of 
a complete failure of all of the aqueducts across the delta. You 
would have nearly a year's supply of water that could serve both 
east and west of the hills by the means of Briones Reservoir and 
Buckhorn Reservoir. 

Potential Failure of the Tunnels 

Lage: What would we do if we had a failure of the tunnels? 

McLean: Well, there you have two options. You have Chabot Reservoir, 
which is very small, San Leandro and San Pablo Reservoirs --and 
Buckhorn, if it is ever built. Chabot, San Pablo, and San Leandro 
would take care of the area west of the hills. The area east of 
the hills, you'd have to rely upon Briones Reservoir and Buckhorn. 
Briones is located east of the tunnel. Buckhorn Reservoir would 
supply both east and west of the hills through Chabot Reservoir. 
Also, if the aqueducts were intact, water could be put in both 
Briones and Buckhorn reservoirs. That could be done. You see, 
Chabot is a very small reservoir, but you could take water out of 
Chabot, chlorinate it, and then put it into the distribution 
system. There was no filtration plant when Chabot was in use; 
there were several Hyatt pressure filters for treating the water. 
Lake Chabot was built by Anthony Chabot in the 1880s, along with 
Temescal Reservoir, to supply the city of Oakland. 

The treatment plants at 
the Hyatt-type filter. They 
about eight feet in diameter 
They look like a big boiler, 
the top, and the cylinder is 
Starting with a large gravel 
very small pea gravel at the 
sand on top of that. That is 

both reservoirs had what was known as 
are a pressure filter- -a big cylinder 
and about twenty feet in length, 
like a big sausage. Water comes in 
about half full of gravel and sand. 
at the bottom, it gradually goes to a 
top, and finally a foot or more of 
the filter media. The collection 


pipes are at the bottom of the gravel. Basically, water comes in 
the top and goes out the bottom. 

Lage: Goes through the sand and then the layers of gravel? 

McLean: Yes. There were ten of these filters at Chabot. At Temescal 
there were five or six filters. And at Temescal there was a 
filter house on the north side of the dam. The water went out of 
a pipe at the base of the dam to the filter plant and into 
Oakland. That was in service when the utility district took over 
the old East Bay Water Company in 1929. 

But to get back to what you asked: what would we do in an 
emergency? You'd have to look at the way the reservoirs are 
situated. Chabot is not connected by any tunnel to the system, 
but there is a pipeline out of Chabot that could be connected very 
rapidly to the system. And then we have the pipeline we built to 
supply the city of San Francisco with water from Lake Chabot. 


McLean: In case we had a failure of the tunnels and a complete loss of the 
Upper San Leandro, Claremont, and San Pablo tunnels, water from 
Chabot- -even though it's at low elevation- -could be put into the 
aqueduct zone. You need emergency pumps to serve the entire zone, 
because Chabot is at elevation 227, and that serves a large area. 
The capacity of Chabot is only 10,350 acre feet, but, water could 
be released from upper San Leandro Reservoir into Chabot, and then 
Chabot would have to be connected into the distribution system. 
That would mean some pipe work. So Chabot could be used in an 

Now, Briones Reservoir is east of the Hayward fault. Briones 
would be used to supply water east of the hills in case of a 
failure of the tunnels. If all three tunnels failed, water from 
Briones would go through the Lafayette Tunnel, through the 
Lafayette Aqueduct, and through the Walnut Creek Tunnel to serve 
the area east of the hills. Briones has a capacity of 63,000 acre 
feet, and I think Chabot only has a capacity of 4,000 or 5,000. 
We also have Lafayette Reservoir, which is very small, 4,250 acre 
feet. It is at elevation 449 and could also be used to supply 
water east of the hills. These reservoirs would also serve the 
distribution system in the event of a failure of the aqueducts in 
the delta. 

Lage: It sounds like the area east of the hills is better off. 

McLean: That's right. That means that in the event of a failure of the 

tunnels, that water could go east, and the Chabot water could come 

west. That's the advantage of it. And also you could release 
water out of Upper San Leandro into Chabot. You have the capacity 
of Upper San Leandro, which is about 41,000 acre feet, and Chabot, 
which is 10,000; so you have 50 thousand acre feet that could be 
available to the local system. Then there is Lafayette and 
Briones, which could take care of the area east of the hills. 

Lage : How long would the area west of the hills be able to be supplied 

with that water? 

McLean: The mean daily consumption of the district is about 215 mgd, and 
the mean annual consumption of the district is about 240,000 acre 
feet. That means Chabot and Upper San Leandro supplies would only 
last for a short period. 

If the aqueducts are in service, there is San Pablo and the 
Sobrante Filter Plant. You can take water out of San Pablo 
Reservoir through the Sobrante Filter Plant. San Pablo would 
supply Sobrante Filter Plant, which is about elevation 300. That 
could also supply the aqueduct zone. That's the area west of the 
hills. So you would have another 38,000 acre feet. Briones is 
60,000 acre feet, San Pablo is around 38,000, Upper San Leandro is 
41,000, Lafayette is about 4,000, and Chabot about 10,000. By 
going through the Sobrante Filter Plant, you could use San Pablo 
Reservoir on the north end of the system, Chabot at the south end 
of the system, plus storage in Upper San Leandro. Briones and 
Lafayette reservoirs would serve the area east of the hills. The 
Sobrante treatment plant is in operation. At Chabot you would 
have to make some pipe connections and maybe put in a pumping 
plant to serve the aqueduct zone. But that could be done in an 
emergency. Briones Reservoir doesn't need anything. Briones 
would supply both the Lafayette and Walnut Creek treatment plants. 

Lage: Sounds better to live over on the east side. 

McLean: Yes. You'd get 63,000 acre feet of water there, and that would 
feed directly into the system. 

Buckhom as an Emergency Facility 

McLean: If you had a complete failure of the aqueducts by flooding of the 
islands, then the supply from Pardee Reservoir is cut off 
completely, and you'd have to rely upon local storage. The 
present capacity, which is about 155,000 acre feet, is only about 
one half of a year's supply. This is why you need at least double 
that amount of local storage, and this is why Buckhorn Reservoir 


is needed. The proposed Buckhorn Reservoir, at elevation 760, is 
high enough so that it can serve the system both east and west of 
the hills. 

Lage: So you see it more as an emergency facility in case of a failure 
of the aqueducts than as a another way to expand the capacity? 

McLean: That's right. Briones would be utilized only in an emergency and 
the same with Buckhorn. Buckhorn, because of its high elevation, 
you would fill and leave alone. It would have a very small 
drainage area, so there would be very little local runoff. 
Briones is the same. It has a very small drainage area, so it is 
not influenced by rains. They both get some rain water, but it's 
not enough to be concerned about flooding. Briones drains into 
San Pablo , and Buckhorn would drain into Upper San Leandro . 
Altogether there is nearly 200,000 acre feet of standby storage if 
Buckhorn is ever built. Buckhorn would have a capacity of 145,000 
acre feet and Briones 60,000 acre feet. The reservoirs would 
remain full except for evaporation, which may normally be replaced 
by local runoff. 

The other local reservoirs are used annually to take care of 
the peak summer demand. [referring to files] Briones is at 
elevation 576, Chabot is at 227, Lafayette is at 449, San Pablo is 
at 314, and Upper San Leandro is at 460. I don't think I have the 
elevation for the proposed Buckhorn. The elevation of the Walnut 
Creek tunnel is 390, and Briones is the only one high enough to 
get it through the Walnut Creek tunnel to serve the area over 
around San Ramon. That gives us 60,000 acre feet, which is not 
very much. That would last maybe six months serving Lafayette, 
Orinda, Walnut Creek, Danville, and San Ramon. 

Chabot, as I said, is 227 feet. The aqueduct zone, of 
course, is around 300. You could get it into the lower elevations 
by gravity. But San Pablo will go into the aqueduct zone. Upper 
San Leandro , of course , goes in the aqueduct zone . To take care 
of the summer demands and emergencies, you need more storage. 
This is what we have emphasized. Unfortunately, there has been a 
lot of opposition to building Buckhorn Reservoir. They say that 
we don't need it. But you can't operate without storage. 



Scottish Roots: The Maclean ClamNt 

Lage: Let's turn now to family history and your own early history. 

McLean: Here you are [shows a picture of the chief of the clan, Lord 

Charles MacLean] . His son, Sir Lacland Maclean, is now chief of 
the clan. 

Lage: Duart Castle. And the chief of the clan spelled it Maclean. 

McLean: That's correct; that is the correct spelling of our clan. By the 
way, I have met personally with him. In fact, all of my family 
have been to Duart Castle. Several years ago, my daughter was 
over there, then my sons went, and then my wife and I went. We 
visited the castle and met the chief of the Maclean clan, Sir 
Charles. We've corresponded ever since. The day that I went to 
the castle- -well , when we arrived at the hotel where we were 
staying on the Isle of Mull, you can look right across the bay, 
and there's the castle. When I signed my name "McLean," they 
said, "Oh, you are a McLean. And where do you come from?" Well, 
we come from the United States, and they said, "Oh, for goodness 
sakes!" And they practically rolled out the red carpet for me. 
First question they asked, "Are you going to the castle?" And he 
looked out the window: "Yes, the chief is there today. The flag 
is up." See, that's how they tell whether the chief is in there. 

So I drove up to the castle; my wife didn't want to go 
because she was a little tired, but I said, "Well, I'll go." So I 
drive up to the castle in my little car that I had rented in 
England. In going up there, there's a parking area, and then you 
go down a gravel path. Alongside this gravel path was a big rose 
garden, and here was a fellow in a tweed coat, tweed pants, an old 


tweed cap, and an old shirt on open to the waist. I said, "By 
gosh, that looks like Sir Charles, the chief of the clan." And 
here he was with a mower, mowing the grass. I thought, "Maybe if 
I speak to him and say 'Hello, Chief!' he'd think I was crazy; 
he's probably the gardener." I went on down to the castle, and, 
of course, when you go there they take you all through the castle 
and show you everything. It was his niece that took me through 
the castle. When we got all through, I said, "Where's the Chief?" 
And she said, "I think he's up at the rose garden." [chuckles] 

So I went back up and introduced myself. He said, "Oh, 
Walter, I'm so glad to see you," and he recognized my name. He 
said, "Your son and daughter-in-law were here just a couple of 
years ago." I said, "That's right." "Oh," he says, "come on 
down." So down we go to the family part of the castle. Well, we 
sat there talking for two or three hours . They have a book where 
you sign your name, and he said, "Of course, you have to sign your 
name." He comes with the book and says, "Here was when your son 
and daughter-in-law were here." And then he says, "Now, come on, 
we're going to go and meet Lady Elizabeth Maclean and have some 
little rolls and tea." And here she was, running the tea shop. 
They have a tea shop, and she was hostess. We sat down there and 
talked for another hour. That was my experience at the castle. 
Now my daughter is going back again this year. Unfortunately, the 
chief died last year, but his son is now chief of the clan. Of 
course, I'm a member of the clan. On my birthday and other 
occasions I get a nice note from him. 

Lage: He keeps track of people who have come to the castle? 

McLean: Yes. Now, there are two clans. There are two clans. One is the 
clan of Duart and the other is the clan Lockbruie. The Lockbruie 
were apparently cousins or something, and they spell their name 
Mclain, where the Duart clan is Maclean. Somewhere along the 
line--in coming to America or something else they dropped the 
'a', and it's just signed McLean; that's the way my family always 
signed it. 

[tape pause] 

Mother's Family in Earlv California 

Lage: Let's talk about your family coming to California. This takes us 
back to the Gold Rush. 


McLean: Yes. Bruce is sending down the complete data on this. He has it 
down exact. 

Lage: We'll hold off on that early history, then. Should we start 
today, then, with your parents and your birth? Let's do that. 

McLean: Yes, we can do that. My mother was a Patterson. My mother, Sarah 
Jane, was a Patterson, and my father was a McLean. Both families 
came to California early. My grandfather Patterson was born in 
Begger, Scotland. They came to Taunton, Massachusetts, where he 
married my grandmother, Sarah Dean. They were married in Taunton, 
Massachusetts. My mother was born in Taunton, Massachusetts, 
which is fairly close to Boston. One of my uncles, 1 believe, was 
born in Scotland. 

In 1862, Grandpa Patterson came to Sacramento by boat on the 
Sacramento River from San Francisco. There was no 
transcontinental railroad at that time. He was a master mechanic, 
or a machinist, who had learned his trade, 1 guess, as an 
apprentice in the shipyards of Glasgow. Apparently he had come to 
Massachusetts to work on the early railroads back there, and then 
he came to California in 1862 to the machine shops, or the 
railroad shops, in Sacramento to work for the Central Pacific 
Railroad. He built a home in what we call Broderick [California] . 
Now the post office name is Washington, but it used to go by the 
name of Broderick. That's over in Yolo County, just across the 
river from Sacramento. He built the family home there. When the 
transcontinental railroad was completed, my grandmother came by 
transcontinental railroad with six children, two girls and four 
boys. In fact, it must have taken four or five days, because 
railroads were pretty slow in those days. They settled in the 
home in Broderick, or in Washington. I was born in that home on 
July 16, 1903. 

McLean Family History 

[The following section was written by Mr. McLean after 
consultation with his son Bruce, who is the family historian] 

McLean: On my father's side, my great-grandfather, Edward McLean, was born 
in 1807 in Hudson, Columbia County, New York, the son of Peter and 
Mary McLean. Prior to his fourteenth birthday he moved to New 
York City, where he became a member of the Johns Street M. E. 
Church. Both of his parents were devout Methodists. 


In 1830, Edward McLean was married to Elizabeth Ann Lewis, 
the daughter of Richard A. Lewis, a well-known and highly 
respected merchant in New York City. Edward McLean became a 
prominent merchant in New York City, associated with Throckmorton 
and Stewart. Apparently he accumulated considerable wealth, as at 
one time the family was said to have had a large mansion with five 
servants. The New York City directory of 1844-45 shows "Edward 
McLean, manufacturing, 375 Broadway," and "Mrs. Edward McLean, 
milliner, 375 Broadway." The 1849-50 directory shows "Mrs. Edward 
McLean, milliner," at 375 Broadway. Apparently Edward McLean was 
then in California. 

When the news of the discovery of gold in California reached 
New York City in 1949, Edward McLean decided to leave for 
California. He was to take with him the most modern French 
equipment for crushing the gold-bearing ore. This equipment was 
unlike any of the equipment then in use in the California gold 
fields. Booking passage on the SS Falcon from New York City to 
the Isthmus of Panama, Edward McLean departed in 1849 for Panama, 
taking with him the ore-crushing equipment, which he planned to 
either sell or lease to the mining companies in California. Upon 
arriving at the Isthmus of Panama, where he planned to travel by 
muleback to the Pacific side, he learned that the mining equipment 
was too large and heavy to be transported across the isthmus by 
muleback. So he proceeded across the isthmus while the ore- 
crushing equipment continued by boat around the Horn to 
California. Edward arrived in San Francisco on February 28, 1849, 
on the Pacific Mail SS California, which was the first ship to 
arrive in San Francisco Bay following the discovery of gold. 

Apparently Edward's wife, Elizabeth, and my grandfather, 
Theodore, arrived in San Francisco in 1852. They had crossed the 
Isthmus of Panama on muleback. While crossing the isthmus, 
Elizabeth contracted yellow fever, from which she really never 
recovered. This would lead to her early death at age 59 while 
visiting her daughter, Emily Tripp, in Massachusetts on August 28, 
1871. Her remains were returned to California by her husband, 
Edward. She is buried at Cypress Lawn Cemetery in San Francisco 
beside her husband and other members of her family. 

Rasmussen's ship arrivals states that Miss A. McLean (Emily 
A.), Miss C. McLean (Caroline), and L. McLean (Alfred?) arrived in 
San Francisco on April 1, 1852, on the steamer Fremont. They had 
traveled by the steamer around the Horn and arrived about two 
weeks after their mother and brother, Theodore. Their mother, 
Elizabeth, felt that the trip across the isthmus would be too 
strenuous and dangerous, so she had insisted that they take the 
longer but safer route around the Horn. She put them under the 
care of the captain of the ship to assure their safe passage to 




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San Francisco. When they arrived In San Francisco, the local 
newspaper remarked about the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Edward 
McLean's two beautiful daughters from New York city. Caroline was 
nineteen and Emily eighteen when they arrived in San Francisco. 

The San Francisco city directory of 1850 shows that Edward 
McLean owned a restaurant on Langley Lane. In 1852 the directory 
indicates that he owned a boarding house on Front Street. It was 
at this house that he and his wife would entertain such notable 
persons as Timothy G. Phelps and Leland Stanford. Both men would 
become close friends of the McLeans. They also would become close 
friends with General Vallejo, the former Mexican governor of 
California. The McLean family and the girls would spend many days 
at the Vallejo hacienda at Sonoma. 

The McLean girls all married prominent California men. 
Caroline married William W. Chipman, who was the attorney for the 
Peraltas, the owners of a large Spanish grant that covered the 
East Bay. William W. Chipman and Gideon Augibach purchased the 
peninsula of Alameda from the Peraltas for $14,000. When W. W. 
Chipman passed away, Caroline married John W. Dwinelle, a 
prominent author, politician, mayor of Oakland, state legislator, 
and regent of the University of California. Dwinelle Hall at 
UC Berkeley is named after him. 

Josephine Amelia married Timothy Guy Phelps. The family home 
was at San Carlos, where they had a dairy farm covering hundreds 
of acres from San Francisco Bay to the crest of the hills. 
Timothy G. Phelps served as a state senator in the 9th, 10th, 
llth, and 12th sessions. He also served in the state assembly 
during the 8th and 31st sessions. He was a representative for the 
State of California in the U.S. Congress from 1861 through 1863. 
He was also nominated as the Republican candidate for governor of 
California in 1875. He served on the Board of Regents of the 
University of California from 1880 until his death on June 11, 

Amanda Amelia married Charles Swasey on December 24, 1858, in 
San Francisco. Charles S. Swasey, aged 22, arrived in San 
Francisco on February 28, 1852, on SS Comet from his home in 
Newburyport, Massachusetts. He spend most of his life in public 
service, in the U.S. Mint as assistant cashier and a similar 
position in the U.S. Subtreasury. He also served as assistant 
cashier of the U.S. Custom House. Charles and Amanda lived most 
of their lives in San Francisco, where they celebrated their 
fiftieth wedding anniversary on December 24, 1908, with their many 
friends and relatives. Charles was a well-known painter, which 
was his leisure-time hobby. He has many murals in public 


buildings as well as pictures which he gave to friends and 

Emily A. McLean, the second child, born to Edward and 
Elizabeth McLean in 1834 in New York City, apparently never came 
west to California. She was married to a Mr. Tripp. They were 
living in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, when her mother, Elizabeth, 
visited her and died on August 28, 1871. Emily Tripp died about 
1931 at Fairhaven, Massachusetts. 

Virginia Arbella McLean was born in 1848 in New York City, 
the seventh child of Elizabeth and Edward McLean. She was married 
to Joseph M. Lord on December 25, 1873, in San Francisco. Because 
she was so young when her mother and the other McLean girls came 
to California, she is not mentioned in the ship's manifest of 
arrivals, as the custom in those days was not to show small 
children traveling with their parents. 

Eugenie Hortense Nannette McLean was the ninth and last child 
born to Elizabeth and Edward McLean. She was born in 1859 in San 
Francisco, the only one of the children to be born in California. 
She was married to Horace Haws, Jr., a prominent attorney in San 
Francisco. They lived most of their lives in the Redwood City 
area, and their family donated the land upon which the Redwood 
Civic Center was built. Howard Haws, Jr., died December 19, 1894, 
and Eugenie married John Bernard Schroeder, who was a very wealthy 
man. He owned Schroeder 's Cafe at 240 Front Street, San 
Francisco, where it is still located today. 

My grandfather Edward Theodore McLean was born in New York 
City in 1847. He came to San Francisco in 1852 when he was five 
years old, and he spent most of his life in that area and the near 
vicinity. He was married to Martha J. Harrop from Lippet, Rhode 
Island, on December 2, 1867. They had six children: five boys 
and a girl, Minnie, the eldest of the family. My father, Walter 
Reginald, was born May 14, 1881, in San Francisco. My father was 
the fifth child from this marriage. 

During my grandfather's lifetime he was employed as a 
printer, a clerk, and an inspector at the U.S. appraiser's store. 
At the time of the 1906 earthquake he owned a drayage business at 
the foot of Market Street. The earthquake destroyed his warehouse 
and killed his stock of horses. Following the earthquake, he 
moved to Sacramento, where he continued in the drayage business. 
He remained only a short time in Sacramento and was back in San 
Francisco by 1915, where they lived in the Mission district at 
761 17th Street. Upon the death of his sister, Josephine Phelps, 
he received the sum of $100,000, and he bought a home and moved to 
910 Chula Vista Avenue in Burlingame. Martha, his wife, died of 


pneumonia on November 19, 1928. While attending the funeral on 
November 20, 1928, Edward collapsed, and he died on November 27, 
1928. Both are buried at Cypress Lawn in San Francisco. 

Parents' Marriage and Father's Early Death 

My father, Walter Reginald McLean, was born in San Francisco on 
May 14, 1881, the fifth child of Edward T. and Martha J. McLean. 
The San Francisco city directory for 1901 shows Walter R. McLean 
working as a plumber for a W. C. Clifford at 849 Valencia Street 
in San Francisco. On May 26, 1902, Walter married Sarah Jane 
Patterson Fiske, the daughter of Robert Patterson of Alameda, 
California. My father was twenty-one years old at the time of 
their marriage, and my mother was a divorcee aged thirty- three 

My mother was born in Taunton, Massachusetts, on August 28, 
1869. She came to Sacramento with her mother and brothers after 
the transcontinental railroad was completed to California. 
Apparently she was married to a Fred Fiske at an early age. He 
was much older than my mother, and the marriage only lasted a 
short time. 

I was born July 16, 1903, in the house that grandfather 
Patterson had built in Broderick, California, in 1872. My mother 
named me Reginald after my father's middle name. After my father 
died, my mother added the name Walter. 

My father, after marriage to my mother, became a very 
successful plumbing contractor, owning both a business on 4th and 
J streets in Sacramento and in Dunsmuir, Siskiyou County, 
California. My father had the plumbing contract for the first 
buildings at the University of California at Davis. It was while 
he was working on this job that he fell from a scaffolding and was 
seriously injured. While being treated for his injuries, it was 
discovered that he had spinal meningitis. At that time it was 
terminal, and he died on December 25, 1907. I was four years old 
at that time. 

Because of the strong religious beliefs of my father's 
family, the difference in the age between my father and my mother, 
and she being a divorcee, we were never welcomed into the family. 
Up to the time that my mother became seriously ill in 1920, we 
religiously made the trip each year from Sacramento to San 
Francisco to visit our relatives. We would visit with Uncle Ed 


and Aunt Annie McLean, see my grandfather and grandmother for a 
short time, and be told by the others that they would be out of 
town. Uncle Robert and Uncle Clarence both had children my age, 
but during the many years that my mother and 1 went to visit, 1 
never saw one of my cousins. I never met Uncle Robert's or Uncle 
Clarence's wives during their lifetime. After my grandparents 
died, Uncle Robert McLean was the executor of their estate. I was 
an heir through my father, and at that time I got to see Uncle 
Robert . 

[end of written section] 

Mother's Work and Terminal Illness^ 

Lage: You were the only child? 

McLean: That's right. My mother was a housekeeper, didn't have any 

skills. From then on she worked as a housekeeper. She never 
married again. The only time she came close to getting married 
was apparently through correspondence. She'd never met the man, 
and I can't even remember his name, but she had a proposal of 
marriage from a very wealthy man in the Philippine Islands. It 
was of course frowned on by my family for her to marry someone who 
had just corresponded by pictures. But it happened that very 
close friends of ours, Harry and May Crevelling--he had gone to 
the Philippines as a superintendent for the government on the 
building of the fortifications in the Corregidor Islands. They 
had gone to the Philippines sometime around 1909 or 1910. These 
friends of ours- -I always called them aunt and uncle, but they 
were not really related- -someway or other had become acquainted 
with this very wealthy landowner, I guess a millionaire. 

Lage: Was he an American who settled there? 

McLean: He was American, and he had investments --large holdings and 

everythingover there. He was unmarried. My mother was at that 
time in her late thirties. He sent money for my mother and me to 
come over, and they were to be married. 

Lage : That was quite an adventure . 

McLean: Yes, it was. We went to the Philippines. We left here, as I 

recall, on the first of August of 1912 and went over on a Japanese 
boat; it was known as Chyo Maru. It took us thirty days to get 
over there. We stopped at Honolulu, Nagasaki, Kobe, Shanghai, and 


Hong Kong; we stayed two or three days in Hong Kong. Then we took 
a smaller boat to the Philippines. When we got to the 
Philippines, this man whom my mother was to marry had been in a 
very, very serious automobile accident, and he was paralyzed and 
crippled; he was completely paralyzed. 

In the meantime --it was very interesting, because they were 
to be married shortly after we had arrived- -my mother had ordered 
the wedding dress from a Philippine tailor. My family still has 
that wedding dress. She had ordered the dress to be made by a 
tailor over there so that she'd have it when we got there, and 
they were to be married immediately. Well, when we got there, 
this lady- -I call her my aunt, Aunt Maybroke the news to my 
mother that this man was hopelessly crippled. Apparently she had 
visited him, and he was under very intensive care. He would never 
be physically able to get around or anything else. Of course, my 
mother was broken-hearted for all this to happen. 

Some way or other, why, they finally decided to call off the 
wedding. So there she was with all the new clothes and the new 
wedding gown and everything else. She was devastated. There was 
a small settlement made; I don't know what it was, but my mother 
did receive, I know, enough money to get back to the United 
States. He had paid for our passage over, and we had looked 
forward to living in the Philippines for many years to come. So 
there she was, left with nothing, you might say. 

We left the Philippines sometime along in early November in 
1912, because we had Thanksgiving aboard the ship. We came back 
on the transport Logan; it was a U.S.S. transport ship. Harry 
Crevelling was working for the government and was able to get 
passage for my mother and me back to San Francisco by means of 
this transport. We arrived sometime around the first of December. 
My mother was in kind of a difficult position, because she'd gone 
to the Philippines with the intention of marrying, and now she had 
to start all over again. 

Before we went to the Philippines she had worked for my uncle 
Alex Patterson, who owned a couple of butcher shops in 
Sacramento- -had a big butcher shop in Oak Park. He had lost his 
wife a year or so before and had one child, a boy, the same as my 
mother. Apparently, he had talked my mother into keeping house 
for him. He had a large house in Oak Park, and we lived there. 
This was a large enough house that my mother took in room- and - 
boarders, which was quite common in those days. I think we had 
two or three who lived in this house. It was a big house on a big 
piece of property. 


We had a barn, and he used to keep horses. In those days, 
the delivery of meat and everything was by horse and cart, or 
really a horse and wagon; it was kind of a little butcher wagon. 
We had a hired man who used to come every day and take care of the 
yard, milk the cow, take care of the horses when the horses had to 
be taken care of, put hay in the barn, and everything else. I 
know that there was a surplus of milk, because I had a little milk 
delivery route. I had a little wagon that I would pull around. 
My mother used to put the surplus milk in a little bucket that 
lard came in; it would hold about a half gallon of milk. I used 
to deliver maybe a half dozen of those around the neighborhood at 
five cents for each one of these buckets full of milk. We lived 
there until we went to the Philippines. 

Lage: Was that a fairly comfortable life? 

McLean: Oh, yes. That was very good. After we came back from the 

Philippines, my mother went to work for a Mr. Hill. He had two 
children at that time, Virginia and Herbert. Herbert was the 
eldest, and Virginia was in my class at school. My mother worked 
for Mr. Hill for, oh, two or three years. 

Lage : As a housekeeper? 

McLean: Yes, as a housekeeper. But we didn't live with them. At that 
time my mother was renting a small place where she and I lived. 
She used to walk up there to the house, which was just a short 
distance. And then I used to have dinner with them at night. 
We'd have breakfast at home, and she'd go up there and make the 
beds, do the washing, clean the house, and fix dinner for Mr. Hill 
and the two children. I would go up and have dinner with them at 
night. After she finished the dishes and everything, why, we'd go 
home to our own place . 

Mr. Hill finally marriedand this must have been about 
1919 --and they moved from there to another house. My mother then 
worked as a saleslady for women's undergarments. It was called, 
as I remember, the Leona Garment Company, and I think they were 
located back East. She used to have a kind of one-piece garment. 
It served as a brassiere, underskirt, and panties, and I think 
they called it a three-piece. She developed a little business on 

Lage: Did she go to people's homes, or did she have a little store? 

McLean: She'd go to people's homes and sell them directly. She had a 

fairly wealthy clientele; they'd buy three or four of these at one 


Lage: Did she enjoy this kind of work? 

McLean: Yes, she enjoyed it because it gave her more time at home. During 
this period of time, when she used to carry one of these satchels 
around with her, with her garments- -this must have been about late 
1919 or early 1920- -she began complaining about a pain in her 
side. I don't think she had, to my knowledge, ever been to a 
doctor, because she was always very healthy, all during her life. 
But I finally talked her into going to a Dr. Wells. 

Lage: How old were you about this time? 

McLean: Well, I guess I was sixteen. I was working, because I quit going 
to school when I was fourteen. I happened to know Dr. Wells 
because I was classmates with his sons in school, and they lived 
just a short distance from us. She finally consented to go and 
see Dr. Wells. Well, Dr. Wells told me that my mother apparently 
had a very serious illness, and he sent her to a Dr. June Harris 
downtown. I went down with her; I took her down there. And she 
was diagnosed as having cancer of the uterus at that time. While 
my mother was in a room putting on her clothes, the doctor said, 
"Walter, your mother is not going to live very long." He said, 
"You'd just as well steel yourself to this, because she could last 
two or three months, or she could last longer than that. But 
you're going to have to understand that she can no longer work, 
and she's going to have to go to the hospital quite frequently." 

Lage: Did he tell her this as well? 

McLean: No, no. She was never told. 

Lage: Oh, my goodness! That's an interesting way of handling that. 

McLean: Well, in those days, I guess you didn't do that. She was never 
told, and she always believed that she would be well. 

Lage: So you had to keep up her spirits? 

McLean: Yes, that's right. 

Lage: That must have been awfully hard as a sixteen year-old. 

McLean: Well, I'll tell you, it was tough, believe it or not. 

Lage: Not just caring for her, but being the emotional support. 

McLean: She was home for a while; I cared for her for a while at home. 

Then she used to go down to my cousin's in Vallejo. She would go 
down there, and she'd stay for maybe a week or a couple of weeks, 





or something like that. My uncle Alex had an automobile, and we'd 
take her down in the automobile, and then we'd go down and get 
her. But she really started to go downhill, and in the last five 
months or so, why, I finally had to put her in the hospital, 
because I couldn't care for her any longer, and there was no way 
that I could get any help. Well, 1 did; before she had to go to 
the hospital, I did. In fact, it was a girl that I later married. 
I got her to come over and clean house and be there with my 
mother . 

While you were working? 

While I was working. But finally she got to the point where she 
just had to have care constantly, and I put her in the White 
Hospital in Sacramento. I forget what it was, but it might have 
been fifty or seventy- five dollars a week. She was in the 
hospital, I guess, for two or three months before she finally 
passed away, and I had to borrow money from my Uncle George, my 
mother's brother; I borrowed two hundred dollars from him to pay 
hospital bills and so on and so forth, which I had to pay weekly. 

Were they very well off, any of these relatives? 

Well, Uncle Alex was. The ones in Oakland were very well off. 

But you didn't have a close enough tie to get some financial help? 

Even my grandparents and my aunts and uncles here in San Francisco 
really never accepted my mother because, going back to the old 
Presbyterian days of the church, they were very much against my 
father marrying a divorcee. That was a stigma in those days. 
Although we used to visit them once a year, and this is one duty 
we had that my mother always insisted on- -that we come and see my 
grandparents and the other relatives. 

Even after your father died? 

After my father died, yes. We would make the pilgrimage 
[chuckles], if you want to call it that, to San Francisco, 
down by train- - 


McLean: We would stay with Uncle Ed and Aunt Annie. Now, Uncle Ed and 
Aunt Annie were much more friendly to my mother and me than the 
rest of the family. 

Lage: Was Ed your father's brother? 


McLean: He was my father's brother, yes. He was a painting contractor; 
they were all in the contracting business. Uncle Robert was a 
general contractor; he always used to buy Pierce Arrow 
automobiles. His wife was Catholic. 

Lage: That probably wasn't looked upon too favorably, either. 

McLean: Do you know that all during my life I never met her? She refused 
to see my mother or me. Uncle Robert later became very, very 
friendly to me, but my mother had died by that time. Every time 
we would come down and try to see Uncle Robert and Aunt- -I can't 
remember her name --they always had an excuse, that they were going 
out or she had some other engagement, something like that. And 
for my entire life, I never met her. 

Lage: I would think that your father's family wouldn't have accepted her 
because she was Catholic. Did that happen at all? 

McLean: No, apparently it did not. My grandparents were very strict 

Presbyterians. But they did accept me as the offspring of their 
son, and they did accept my mother. We'd come and see them, and 
we'd come and see Uncle Clarence and his wife, and Uncle Ed; we'd 
always stay with Uncle Ed. Ue'd come down and stay for two or 
three days and try to see all of them. But Uncle Robert and his 
wife, why--. Even after my mother died, none of them attended the 
funeral. The only ones who attended the funeral were my mother's 
folks , the Pattersons . 

Lage: Did you write to them during the period of her illness, or did you 
kind of lose touch? 

McLean: No, no. I often thought afterwards about the struggle I'd had, 

and how I had to borrow money from Uncle George to keep my mother 
in the hospital and all of that. And then I had bills that had to 
be paid after she died, but I went to the bank and borrowed money. 
1 went to what was then the American Trust Company; it's now Wells 
Fargo. I went in there as a youngster of seventeen. I said, 
"I've just got to have money, because I'm not making enough money 
to pay for expenses." By gosh if the manager of the bank didn't 
give me a note , and it took me two or three years to pay off that 
money . 

Lage: Do you know what he considered when he gave you that loan? 

McLean: I don't know what he looked at, except just my face, I guess, and 
my honesty. I had to borrow after my mother passed away; why, 
there were bills and everything else. I didn't want to go back to 
Uncle George, because I had already borrowed two hundred dollars 
from him. Uncle Alex never offered, and had a big butcher 


business and slaughterhouse, 

None of them of ever offered to give 

This is how I put my life together. 
Lage: Did you have any bitterness about the fact that you had these --? 

McLean: No, no, no, I didn't. No. I made all the funeral--. My mother 
had a life insurance policy, one of these policies that I don't 
think you see anymore, where the agent used to come around every 
week and collect fifty cents or a dollar, or something like that. 
I think my mother had an insurance policy of --it couldn't have 
been more than five hundred dollars. Of course, that was quite a 
bit. It was enough to pay most of the funeral expenses. She was 
buried where my father is. My grandparents bought a big family 
plot where all the children could be placed when they died. In 
fact, I was talking to my cousin the other day about it. He was 
going to go up and get information from the headstones for the 
Patterson family; it was a big city cemetery in Sacramento. This 
was Grandpa Patterson, and he bought this big family plot, and my 
mother and father and many of the family are all buried there . 

I sold most of the furniture for fifty dollars, and I went to 
live with people by the name of Jacksons. They had a boy just 
about my age . 

Lage : You boarded with them? 

McLean: I boarded and roomed with them. The boy and I, George, shared a 
bed together. Fact is, his father had made a large bedroom 
downstairs. It was a two-story house, a basement and then the 
upper story. It was a big, high basement, and he fixed a large 
room down there. Of course, in those days we didn't have a 
telephone or radio or anything else, you know. We shared this 
room together. I lived with them until I was married to Margaret 

Lage: How was your mental outlook? Did this adversity get you down? 

McLean: No. It didn't bother me in the least. I was very much interested 
in working and, as I said, I was very much interested in going to 
school . This was one of the things that bugged me ; I wanted to 
get more education. 


Recollections of Youth and Family in Sacramento 

Lage: Tell me a little bit more about what your mother was like before 
her illness. 

McLean: She was a very wonderful, caring person. She thought of my 

welfare constantly. Gosh, she just was one of the finest persons 
that you would want for a mother. She never forgot my father. 
This is one thing I always remember. Every Sunday we took the 
street car down to the cemetery. In those days in Sacramento you 
lived near a street car. We would get on the street car and go 
with a bouquet of roses to put on my father's grave. This rented 
house that we lived in had lots of roses. Of course, roses are 
very common in Sacramento. This was one of the things that I had 
to do- -take care of the lawns. There were big lawns, and, my 
gosh, instead of being able to get out and play with the rest of 
the kids, I had to cut the lawns when 1 was going to school and 
when I was working, and in those days we worked until Saturday 
noontime . 

Lage: So you didn't have much free time? 

McLean: I didn't have much time, and I had to take care of the lawns. 

Then there were two big palm trees in the front of the house that 
I had to cut. There were roses all around this house. Of course 
roses bloom all summer in Sacramento. Every Sunday, right on the 
dot at about nine o'clock, my mother got up and got all dressed 
up, and I got dressed up, believe it or not- -necktie and 
everything else. And she, with her bunch of roses, went to my 
father's grave and put a bunch a roses on the grave. 

Lage: Did she talk to you about your father? 

McLean: Not very much, no. Not very much, so I knew very little about 
him. From the cemetery we would go over to the old house in 
Washington- -or Broderick- -where my Uncle John and Aunt Lizzie were 
living, and we would have Sunday dinner. We'd walk across the 
bridge, take the streetcar down to where it stopped, near the 
Southern Pacific station, then walk across the bridge and over to 
the old home and have Sunday dinner. And then walk back again, 
take the street car, and go home. This happened every Sunday of 
my life while my mother was alive and before she went to the 

Lage: You had a real routine. You really didn't have free time. 


McLean: Now, we never went to church, but she was very religious. In 

other words, Sunday was a day of Sabbath, and you recognized that; 
you didn't play cards, you didn't do this, and you didn't do that. 

Lage: But you didn't go to church? Did she say why she didn't go to 

McLean: I did go to Sunday school. And in going to Sunday school I got 
into a Boy Scout troop that was run by the minister of the 
Methodist church in Oak Park. But going to Sunday school didn't 
keep me from going with my mother to the cemetery every Sunday. 
After I got out of Sunday school, which was about eleven o'clock 
in the morning- -of course I was all dressed up, and she was all 
dressed up in her finery and every thing- -off to the cemetery we 
would go with a bunch of roses or a bunch of flowers . 

Lage: Did you accept this as a ritual? 

McLean: Yes, I accepted it. I'll never forget, because Sunday morning was 
a special breakfast. You'll laugh at this, but baked beans was a 
special Sunday morning breakfast. We'd have a big dish of baked 
beans, or we'd have a piece of salmon. My Uncle John used to be 
both a fisherman and a market hunter. They used to catch salmon 
in the Sacramento River; they kept nets in the Sacramento River. 
In those days they couldn't sell what they called the salmon 
bellies; that's the piece that's the sides of the salmon. They'd 
cut these off in big slabs, and my mother used to salt them down 
in a crock. This would keep indefinitely, as long as it was kept 
down under the salt water. So once in a while, when we didn't 
have the baked beans, she'd pull out a chunk of this salmon belly 
and wash it in fresh water, steam it for Sunday morning breakfast, 
and we'd have that with a cream and egg sauce. That would be 
Sunday morning breakfast, with toast and the creamed salmon with 
egg sauce. So there were two Sunday morning breakfasts. We'd 
either have baked beans, or we'd have salmon. 



Dropping Out of School in Seventh Grade to Support Family 

Lage : Now, you left school in seventh grade. Was that because you 
needed more money? 

McLean: That's right, because my mother wasn't making enough money. 
Lage: Even before she was ill? 

McLean: That's right. She wasn't making enough money to pay our rent and 
our food and buy clothes and everything else. Of course, I was 
growing up in those days. I remember paying fifty dollars for an 
overcoat one time. 

Lage: That seems incredibly expensive! 

McLean: Yes, and I had that coat for years, I can remember. While I was 
going to school, there was an Italian shoemaker in Oak Park. In 
those days if somebody had a pair of shoes to be fixed, a delivery 
boy would pick them up and take them to the shoemaker, and then 
he'd deliver them again. That was the standard way of doing 
things. So I became his delivery boy. I got to use a bicycle, 
which was a big deal in those days. The bicycle had a little 
basket on the front and a little basket on the back. He'd give me 
the address, and I'd ride around to the house, pick up the shoes, 
and bring them in to be fixed. When I got out of school at three 
or three -thirty in the afternoon, I'd go over to the shoemaker and 
get the bicycle, deliver the shoes, and maybe pick up a pair to be 
fixed. I did that for, oh, two or three years. 

Then one summer during school vacation I got the opportunity 
to go to work for the Blueprint Company in Sacramento. For that I 


was paid the whole sum of five dollars a week. I'd get a gold 
five dollar piece, and that was for a week's work. 

Lage: Was that pretty good money? 

McLean: Oh, that was good money in those days, you know. They'd always 
give it to me on Saturdays. Well, that would allow me to go to 
the shows and do everything else that I wanted to do. Then when 
the war came along [World War I], why, these different men went 
off to war, and they closed the Blueprint Company. This is when I 
went to work for the State Highway Commission. 

Lage: Was this full-time employment? 

McLean: Yes, that was full time. 

Lage: There was no compunction against hiring someone as young as you? 

McLean: No. 

Lage: No laws against dropping out of school? 

McLean: No, there were no laws against it. I think I was fourteen years 
old, something like that. 

Lage : Did your mother encourage you or hope that you could go back to 
school at some time? 

McLean: I don't think it ever became a subject. But I felt the lack of 
it. As soon as I could go to night school--! think I spent half 
my life going to night school. 

Lage: Was that after your mother died? 

McLean: That was after my mother died, yes, at the old high school at 16th 
and J . 

With the State Highway Commission. 1917-1923 

McLean: My mother died in '21, and I was working for the state highway 
since 1917, when I was fourteen years old. 

Lage: Had your job changed from delivery boy? 


McLean: Yes, I got into doing a little different type of work there. As I 
was telling you earlier, after my mother died, Allen [J.] Wagner 
kind of took me under his care . 

Lage: Now, tell about Allen Wagner, because we didn't talk about him on 
the tape. What was his position? 

McLean: He was the office engineer for the State Highway Commission, and I 
was directly under him. When my mother died in March of 1921, 
Allen said that 1 should get out and learn a little more about 
engineering. Of course, I'd been in a room where they were all 
engineers, and I saw a lot of drafting going on. The fact is, I 
got so that I was doing a little bit of drafting myself. 

Lage: Did they train you little? 

McLean: They were training me. They were training me to index and do a 

lot of other things. Allen took me under his wing and encouraged 
me to get into this and also encouraged me to go to night school 
and get mathematics. 

1921 Survey Party in Lassen County 

McLean: When my mother died in '21, Allen decided that I should go out in 
the field party, survey party, and that's when I went to Lassen 
County with a survey party. That was in April of 1921. 

Lage: So this would have been surveying for a highway that was under 

McLean: Yes, and we were also surveying for a location for a new highway 
from Red Bluff via Susanville to the Nevada state line, over the 
Fredonyer Pass and down through Susanville to a place by the name 
of Doyle, which was on the Nevada state line. I spent the entire 
summer there. 

Lage: What kind of work did they have you doing? 

McLean: I started out as what we called a stake puncher. [chuckles] Then 
it finally got so I was rodman on the level crew, under a fellow 
by the name of Carl Kinyon. Carl was the chief of the level 
party, and I was rodman on the level party. Carl Kinyon later 
worked for me on Pardee Dam and in Oakland. 

Lage: You're going to have to tell me what rodman on the level party is. 






As rodman, you hold a rod. You take the profiles or the cross 
sections for road surfaces. You have a rod that is six and one- 
half feet, and when you extend it, it goes up to thirteen feet or 
so- -what they call a level rod. This is how you take profiles and 
cross sections of what the topography of the road is going to be. 

Were you a young person who was very good at doing what he was 

Oh , yes . 

Or were you the sort who asked a lot of questions? 

What do you 

Well, I was there to learn. And, of course, I wanted to learn all 
I could about it and asked questions. I got so that I knew how 
they put the notes in the field books. We had a fellow in the 
office who would plot all this up on drawings. In those days 
everybody would participate in reading the notes, or what you call 
reducing notes. In the field you just take the notes and write 
them down in the field book. Then you have to convert those to 
elevation, and we used to do this at night or on weekends. The 
field books would be passed around to different ones that were 
working on the crew, and we would reduce the notes. I got so that 
I knew how to take field notes and how to reduce them. I also 
learned to plot the notes on paper, and then even to how to work 
out what we called the traverses from the survey notes . I got so 
that I could do all that. 

Life in Construction Camps: Tents, Meals, Baths, Dances) 1 /// 

Lage: Tell me about your living and working conditions during this 
summer in Lassen County. 

McLean: Our first camp was at a construction site at a place known as 

Devil's Corral on the Susan River. That was near the Fredonyer 
Pass, on the road between Red Bluff and Susanville. We had a 
large party there. The chief of party was a fellow by the name of 
Mr. Sites. I think we had fourteen men altogether on the party. 
We stayed at a large construction camp, what they called a day- 
labor camp at that time, where a lot of the work was being done by 
the State Highway Commission itself. They had some trucks from 
World War I, and they had a large mess hall. We stayed at that 
camp for probably about a month and a half or two months. 


After we had finished the work from Devil's Corral down to a 
distance of about four or five miles above Susanville, we moved 
our camp down to an orchard on the east side of Susanville. Then 
we set up our own camp. 

Lage: With just your crew? 

McLean: Yes. We had a cook, a lady by the name of Mrs. Beaver. She did 

the cooking for us. We had a big cook tent, and we all ate in the 
cook tent. The chief of party, Mr. Sites --his wife stayed with 
him, and then we had about four other tents for the rest of the 
party and one tent for an office. We camped there, I guess, for 
another couple of months, until we had worked down the valley, 
going down to Doyle. 

The next camp we had was at Janesville, and there we camped 
in some open ground to the west of the town. From that point we 
surveyed down to the town of Doyle , which is supposed to be right 
close to the Nevada line. That's where we ended our work for that 
year. It was late in the fall; the weather was getting pretty 
nasty, and we'd had snow two or three times. So we disbanded the 
party, and I was sent back to Sacramento to work in the main 
office that winter. 

Lage: What was living in these camps like? 

McLean: Oh, it was pretty primitive. Each one of us, of course, had a 

cot, and there were three of us to a tent. The tents were about 
twelve by eighteen, twelve by twenty, something like that. In one 
corner we had a big stove. That was to keep us warm, because it 
used to get pretty cold up there. 

Lage: Were you on a tent platform, or you were on the ground? 

McLean: At the camp at Devil's Corral we had wooden platforms. At the 

camps at Susanville and down at Janesville, as I recall, we just 
had dirt floors; we didn't have any planks. And we had to do our 
own moving. When it came time to move camp, why, we would all 
pitch in. Everyone would pitch in. We had a big truck that we 
used to travel in, and we piled everything in there. Of course, 
the first thing that we erected would be the cook tent. 

Lage: Most important. 

McLean: Yes, that was important, to get the cook tent up. And there was 

quite a bit to move, because she had a wood stove for cooking, and 
then she had a bunch of benches that we had to move. 


Did she have a lot of heavy cast-iron cooking equipment? 


McLean: Well, yes. She had a big array of pots and pans and everything 

else. Then we had water buckets. You have to remember, we didn't 
have any ice in those days. We had one of these coolers that we 
used to hang up outdoors . 

Lage: What was that like? 

McLean: Well, it was a screen cooler with burlap over the sides, and then 
there was a pan that you would fill with water. The water would 
drip down over the burlap and keep it cool. 

Lage: It must have gotten pretty hot during the days there. 

McLean: Yes, you bet it did. It got hot up there. But the interesting 
part about it was that most of our staples would come from the 
division office in Redding. They would make a delivery to us 
maybe twice a month. Most of the stuff that came to us in those 
days was in large quantities: a hundred pound sack of potatoes, a 
hundred pound sack of sugar, a hundred pound sack of flour. We'd 
get a hold of one of these whole rounds of cheese. Our fresh 
meats, eggs, and milk the chief of party would buy locally. He 
had a petty cash account, and he would buy the fresh food. But he 
was limited as to what he could pay for things. One of the 
interesting parts about it was that to buy beef, to stay within 
what he was supposed to, he had to buy either a front quarter or a 
hind quarter, something like that. Well, of course, you can 
imagine- -even fourteen or sixteen men or seventeen men trying to 
eat a quarter of a beef within the time before it began to get a 
little green. 

Lage: I should think so, with no refrigeration. 

McLean: The first thing that would happen, of course, is that we'd eat all 
the steaks that we could. Then we'd get down to roast. Then, 
finally, we'd get down to stews. Not having any refrigeration, by 
the time we got down to that, why, the stew meat would begin to 
get a little bit green. But we survived. 

Lage: Was there a lot of grumbling and complaining, or was that just 
what went with the territory? 

McLean: No, no. We were all pretty young, you know. We took it in our 

stride. To get a bath- -when we were in Susanville, in those days 
every barbershop had a bathtub or a couple of bathtubs, you know. 
If you wanted to take a bath, you'd go into Susanville and go to a 
barbershop. I think for fifty cents you'd get a Saturday night 
bath. That would last you all week. We were working in the 
summertime down in Doyle, and the Susan River flows down through 
that area. It'd be in the middle of the afternoon on the way back 


to camp, and we'd peel our clothes off and go into the Susan River 
with a bar of soap. That was our bath. Ve didn't have to try to 
devise something when we were at Janesville, because at Janesville 
there wasn't anything. There was just a stage stop there, and I 
don't recall even a store. 

But, as 1 say, we were a young bunch of fellows. Ve were all 
in our late teens or early twenties, and we survived. One of the 
instances I remember, we were living in the back of this family 
place. It was kind of a ranch with an orchard, and there used to 
be chickens running all around our camp; we had chickens all 
around the place. The sage hen season opened on September 1. 

Lage : What season? 

McLean: Sage hen, sage grouse they call it. They're wild birds. We had 
seen lots of them all over the area, but up towards Ravensdale, 
which is about fifteen or twenty miles north of Susanville, that 
was a big area. So when the season opened, several of us decided 
to go hunting. We had our shotguns with us. We decided to go 
sage hen hunting, and I guess we killed a dozen sage hens. 

Later we were all sitting around one of these tubs out in 
front of the camp, picking the sage grouse. Mrs. Beaver was going 
to cook them for dinner that night. It was a Sunday, the only 
time we had a chance to go out, and all these chickens were all 
running around. We had a fellow by the name of Pat Greer, and 
Carl Kinyon says to him, "Pat, if you grab one of those chickens, 
I'll wring his neck, and we'll pick them." So Pat reached out and 
grabbed one of the chickens and handed it over to Carl. Carl 
wrung its neck, and we picked the chicken. Mrs. Beaver, the cook, 
was of course quite naive. When we sat down to eat, she had these 
great big platters of hot food ready, and she sat down with us. 
She says, "You know, I can't understand. Among all those birds, 
there was one that was all white meat." And she says, "I can't 
understand this." The guys looked at each other and snickered a 
little bit- -polite, you know. We never told her that it was one 
of the chickens that ran around in the yard where we were staying. 

Lage: What kind of men were you were working with? They were young, you 
say. What kind of an education did they have? 

McLean: There were three of them that were taking engineering at the 

University of California, and the other fellows mostly, I guess, 
had started with the highway commission as rodmen, chainmen. The 
instrument man on the location party was named Van Rosenthal . The 
head of the level party was called by the name of Carl Kinyon. We 
were all happy-go-lucky young fellows in those days. We had 


really a lot of fun together. Ve used to take in all the dances, 
you know. 

Lage: In the local communities? 


McLean : 

McLean : 



McLean : 

In the local communities, in Susanville, Janesville, and all the 
little communities around. In those days they used to have an 
orchestra that would play at each one of the places . Of course , 
in most of the places about all they had was a schoolhouse. 
They'd line all the chairs up against the wall, and they would 
usually start about seven o'clock. Ve would dance all night. You 
went home at sunup. Every night .they'd play at a different place. 
They would play at Janesville or at Doyle or at one of the other 
places around, and everybody just followed the dance band around 
to the different communities. None of us had an automobile, and 
to get to the dances we used take the survey wagon. Somebody 
would drive it. There no windshields or anything else on it. It 
was a World War I aviation truck. In the back part there were 
seats along the side where we would sit. There was room enough 
for about three or four fellows in front, with a driver and a 
couple of other fellows sitting alongside him. We used to take 
that darned thing around to the dances, down to Janesville and 
other places. Sometimes it was cold riding. 

Would they be on Saturday nights? 

Yes , the dances were always on Saturday nights . 
belles or gals would show up, you know. 

All of the local 

They were probably glad to have you fellows along. 

Yes. We were the only single men around. We never missed a 
dance. And then on Sunday they used to have baseball games, 
made up a ball team of the fellows in the party, and we'd go 
around on Sunday and play at all the little towns around the 
valley- -play the local group, you know. It was a lot of fun. 

I'm amazed at how vivid your memories seem. 
ago . Right? 

Yes, 1921, seventy years ago. 


This is seventy years 

You do have quite a memory. Have there been things through the 
years that helped you remember, like pictures and whatnot? Or 
does your memory usually go right back to that event? 

Probably the latter. I think it's just the fact that I have 
remembered. I think I remember those things better than I 
remember something more recent. I used to have some pictures of 


the men on the field party. I don't know if I can even find them 
among all my pictures back here. 

Return to Sacramento: 


Night School and Marriage to Margaret 

McLean: Ve finally completed all of the survey work to the California- 
Nevada border in mid- September 1921, and that's where the job 
ended. They were going to disband the survey party and send the 
members to different parties to spend the winter. I kept up 
correspondence with Allen Wagner all during the time I was in 
Lassen County, telling him what I was doing. He then told me he 
would arrange for a transfer to bring me back to Sacramento, 
because one of my aims was to get back to Sacramento so that I 
could work in the office and go back to school at night. So he 
got the transfer for me, and 1 came back to the headquarters in 
Sacramento, under him again. There, as a kind of an apprentice, 1 
learned to do drafting. If I remember right, I think I was 
getting about $125 a month as a junior draftsman. 

Lage: Was that a fairly substantial wage at the time? 

McLean: That was a good wage in those days. And then I started back to 

night school. I guess I went to night school until 1923. Well, 
I was there in Sacramento until 1923. I came back in '21 and 
worked for two years in the office. 

Lage: What was Mr. Wagner like? Did he have a family of his own? 

McLean: Oh, yes, he had a family of his own. He had a couple of boys and 
a couple of girls, as 1 recall. He and a fellow by the name of 
Mr. Bean, who was a draftsman that I worked under, taught me all 
that I knew about drafting and engineering calculations. Then I 
was married to Margaret Sherman in '22. 

Lage : How old were you then? 

McLean: I was nineteen. [chuckles] But I was much older than my age. 

Lage: Yes, I can imagine! Had your wife had more chance for education? 

McLean: No. She had graduated from grade school, from a little country 

school fourteen miles above Placerville. To go to high school in 
those days she would have had to live in Placerville, but there 


was no place for her to go to high school. So her education ended 
after grade school 

Lage: It wasn't uncommon, I'm sure. 

McLean: It wasn't uncommon in those days, because she lived on an apple 
ranch fourteen miles above Placerville. 

Instrument Man on El Dorado Hydroelectric Prolect. 1923 

McLean: Margaret's brother, Roy Sherman, who had been married to a girl in 
Nevada City, had gone to work for the Western States Gas and 
Electric Company. They were building the El Dorado Hydroelectric 
Project. Roy and his wife were living on the project, and the 
engineer in charge of all of the surveying work on this particular 
project was a fellow by the name of Fred Hoskins . Fred Hoskins 
had known my wife and had known her aunt and uncle when she had 
lived with them. Roy told me they were looking for more engineers 
to come and work on the project. 

Lage: Could you call yourself an engineer by now? 

McLean: Well, I guess I could, to a certain extent. At least a surveyor, 
anyway. I got in touch with Fred Hoskins, and with my background 
- -having surveying and having worked there in the office in 
Sacramento --why, I just fell right into a job as an instrument 
man, which paid $175 a month, which was big money in those days. 
I was only getting $125 from the state at that time, in the 
office, and I wanted to get in the field and get on construction. 


So I took the offer that Fred gave me, and up we went to live 
with my wife's folks, because their home was right alongside the 
forebay dam project. In fact, it was being built within walking 
distance of their home. We lived with them all the time that I 
was working there. I fell right into the swing of things. And 
because I had done all this office work and everything, why, I got 
in and worked extra time when there was work to be done. 

You worked extra time with the paperwork? 

With the paperwork at nights, you know, plotting cross sections 
and all that sort of thing, because the other fellows had never 
experienced this, and I was lucky enough to have done a lot of 
this. The next thing I know, Bob [A. D.] Edmonston (who later 
became state engineer) was looking for an assistant on the 


construction of the Caples Lake dam and spillway. At that time we 
called it Twin Lakes. He propositioned me into going up with him. 

Lage : This is after El Dorado was finished? 

McLean: No, this was still part of the total project. This was in July 
1923. I had been on the lower part of the project --the forebay 
dam, the penstock, and powerhouse- -from April to July, when Bob 
talked me into going to Twin Lakes to work as assistant to 
Mr. Loughland, one of the top engineers. Bob said, "How soon can 
you get ready?" [chuckles] And I said, "Well, I guess I'll pack 
a suitcase, and away I'll go. I'll have to take a bedroll along 
with me." "Well," he said, "I'll come and pick you up tomorrow." 

Lage: You had to be ready to go on this job! 

McLean: Yes, that's right. The next day George Loughland comes down with 
his automobile and gets me, and I left the work there with Fred 
Hoskins . I guess Fred had recommended me for the job; I don't 
know. But off I went to Twin Lakes. I guess it was about the 
middle of July, because they were just getting underway with the 
construction because snow had been so late that year. I reported 
to Bob at Twin Lakes and stayed until that job was finished. Ve 
finally left there in a snowstorm on October 22, 1923. 

By that time the forebay project had been finished, but they 
were still working on the powerhouse. I went back to the 
headquarters about fourteen miles above Placerville, and I went 
back into the office to prepare all of what was called the federal 
filing drawings. In those days, when you finished a project you 
made basically what we call today "as-built" drawings. In those 
days they were called federal filing drawings, because the project 
was licensed by the Federal Power Commission. It depicted all the 
drawings of the project- -that is, the dams, the pen stocks, the 
pipelines, storage reservoirs, etc. All of these drawings went to 
the Federal Power Commission in Washington, D.C., and were filed 
there as final drawings . I was put in the office to make these 
federal filing drawings. I worked all winter on that. In the 
meantime, Bob was down at the powerhouse and finished up the 
powerhouse . 


Investigating Echo LflVi? Dam. 1924M 

McLean: The following summer- -this is '24- -after the snow had cleared off 
of the mountains in May, the Byllesby Company wanted to 
investigate the feasibility of raising the dam at Echo Lake. 

Lage: And did the same company have the rights? 

McLean: Yes, they had the water rights to Echo. The parent company had a 
couple of names. It was known as the Byllesby Engineering and 
Management Corporation, and it was also known as the H. M. 
Byllesby Company. The Western States Gas and Electric Company was 
a subsidiary of the Byllesby Engineering and Management 
Corporation. When I first went up there on the El Dorado project, 
it was under Western States, but the parent company was the 
Byllesby Engineering and Management Corporation. So the following 
spring or the early summer of '24, they wanted to investigate the 
raising of the dam at Echo Lake. 

Lage: Tell me a little bit about that. 

McLean: The first dam was built by an early hydraulic mining company for 
mining near Placerville. Echo Lake originally drained into Tahoe 
Lake valley and into Lake Tahoe. Echo Lake is on the crest of the 
Sierras. Apparently an early hydraulic mining company that did 
the hydraulic mining in the area of Placerville saw the potential 
of damming Echo Lake, raising the water level, and diverting it 
over into the drainage area of the south fork of the American 
River. This must have been done during the 1870s or 1880s, when 
hydraulic mining was permitted. It was a very small dam, and they 
built a tunnel through the ridge into the south fork of the 
American River drainage and diverted the water to the Highway 50 
side. Instead of draining into Lake Tahoe, they diverted the 
water over to where it now flows , into the south fork of the 
American. The water then was diverted out of the south fork of 
the American at Kyburz and into a ditch that followed pretty much 
the way the highway follows the river, down to where they used it 
for the hydraulic mining around Placerville. 

Lage: They measured how much water they took out of Echo, and then they 
could take that same amount- - 

McLean: That's right. Water rights law permitted the diversion of water 
from one drainage basin to another for beneficial use. It went 
into this tunnel, and then into the river. Then they built a 
diversion dam at Kyburz, right there at Kyburz, and diverted the 


water into an earthen ditch known as the El Dorado Canal. 
Apparently it was dug by hand; it was a very small ditch. 

When Western States Gas and Electric cane into being, and 
they wanted to build the El Dorado Hydroelectric Project, they 
needed the water supply from the ditch, but the ditch was then 
serving the city of Placerville as a water supply. There was a 
reservoir above the city of Placerville which was the terminus of 
the ditch. I can't tell you now whether the ditch was then owned 
by El Dorado Irrigation District or not; I don't know when the El 
Dorado Irrigation District even came into being. But I do know 
that the Western States Gas and Electric Company apparently bought 
out the water rights and the rights to this ditch before they 
started the El Dorado project, because when we built the forebay 
dam, which is the terminus of this ditch, we had to put in a 
diversion work to divert the water out of the forebay dam for the 
city of Placerville. The city had the right for sixteen hundred 
miner's inches. 1 

So then the Western States Gas and Electric Company built a 
new dam at Kyburz , and the diversion ditch that went from Kyburz 
down to the forebay dam, which was around twenty -five miles in 
length, we lined with concrete. That ditch discharged into the 
forebay dam, about fourteen miles above Placerville; that was for 
the powerhouse. From the powerhouse we built the wood- stake 
pipeline, the surge tank, and then the penstock that went down to 
the powerhouse, plus the powerhouse itself. That was all part of 
the El Dorado project, which today belongs to PG&E [Pacific Gas & 
Electric Company] ; PG&E bought out Western States Gas and Electric 
Company . 

Lage: But the Echo Lake part was a very small part of all this? 

McLean: Yes. This is when we went back in 1924 to decide whether it was 
feasible to raise the dam at Echo Lake. 

Lage: Now, how many feet were you thinking of raising the dam? 

McLean: I think it was about ten feet. That would have meant building a 
dam above the existing dam There are two lakes there, an upper 
and lower, and it would have flooded both the lakes. There would 
have been one large lake if the dam had been raised. It would 
have been a pretty big undertaking. Evidently- -costwise and 
everything else- -they decided it wasn't feasible, so it was never 

J A miner's inch is equal to a square inch of water flowing from a 
wooden diversion box that is inserted into a larger ditch or stream. It is 
equal to one -fortieth of a cubic foot/second of flowing water. 


done. Raising the dam would have increased the capacity of the 
lake, and apparently there wasn't sufficient runoff or snow melt 
to Justify the cost. 

Lage: But the water is still diverted the same way? 

McLean: The water is still diverted the same way; they still divert water 
out of Echo Lake into this tunnel. And then there are also two 
other lakes that discharged into the south fork in the American 
River above Kyburz. There's the Twin Lakes dam and the Silver 
Lake Dam, both still a part of this whole El Dorado hydroelectric 

Lage: Do you remember what it was like in 1924 at Echo Lake? There's an 
Echo Lake oral history project, so I'd like you to add to that 
with your picture of what it was like. 

McLean: Well, it was pretty primitive. There were a few cabins around 
the lake, all on the south side. I haven't been there since I 
left there in '24. 

Lage: Did you camp there for a while? 

McLean: Yes, we camped there for three to four weeks. 

Lage: And there were a few cabins? 

McLean: Yes, there were some cabins, and there was that boys' camp up on 
the upper lake. 

Lage: Well, raising that lake ten feet really would have played havoc 
with those cabins. 

McLean: It also would have flooded out the boys' camp. I'll never forget 
when we came up to the boys' camp with the survey party; I was at 
the head of them, because I was running the party. Boy, that camp 
director came raring out of the building, "What are you doing 
here?" I said, "We're carrying out a survey to raise the lake." 
He said, "Raise the lake? That's going to flood us out!" I said, 
"Well, I'm only following orders." But he was going to throw us 
off the property. Of course, it would have flooded them if the 
lake level were raised. The only cabins that were there--! think 
there were four or five of them that went on the south side of the 
lake, and they were quite high above the water. At the upper lake 
was only this boys' camp; I forget the name of it now. I think 
it's now a Boy Scout camp. 

Lage: Well, it was, and now it's been done away with. On the lower lake 
there is a very old log cabin, and it's built way up the granite 

slabs. It was the first cabin, we were told, and it was built up 
there because the owner had been told that the water was 
eventually going to come up right to the foot of his cabin. 

McLean: Well, there were four or five cabins along the south shore. They 
were built quite high, up in the timber. 

Lage: They might have been told about these plans to raise the lake. 

McLean: And then on the north side was the trail that went over to what we 
called Medley Lakes. 

Lage: Now that's called the Aloha lake; it's been flooded into one lake. 

McLean: Those lakes are also part of the original project that is now 

Pacific Gas & Electric Company. But the only thing that was in 
the upper lake up there was this boys' camp. They had a lodge and 
quite an establishment there. That was all that was on the upper 
lake; there wasn't anything else. As I say, I'll never forget, 
because when we came around and onto the property, we were 
following what we call the "flow line." But Echo, as I said 
previously, was apparently a part of the old hydraulic mining that 
was down in the late 1800s, and then apparently it became the 
water supply to Placerville. Also at that same time, there was a 
dam put in at Silver Lake, and that water drains into the south 
fork of the American, the same as when we built the Twin Lakes 
dam. That also goes into the south fork of the American. 

Plum and Alder Creek Siphons: Dealing with Migrating Deer 

McLean: Well, then, when the Western States Gas and Electric came along, 
who they purchased all this from, I don't know. Those records 
would probably be available at PG&E. But Western States purchased 
all of these facilities. To provide sufficient water for the new 
powerhouse, the Western States Gas and Electric Company 
reconstructed the ditch. It was realigned and enlarged to carry 
120 cfs- -cubic feet per second. It was a big ditch, a big, deep 

Lage: But not covered? It was open? 

McLean: It was open. And then we put in what was known as the Plum Creek 
and the Alder Creek siphons. They're two large steel siphons. 
There's a siphon that goes across Plum Creek and also another 
siphon that goes across Alder Creek. Those, as I recall, were 
about ten foot in diameter. They were big pipes, and they were on 


piers. They'd go down into the bottom of the canyon and come back 
to the ditch on the opposite side. 

Lage: Now, what are they for? 

McLean: They're the continuation of the ditch. The ditch was open, and 
then, rather than going way around where Plum Creek and Alder 
Creek come into the south Fork of the American, they built these 
siphons across the creek. We went down and across the creek and 
back up again. Now, this is what was very interesting. I don't 
know whether it still is today, but at that time there was an 
annual migration of deer from down on the south side of the south 
fork in the American River. From all of that area down around 
Kirkwood and up around Twin Lakes there was a tremendous migration 
of deer that used to come down and cross the south fork of the 
American River. This deer herd wintered around Georgetown in the 
oak forest where there was very little snow. It was a very large 
migration. When there was an earthen ditch, the deer were able to 
get down in the ditch, cross, and come out again. When we got the 
first snow- -I guess it was late October, early November- -the 
migration of the deer started. They had been in the habit of 
crossing in the earthen ditch and coming out again. But now that 
the ditch was lined with concrete, the deer got in the ditch and 
they found that they couldn't get out. 

Well, the ditch is about seven feet deep. The first thing 
that happened was that they were carried by the flowing water 
downstream, and they began to pile up against the grizzlies at the 
siphon. A grizzly is a series of bars about four inches apart, 
vertical , at the upper end of both the Alder Creek and the Plum 
Creek site. Boy, did we have a mess on our hands. Fish and Game 
was up there, and here were hundreds of deer, and they put crews 
out there and tried to get them out of the ditch. They tried to 
lasso them and pull them out of the ditch and everything else. 
There were just too many of them; they couldn't do it. Well, as I 
recall there were several hundred deer killed in that ditch that 
winter, at both Alder Creek and Plum Creek. First they tried to 
haul them down to Placerville and give them to the various 
charities and hospitals and everything else down there. But there 
was so many of them, they couldn't. So finally they piled them up 
in big stacks, put oil on them, and burned the carcasses. 

I should have said at the beginning that when they built the 
ditch, we knew where these paths of migration were. And they 
built bridges, thinking that the deer would go across the bridge 
like anybody else would. But the deer wouldn't pay any attention 
to the bridges; they'd always been used to going down into the 
water and climbing up the other side. So this didn't work. That 
is why we had all these dead deer piled up against the grizzlies. 


The State Fish and Game Department required that they fence this 
ditch. I think they fenced over eight miles of ditch with a ten- 
foot-high fence along on each side of the ditch. They left it 
open where the bridges were. I suppose that fence still exists 
today; I haven't seen the ditch except once in a while where you 
can see it from the highway. 



The El Dorado Prolect: Penstock. Surge Tank. Wood Stove Pipeline 
for a High-Head Power Plant 

[Interview 2: April 3, 1991 

Lage : We had talked last time about early experiences, and we had gotten 
up to the early twenties. I wanted you to talk in more detail 
about the El Dorado Hydroelectric Project, because it sounds like 
sort of a typical, interesting project of its time. 

McLean: The El Dorado Project--! went to work in 1923. This was being 

built by the Western States Gas and Electric Company, which was a 
subsidiary of the H. M. Byllesby Company of Chicago. I went up 
there employed as the chief of party on the construction of the El 
Dorado development. 

Lage: Now, what does "chief of party" mean? 

McLean: Chief of party was being in charge of the field parties, either 
field parties or a field party, that did the surveying and the 
engineering on the dam, what was known as the forebay dam, and the 
pipeline construction and the penstock construction. I had 
probably three field parties that I was in charge of. One party 
was assigned to the dam, the building of the embankment for the 
earth- filled dam. And the other one was on the penstock. The 
penstock is the pipeline that goes into the powerhouse that turns 
the pelton wheels and the generator. This was one of the highest- 
head plants in California at the time it was built. The total 
head was nineteen hundred and ninety-odd feet; as I recall, it was 
about nineteen hundred ninety- five feet, which is a very high-head 

Lage: What does that mean? 


McLean: Well, what this means is, it's the total static head from the 

forebay, the forebay to the center line of the pelton wheels in 
the powerhouse. This is what drives the big powerhouse wheels, 
the generator. The pipeline that led from the powerhouse down to 
the surge tanks --the surge tank is at the head of what we call the 
penstock. This is to prevent a failure of the pipeline in case of 
the pelton wheel shutting off suddenly, or stoppage of flow, which 
puts a surge back through the pipeline. This surge tank was 
nineteen foot in diameter, and was on a support 297 feet in the 
air. It's a very high surge tank. 

Lage: And it allows the water to rush up into the tank? 

McLean: Yes, the water goes up into that. There's water in this tank all 
the time, at the level of the water in the forebay, and it remains 
that way all the time that the powerhouse is in operation. But 
when you shut down the wheels in the powerhouse , then the water 
surges up in this tank and sometimes will overflow. Sometimes it 
will overflow. 

Lage: Like a safety valve. 

McLean: Yes, well, you'd call it a safety valve. When this plant was 
built, it was one of the--if not the- -highest-head plants in 
California. It's a very high-head plant. For that reason, it 
uses--I don't recall the amount of water, but the amount of water 
is small in comparison to low-head plants, where you have a 
greater quantity of water. 

Lage: To get the same amount of electricity. 

McLean: The nozzles for the pelton wheels, there are two of them. If I 

remember correctly, I think they were ten inches in diameter. Let 
me show you a couple of the pictures of it. 

Lage: Okay. I think we should mention that you have a photo album 
that's really very complete. 1 

McLean: I have some pictures of it. [looks through pictures] 
Lage: Were these pictures you took yourself? 

McLean: Yes, some of these I took myself. There's the wood- stave 

Lage: So, it's a pipe that's made of wood? 

x Mr. McLean plans to donate this photo album to The Bancroft Library. 


McLean: Yes, the pipeline from the forebay to the surge tank was wood- 
stave pipe. This is sixty inches in diameter with wood-stave 

Lage: Was wood- stave pipe used much after this? 

McLean: Oh, probably not so much. Indeed, at that time it was used on a 
number of plants. The California and Oregon Power Company had a 
project up in southern Oregon that they used it on. This is the 
surge tank. See, that's the surge tank there. The head on that 
waswell, the height of that is 297 feet high and 19 foot 
diameter. That's what 1 said, see? 

Lage: Good memory! 

McLean: And this is the powerhouse. You can see the penstocks coming down 
the powerhouse. The penstocks divide up here, and they go into 
the powerhouse. 

Lage: Now, they were steel, were they not? 

McLean: Those, oh, yes. They're very heavy steel. See, here it is, right 
there. This is riveted steel, and it's on arms here that it can 
move for expansion. There's an expansion joint located in there, 
and it can move. These are what we call "rocker arms" down there. 
There are large concrete anchors, and the expansion joint is 
between the anchors. 

Lage: Was there any new technology used because of the height of the 

McLean: No. The pipe for the penstock was manufactured by the W. K. 
Kellogg Company people back east. I'm not sure where their 
factory was. When we were testing the line in 1923, the penstock 
broke under the powerhouse. Here's the break right here. That 
occurred on December 26, 1923; this broke under the transformer 
deck of the powerhouse . 

Lage: That's a dramatic break. 

McLean: Yes, it was really some excitement. Well, here's the powerhouse; 
I thought I had a picture here of where it--. It goes under the 
transformer deck, and of course it didn't do any damage to the 
powerhouse. See? This is what we call a transformer deck. All 
the transformers are set up on here; they weren't there at that 
time. This line here broke, and it went up against the bottom of 
the deck. You can imagine, a 1900 foot head against this concrete 
deck. here. It washed timbers and whatever was under the deck, 
plus a field office, into the river. 


Lage: Now, how did people react to that kind of an accident? 

McLean: Well, you can't do anything. You can Just shut the line down, 
that's all. We had to stop the flow of water at the forebay 
butterfly valve and let the pipeline and penstock drain. 

The interesting part about it was that this plant was 
supposed to be in operation on the first of January, 1924. And 
there was a penalty on this pipe here; everything was supposed to 
be okay, you know. When this broke, we immediately wired back to 
the Kellogg people to fabricate another piece of pipe like the one 
that broke and to get it out here. They had to manufacture it. 
To get it out here they sent it by American Express on a passenger 
train, because of the penalty, you see. I forget what the penalty 
was , but it was probably three or four hundred dollars a day or 
even more . 

So they sent it out in an express car on a train. At that 
time there was a train that they could take to Camino, above 
Placerville, and then we picked it up there and took it down the 
road and put it in the penstock. But it took us --oh, I think we 
were delayed about a couple of months before we could put the 
plant in operation. In the midsummer of 1927 PG&E bought out all 
of the Byllesby interest in California. They now operate this 
hydroelectric plant. It's still one of their main plants. 

Lage: Is it also used for water supply? 

McLean: All of the water from the El Dorado Canal is for hydroelectric 
generation except for the water supply for the city of 
Placerville. The total cost of the project at that time was about 
$20 million. That was the total cost. 

Lage: Sounds pretty hefty; was it? 

McLean: Well, that was a large project at that time. That project today 
would probably cost at least twenty times that amount. I would 
imagine four or five hundred million or something like that to 
build a project like that today. 

In addition to this part of the project there was also 
twenty- three and one -half miles of canal that takes out of the 
south fork of the American River at Kyburz. It was a diversion 
dam at Kyburz, and the canal follows somewhat along Highway 50, 
except the canal is on the south side of the river. You can see 
it from different points of Highway 50. Then that goes into the 
forebay dam and from the forebay dam, of course, into the 
pipeline, the penstock, to the powerhouse. 


In addition to that, we built what is now called the Caples 
Lake Dam, and that was for storage. The Caples Lake Dam was a 
part of the project and also Silver Lake, which was also a part of 
the water rights that they purchased that included Silver Lake and 
also Echo Lake . 

The Caples Lake Dam: Unique Gunite Core Construction 

McLean: I told you last time that I went to work in March of 1923 on the 
forebay dam. In mid-year Bob Editions ton, who was then the project 
engineer at Twin Lakes [Caples Lakes], wanted me there as his 
assistant at Twin Lakes when they were building the Twin Lakes 
dam. I believe it was around the first part of July, because they 
opened up the camp on the fourth of July, that I reported to Bob. 
Mr. Lough land, the assistant chief engineer for Byllesby, took me 
to Twin Lakes, where I reported to Bob on the construction of the 
Twin Lakes dam along about the middle of July of 1923. The dam 
was finished in October of that year. We built the dam, and there 
was a spillway. Then we had to realign the road, because at that 
time Highway 88 went across the stream by a bridge; it crossed 
from the south fork of the stream that fed Caples Lake to the 
north side, and we had to build the road across the top of the 

Lage : Wasn't that sort of an engineering feat? 

McLean: Oh, yes. Well, it was all a big job; it was. We realigned the 

road, because the road at that time had previously crossed the old 
stream- -that is, the stream that was where the dam site was. 

Lage: Was this another earth- filled dam? 

McLean: Well, this was a unique dam. Normally, earth-filled dams are 

built of clay, or have clay cores. But we didn't have any clay at 
this site because of the granitic geology; in that country it's 
all granite. We only had a decomposed granite similar to sand to 
build the dam out of. In order to have an impervious core, to 
prevent the water from leaking through the embankment, we put in 
what was known as a core curtain. The dam foundation was granite; 
the dam was excavated down to bedrock. Then, starting from a 
concrete foundation, we built up a core with four inches of 
gunite. Gunite is a sand cement mixture that is fed in through a 
nozzle by air pressure. We built that core, which made an 
impervious core, and I have some pictures showing the gunite core. 
They put a backup form for this core, and then they'd shoot one 
side of it; they'd shoot two and one-half inches on one side. And 


then they'd take the form off and shoot the other inch and one- 
half. That formed the impervious layer. The gunite core is 
supported by the decomposed granite embankment of the dam. 

Lage: Vas that a new technology? 

McLean: That was a new technology; I have never seen or read of that 
method being done previously. Apparently it was very, very 

Lage: You must have been learning on the Job a great deal. 

McLean: I sure was. Well, here. You can see the core here. See this 

Lage: Oh, yes, right down the middle. It looks sort of like a cement 

McLean: It is; that's what it is. It's a cement wall, but it's only four 
inches thick. 

Lage: And that gives stability? 

McLean: That provides the impervious core. 

Lage: Otherwise, the water would seep through the dam? 

McLean: Let me draw you a picture, [chuckles] I can't talk unless I draw 
pictures . 

Lage: Well, you're a true engineeryou need to draw. [See following 
page . ] 

[tape pause] 

McLean: This was very unique. In fact, that's one of the things and I'll 
also mention some more --that was very unique. Some of the things 
we did on that job at Caples Lake were rather unique. 

Normally, on an earth-filled damI'll draw it so you can see 
it. [begins to draw] We'll say this is the upstream face, and 
here's your downstream face. Here's your foundation in here, like 
this. Normally, on an earth- filled dam, you have what we call a 
clay core, and this clay core comes in like this and like this. 

Lage: A triangular shape. 

McLean: That's what we call a clay core. This is impervious. Now, any 

dam that you build will leak. I don't care whether it's concrete 


Drawing by Walter 


Drawing by Walter 




or whether it is earth- filled or whatever it happens to be. Say 
here's your water surface here [drawing]. And then we put what we 
call a drainage blanket in like this. And then we put a drainage 
blanket in here, like this. And then we bring this drainage 
blanket out, like that. The reason for that is to keep from 
saturating the clay core, to avoid a failure. So we have what we 
call a friatic line that comes through like this, and it'll come 
through the clay core . But as soon as it comes to the drainage 
blanket, your friatic line, your hydraulic gradient, drops and 
drains out here so that you always have a little flow of water 
coming out down here. 

Now, in the case of the Twin Lakes dam we did the same thing 
this way. [begins sketching] Here again we had a dam like this. 
But in the center, this was a solid granite foundation down here. 
We went down in here, and we put in a concrete foundation, like 
this. We put in what we call a cut-off trench. And then we built 
this like that. And then we had this gunite core that comes up 
through the dam like this. 

Lage: Just a wall, straight. 

McLean: It's a wall; a concrete wall is what it is. It's a concrete wall. 
This was four inches thick. Now, here is a situation where this 
material, you have to remember, was more like a sand. It's 
granitic- -decomposed granite. We compacted this, but this would 
always be saturated with water. Down at the bottom here, we put 
in a gravel blanket. So what happens is that here's your water 
level up on this side, and your water level perks through to here, 
but there's a barrier. Now, if there is any seepage through this 
or anything else, it would drain down through this into this here 
and then drain out. 

Lage: I see, drain down on the river side, the downstream side. 

McLean: Yes, down through this. That's right, because this is more or 

less pervious. It's just like a sand. And this was very unique. 

Lage: Do you know who thought of the idea? 

McLean: This apparently was developed by the engineers back in Chicago. 
But, this was because we didn't have any clay; there was no clay 
available in that country. And I have never seen another dam 
built like this; I don't know of any. 

Lage: It looks like this water, backing up and coming through the 
granite side, would put a lot of pressure-- 


McLean: What is the purpose of this, and what is the purpose of that? The 
purpose of this embankment in that is to support this wall. 

Lage: Oh, I see. So, the wall is doing all the work. 

McLean: The gunite wall is doing all the work, see. And that is also the 
purpose of the clay core. What you've done, you're building an 
impervious blanket in here, but this here is supported. Now, 
today we have what we call zoned dams, and these are composed of 
various materials, but basically there is enough weight to support 
this clay core. 

Lage: That four inch wall did a lot of work. 

McLean: Yes. This is about one hundred twenty-five feet high. Remember, 
this is just a four- inch wall that is just standing up there. If 
it were standing up by itself it would have no support; it would 

Lage: Even without the water pressure? 

McLean: Yes, that's right. So, what they did was put this in. See, 
because construction materials were limited on this site, the 
material we had for concrete we manufactured. We actually had a 
quarry, and we had a big crushing plant. Ve quarried the granite 
out of the hillside. We blasted that out of the hillside and 
brought it down the hillside, where it went through a crushing 
plant where we made concrete aggregate and actually made our own 
sand. Construction materials were limited, and the result of it 
was that we had to make do. And this was why the engineers came 
up with this particular method. We had a small concrete dam, 
which we called a spillway dam, that was located over on one of 
the south arms, but that only took a comparatively small quantity 
of aggregate. 

Lage: They weren't building the large concrete dams at that time, were 

McLean: Well, we were limited. To have built a concrete dam there would 
have required a large amount of concrete . To produce the 
aggregate for concrete --even today, the working time is very 
limited due to the weather. It's nearly ten thousand feet 
elevation. [looking at pictures] We had snow there in September, 
when the dam was being built. This is October, see; the dam was 
completed, and here's the road across the dam. They hadn't 
finished everything, but here's the road across the dam. 

Lage: Did the road put extra pressure on that dam? 


McLean: No, no. That wouldn't bother it in the least, no. 
Lage: Did the granite tend to wash away over the years? 

McLean: No, because we place riprap; it is large rock. On the face of all 
earth- fill dams you place the rock like this to prevent any water 
erosion. Usually on an earth-filled dam you have a three- or a 
four -foot blanket of rock, what we call riprap. That's to protect 
your upstream and downstream faces of the dam. Here you can see 
it was snowing. We had snow there in September. October 5, 
here's snow then. Ve got out of there in a big snowstorm on 
October 22. Let me show you the other dam, the concrete spillway 
dam. I've got a picture of it here somewhere. Here it is. This 
was taken on the 12th. This is what we call the spillway. This 
is over on the Kirkwood side, although it drains into the same 
stream. But, you see, this was just a small concrete, arched dam. 
This section is low to permit the lake to spill. In other words, 
if the water in the lake gets to this height, it'll spill. This 
is the spillway, and the flow comes down this creek here and then 
flows down into the other stream below the dam. This is a very 
small dam. They did have a little earth fill on this side and a 
little rock fill on that side, but that was over on the south end 
of the lake, around the other side. But, this photo shows the 
finishing off of the dam. This is the top of the dam, right here, 
and- -well, you can see the riprap. 

All of this work was done with what we call Bucyrus steam 
shovels and Mack trucks. Most all of these were large Mack 
trucks, and they hauled the material up on the dam, and it was 
compacted. Then, we put the riprap on the upstream face and 
downstream face. 

Wood-Fired Steam Shovels 

Lage: What kind of steam shovels, did you say? 
McLean: They were Bucyrus steam shovels. 
Lage: Is that a company name? 

McLean: That's a manufacturer's name, yes. They had one -cubic -yard 

buckets, and they were fired by wood. See the boiler here? And 
over here there's a stack of wood; see the stack of wood behind 









McLean : 

So, you had to be feeding the fire under the steam boiler all the 

Yes, that's right. They had a fireman who rode the cab back here. 
The operator was up here , and the fireman was back here . 


See this stack of wood back here? The fireman had a little place 
back along here; here it is right there, see? And he kept feeding 
the wood from here. They also had a regular crew of wood cutters 
on this job. They had a whole crew that were out cutting down 
trees. The timber at this elevation is lodgepole pine and silver 
fir. The wood was all green, but apparently it burned all right 
in the fire box of the boiler. 

There must have been a lot of smoke coming out of that. 

Veil, there was. You see, they have a spark arrestor on top of 
the stack to keep the sparks from setting fires . They had regular 
wood cutters, and each crew was out there in the basin and up in 
the woods around there, cutting firewood for these shovels. I've 
forgotten how many we had, but I think we had three or four 
shovels down in the borrow pit. 

Now, what was the borrow pit? 

The borrow pit was where they obtained the material for the dam. 
The material came out of the bottom of the old lake. And we had 
these shovels down there in what was known as the borrow pit. 

You were borrowing--? 

That's where they obtained the material for the fill in the dam. 
They would excavate the material and load it into trucks. Then 
the trucks would travel up on the dam and dump the material. A 
bulldozer on the dam would spread it. Then we had a big tractor 
unit that would compact the material. 

Vere other people taking pictures as well? 
particular interest? 

Or did you have a 

Yes . Some of these pictures were taken by a photographer who was 
with the company. But they wouldn't come up there all the time; 
they'd only come up there occasionally, maybe once every couple of 
weeks or something like that. 


Wages, Hours, Food on a Round -the -Clock Project 

Lage : Now, what would have been your job in all of this construction? 

McLean: Well, my job was assistant to Bob Edmonston, the project engineer. 
Then they had a superintendent, whose name was Levinson. He was 
the one in charge of the project. I had a fellow working with me 
by the name of Tate , and then Bob was the project engineer. Our 
Job was to keep track of the quantities to pay and do all the 
engineering. The work was done by the Byllesby people. The 
Byllesby people were basically the contractors, but the work was 
being done for the Western States Gas and Electric Company. In 
order to pay the contractors, we had to determine the quantity of 
work performed monthly. We had to measure how many linear feet or 
square feet of core wall, how much material was placed in the dam, 
how much concrete was placed in the auxiliary spillway dam. Every 
month we'd prepare what was known as an estimate. That was an 
estimate of all the items that they were paid for. My job also 
was to check the elevations --that is, to get the elevations not 
only for the dam but also for the auxiliary dam- -the concrete dam- 
-so that they could build the forms and everything else. 

In those days we worked twenty- four hours a day. They had 
three shifts there. They had lights over the dam and the 
construction camp. 

Lage: What kind of lights would they have had? 

McLean: They were electric lights. We had a large generating plant that 

supplied all the electricity for the camp. The lights were strung 
over the top of the dam. 

Lage: You worked twenty- four hours a day? 

McLean: Oh, yes. Well, they had two ten-hour shifts. In those days we 
worked ten hours a day. There would be two hours between each 
shift, and in between shifts they would grease- -what they call 
grease- -and service the equipment. That would mean they would gas 
up the trucks, and on the steam shovels they go through and grease 
them and everything else. One shift started at eight and worked a 
straight ten hours, with an hour off for lunch. So that would be 
eight o'clock in the morning until six at night, I guess it would 
be. And then eight at night until six in the morning. That's how 
you put in the ten-hour shifts. We did that on all the jobs; we 
did that on the [El Dorado] forebay dam, on the Twin Lakes dam, 
the powerhouse, etc. See, we only had, actually, from around July 
1 until October. You had July, August, September; so you had 
about three months . 







To do the whole thing? 

To do all the construction work. That meant that you had to work 
every minute. Ve didn't work Sundays, but we worked Saturdays. 
Saturdays were straight through. 

And was this all regular pay? 
Saturday, or such? 

There was no overtime for working 

Oh, yes. I believe the operating engineers were unionized at that 
time, even then. They got two hours of overtime; they made big 
wages. The operating engineers got time and a half on weekdays 
and double time on Saturdays. 

Can you estimate their hourly wage? 

As I remember, the operating engineers were getting $6 per hour, 
common labor was 50 cents per hour, and board was $1.50 per day. 

The operating engineers were the ones who operated the equipment? 

They were the ones who operated the equipment , yes . They operated 
the compressors; they operated the generators and the steam 
shovels. I don't know about the trucks; they didn't operate the 
trucks, 1 think. I don't know whether truck drivers were paid 
overtime or not. But I do know that the steam shovel operators 
were paid overtime . 

We had more than a thousand men working on this job. They 
had a large mess hall and a big tent camp. Ve all lived in tents. 
I think the laborers got fifty cents an hour, a big wage in those 
days . 

Was that considered a good wage? 

Oh, yes. In other words, they were paid basically five dollars a 
day, six days a week- -which was thirty dollars. Multiply that by 
nine weeks. And then I think they were only charged a dollar and 
a half a day for board and room. I don't think it was more than 
that. But, boy, the food--. They had a whole group of cooks and 
bakers. They baked all their own bread and made all their own 
pies and cakes and desserts. There was always beef, pork, lamb, 
and veal weekly. 


Keeping the Men on the Job: Camp Followers and Good Food 

Lage : Was the food good? 

McLean: Yes. At the camps in those days they had good food, because they 
wanted to keep the men on the job. You have to remember, we were 
isolated. The nearest town was Markleeville, and that was twenty- 
five or thirty miles away, near Nevada. You got up there, and 
there was no place to go. [chuckles] Now, turn that tape 
recorder off a minute , and- - . 

Lage: Oh, come on! Let's put the interesting stuff on. 
McLean: Oh, no, no. 

Lage: [tape pause] Let's record it, and you can take it out later if 
you need to . 

McLean: Okay, we can do that. There was a camp over near this auxiliary 
dam, where there was- -I think they had six girls over there. Of 
course, it was a regular route over there, you might say. These 
fellows who were working there at the camp would go over, and the 
girls would take care of them all during this construction, see? 

Lage: They must have been pretty busy. 

McLean: They were busy. [laughter] But they were there the whole summer. 

Lage: Vas that sort of standard in that isolated--? 

McLean: In construction camps, yes, believe it or not. Down at this other 
camp-- . 

Lage: Now, the company didn't provide that, did they? 

McLean: No, no. No, no. 

Lage: Private enterprise on the part of the women? 

McLean: Yes. They came from Nevada. Both years that they worked up 

there, why, they would camp at the same place. I don't know how 
they got their water; I guess they got it out of the lake. They 
stayed there the whole summer that we were there. Now, at the 
other camp-- 


Down at El Dorado? 


McLean: Down at El Dorado, down at the forebay camp--. In those days the 
men were paid in cash. They wouldn't pay by check; they paid 
cash. We got paid by check- -that is, the engineers --because we 
were on a permanent payroll. But the fellows who worked by the 
day, the paymaster- -they had what they call a paymaster, the same 
way at Twin Lakes --would come up twice a month, on the first of 
the month and on the fifteenth of the month, with a big bundle of 
cash. Every man would line up in front of the office of the 
paymaster- -that is, the shift that was off at that time- -the 
paymaster would pay them off in cash, and they'd sign a slip to 
say that they had received their wages. Down at the forebay camp, 
there used to be two automobiles full of girls who would come in 
on payday. They would let the girls off at the tent camp- -you 
know, this was a big tent camp- -and each one of the girls would 
get into a tent, see, and then they'd take on these fellows. The 
fellows would line up in front of the tent, and they'd go in and 
pay their money. Every once in a while the superintendent- -he'd 
kind of turn his back most of the time , but once in a while he 
would give them a time to leave the camp. There were usually four 
or five girls. This was a large tent camp, as there were more 
than a thousand men living there. The girls would scatter like 
chickens in this tent camp, and each one of them would get in a 
tent. And as soon as they got in a tent, why, the fellows would 
line up for their turn. 

Lage: This was just sort of an accepted thing at that time? 

McLean: Yes, this was accepted at construction camps at that time. They 

had the same thing at Pardee when it was under construction. Then 
the girls were at Campo Seco. Today, of course, you don't see so 
much of that. First of all, today you don't have the large 
construction camps the way you did in those days. At Pardee there 
were two little communities right nearby. Jackson was one, and 
Jackson was wide open. This was during the Prohibition days. You 
could buy liquor all during Prohibition at the Pioneer bar and 
other places in Jackson. They never closed. 

Lage: So it was just like Prohibition wasn't going on in Jackson? 

McLean: Yes, just like there was no Prohibition. I don't know how they 
got by. 

Lage: It wasn't a hidden- - 

McLean: Well, yes. And over in Jackson there were two or three houses of 
prostitutes over there. Then in the little town of Campo Seco 
there was --the boys used to call it the Green House or something 
like that. There was a house there, up on the hill, and I think 
there was five or six girls in that house. Those were all within 


walking distance. Jackson wasn't so close, but both were within 
walking distance of the camp. And you have to remember that at 
Pardee there were a couple thousand workers at the camp; it was a 
big camp. Again, in those days, they paid by cash. 

Lage: Did the fellows keep their cash much over the summer? 
McLean: Why, I don't know, I suppose so. I don't know. 
Lage: Were there problems with theft in the camps? 

McLean: There was no place for them to cash a check, see. You have to 

remember that automobiles were not as prevalent then as they are 
today. Most of these fellows came in through hiring halls. In 
those days Sacramento and Stockton had what they call labor hiring 
halls. If you wanted men for your construction camp you would 
call up Murray and Ready in Sacramento and say, "I want three or 
four carpenters , I want so many laborers , and 1 want so many 
workers," or something like that. And they would round them up 
and take them by bus up to the job. 

Lage: It's reminiscent of agricultural day labor now. 

McLean: Pretty much the same as agricultural labor. In other words, these 
people were actually labor contractors, you might call them. If 
you wanted laborers or cement workers or somebody like that, why, 
you'd call Murray and Ready. There were also three or four other 
agencies. You'd call them up and say, "Send me up x number of 
laborers for tomorrow," or the next day, or something like that, 
see? In those days I think they used to pay a dollar a head. In 
other words, for every man that they sent up for the job, the 
contractor would then pay a dollar for that particular fellow. 

Lage: Pay to the labor contractor? 

McLean: Yes, to the hiring group- -to Murray and Ready. Then they would 
deduct that dollar from the worker's first paycheck. All the 
workers were paid by cash. When it came payday, they had a 
paymaster who would have enough cash to take care of the payroll 
for that period. As the men came off work, they would line up, 
the paymaster would give them the amount of cash for the number of 
days worked, and they would have the men sign a slip for their 
wages. The only persons who received checks were those who were 
on the permanent work force. In those days most all permanent 
employees were paid by the month. If I remember correctly, I 
think that in those days they were paying the day laborers every 
two weeks, on the fifteenth and the first of each month. 


And, of course, many times men didn't work full time. The 
work was too tough or too hard, or something like that, and they 
didn't want to stay. So they would work only maybe four or five 
days. There was always enough cash on hand so that they could pay 
those fellows who didn't stay for a long period of time. They 
used to have a big safe in the office where they kept all the 
cash. And if a worker was laid off, then they could pay him off 
in cash. This is why I told you that the girls knew when it was 
pay day. 

Lage : When to come ! 

McLean: And of course, like I was telling you, in what we call the forebay 
camp- -the forebay and the pipeline camp- -why, they would always 
hit the camp on the evening of payday. 

Lage: But in the other camp they were there all the time? 

McLean: In the other camp, Twin Lakes, they were there all the time. 

[laughter] They spent the summer with them. Now, I don't know 
about the ditch camp- -we had what we called the ditch camps--! 
suppose they probably hit the ditch camps the same as they did the 
other camps . 

Lage: Now, what kind of background did the workers have? 

McLean: There were carpenters, and most of them belonged to carpenters' 
unions. And the riggers; the riggers where those men who worked 
on the high lines. And then you had electricians. 

Lage: What were the high lines? 

McLean: The high lines were like on Pardee, where we had so much rigging 
for the chutes, counterbalances, and lights in the area. Those 
men were working on cables in the air, hanging the lights and 
doing all of what we call the high line work. They were skilled. 
Most all of those fellows belonged to the riggers' union. 
Carpenters belonged to the carpenters' union. The concrete 
workers, the laborers, didn't belong to any union. 

And then you had the cooks and bakers, waiters, and 
dishwashers . They had a full mess hall crew at the Twin Lakes 
camp, and even at the forebay camp they had bakers. But at the 
Twin Lakes camp they had a large ice -making plant. They had a 
large walk-in refrigerator where they kept all their meats, 
butter, eggs, and perishables, including chickens and even 
turkeys. They had a large crew at the Twin Lakes camp. They were 
working all the time. Breakfast for the day shift would be 
usually at seven or seven- thirty in the morning. We had another 


meal at noon, and our dinner was usually about five -thirty at 
night. Then they had to have breakfast for the crew that went on 
at six o'clock in the morning. That crew ate with us at noon, and 
they didn't get off shift until after five o'clock; so it was at 
six o'clock, again, that they ate. They had to feed the crew that 
was starting the next shift, and then there was a midnight meal. 
And there was another one when that crew came off in the morning. 
They had a big kitchen crew. The bakers, of course, only worked 
eight hours a day. But they baked all the cakes, all the pies, 
all the biscuits, and all the rolls. 

Lage: And they were trained, it sounds like. 

McLean: Oh, yes. They were a regular bakery outfit, and they had their 
own bakery. That is, they had a place that was separate from 
anything else. 

Lage: Were they a contracting firm that came and baked--? 

McLean: No, no. They were part of the whole operation. They came under 

the superintendent. You don't see those anymore. Today we do not 
have the large construction camps. 

In later camps, like down at Boulder, when they built the 
Boulder Dam or the Hoover Dam- -whatever you want to call it; we 
always called it Boulder- -they actually had a contractor that came 
in and did all this. They just contracted for the camp, and they 
contracted for all the cooking and everything else. But what I'm 
talking about , back in the twenties , when there were other 
projects being built (I was only on just this one project and then 
at Pardee) , those were the days of the big construction camps. 
They had some two thousand workers at these camps , and they were 
big camps. And the contractors- -it was Atkinson Construction 
Company at Pardee --why, they were used to setting up these camps. 
They had a man who was in charge of doing this type of work. They 
had been doing it for many years. 

Lage: Nothing to do with engineering? 
McLean: Nothing to do with engineering. 

Preliminary Work on the California Water Prolect. 1924-1925 

Lage: Let's move on so we can get you to East Bay MUD [Municipal Utility 
District] . 


McLean: All right. Let's cover what happened next. When I completed the 
work up at Twin Lakes, I went back to the main construction office 
of the H. M. Byllesby Company, fourteen miles above Placerville. 
I worked that winter at the office. 

Lage : I think we covered this . 

McLean: Yes, we've covered that. The next year I went back with Fred 

Hoskins to do the final engineering work, what we call the final 
field work, at Twin Lakes. But prior to that we had stopped at 
Echo to investigate raising the lake level. That was finished in 
August of 1924. Bob Edmonston, after completing the powerhouse, 
went to Sacramento with what is now the State Division of Water 
Resources, where he became the assistant engineer to Paul Bailey. 
Paul Bailey was the state engineer, and Bob became his assistant. 
And at that time they were getting started on what was known as 
the California Water Project. I was employed there as a junior 
hydraulic engineer and worked on what we call flood plain studies 
and flow of California streams. One thing that I worked on was a 
report on economic aspects of a salt water barrier at Carquinez 



Lage: They were doing all this sort of preliminary work? 

McLean: This was the start of the California Water Project. This is when 
the state got started on the project. This was when they were 
doing the original field work on the Shasta and Oroville Dam sites 
and a number of those other dam sites in the state. We were also 
looking at the canal locations in the San Joaquin Valley. I 
worked with Bob on that until November, 1925, when we finished 
most of the work on it. That was a little over a year that I was 
there in Sacramento. We were in the Forum Building and then also 
in the Plaza Building. A lot of this work was done with a small 
group of us over in the Plaza Building. 

Investigations of the Middle Fork of the Feather River. 1925-1927 

McLean: The work we were doing in those days was limited by appropriations 
from the state legislature, and we were just about finished with 
the assignments that we had at that time- -to get out all of the 
studies that we had on the California Aqueduct and the rest of the 
work- -so I knew that work was running out. I received a call from 
a fellow by the name of Ben Painter, who had been on the El Dorado 
project with me, except that he had been on what was known as the 
El Dorado ditch. He wanted to know if I would come to Oroville 
and be his assistant on the investigation of the middle fork of 


the Feather River. It was the first of November of 1925 that I 
went up to Oroville and we started the surveys. I worked in the 
office, doing all of the office work. We had a field party that 
was to locate the alignment for a power line that went from the 
middle fork of the Feather River at Bidwell Bar down to Manteca. 
This was the location for transmission lines. 

Lage: You were trying to find the best routes for transmission lines? 

McLean: Yes. 

Lage: How did that work? That sounds intriguing. 

McLean: Well, that was done during the winter of 1925. 

Lage: How did they find the best one? 

McLean: You use the U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps, and you try 
to find an area where you're somewhat below the main timberline 
and not getting down into agricultural land. We sort of followed 
the base of the foothills through more or less unsettled land. It 
was* mostly open grazing land, where a right of way would be the 
least expensive. And we were to tie into a power line east of 
Manteca. That was for a proposed powerhouse at Bidwell Bar. 

Lage: Were there permits and things that you had to get, or is that 
something of the more recent--? 

McLean: At that time, no, because this was just a preliminary location 

that we were mapping. Of course, when you get into it later, then 
you have to purchase easements from the various property owners. 
We were just trying to locate a tentative route and prepare maps 
for the location. As I recall, the length of that line was about 
125 miles. It was quite a distance. Of course, my work was all 
in the office. I was doing all the calculations and computations 
and drawing the maps in the office. We plotted the location on 
maps, so that we had a whole series of maps. 

Lage: You were not going through the brush? 

McLean: I wasn't in the field. I would get out once in a while with a 

field party, but I didn't spend too much time in the field. After 
we finished the transmission line locations, we disbanded the 
field parties for the winter. 

McLean: The following spring, when we would get the field parties in the 

middle fork of the Feather River canyon, the first thing we had to 


do was to establish some elevations for proposed pipelines and 
powerhouse locations. Our assignment was to investigate the 
hydroelectric potential of the middle fork of the Feather. The 
Feather River, from Portola down to Bidwell Bar, falls four 
thousand feet in elevation in forty miles . There is also a large 
quantity of water flowing in the river, so it makes an excellent 

hydroelectric development. 


Survey Parties in Remote Countryside 

McLean: First we had to establish elevations through the canyon, because 
this was all virgin country. We started- -one instrument man, a 
rodman, and a helper, with a couple of burros, and they put their 
packs on with food and personal gear, etc. One party started up 
the middle fork of the Feather River from a bench mark. It was a 
U.S. Geological Survey bench mark on the Western Pacific Railroad 
where the middle fork of the Feather empties into the north fork. 
That party started up the south side of the river to run levels at 
about midway between the river and the top of the canyon, where we 
would be coming through with survey parties to pick up these 
elevations. They were to establish bench marks through the river. 
We started another party going down the river with the same 
complements, you might say, of an instrument man, a rodman, a 
helper, and a couple of burros with their bedrolls and their 
cooking equipment. We started them down the river from a bench 
mark that was at the east portal of the tunnel, where the Western 
Pacific Railroad crosses between the north fork and the middle 
fork. They eventually met about midway between Portola and 
Bidwell Bar. 

They were setting bench marks --elevation marks- -all the way 
down the river. While they were working in the river, we had a 
survey party consisting of ten men surveying Gold Lake, Jamison 
Lake, Wade Lake, Bushy Lake, and a group of lakes whose water 
rights the Byllesby people had bought from early mining companies . 
These lakes all drain into the middle fork of the Feather River. 

Lage: [looking at map] These lakes are right near Quincy. 

McLean: Yes, right near Quincy, because we stayed at the Feather River Inn 
and at the Gold Lake Lodge. These lakes were used in the early 
days to supply water for hydraulic mining. This was the hydraulic 
mining that was done down in the middle fork area. They had put 
little dams in these; there were half a dozen. Well, there was 
Gold Lake, Wade, Bushy, Jamison, Sardine; I think there were six 
or seven small lakes up there. The first thing they wanted to 


know about was whether the elevations could be raised and what the 
size and the capacity were. So the first field party that I had 
up in the canyon at that time, why, we stayed at the Feather River 
Inn. Later, when we worked up at Gold Lake, we stayed at the Gold 
Lake Lodge. 

Lage: How many people would be staying there? 

McLean: We had a transit and level party for a total of ten men. When we 
finished at Gold Lake, we started in the middle fork canyon. That 
was the summer of 1926. In the fall of '26 we moved the camp down 
to Bidwell Bar, and we stayed at Bidwell Bar. Ve also had a camp 
on the south fork of the Feather River. I was living in Oroville 

At that time we surveyed what was known as the Bidwell Bar 
Reservoir. It was proposed to build a dam at the Bidwell Bar 
site. Ve spent the months of October, November, and part of 
December on the south fork and the middle fork near Oroville. We 
spent those months in those two camps. Finally we disbanded the 
parties just before Christmas; the fellows all wanted to go home 
for Christmas. Ben Painter and I worked all winter in the office 
in Oroville on computations and preparing maps of the summer's 

Lage: Did you have your family up there? 

McLean: Oh, yes, I had my family; I moved them up there in that year, in 
'26. We lived on Bird Street in Oroville. Ben and I worked all 
winter on all the notes that we'd taken during the summer, working 
up all the drawings, and making out the reports and everything. 
When the snow was off of the mountains the following year- -well, 
let me back up a minute to the summer and fall of '26. That 
summer we also started at a reservoir site on the river- -that is, 
a proposed small diversion dam on the river- -and we worked down 
the river to what was known as Bald Rock Canyon. We surveyed 
three powerhouse sites in that area and then finally finished up 
at Bidwell Bar. 

After we left Gold Lake and that area, we went down into the 
river and started down the canyon. There we had camps at Hartman 
Bar and at Bald Rock, at what we called Cascade. Then we had 
another camp at Bidwell Bar and one at South Fork. In those days 
we had to move with a pack train, because all of this country was 
uninhabited, basically. We had a pack train camp there, and the 
packer would come into our camp once a week with supplies. We had 
a cook who cooked for us . I had fourteen men on the party there . 
We worked the entire river canyon, starting at a dam site named 


Clio at the upper end of the river, downstream from the town of 
Portola. We worked the entire river, down to Bidwell Bar. 

Lage: What were you doing when you say you were surveying? 

McLean: Well, we were surveying for sites for pipelines or conduits and 
penstocks and the powerhouse site. 

Lage: Just looking at all the alternative sites? 

McLean: Yes. In other words, there would be a diversion dam in the river, 
and you'd have a pipeline leading out of that, and then you'd have 
a penstock and a powerhouse. Because of the quantity of water in 
the river and because of the fall that you had from the upper end 
down to Bidwell Bar, there were sites for at least three 
powerhouses in the river. 

Lage: So you would have accepted three smaller rather than one big? 

McLean: No. A four thousand foot head is a high head, which would require 
a long conduit and stronger penstocks. Normally you have a 
pipeline, a penstock, and a powerhouse. Then you divert the water 
up below the powerhouse and, again, you have a pipeline, a 
penstock, and a powerhouse. And then you come down to Bidwell 
Bar, and you have another penstock. So on and so forth. We were 
surveying all of these sites. And every time we had finished at 
the powerhouse site, we'd move camp. In other words, in the forty 
miles I think the first one went from Clio down to, as I recall, 
Cascade. The next one was at Bald Rock, where we had a tunnel 
through Bald Rock to the head of the penstock. The next site was 
at Bidwell Bar, where we had another reservoir and a powerhouse. 

We spent the entire summer, after we had finished the work we 
had at Gold Lake, Wade, Jamison, Bushy, and all the smaller lakes. 
Then we moved over in the main part of the river. Because by that 
time the parties had completed setting the bench marks, and we had 
elevation bench marks to work by. Then we started the crew down 
the river, and that's where we spent the entire summer of 1926 --in 
the river, where we were supplied by pack train. One place we 
stayed at, Hartman Bar, there had been a camp there, so we 
utilized those facilities. There were some cabins, a cookhouse, 
and a mess hall. We utilized them all. But the remainder of the 
camps, we had to have our own tents and cook shack. At Cascade we 
were on the north side of the river, and we set up a tent camp 
there where we would get our supplies by road. 


Frenchie the Cook and His Replacement 

Lage: So you were involved in all the setting up of camps on this 

McLean: That's right. This was with Ben Painter. I have to tell you 

about an instance. When we had finished the powerhouse site at 
Cascade, we moved over to the north side of the river. And there 
we set up camp near a gasoline service station and kind of a 
little store. They had a little quick- lunch counter and some 
supplies. We moved with the pack train, and the cook, Frenchie, 
always went along with us. The cook always went with the pack 
train; they always had a horse for him to ride. He moved with 
them because he had to set up camp and get his cook shack set up 
so that when the fellows finished at night, why, he had something 
to eat for them. 

Well, when we finished at Cascade, we climbed out of the 
river up to where our new camp was on the north side of the river. 
Everybody was Just tired, and we expected to have a big supper 
ready for us. And there was the cook, dead drunk on his bed, and 
nothing to eat. It happened that the man who ran the service 
station was bootlegging. I suppose he gave Frenchie a drink, and 
one drink led to another. He was dead drunk. Veil, I told the 
woman at the service station, "Now, look. Your husband is 
responsible for this, and I've got a hungry bunch of fellows here. 
You better get in and fix something to eat for these men. Because 
they've got to have something to eat tonight, and they're going to 
need some breakfast. Now, you get in there and get going on 
this." So she fixed it up. 

Lage: You had the supplies? 

McLean: Yes. And she prepared supper and then cooked breakfast. We had 
to start down the river the next day. Well, the next morning, I 
could see that Frenchie wasn't going to make it. 

Lage: Wasn't ready to take off on the horse? 

McLean: He wasn't. [chuckles] So I had to get on the telephone to 

Marysville to one of the hiring places there, Murray and Ready. I 
said, "I'm going to pour this cook on the automobile stage." In 
those days, there was a stage that ran from Marysville to Quincy. 
There were also stages that ran from La Porte to Marysville on the 
south side of the middle fork. So I stayed in camp, and I put 
Frenchie on the stage going down. I told Murray and Ready, 
"You've got to get me a cook up here, because I've got to have a 
cook." The following day, here comes the cook from Marysville. 


So then we're okay. He stayed, and then we finished at Bald Rock 
and went on to Bidwell Bar. There we worked on the south fork and 
also the Bidwell Bar reservoir site that winter. And that 
finished up. 

1927 Survey of Grizzly Valley 

McLean: We disbanded the survey parties, and the following summer [1927] 
we went back to Portola, because we then were to survey the 
Grizzly Valley reservoir site, what they now call Davis Reservoir. 
Ve stayed at Portola. There were two little hotels there, and we 
stayed at one hotel. And we spent the summer surveying Grizzly 
Valley- -what is now Davis Lake, which was built by the state. But 
at that time we called it Grizzly Valley, and we surveyed that for 
a potential source of storage. 

This was a big lumbering area. Here's Feather Falls [looking 
at map]. When we were working in there, all of this country was 
being logged out, every bit of it. We had one of our base camps 
down from La Porte . We had our pack camp there . This was the 
summer of 1927. We went to Portola, as I recall, about the first 
of May, and it was about August, I think, when we finally finished 

Lage: Did anything come of those Feather River investigations? 

McLean: Not a thing. They've never done anything about it. In fact, if 
I'm not mistaken, I think a part or maybe all of that middle fork 
was put in the so-called Wild Rivers Act. I don't know. 

PG&E Purchase of H. M. Bvllesbv Company's California Interests 

McLean: But while we were there that summer of 1927, the Byllesby people -- 
that is, the H. M. Byllesby Company of Byllesby Engineering and 
Management Corporation- -sold out all of their power interest. 
This included the Western States Gas and Electric Company, Coast 
Counties' Gas and Electric, and a lot of other subsidiaries it 
owned in California. They sold their holdings to the Pacific Gas 
and Electric Company. And sometime--! don't remember whether it 
was July or August--! was told that the next checks that we would 
receive would be from PG&E. From then on, all the expenses and 
everything else --hotel bills, restaurant bills --went into the PG&E 
office in San Francisco. 


Lage: So, that happened In the middle of your job? 

McLean: Yes. Veil, it was near ing the end of the investigation. When 

this was all finished, I took all the final reports and drawings 
to the PG&E office in San Francisco. We disbanded the field 
parties and paid all the men. Clive Steele was the chief engineer 
at that time. 

Lage: We did talk a little bit about this. 

McLean: PG&E offered me less money, and 1 wouldn't go to work for them. I 
went over and went to work for the East Bay Municipal Utility 
District [EBMUD] for the same amount of money. [chuckles] So, on 
October 4, 1927, I went to work for the utility district. 

Lage: Right. Now we've got you to East Bay MUD. 


DAM, 1927-1930 

Inspecting Concrete Work on the Aqueduct 

McLean: The first job I had with East Bay MUD, then, was--. I reported to 
Mr. John S. Longwell, who was a division engineer in Stockton, and 
then to Mr. Barnes, who was the resident engineer on schedule F. 
Schedule F was the section of the aqueduct which went from the 
west portal of the Pardee Tunnel down to, I believe, what they 
call Jack Tone Road, just east of the city of Stockton. That was 
about twenty to twenty-eight miles. I was the inspector for all 
the concrete work on that schedule for all the pier supports and 
all of the anchors and structures. There was a lot of concrete, 
because Schedule F was in pretty rugged terrain, and it required a 
lot of anchors and structures. The main contractor, the 
contractor for the entire project, was Twohy Brothers and 
J. F. Shea Company. 

The entire aqueduct, the eighty- two miles of aqueduct from 
the Pardee Tunnel to the Walnut Creek Tunnel was under one 
contractor, Twohy and Shea. The pipe for that Job was 
manufactured in Berkeley, by Berkeley Steel Tank and Pipe Company. 

Lage: How did they happen to assign you to this job? Had you had 
particular experience with respect to concrete structures? 

McLean: Yes. In my early career with the State Highway Commission I had 
worked in the testing laboratory in Sacramento for a couple of 
years, and I was very familiar with concrete testing and the 
mixing of concrete. So I was a very good candidate for the 
concrete inspection work. 

The concrete work on this particular section was 
subcontracted to a man by the name of Jim Lapp in. Twohy and Shea 


were what we call the general contractors. I don't know whether 
those words fit in your vocabulary or not, but a general 
contractor is one that takes on the entire project for x number of 
million dollars. Then he can subcontract out various sections of 
the principal contract. The pipe work was subcontracted to 
Newport News Shipbuilding Company. 

Lage: That seems far afield from shipbuilding, but maybe it's not. 

McLean: Yes. The plates were shipped by boat to Berkeley, and the pipe 
was fabricated at the Steel Tank and Pipe Company in Berkeley. 
Newport News Shipbuilding Company, located on the East Coast 
somewhere began the rolling and machining of the plates. A new 
technique was involved, and it was necessary to train operators 
for this type of work. The pipe was fabricated at the Steel Tank 
and Pipe Company in Berkeley. The pipe was made in sections, 
having a lying length of thirty feet, with an average wall 
thickness of seven -sixteenths, dependent on the pressure head. 
The pipe was dipped in melted asphalt and tar and wrapped with 
asbestos felt paper. After the pipe was made in thirty- foot 
lengths it was put on barges and taken to the port of Stockton by 
barge, where it was picked up by special trucks. They were Mack 
trucks with a dolly. There thirty- foot sections of pipe were put 
on these trucks and hauled to the job, where they were unloaded. 
They hauled three sections of pipe per load, two sections on the 
lower part and then one section on top of the two. 

McLean: Bob Conyes was the one who contracted for the hauling of the pipe 
from the Berkeley Steel Company to the job. He had an entire 
fleet of these trucks with the pipe dollies. He must have had ten 
trucks or more. We finished the pipe laying for the entire 
aqueduct in March of 1928. 1 

Lage: Am I right that your job was to see that the contractors were 
doing their job? 

McLean: My job was to see that the concrete structures were built 

according to plans and specifications, that we had a good quality 
concrete, and that the structures were sound. This included the 
anchors, the piers, the air valve structures, the blow-off 
structures, and all the concrete structures on that particular 
portion of the aqueduct- -Schedule F, which was the last section to 
be built. The district had rented a house in the little town of 

"Welding of the Big 'M' Aqueduct," by W. R. McLean, speech to the 
American Welding Society, 3-14-66, in McLean Papers, The Bancroft Library. 


Camanche, and that was the headquarters for myself and the fellows 
who worked on Schedule F. There was Mr. Barnes, the resident 
engineer, myself, a fellow who was a rivet inspector, and the 
field party of surveyors who worked there. There were about six 
or seven of us who worked out of the Camanche office. 

Lage: No families were there? 

McLean: The only one who had a family there was Vhitey Williams, the rivet 
inspector. He and his wife had a tent that was alongside our 
office. His wife lived there, but the rest of us didn't have our 
families. As for eating, we boarded with a farm family located 
about a mile from the town of Camanche. Ve would have breakfast 
and dinner there, and they'd pack a lunch for us out on the job. 
1 was there from October until, oh, I think about the first of 

Lage: Did you have any problems with the contractors? 

McLean: No. The interesting part about it was that Jim Lappin, who was the 
contractor on the concrete work- -his sister had been my English 
teacher at school. He lived in Sacramento. They had a family 
home on N Street, across from the state capital building. He had 
two sisters, and they were both schoolteachers. His sister- -and 
I've been trying to think of her name, but I've forgotten- -was the 
English teacher when I went to school in Oak Park. So I knew the 

Anyway, I think we finished up there about the first of 
March, and then I went into the Stockton office for part of March 
and the month of April. They were, of course, finishing the final 
quantities and estimates for the aqueduct. Mr. Longwell was 
there, and there was Bill Trahern, Sam Cutler, and Lars Netland. 
Anyway, they were finishing up the final reports in the Stockton 
office , and I went in and finished the final report on the work 
that I'd done on the concrete work. 

Transfer to Pardee Dam 

McLean: On the first of May, 1928, Sam Cutler, Bill Trahern, and myself 
reported to Pardee to Mr. E. L. Macdonald, who was the resident 
engineer. Mr. C. E. Grunsky was the division engineer. Ve 
reported to them to work on the Pardee Dam. And at that time 
Pardee was just getting really started. The contractor was 
working in the bottom of the river, excavating the foundation for 
the dam. Bill and Sam were to work in the office. I was in the 



field, and my first work was on concrete inspection, when they 
started pouring the first concrete for the foundation of the dam. 

Who was the contractor out at Pardee? 

McLean: The contractor on that was Atkinson Construction Company. And 
that was composed of Guy F. Atkinson; his nephew, Lynn Atkinson; 
and Bill Kettlewell. They called it Atkinson Construction 
Company, but they put it together and called it Atconco. They 
were the main contractor. There was a large construction camp for 
the workers and housing for key personnel and their families. 

Lage: A big construction camp for the workers? 

McLean: Yes. They had also set up a gravel plant in the river near 

Camanche. That's where they mined the gravel for the dam, from 
the gold dredger tailings. Then they constructed an aerial 
tramway for transporting the gravel from the pit to the bunkers at 
the concrete mixing plant. 

1 think the contract for the dam was awarded sometime in 
1926. And of course they had to set up their plant, they had to 
set up the camp, and they had to build a tramway. They had a 
tramway for hauling the gravel from Camanche, from the Camanche 
gravel pit. At one time all that area below Camanche, where the 
Camanche reservoir is now, was a large dredger tailing area. Fact 
is, when we were working in there on the aqueduct in '27, why, 
they had some gold dredgers working then in the river, mining 

The first work I had at Pardee was on concrete inspection on 
the dam. We finally got started pouring concrete sometime in May 
or June of 1928. We were getting ready to build the spillway, and 
then Macdonald, who was the resident engineer, put me over in 
charge of the spillway. I took over all the work on the spillway 
and did very little work, except occasionally, on the dam. I 
finished up the spillway and then, I guess, went back over to the 
dam, and we finished up the dam and all that by May of 1930, when 
I was transferred down to the Lafayette Dam. 

Accident at Dedication for the Aqueduct 

[Interview 3: April 17, 1991 ]#// 

McLean: I recall an incident after the construction on the aqueduct had 
been completed and the last pipe was laid. The last section of 


pipe was laid Just out west of the town of Wallace. They had all 
the dignitaries there, people from the main office, Arthur P. 
Davis, and Mr. Longwell, and the board of directors. They had 
movie cameras there and took pictures of the last section of pipe 
laid. One of the incidents that I remember was the day before the 
ceremony was to take place, and I believe it was around March 28, 
1928. We went up there and had the final section of pipe that was 
to be laid. It wasn't in the ground; it was on what we call 
concrete bents. 

Lage: Bents? 

McLean: Yes. There are places on the number-one aqueduct where there was 
a swale or something like that, and the pipe was set on concrete 
bents. See, most of the pipe is buried, and this was a place 
where we could put the pipe and set it in place, and they could 
take all the pictures and break the champagne and everything else. 
Anyway, the day before we had fitted this piece of pipe so that it 
would slide right into place. When the day came and everybody was 
all assembled there, the crane went over and picked this piece of 
pipe up. What you do with a section of pipe? You set one end in 
place and then you lower it down. Lo and behold, one of the poor 
fellows- -and I felt sorry for him- -who was one of the crew that 
was working there to set the piece of pipe in place, was more 
interested in movie cameras than anything else. He, 
unfortunately, got his two fingers in between where the pipe was 
coming down, and it sheared off two fingers of his hand, just like 
that, you know. The poor guy, there he was with all the cameras 
and everything else. Paying attention to them, he forgot that 
when the pipe comes down, it's just like a pair of scissors, you 
know. And here are his two fingers, and it cut them off, right at 
the knuckles . 

Lage: And was this very obvious to all the dignitaries? 

McLean: Oh, absolutely. Yes. Those that were standing right there knew 

right away because, God, the blood started spouting and everything 
else. Of course, we had to bind it up right away and rush him off 
to the doctor. But the poor guy. He'd been there the day before, 

Personnel at Pardee: 
to Gold Diggers 

Prom Photographer to Concrete Technologis t 

McLean: Anyway, the pipe was laid, and that was the end of it. Then, of 
course, I spent about a month in the office down in Stockton 


working up a lot of the final stuff that I had and made a report. 
Then, as I said, Bill Trahern and I reported to Pardee on the 
first of May. My family was living in El Dorado at the time. 
Bill and I lived in what we called the single men's quarters. The 
contractors had a big camp at Pardee. I guess the contractor must 
have employed at maximum between fifteen hundred to two thousand 
workmen. And then the district- -I guess we had fifty or sixty 
people there, because there was work going on on the dam. There 
was work going on in the Pardee Tunnel, and there was also work 
going on at the Jackson Creek Spillway. That was over at the 
north end of the reservoir. When I got there, I was assigned to 
work on the dam as the concrete inspector. 

Lage : So you were inspecting the work of the contractor? 

McLean: That's right. Inspecting the work of the contractor. Bill went 

to work in the office, with Sam Cutler and a fellow by the name of 
Frank Harlow. Mr. Grunsky was the division engineer, and E. L. 
Macdonald was the resident engineer. Howard Reed was the 
accountant. Then we had two or three --Art Murray, Fran Sandretto, 
and several other fellows who were working in the office. They 
had odd jobs. The photographer was a fellow by the name of Ham 

Lage: Was Johnson was a full-time photographer? 

McLean: Yes, he was a full-time photographer. He had a studio there where 
he took pictures, and they were developed there on the Job. 

Lage: Was this to document it historically? 

McLean: Oh, yes. There have to be photographs. They should have a 

complete photographic file there, from the time that the first 
work started. He set up certain points that he photographed at 
regular intervals to show the progress of the work. He was there 
from the beginning of the work, when they first started working in 
the canyon. He was there until we had the final picture of the 
group on the dam and everything. Then we had a fellow by the name 
of Lewis Tuthill with the concrete. He was concrete technologist. 
We had a lab. His job was to test the cement and the aggregate 
and also to test the concrete that went into the dam. 

Lage: Were you working with him? As the concrete inspector? 

McLean: Well, yes. Well, I worked under Macdonald, but of course we took 
samples. When I arrived there they were cleaning up the 
foundation. The cleanup of the foundation was very interesting, 
because when you get down to what we call the bedrock, why, of 
course that's where the gold was. In the days of the final 


cleanup there was quite a scramble among the workers down there to 
look for gold. And some of them did get some nuggets out of the 
bottom when we were down on the bedrock. That was before we 
poured in concrete. Some of them found some little nuggets. Fact 
is, I think I found a little flake about the size of the end of my 
finger, and I had it in a little vial for many, many years. I 
don't know what's become of it. 

That was with the cleanup; we were down at the base of the 
dam, right in the bottom of the river. See, the river was 
diverted. They had constructed a large flume that would carry the 
full flow of the river. That was located on the north side, what 
we called the north abutment, right in the bottom of the river. 
This diverted the river so we could get down and clean the bedrock 
and get ready for pouring the concrete. 

Mining and Hauline Aggregate for Concrete 

McLean: The contractor, to get the aggregate for the dam, went downstream 
to the gravel beds at Camanche , which is now under the Camanche 
Lake. Those were all what we called dredged tailings. There had 
been dredgers working down there many years before. And fact is, 
when we were working on the aqueduct, there was a dredger still 
working in the Camanche area for gold. The contractor went there 
and set up a plant where they mined the aggregate for the dam, and 
then they had what they call a high line with buckets that would 
supply the bins for the concrete mixers with the aggregate. 

Lage: Is this a cable that would carry it up? 

McLean: These were large bins. This was a continual bucket line. They 
had one -cubic -yard buckets that would travel on this cable, and 
they had high line towers all along--! think it was about three or 
four miles in length- -that came from the classification plant. 
The classification plant separated the aggregate into four sizes. 
The contractor had four concrete mixers under these bins, and then 
they had conveyer belts that fed the aggregate to the mixers. 
They were five-cubic-yard Smith mixers. From there the concrete 
went by gravity in a chute to the base of the dam, where it was 
hoisted up a tower. From there it went out through what we call 
counterbalances to get the aggregate on the dam. During the 
process down at the gravel plant there was a fellow (I've 
forgotten his name) who was an old miner from El Dorado; I knew 
him from the town of El Dorado. He got the concession from 
Atkinson to recover the gold during the gravel mining process. 






He recovered a lot of gold, some very fine gold and nuggets. He 
also recovered a lot of coins. He recovered a lot of foreign 
coins, and he also recovered enough American gold coins to make up 
four sets --that is, of twenty, ten, five, and two and one -half 
gold pieces. He made up these sets and gave one to each of the 
partners and to the contractor, and he had one himself. He also 
found Masonic lodge pins, Peruvian coins, Brazilian coins, English 
coins, a lot of lead buckshot, bullets, and everything else. He 
had several kegs , what we called nail kegs , full of this lead that 
they'd recovered out of the river. He was there the entire time 
during the construction. He actually made, well, I wouldn't say 
made a fortune, but he made a very good living out of recovering 
the gold from the gravel . 

When the job was finished, all of that plant was dismantled. 
Years ago when 1 went to Pardee , you could still see some of the 
towers standing that they didn't take down. 

Towers for the cable? 

For the cables, yes. It was somewhat about like these towers that 
you now have at the ski lifts, except of course they were wood 
towers. Just about the same thing. It was a continuous cable 
that just kept going like that continuously. These buckets went 
along, and they went underneath the bins down at the gravel plant. 
They were filled, and then away they'd go. And when they got up 
to the bins, depending upon the size of the aggregate that they 
were hauling--. They hauled sand and then had a 3/8-inch to a 
1 1/2 -inch aggregate, and then a 1 1/2 -inch to 2 1/2 -inch 
aggregate, and then what we called boulders. There were large 
boulders about the size of a small football. 


Here's a sample of a core taken out of the concrete in the 

Lage: Now, this one's beautifully shaped. 

McLean: Yes. That was a diamond core sample taken out of the concrete. 

Lage: To check the quality of the dam? 

McLean: Yes. That's from the concrete in the dam, from a sample core that 
was taken out of the dam. Anyway, as the buckets would go over 
the bins, they would trip, drop their aggregate, and then they'd 
just keep right on going. These buckets were spaced about, oh, I 
guess on an area about one hundred feet apart on the cable line. 
From there, down the base of the bin, there were conveyor belts 
that fed the mixers. They were five-yard Smith mixers. 


The cement was also in bulk, and it came from a cement 
manufacturing plant at San Andreas . And fact is , the cement plant 
at San Andreas was built to supply Pardee Dam. There was roughly 
620,000 cubic yards of concrete in Pardee, and that doesn't 
include the grouting, the spillway, the tunnel, and all of those 
things . 

Lage: Just the dam itself. 

McLean: So they actually set up a cement plant at San Andreas. I don't 

know whether that's in operation anymore, but they actually set up 
a plant to manufacture cement at San Andreas. That operated the 
entire time the dam was under construction. That cement used to 
come into Pardee by railroad; this spur was built to supply the 
dam. There was a railroad that ran to San Andreas. I don't 
suppose it's in operation anymore. All of the supplies --that is, 
the equipment, the materials, and everything that went into the 
dam- -came in by railroad. The cement came in by bulk, although 
they did have a lot of it in sacks. A lot of it came in sacks for 
emergency, but they had a cement bin that was all bulk. The 
railroad cars came in and dumped right into this bin. 

Lage: How much of the concrete is cement, and how much of it is 

McLean: Well, I think that we averaged about four sacks- -four cubic feet-- 
of cement per cubic yard of concrete. Let's say you've got 
620,000 cubic yards. [does some figuring] Times four, that would 
be 2,480,000 sacks of cement. But that does not include the 
grouting, the spillway, the powerhouse; it doesn't include the 
Jackson Creek Spillway, the tunnel, and all that, which probably 
would amount to, oh, maybe another million bags of cement total. 
Altogether you could probably figure that there was in the 
neighborhood of three million or more sacks of cement used at the 
time that those structures were built. So that was a big 
operation in those days. 

Of course, we used trucks on the construction of the dam for 
hauling, but you didn't have the transportation in trucks then 
that you have today. The pipe on the aqueduct was all hauled by 
truck, but you take the transport of other than small articles and 
things like that that came into Pardee, and everything came in by 
rail. The turbines, the generators, all the big valves, the 
transformers, and all the equipment that came for the powerhouse 
all came by train. 


The High Line 

McLean: Then it was handled by high line to the powerhouse. There was a 
high line that went across the dam. 

Lage: Is this another overhead cable? 

McLean: They had a north and a south tower. There were cables that came 

off of those. There was an electric hoist, and they would pick up 
large equipment --the big valves and pipe and all- -from the 
railroad cars that came to the dam. They would haul that all over 
the dam and lower it into place into the powerhouse or wherever 
they were working. 

The train came over the canyon, of course, and the hoist was 
along the edge of the railroad track, on the south abutment. The 
mixing plant was below. When it came to dumping the cement out of 
hopper-bottom cars, it dumped directly into the cement bin. Now, 
if the load was on a flat car like the generators for the 
powerhouse , or the turbines for the powerhouse , and the 
transformers and all the heavy equipment that weighed several 
tons- -they would put a flat car right underneath the high line, 
and they'd drop the hook down there. The riggers would get the 
slings around it, and they'd lift it out and just run it right 
over the top of the powerhouse and lower it into place. 

A lot of that equipment came from the East. The generators, 
I believe, came from the East Coast. The transformers were also 
manufactured in the East, and they came by train on up to Valley 
Springs, and then from Valley Springs they were taken right to the 
dam. That was quite common in those days because, as I say, we 
didn't have the transcontinental truck transportation that you 
have today. All the big equipment and everything that came in 
there all came by railroad. 

Atkinson Construction Company. Contractors on the Pardee Job 

Lage: You make it sound like such a smooth operation, and it was such a 
giant project. Did you have good management to do this? 

McLean: Oh, yes. 

Lage: Tell me something about the managers and supervisors. 


Me lean: There were the three partners that formed what was known as the 
Atkinson Construction Company. There was Guy F. Atkinson, Bill 
Kettlewell, and Lynn Atkinson. Guy F. was the elder. He was an 
old-time railroad contractor. In those days, most of the big 
contractors had been railroad contractors. 

Lage: So they helped build railroads? 

McLean: They had built railroads, yes. Even when we were working up at 
Devil's Corral and up on that road at Susanville, a lot of the 
work was done with what we called horses and fresnos. I don't 
know whether you know what a fresno is. 

Lage: I've heard the term. 

McLean: A fresno scraper was a scraper or dirt scoop that was usually 
pulled by two or more horses. This was before the days of 
bulldozers and carryalls. When you pulled it, it would fill up, 
and it would hold about a yard of dirt. When he got ready to trip 
it, the operator the guy who was walking behind the team- -would 
just lift it up a little bit, and it would automatically dump 
itself. Then they'd turn around and come back and get another 

Lage: But that wasn't used on Pardee? That was earlier? 

McLean: No, that wasn't used on Pardee. On Pardee we had big equipment. 
We had steam shovels and dump trucks. 

Lage: Was the equipment new at the time, or was it used in railroad 

McLean: Well, most of it was new. These contractors had been on Coolidge 
Dam in Arizona. All the high line equipment had come up from 

Getting back to the partnership, at the time Pardee was 
built, this was one of the largest dams, or the highest dam, in 
the United States. 

Lage: That's what I've read, the highest dam. 

McLean: Yes, the highest dam and the greatest quantity of concrete. In 
other words, 620,000 cubic yards of concrete in the dam was the 
largest dam that had ever been built in the United States. This 
was followed by many, many others after that. But it was the 
highest dam. It was only exceeded after that by the Diablo Dam in 
Washington and Boulder Dam in Arizona. 


This was a large contract, and in order to get bonding, what 
they call bonding capacity- -when an agency like the district 
[EBMUD] lets a contract for the work, the contractor has to put up 
what we call a performance bond. The performance bond usually 
costs one and one-half percent of the contract price. I don't 
recall what it was then, but it meant that he had to be able to 
bond himself for a percentage of the Job. And this was a big job; 
it was a big contract. So in order to get bonding capacity, you 
enter into Joint ventures. Down at Boulder, there was a joint 
venture between six companies. There was Kaiser, Morris and 
Knudsen, Bechtel, and other big contractors, in order to get 
enough bonding capacity to build the job. One single contractor 
didn't have enough financial standing to obtain bonds to bid the 

Lage: Did Atkinson do the same thing? 

McLean: Yes. It was Guy F. Atkinson, Bill Kettlewell, and Lynn Atkinson 
who were independent contractors on their own. Bill was an old 
railroad contractor, Guy F. was an old railroad contractor, and I 
think Lynn had done some paving work or something like -that. So 
they formed what was known as Atkinson Construction Company, later 
known as Atconco. This was a big operation. And that was for the 
construction of the dam; construction began moving. Later on, 
there was not only the dam, but the tunnel was under construction 
at the same time. I don't know whether Guy F. and Lynn or whether 
all three of them had been on Coolidge, which was a small dam down 
in Arizona. 

Lage: Much smaller than Pardee? 

McLean: Yes, much smaller than Pardee. They had been down on the Coolidge 
Dam there, and most of the rigging equipment- -the towers, all of 
the high- line equipment, the elephant trunks, and all of those had 
been used at Coolidge, and they came from Coolidge. All the rest 
of the equipment --that is, the shovels and everything else that 
they used on the dam- -was new. They had a big shovel on the 

Drilling and Shooting 

McLean: Then we had rigged down in the bottom when they were cleaning up 
the bottom- -because, you see, when they started excavating the 
sides of the foundations for the abutments, they would drill holes 
all up the side. Then they'd shoot them [with dynamite], and all 
the debris- -earth, rocks, and everything- -would come down in the 


bottom of the river. They had steam shovels there with trucks to 
haul the material to a waste dump. That's how they excavated all 
the foundation for the dam, drill and shoot. 

They would usually shoot twice a day. They would shoot at 
noontime, and then they'd shoot at five o'clock in the afternoon. 
They didn't change shifts at noontime, but the workmen were out of 
the bottom and wouldn't be there with flying debris. If you were 
there, why, you had to get under a truck or under a shovel or 
something like that, and then they would blast. It'd all go down 
in the river, and you'd go to work with the steam shovels, haul it 
out, and haul that downriver to get rid of it. Then, after they 
had cleaned all that off, they were back up again in the afternoon 
with air drills, drilling more holes to shoot. Then at five 
o'clock, when everybody was out of the river again, they'd blow a 
siren to warn everybody to get out, and then they'd shoot. 

Dangers and Deaths of Workers 

Lage: How dangerous was this job for the workers? 

McLean: Well, it was pretty dangerous in those days. I believe eleven 
people were killed on that job. The largest group of them was 
killed on a truck. They used to take the men back and forth to 
work down in the bottom. There was a very steep road that went 
down into the canyon from the south abutment . You see , from the 
top down to the canyon was about six hundred feet in depth. In 
the morning they would take some of the workmen into the bottom of 
the canyon on the flatbed truck, take them out for lunch, and back 
after lunch. This was when they were working on the foundation in 
the bottom. 

They had a Model T Ford. A Model T Ford didn't have gear 
shifts the way we have them. It was foot pedals that you pushed 
for shifting gears. Well, they were taking a load of these 
fellows down into the canyon after lunch one day. I guess they 
had fifteen or twenty of them on the back of this truck, and a lot 
of them sat with their legs hanging over the side; it was just a 
flatbed. Well, the truck got away from them, and it went down 
into the canyon. 

Lage: Lost its brakes? 

McLean: Apparently the brakes failed. Most of them came out all right, 
but I think there were six or seven killed. 




McLean : 



Was there anything done to take notice of these deaths? 

Oh, yes, sure, because there was the Industrial Accident 
Commission; they were on the job right away to investigate, 
conducted a full investigation. 

That was a government agency? 


Yes, that's both federal and state. After they investigated the 
accident, I don't know what they did about it at that time, 
whether they changed to another type of truck or what happened. 

Then another accident happened, and fact is, I was there at 
the time it happened. They were cleaning up in the bottom of the 
river- -I told you about the gold that was found- -and a lot of the 
workmen that we had on the Job in those days were Mexican. There 
were a lot of Mexican workers. I think I've told you previously 
that when you wanted men for jobs like that it was through 
employment agencies. There was several of them in Stockton. Most 
of the laborers that were on the job were Mexican. 

I'm surprised it was that early on. 

Were they Mexicans from 

I suppose so, most of them. Very few of them could speak English. 
The concrete foreman on the job--Whitey, and I forget the other 
fellow's name- -could speak Spanish quite well. That's how they 
handled these fellows. Now, the carpenters were all skilled, and 
most of those were Americans. Same way with the high-line 
riggers; that was a pretty special Job, high-line rigging, you 
know. These guys were up there five or six hundred feet in the 
air when it'd come to setting the towers and getting the cables 
for the lights. You see, they had lights over the top of this 
because they operated night and day. They had this whole thing 
lit up with overhead lights. The riggers, every one of them, were 
skilled workers. They had to be, because, boy, you were up there 
all by yourself on those cables. 

Where did they develop their skills? 
they have? 

What kind of training did 

A lot of those fellows came up from Coolidge. Fact is, the 
superintendent, I believe, came from Coolidge. Ed Whipple was his 
name. He was the general superintendent. The concrete 
superintendent was a little short fellow named Jack Broughton, and 
then the head rigger was the fellow we called Whitey. He also had 
come from Coolidge. 

Lage: And the carpenters? 


McLean: The carpenter superintendent was Ernie Stokes. They had a lot of 
carpenters. They must have had forty or fifty carpenters or even 
more. And they were all white, every one of them. Some of those 
fellows had their families there, and some of them didn't. The 
contractor set up a family camp. They had their families on the 

Lage: You were about to tell me about another accident, and 1 think I 
diverted you from it. 

McLean: Oh, yes. The other accident that happened when I was on the job 
involved one of these Mexican workers. We had two towers; we had 
twin towers going up to hoist concrete. These buckets used to go 
up and down, and they would hold five yards of concrete. They'd 
hoist that up to the top, and it automatically dumped itself. 
When it got to the top there was a trip, and it dumped the 
concrete into a hopper. Then there was a workman at the hopper 
who fed the concrete into a chute --counter balances we called the 
concrete chutes. Then the concrete would go down chutes into the 
elephant trunks and on to the dam, where the concrete was being 
placed in the dam. The elephant trunks were short metal pipes, 
twelve inches in diameter, suspended from the counter balance. 
The tower was enclosed on the outside with forms. There was a 
form around the tower to keep the concrete out of the tower. 
Later on, when the tower was dismantled, this hole was filled with 
concrete . 

What happened, and we never knew why, was that one of the 
Mexican workmen placing the concrete, and this was during the day, 
stuck his head inside the tower form. Down came the bucket skip 
and just took his head off. That was something that should never 
have happened. It all happened before anyone could stop him. 

One other fellow was killed when we were working on the back 
slope of the dam. We were just about finished, and there were 
walkways suspended at the back slope of the dam where they had to 
clean concrete. The powerhouse was at the base of the dam; this 
was about three hundred feet below where they were working. Right 
up close to the top of the dam this fellow was working with a 
crew, cleaning the concrete. For some reason or other he lost his 
step, and he went down the slope, and he landed on the foundation 
for the powerhouse, where all the reinforcing steel was sticking 
out of the concrete. That fall killed him. 

There were one or two other accidents on the job. The total 
number of workmen killed was between nine and eleven. I think the 
maximum was about eleven. 


Lage: Was it your feeling that they did what they could to keep the 
danger level down? 

McLean: Yes. You see, they were inspected frequently by the Industrial 

Accident Commission about safety practice, and of course they had 
safety signs all over. Everybody wore a hard hat; you were 
required to wear a hard hat. Of course, there were lots of 
things: concrete would spill, you know, and boulders would fall 
that you sometimes had to duck to keep from being hit. 

Lage: Did you yourself get in some of these dangerous areas? Did you 
have to walk the high areas? 

McLean: Oh, yes, you bet. We had to get around to every one of them. 

That was our job. You just had to be careful wherever you were. 
None of the district fellows was ever hurt. 

McLean: For the type of construction job that Pardee was, and the time 
frame, I don't think the number of men killed on that Job was 
anything unusual. That was somewhat accepted. Today it would not 
be accepted. 

Pardee as the Guinea Pig for Other Big Dams 

McLean: Furthermore, the type of concrete construction at that time was 
far different than is in use today. No longer do we have these 
high lines and all of this rigging in the air that they had at 
Pardee. On Boulder Dam there was a tremendous transformation from 
the methods used at Pardee. 

Lage: You mean just from Pardee to Boulder there was a great change? 
That was only a couple of years . 

McLean: That's right. There was a tremendous change. At Boulder, to 
place the concrete they used five -cubic -yard bottom-dumped 
buckets. They had a head tower and a tail tower parallel over the 
dam. The tail tower was a moving tower on rails that moved back 
and forth at right angles to the dam, and then they had this large 
cableway that operated from the towers over the top of the dam. 
They had a large mixing plant, and the mixing plant discharged the 
concrete into big buckets. These buckets were picked up by this 
high line and conveyed out over the dam and dropped into place on 
the dam where it was poured. The sections of concrete that were 



poured on Boulder were much smaller; they divided the concrete 
into smaller sections. 

At Pardee, we started out with 150-foot blocks at the base of 
the dam. Then we changed down to 75-foot blocks, and up near the 
top of the dam it was 37 1/2 -foot blocks. Also, we developed what 
they call a very high heat of hydration due to the curing of the 
cement. Ve generated some very high temperatures in the dam, and 
as a result of these high temperatures we had cracks occurring not 
only in the 150-foot blocks but also in the 75-foot blocks. At 
Boulder, they divided the entire dam into, I believe, 25 -foot 

To control the heat? 

McLean: Not only to control the heat, but also to control the cracking. 
At Boulder, they developed the first method for cooling the 
concrete. They had a refrigeration plant, and they placed cooling 
pipes in the base of every block of concrete that was poured, just 
like in a refrigerator. They pumped coolant through the pipes to 
reduce the heat of hydration in the concrete. Later on, when they 
went to Shasta --the same contractors (six companies) who built 
Boulder Dam went to Shasta- -they took a lot of the equipment from 
Boulder to Shasta. At Shasta, instead of going to the 
refrigeration system, they used the practice that is now being 
done in most mass concrete dams. Instead of using water for 
mixing, they used ice cubes; they mixed the concrete with ice 
cubes. That reduces the temperature of the concrete when it goes 
onto the dam so that you don't get into the high heat of 
hydration. Also, today they have developed a low-heat cement. 
This is a cement that has a pozzolana material in it so that the 
cement doesn't generate the high temperatures that occurred on 
Pardee Dam. 

Lage: You say they learned a lot at Pardee. Was it really a direct 

learning experience, so people referred to Pardee as an example? 

McLean: Absolutely. Because Pardee was the largest dam ever constructed 
at that time and also the highest dam, everybody, including the 
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, was watching it. Louis Tuthill, who 
was the concrete technician at Pardee, went to Boulder Dam and 
later was with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. He was later in 
charge of the bureau laboratory in Denver, Colorado, and he 
carried with him a lot of the technology that we had learned at 
Pardee regarding temperatures in mass concrete, shrinkage, the 
grouting of the joints, and the grouting of the cracks. 

We had to go in later, after the heat of hydration in the dam 
had settled down to a constant, uniform temperature. During the 


placing of the concrete in the dan we set thermocouples in the 
concrete in order to monitor the temperature of the concrete. We 
also had thermocouples set in the concrete in the inspection 
gallery that we observed for a long period of time . At the 
beginning we had temperatures up to 140 degrees . This caused 
severe shrinkage and cracking in the concrete , particularly in the 
150- and 75 -foot blocks of cement. The result was that we later 
had to go in and drill holes where this cracking had occurred and 
grout the cracks. During construction we had left grout pipes in 
the construction joints to take care of the normal expansion. 
Those joints were grouted after the temperature in the dam was 
constant. Ve had to wait until the heat of hydration had settled 
down to the point where it was uniform. Then we went with crews 
and grouted all of these joints- -not only grouted the regular 
construction joints, but we drilled holes in the concrete and 
grouted the cracks that had occurred as a result of the shrinkage 
of the concrete. 

At Boulder Dam they eliminated a lot of that by using the 
refrigeration systems to pre-cool the concrete when it was placed 
in the dam, although they did grout the joints. They also used 
the smaller blocks at Shasta. The construction crewFrank Crowe, 
Bert Goodenough, and a lot of the fellows who had been on 
Boulder- -went to Shasta. It was the same six companies or some of 
the principals of the six companies on Boulder who were the 
contractors on Shasta. A lot of the equipment and some of the 
construction crews who were on Boulder went to Shasta. The 
refrigeration method was new at that time, but we had learned at 
Pardee that we had to do something about the heat to control the 
shrinkage , because that was the real answer to shrinkage , 
particularly on large mass concrete dams like Boulder, Pardee, 
Shasta, Bonneville, and all the big dams that were later built up 
on the Columbia River. Mike Miller, who was a very close friend 
of mine and who had been on Boulder, also went to Bonneville. 
Kaiser was on Bonneville. A lot of the technology they learned on 
Pardee was carried to Boulder, and then from Boulder to Shasta to 
Bonneville, followed by a lot of the other big dams on the 
Columbia River. 

Lage: Did Atkinson Company go on along to any of the dams? 

McLean: Atkinson went to Diablo Dam in Washington, and 1 believe they were 
on some of the other Columbia River dams . They were not on 
Bonneville or Grand Coulee. Grand Coulee was the six companies. 
Kaiser built Grand Coulee, and Mike Miller went to Grand Coulee 
and then to Bonneville; I believe Mike was at the two of them. 
And then about that time, World War II started. Kaiser then went 
into the shipbuilding business, as you recall, and Mike Miller 
went down to the shipyards in Portland. He was with Kaiser. 








Kaiser was on both Bonneville and Grand Coulee. The real answer 
to all of this came from Louis Tuthill, who was the concrete 
technologist on Pardee, who later went to the Bureau of 
Reclamation. And of course a lot of these big dams- -Boulder , 
Shasta, Bonneville, Grand Coulee, and all those, were done by the 
Bureau of Reclamation. 

Recalling Early District Managers and Supervisors 

1 understood that a lot of people came to East Bay MUD from the 
Reclamation Service. 

Yes, you're absolutely correct. After the first dam was built by 
the Bureau in Arizona, the Roosevelt Dam on the Salt River, there 
was apparently a reorganization in the Bureau back in Denver. The 
U.S. Reclamation Service became the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. 
Arthur P. Davis then was the director. He left and came to the 
district, and along with him came Frank W. Hanna, who became chief 
of design for the district; Jim Munn, who was the construction 
engineer; a man by the name of Cone, who was an electrical 
engineer; and Lyman Wilbur. 

Vas it also a Reclamation dam? 


Ed Driggs came from the Bureau of Reclamation, and then 
Robert C. Kennedy and Thaddeus Hague, who were design engineers, 
came from Exchequer Dam in the Fresno area. We had also J. S. 
Longwell. He was a division engineer and later became chief 
engineer and general manager. He came from the bureau and had 
been on the Mendota Project. 

Hanna was general manager when Arthur P. Davis left for the 
irrigation project in Russia? 

That's correct, yes. 

Did you work closely enough with these men to tell about their 

Oh, yes. Absolutely. 

Did you see much of Arthur P. Davis? 


McLean: Yes. Mr. Davis used to visit the project when we were 

constructing the aqueduct and Pardee. Mr. Munn would come up at 
least once a week. 

Lage: Mr. Munn was construction engineer? 

McLean: Mr. Munn was the construction engineer, and he would come up to 
Pardee. Well, even when were building the aqueduct you could 
figure that he would be on the job at least once a week. He had a 
chauffeur; they had a big Lincoln. Herbert Nelson- -Herbie- -I knew 
very well. In fact, I played golf with him in later years. If it 
was an inspection check, why, there would be Mr. Munn and maybe 
Mr. Hanna. Generally, it was Mr. Munn all by himself. 

The interesting part about this that I look back on is that 
those fellows always --and I guess this goes back to the Bureau of 
Reclamation- -came out on the job with a business suit on and a 
shirt, a necktie, and a hat. Even Mr. Longwell, when Longwell was 
division engineer and I was working under him, was always dressed 
in a business suit. Nowadays you see these men out on 
construction jobs, and they'll be in any ordinary clothes. It was 
always very interesting to see; even when they were watching the 
concrete on the dam or something else, we were pouring concrete, 
laying the pipe, or digging the trench, why, here they'd be out 
there with a business suit on. 

Lage: That is interesting, and arriving with the chauffeur. 

McLean: And arriving with the chauffeur, yes. Herbie Nelson would drive 
the Lincoln. Of course, the camp at Pardee had been built long 
before construction started. And we had the lodge there, and of 
course we had a cook house and dining room for the single men and 
visitors. They'd come and stay overnight on the job. Arthur P. 
Davis used to come quite frequently. Dr. [George C.] Pardee would 
come occasionally, but you wouldn't see him very much- Other 
directors would also visit the project. 

Lage: Would they come and talk to men like yourself, on the job? 

McLean: Yes, they'd come and talk to you, wanting to know how things were 
going. On Pardee they were usually accompanied by Mr. Macdonald, 
who was the resident engineer. It got so we knew every one of 
them. They'd come on the job, shake hands with you, and want to 
know how things were going. Very friendly, very down-to-earth 
type of people. I got to know every one of them. 

The directors we would see once in a while. There was Dr. 
Pardee; he was quite elderly and didn't get out too much. Then we 
would see the other directors once in a while. The attorneys, 


very seldom. The construction group, from Mr. Davis on down, were 
frequent visitors to the work, not only to the aqueduct but also 
to Pardee and all of the facilities up there. 

Lage: Did they set a certain tone when you were there? 

McLean: Yes, I think so. 1 think we respected them very highly. They 

were very intelligent people and usually would ask questions about 
how the work was going. Generally they were very friendly. I got 
so that I knew every one of them, and there wasn't one who ever 
had a derogatory word to say. They got to be very friendly, and I 
think most of the fellows on the job knew them and liked them 
quite well. They were very interested in the work. We also saw 
on occasion old Bill Mulholland, who was from Los Angeles. He 
visited the job on occasion, and also Michael O'Shaughnessey, who 
was the chief engineer for the Hetch-Hetchy water. Bill 
Mulholland, you know, built the Los Angeles aqueduct. 

Lage: And 1 think I read that he had been on the consulting board for 
East Bay MUD. 

McLean: He had been on the Consulting Board of Engineers for Pardee Dam as 
well as was Mr. [George W. ] Goethals. Bill Mulholland and 
Goethals were the consultants for EBMUD on Pardee Dam. 

Lage: Here's a great picture of the towers that you were telling me 
about . 

McLean: Yes. This doesn't show all of the tower. We had twenty-seven of 
these elephant trunks for placing the concrete hanging in the air 
at one time. 

Lage: Twenty- seven of these? 

McLean: You can see a lot of them hanging in the air there, but it isn't 
anywhere near the number later on. See them? These are what you 
call counterbalances. 

Lage: We're looking at page thirty- eight of the book, Its Name was M.U.D 
[John Wesley Noble, Oakland, California, 1970]. 

McLean: The concrete was hoisted up in the skip buckets to the tower 
hopper. If they were pouring concrete over in this side, the 
concrete came up in the skips, it was emptied into the tower 
hopper, and then it went down through the chute on the 
counterbalances to the elephant trunk. The reason they called 
them counterbalances was because of this block of concrete here at 
the opposite end intended to balance the concrete in the chute. 


The concrete would flow down the chutes on the counter balances , 
into the elephant trunks, and onto the dam. 

Lage: What an elaborate mechanism! And this was a new arrangement, or 
did it come from Coolidge Dam? 

McLean: That came from Coolidge. This equipment, the towers and 
everything else, came from Coolidge. 

Lage : But this is what was changed when they went to Boulder? 

McLean: Yes. At Boulder Dam, and also on all future masonry dam 

construction, they went to 5-cubic-yard bottom dump buckets for 
the concrete placement. This picture [page 37] shows the flood 
that we had in 1928. 

Lage: Did that interfere with the construction? 

McLean: Oh, it sure did. It washed steam shovels and everything else out 
of the bottom. 

Lage: What happened there? The flume wasn't operating? 

McLean: Well, they didn't have the diversion in at that time, and it just 
cleaned everything out of the bottom of the river. I think the 
flow was about thirty thousand feet per second. 

Day Laborers: Changes in Work from Pardee to Boulder 

Lage: Now we're looking at page 39. 

McLean: Yes. This is the contractor's camp over here, and this was the 
family camp, these houses all along here. 

Lage: Did you live in the family camp for a while? 

McLean: No. The district constructed a family camp for us southeast of 
the district's office and permanent quarters. 

Lage: These were for the contractor's workers? 
McLean: That was for the workers, yes. 

Lage: Did many of the workers- -"day-laborers" shall we call them?--bring 


McLean: No. The ones who brought their families were the concrete 
superintendent, the rigging superintendent, and the general 
superintendent, Vhipple. 

Lage: The higher level. 

McLean: The higher level of fellows. And then there were a few others. 
Oh, I think some clerical staff in the office, and 1 don't know 
about the cooks and those folks. But some of the more permanent 
staff lived in the family quarters. 1 think they had quarters for 
maybe forty or fifty families, something like that. 

Lage: Did these workers that you mentioned who were primarily Mexican, 
stay on the job the whole time, or did they come and go? 

McLean: If you would keep one of them for a month, you were lucky. 1 
think their wages then, as I recall, were fifty cents an hour, 
four dollars a day. 

Lage: And what did that compare with at that time? 

McLean: Well, that was a good wage in those days for laborers. That was a 
fair wage for them. And I think for their board and room they 
paid $1.25. They had to furnish their own bedrolls, as we call 
them. Anybody going to a construction job in those days would 
carry a bedroll. In the sleeping quarters they would have four 
cots to a tent, and they had mattresses. Of course, three meals a 
day, and they were good meals. I think, if I remember right, the 
employment agencies used to charge about five dollars a head for 
the Mexican laborers. The contractor paid that to the employment 

Lage: So the workers cleared $2.75 a day? They were paid $4, and then 
they had to pay $1.25 for their room and board. 

McLean: That's right. However, many times the 12 midnight to 8 a.m. shift 
worked overtime two or more hours . 

Ve always used to say about Whitey--he was one of the 
concrete foremen on the concrete -placing crews; I think each crew 
had about twenty of these laborers- -that Whitey had three crews. 
He had one coming, one going, and one working. [laughter] There 
was a big turnover. 1 don't think many of them stayed more than a 
matter of a few days . 

Lage: Oh, really? That fast. So you didn't really even train them? 
McLean: No. Men were plentiful in those days. 



Lage : Was that because the work was so hard, do you think? 

McLean: Veil, yes. You had to wear boots; they wear these short boots. 

It was very hard work. They were in the concrete, and they had to 
shovel, and they were working night and day shifts. At Boulder 
Dam they used the internal vibrators so that placing the concrete 
there was much easier than at Pardee. 

Lage: What were the internal vibrators substituted for at Pardee? 

McLean: Well, at Pardee we didn't have vibrators. Vibrators had not been 
developed at that time for mass concrete. Vibrators were a hand 
held unit. Some of them had a little gasoline motor, and then 
there was a long tube that had an eccentric cable in it. This 
thing would vibrate to as much as five thousand vibrations a 
minute, and when you put that in the concrete, why, the concrete 
would just flatten out like nothing. At Pardee, this concrete 
came down out of the elephant trunks, and it piled up. And 
remember, there were eight* inch boulders in the concrete, and the 
workers had to be constantly at it with their shovels to keep the 
concrete homogenous. Once you got a pile of concrete that was 
three or four feet high, it was all right. However, the workmen 
had to be watching constantly to see that the gravel did not cause 
a cluster. 

You didn't have to really do much about it then except to 
just keep it flowing. And then you kept this elephant trunk 
moving. You had a rope on it where you could pull it around and 
keep the concrete moving. You didn't want to have a rock pocket, 
where it was all large rocks and no cement grout. 

Once you began to get a pile of concrete, then it wasn't too 
hard. These fellows were working around with their shovels to 
make sure that it was flowing uniformly. In an eight -hour shift 
they would pour five thousand yards of concrete. The need for the 
workmen was to place the concrete properly. 

Lage: Hard, physical work. 

McLean: When they got to Boulder and were dumping it with the buckets, 

then there would be four or five workmen who had these vibrators . 
They'd just place these vibrators into a bucketload of concrete on 
the dam, and the concrete would flatten out. There was a 
tremendous transition between the method that we used at Pardee 
and the method at Boulder and then Shasta and then on to Grand 
Coulee and all those other dams. Pardee was the guinea pig of the 
big construction dams. 

Lage: That makes it very interesting. 


McLean: With the technology that we had, we completely changed from one 

method over 10 another method. Now major concrete dams are just-- 
there's nothing to them anymore. 

Lage: The technology has been developed. Did you get down to Boulder to 
observe the changes, or did you just hear about them? 

McLean: Well, I never got there during the construction. That's another 

Organizing bv Railroad Divisions and Schedules^/ 

Lage: How about E. L. Macdonald? 

McLean: Macdonald was a resident engineer. Let's go back a minute. They 
had divided the aqueducts and Pardee up into what they call 
divisions. This was quite common, and 1 think it comes from the 
old railroad construction days --you remember, a lot of the 
engineers on the big construction jobs started out as railroad 
engineers- -and for a railroad, you had a division engineer. Then 
from the division engineer you had the chief engineer, or 
something like that. This is probably due more to transportation 
than anything else; in other words, a division had a certain area 
to travel. The first work on the aqueduct was divided into 
divisions. There was, I think, the Oakland division--! didn't 
have much to do with that- -that took in the Claremont Tunnel and 
the Wildcat and Sequoia aqueducts. Those were the two. The 
Claremont Tunnel came through the Berkeley hills, and then there 
were two aqueducts that went north and south from there. That was 
one division. 

The next division was the Lafayette division, which took in 
the Lafayette Tunnel, the Lafayette Aqueduct, the aqueduct to 
Upper San Leandro Dam, the Lafayette Pumping Plant, the Lafayette 
Dam, and the Walnut Creek Tunnel. That was under a man by the 
name of [George] Sturgeon, who was the division engineer. 

Then the next division was the central division. That was 
under John Longwell, and that office was in Stockton. That was 
all of the aqueducts; it took in the entire aqueduct from the east 
portal of the Walnut Creek Tunnel to the west portal of the Pardee 
Tunnel. It took in three river crossings. 

The eastern division was Mr. C. E. Grunsky, and his 
headquarters were at Pardee. 


Under the division engineers you had resident engineers. The 
aqueduct was divided into, I think, three schedules. Macdonald 
had the aqueduct from the Walnut Creek Tunnel to the beginning of 
Schedule F. That took in schedule D and E; that was all under 
Macdonald. The schedule that I worked on, Schedule F, was from 
Jack Tone Road to the west portal of Pardee Tunnel. Mr. Barnes 
was the resident engineer on all of Schedule F. 

Macdonald' s work was finished before Schedule F, and he was 
transferred to the eastern division as resident engineer on Pardee 
Dam Spillway and Powerhouse. Schedule F was the last schedule to 
be finished. That was the most rugged; it was up hill and down 
dale. Mr. Barnes was in charge of that, and I was the one on the 
concrete construction. 

When Macdonald finished his work on the aqueduct, he was 
moved to Pardee as the resident engineer there. His work was 
Pardee Dam and then the spillway. There was another man, 
Mr. Lane, who was the resident engineer for the Pardee Tunnel and 
the Jackson Creek Spillway. Mr. Macdonald and Mr. Lane were two 
resident engineers under C. E. Grunsky. Macdonald had been 
transferred from the aqueduct; he had been on the early aqueduct 
work. He moved to Pardee and later became the maintenance 
engineer in charge of the entire- -what later became the Mokelumne 
Division, which included Pardee and the operation of the 
aqueducts, the Bixler Pumping Plant, and the Walnut Creek Pumping 

Influence of Supervisors Macdonald. Lonewell. and Edmonston 

Lage: What was Macdonald like to work for? 

McLean: Oh, a great guy. He was a Scotsman, just like myself, and just a 
great guy to work for. Tough, a hard-boiled worker, he demanded 
loyalty from his associates but was an excellent personality and a 
great guy to work with. 

Lage: Did you learn from your supervisors on Pardee, as models for you 

when you became a supervisor? Did you model on anybody, or was it 
just based on your personality? 

McLean: Yes. I think three of the greatest fellows I've ever worked for 
have been Bob Edmonston, whom I worked for in the early days of 
the State Division of Water Resources and on the El Dorado 
Project; John Longwell, whom I admired greatly, one of the finest 


fellows I've ever worked for; and I think the other was E. L. 
Macdonald. They were great men. 

Lage : Were there particular things about their--? 

McLean: Well, they were good disciplinarians, let's put it that way. They 
demanded high quality work, and they demanded good, concise 
reports. I think my career, if you want to put it that way, was 
greatly enhanced by having worked for those three people. They 
are the outstanding people, I think, whom I have ever worked for 
in my life. 

Lage: Can you remember any particular incidents that might show how they 
managed a difficult situation? 

McLean: I can say this much: they were always on the job. It didn't make 
any difference, particularly with Macdonald, night or day. Why, 
Mac would call you up at night and tell you, "Well, we're going 
down on the dam tonight and take a look at things, see how things 
are going." And you didn't say, "Well, gee, I'm too tired. I 
don't think I can do it." You said, "Yes, sir. I'll be right 
there." We never considered the time; it was our job, and 
mutually we were interested to see that it was being done 

When I was working for John Longwell in Oakland, it wasn't 
anything unusual to go out over a job on Saturday or Sunday. 
There were many occasions when we would spend several hours 
visiting work in progress. 

Lage: A lot of devotion to the work. 

McLean: Yes. All of them were very devoted to the work. One of the 

things I remember that they taught me was to write concise reports 
and keep a diary. Bob Edmonston was a great report writer. He 
always used to tell me, "Mac, if there is nothing else that you 
can learn to do as an engineer, learn to write a good, concise 
report." That was his thing. He was a prolific writer; he wrote 
many of the state reports. He was a great believer in reports. 
Mr. Longwell was a great believer in reports and diaries. He kept 
a good diary; that's why I have all these diaries on my 
bookshelves . 

Lage: Tell me about these diaries. Were they diaries of your work? 

McLean: Yes. They were both for work and the daily events that occurred. 
When I first came to the district from Pardee in the thirties, I 
started a diary. I threw a lot of those away, which I should 
never have done, but I do have all of them since 1944. 


See, here's August 3. [reads from diary] "Vent to Alameda 
about 10 a.m. Crew paving over trench along Buena Vista Avenue. 
Finished trench over twelve-inch pipe. Met the city engineer of 
Alameda at Central Avenue. He had a couple of complaints about 
the curb and sidewalk." 

Lage: So these would be notes that you'd use to do your reports later, 
was that the idea? 

McLean: Yes. 

Lage : Was that standard procedure for engineers , or was that something 
Mr. Longwell did? 

McLean: Well, I don't think it was standard procedure, but I learned this 
from Bob Edmonston and mostly from Macdonald- -Macdonald and 
Longwell. Longwell was a great one for reports, and he was the 
one who told me to start learning to keep a good diary, keep good 
records. Later on, as I got in the consulting business and kept a 
diary- -for the past fifteen years I've served as an expert witness 
on large construction Job litigation, and these diaries have been 
the reference for records. 

Lage : In what way? 

McLean: Well, to be able to take this into court and quote from the diary 
that an event occurred on such and such a day. There isn't 
anything that impresses a judge or an attorney more than to look 
at a diary. 

Lage : I can see that . 

McLean: And as 1 say, 1 had them going back to the thirties, but I said, 
"Oh, what the heck. Nobody wants to bother with these." And I 
threw them away. When I cleaned out my office when I retired from 
the district, I just kept some of the later ones. 

Lage: Well, you still have a nice collection. 

McLean: Oh, yes. 

Lage: '44 through '90. 

McLean: I have one now in my drawer. Every day I record telephone calls 
and any event that may have occurred during the day, including 
weather and temperature. 


Family Living in the Construction Camp 

Lage: I think when we started out today you were going to tell me about 
places you've lived. Tell me about the living conditions while 
you were working on Pardee. 

McLean: A lot of these fellows were single. Macdonald had his family 

there, and they lived in a house. Grunsky and Bolton had houses. 
George and Lucia Colby, myself and Marge, Barney and Libby 
Pleoger, Kelsey Doll and his wife, and Jim and Mary Kimball--we 
had families there at Pardee. 

Lage: They built you some family quarters? 

McLean: Yes. They went to southeast at a fairly level place there among 

the pine trees, and they built a tent camp for those of us who had 
families. These were large tents. Each tent was about sixteen by 
twenty- four. There was room enough for us to have a bed and a 
couple of cots. Of course, 1 had a couple of youngsters, so we 
had a couple of cots for them. 

Lage: You had tent platforms, I assume. 

McLean: There were platforms, screened sides, a front and back door, 

electric lights, and we had a fly over the tent to keep it cool in 
the summer. They had boards up to about a three foot height and 
then screening for about another couple of feet. It gave us a 
good- sized room. And in that we had a wood stove for heat. We 
had a place where we could have a three-burner electric plate, a 
portable oven for what little baking you wanted to do, a sink with 
running water, and then a place for a bed and a place for a dining 
room table. For the youngsters we had a couple of cots. George 
Colby had a little girl, Barney Pleoger had a little girl, and I 
had a boy and a girl. Kelsey Doll and Jim Kimball didn't have any 

For a toilet and shower there was a community shower, toilets 
for men, toilets for women, and urinals for the men. We had a 
good- sized shower place. They fixed these up for us in midyear of 
'28. I moved my family, and we lived there in camp until 1 went 
down to the Lafayette in May of 1930. They were very comfortable. 
It was comfortable living. Fortunately, the families got along 
well together. We were all working together, and everybody got 
along well. The women got along quite well. They would go off 
shopping together in Lodi or Stockton. 

We used to get our groceries from Pliler and Lillie; in fact, 
the store is still there. A deliveryman would come into camp and 


take orders from the women for groceries. They would deliver two 
or three times a week, with a big basket of groceries --meat, 
vegetables, etc.. Ve didn't have any refrigeration. Ve really 
didn't need it because of being able to get fresh stuff regularly, 
you know. I think I did make a little cooler that I hung outside, 
where we'd keep the milk. The nights were usually pretty cool 
there. The days were quite warm, but the nights were cool. 

Lage: Did your wife find it difficult going? 

McLean: No, she didn't mind it. Of course, she had been camping with me 
before, you know. When we were on the El Dorado job, she camped 
all summer with me. In 1924, when we were at Echo Lake and Twin 
Lakes, we lived in tents. So she didn't mind it. And when we 
went to Pardee , there were a lot of women there . They got 
together and had their little teas, or whatever you want to call 
it, to pass the time. They rather enjoyed it. My oldest son, 
Don, started school in Valley Springs. There were quite a few 
youngsters in the camp who went into Valley Springs to school, and 
they hauled them in there to start first grade. 

Lage : Did they have a bus for them? 

McLean: Yes. They had a bus. The contractor had run a bus in for the 
ones in his family, and then they picked up- -I think there was 
Edmund Macdonald, and George Colby's daughter and my oldest son, 
Don. I don't know, there were three or four of them out at the 
district camp who went to school in Valley Springs. We all had a 
good time. Of course, we men were working most of the time, you 

Lage: Six days a week? 

McLean: Ve worked six days a week. Once in a while, during hot summer 
weather, why, the gals would fix up lunches, and we'd take the 
kids and go down the river, down below Camanche, and go swimming 
and have a picnic lunch and a barbecue at night. Ve survived. 
Everybody got along well and survived the ordeal of living in a 
construction camp for two years. 

At Christmas, of course we didn't have the facilities for 
cooking turkeys. At Thanksgiving and Christmas the contractor 
supplied all of those in the tent camp with a big turkey, 
completely roasted, with all the giblets and gravy and stuffing 
and everything. It'd come up in a big pan, you know. So we could 
have a Thanksgiving with a turkey dinner. Ve were all young in 
those days, and the little hardships didn't bother us. Ve enjoyed 
it. I think those were some of the real better years. 


Lage: Yes. It sounds adventuresome. 

McLean: We had a lot of fun. We worked hard, but we enjoyed the work. 

Mishap and Potential Disaster. April 1930 

Lage: In the MUD book they mentioned a mishap that threatened the 
flooding of the Pardee Tunnel before the tunnel was complete 
[page 44]. Apparently you were an observer of this. It would 
have caused months of delay to the Pardee Tunnel and supplying 
water to the East Bay cities. 

McLean: [looks through book] Let's see if I can identify it here. 
There's John Longwell. 

Lage: And they said this was during a drought, which I thought was 

McLean: Let me see here, [reads book] Oh, yes. I'll tell you about that, 
yes. This occurred, I think, in March or April of 1930, when we 
were working on the powerhouse. That winter we had had a very 
heavy snowpack, and we got a heavy rain on the snowpack that 
caused a large flood below in the river. The tunnel was not 
complete, and the spillway wasn't finished. The lake started to 
rise, as I mentioned here, and we had to open two 72 -inch 
sluiceways and two 42 -inch sluiceways. We opened everything to 
try to keep the water level in Pardee Reservoir down, but the 
water kept rising. So then we decided to open the two 72-inch 
penstocks. Those were basically the penstocks for the 
powerhouse . None of the equipment was in place , and all there 
were on those penstocks were the 72 -inch butterfly valves, and 
they had just a hand-operating mechanism for opening and closing 
them. Well, we opened the first one, and we got that one opened 
all right, with a full flow coming out the pipe. Then as we 
started to open the other one, apparently it created a vacuum 
behind the valve. The valve closed instantaneously. It snapped 
the 3 -inch -thick penstock pipe. The butterfly valve, the 
operating mechanism, etc., were blown about two hundred feet down 
river. So we had four 72 -inch pipes flowing plus two 42 -inch 

We later recovered the butterfly valve , but we were never 
able to find the mechanism. Where the mechanism went, I don't 
know. It must be down in Camanche Reservoir by now. 


In order to stop the flow later on, when we were ready to put 
the valve back on the penstock, we had to go into the gate tower 
on the top of the dam and lower what they call the caterpillar or 
the Broome gates. The gate got down Just about twelve inches from 
closing, and then all of a sudden, with the rush of water that was 
flowing, it snapped the Broome gate down and nearly tipped the 
crane over that was handling it on top of the dam. We finally got 
it closed and repaired, but we had some scary moments for a while. 



Fortunately we were able to stop the flow of water. That is, 
we let the water run for several days and were able to control it 
so that we could lower the reservoir water level, and we didn't 
flood the tunnel or the spillway. 

As 1 said, when the valve blew off I was standing up on the 
dam, right here. It just shook that whole dam. You could feel 
the tremendous shock when it slammed shut. 

Do you recall any other moments like that in the building of the 

No, there are none that I can think of. Of course, we had lots of 
things that I suppose we more or less accepted as being routine 
that I could probably come up with, but I can't think of any now 
as dramatic as this. 

Layoff and Rehire at EBMUDM 

Lage: When the Job at Pardee ended, you were no longer with the 
district. Then what happened? 

McLean: My work at Pardee was pretty well complete after we had set the 

scroll cases for the turbines and the generators. About all that 
was left at that time was to complete the powerhouse- -that is, the 
superstructure of the powerhouse --and to install the transformers 
and electrical equipment. Ve began to disband the crews at 
Pardee. The surveyors --some of them were local --left. Roy 
Heston, who was the chief of party, had Joined the U.S. Army Air 
Force. Bill Trahern and Sam Cutler were transferred to Oakland. 
Barney Pleoger was transferred to Oakland. Howard Reed went to 
Oakland; he was the accountant. Most of the work being complete, 
most of the fellows were laid off or transferred. I was 
transferred to Lafayette because there was still a little work 
left to be done. We were doing some repair work on the Lafayette 


Aqueduct. And then there was work on the work out on the Upper 
San Leandro Pipeline, going to San Leandro Reservoir. And we had 
a road and a bridge to be built out at the San Leandro Reservoir. 

So I went to the Lafayette office in May of 1930 to basically 
take charge of the Lafayette office under Mr. Sturgeon. As I 
said, that involved a lot of maintenance work that was being done 
on the Lafayette Aqueduct. The pumping plant was operating, 
supplying water to Upper San Leandro Reservoir. 

Finally, in a further consolidation, they decided to close 
the Lafayette off ices --this was in the first part of December of 
1930- -and move the personnel from the Lafayette office to 
Stockton. The maintenance crews would still remain in Lafayette. 
But my work was complete, and there was no further use for my 
services, so Mr. Sturgeon told me that 1 would be terminated as of 
the first of January 1931. I think 1 had about a month's vacation 
salary coming, and I had relatives and a brother-in-law and a 
sister-in-law in Sacramento, so we decided to move to Sacramento. 
During December I finished up my reports. Fact is, I was living 
in a district house at the base of Lafayette dam. 

We decided to move to Sacramento, so we went up there and 
spent weekends with my brother-in-law. Finally we found a house 
that we could rent in Sacramento, so before Christmas of 1930 we 
moved to Sacramento to look for work there. This was during the 
Depression, and jobs were not that easy to find. I had hoped to 
get work with Bob Edmonston in Sacramento with the State 
Department of Water Resources, but they did not have an opening, 
and they weren't hiring anyone. 

In March of 1931 I decided to seek work at Boulder Dam, which 
was just getting started. Mike Miller was there, Bert Goodenough 
was there, and Frank Crowe, who was the construction 
superintendent for the six companies, were all at Boulder Dam. 1 
had talked to Frank Crowe, and he told me that if I was interested 
to come down and they'd put me to work on Boulder. Well, of 
course I wanted to get on Boulder. 

Lage: Yes, I bet that was an exciting opportunity. 

McLean: Yes. And I looked forward to getting on that job. It was in 
March of 1931 that I had come to the district office. I had 
talked to Mr. Longwell over the telephone, and he was going to 
give me a letter of recommendation to Frank Crowe at Boulder. So 
I stopped in at the Oakland office, and he had the letter ready 
for me. I was en route for Las Vegas and Boulder. And he asked 
me, "Are you in a hurry to go down there?" And I said, "Well, no. 
I'm not in any particular hurry." He said, "I've got a little job 


McLean : 


up on Dingee Reservoir, and I'd like to have you stay and spend a 
few days up there, inspecting the outlet works and looking after 
It while it is being built." 

I had friends living in Oakland, Sam and Dee Cutler, who had 
been at Pardee with me. I called up Dee and said, "Can I board 
and room with you for a couple of weeks or more while 1 am on the 
work at Dingee?" She said, "Sure." Of course, I had my own car, 
so didn't even go back to Sacramento. The next day I reported to 
Longwell and went to the job there, and I was there for, oh, I 
guess about three weeks or so. I would go home on weekends to 
Sacramento . 

While I was on this job, John Longwell came up one afternoon 
and said, "I want to talk to you. We've got a rush job to build a 
pipeline to serve the city of San Francisco. It is to go from 
[Lake] Chabot to connect to a San Francisco pipeline at San 
Lorenzo." And he said, "I want you to get the field parties and 
get some people together right away and start the work on the 
location for this pipeline, because we've got to rush this." 
Well, I got hold of a fellow I knew by the name of Art Green, who 
had been an old surveyor with the East Bay Water Company, and a 
fellow by the name of Whitney Hodgkins. I put together a crew of 
about eight or ten men, and we started the surveys on this 
pipeline to go to meet the San Francisco line. We worked night 
and day, Saturdays and Sundays, as San Francisco was short of 
water. Well, from then on it seemed there was just one thing 
after another. 

And you never got to Boulder? 

I never got to Boulder. 

Were you disappointed that you never got to Boulder? 

In a way, yes, but I then began to get into the bigger projects. 
The next job was repairs to the Upper San Leandro Tunnel and the 
San Pablo Tunnel. Then it was the repairs to the San Pablo Dam, 
then the Orinda Filter Plant. Then it was the Crockett pipeline. 
Before I knew it, I was involved and had a large staff. Then came 
the waste water project in 1945, after World War II. It was just 
one project after another. 

You didn't have time to regret that you didn't get to the big dam. 
I didn't have time to regret it. 



Building a Supply Line to Serve San Francisco. 1932 
[Interview 4: April 25, 1991 ]## 

Lage: Last time we finished up with Pardee, more or less, and you told 
how you thought you'd go to Boulder; but you instead came back to 
East Bay MUD, and they found one Job after another for you. 

McLean: Yes. 

Lage: And we quickly reviewed some of the jobs you were assigned to. I 
wondered if there were any special challenges on these jobs or 
something we should discuss about them. 

McLean: Well, we talked about Dingee, and that was a rather small dam. 
Lage : Yes . 

McLean: I think an important one was the urgency of building the pipeline 
for the water supply of San Francisco. San Francisco was urgently 
in need of water, and they had not completed the Hetch Hetchy 
project, particularly the tunnels in the Livermore hills --what we 
called the Foothill tunnels. They ran into a lot of problems on 
the Foothill tunnels, especially with serpentine. 

Lage: Just because they were in a different geologic environment? 

McLean: Yes. Well, coming through the Foothill tunnels you get into the 

coastal formations, which are a completely new geologic formation. 
Not like the Sierras, being an ancient formation where you have 
hard rock. You run into these sedimentary deposits in the 
Foothill tunnels, and serpentine was quite prevalent, particularly 
in the Livermore hills. It is not at all uncommon to find 


serpentine throughout these areas. That is what causes slides 
from road cuts and other types of excavation. They had run into a 
lot of problems in the Foothill tunnels and were unable to 
complete the Hetch Hetchy project on schedule. They had applied 
to the district for water, and that was the reason for building 
the pipeline from Chabot down to San Lorenzo to serve the various 
consumers along the peninsula and also the city of San Francisco. 
That was so urgent that in order to get the work done, gosh, we 
practically worked night and day to get the pipe in. 1 guess it 
was completed in the fall of 1932. 1 think we started it along in 
midsummer, and it was completed late that fall. 

Lage: And was your role on that to supervise the construction? 

McLean: My work on that was doing the engineering. The pipe work was all 
done by district forces. There was a welded steel pipe twenty- 
four inches in diameter, as I recall. My work was the surveying, 
setting the grades- -the field parties that I had were setting the 
grades- -and then inspecting the welding and the pipe laying and 
everything else on the installation of the pipeline. 

Lage: Is that pipeline still in use? 

McLean: Oh, yes. It's very much still in use, not to serve San Francisco, 
but it now serves San Lorenzo and that area which is within the 
district. That pipeline is very much in use, although it is now 
connected to what we call the Wildcat Aqueduct. It's connected 
into the main distribution system instead of being connected to 
Chabot. See, originally the source of the supply was Chabot, but 
now it is connected to the main distribution system, what we call 
an aqueduct zone. When there's enough Mokelumne water, it 
receives water through the Wildcat Aqueduct from the Orinda Filter 
Plant. When the use was high it would receive water from the 
Upper San Leandro Filter Plant from San Leandro Reservoir. 

Following that job, why, I guess the next job that we got 
into was the repairs to the San Pablo Tunnel, which took about a 
year. Following that, I think there came annexations of Castro 
Valley and some of those areas. I got into quite a little bit of 
that work on new installations out there. 

Construction of the Orinda Filter Plant. 1934 

McLean: The next big job that we had was in '34, when we started 

construction of the Orinda Filter Plant. That was started in 
midyear of 1934. Up until the Orinda Filter Plant was constructed 


there were only two major filter plants serving the district. One 
was the San Pablo Filter Plant that received water from San Pablo 
Reservoir, and the other was the Upper San Leandro Filter Plant 
that received water from the Upper San Leandro Reservoir. We 
still had the water coming through the Claremont Tunnel, which was 
the main Mokelumne River supply from Pardee, but there was no 
filter plant. The water coming from Pardee was of such a low 
turbidity that we really didn't need a filter plant. The water 
was chlorinated at what we called the Claremont lab. It was the 
facility at the west end of the Claremont Tunnel. There was a 
small amount of chlorine added to the Pardee water, and the water 
was fed directly from the Mokelumne Aqueduct through the Lafayette 
Aqueduct and through the Walnut Creek Tunnel into the Wildcat and 
Sequoia aqueducts --they run north and south- -from the west portal 
of the Claremont Tunnel. There was no filter plant. In 1934, 
after the plans were complete, we started with construction of the 
Orinda Filter Plant, and that was all done by district forces. 

Lage: Why was the filter plant needed? 

McLean: During the wintertime sometimes you do get a little turbidity from 
the Mokelumne River water due to runoff. Actually, it's more 
during the spring runoff. The water gets a little murky, and 
sometimes it's a little difficult to draw the water off through 
the Pardee outlet tower, where you can get the clear water- -that 
is, get low turbidity. So there was justification for a filter 
plant. Finally, after all the plans were complete, construction 
was started early in 1934 on the Orinda Filter Plant, which then 
would receive water directly out of the aqueducts from the 
Lafayette Tunnel. We built the filter plant right at the junction 
of the west portal of the Lafayette Tunnel and the east portal of 
the Claremont Tunnel. The water would flow out of the Lafayette 
Tunnel, through the filter plant, and back into the tunnel into 
the system. And it was an ideal location for the filter plant. 
Construction was started on that, as I said, in early 1934, and it 
was all done by district forces. George Hunter was the 
superintendent, and then we had two or three foremen on the job. 
We had a force of probably one hundred or more people working on 
the filter plant construction- -carpenters, concrete workers, 
reinforcing steel workers. 

Lage: Was it unusual to use district forces for these bigger projects? 

McLean: Yes, it was a little unusual, and it's never been done since that 
time. Major work of that type today you would contract out by 
bid. These [employees] were really carryovers from the old East 
Bay Water Company. George Hunter was an old East Bay Water 
Company man, and most of the fellows were. We did hire the steel 
foreman- -that is, for fabricating the reinforcing steel. He was 


new; he cane aboard. But the carpenter foreman, the labor 
foreman, and other people had been with East Bay Water Company. 
All of the pipe work and everything was done entirely by district 
forces . 

Lage: And what was your role on that? 

McLean: I was the resident engineer or project engineer, whatever you want 
to call it. I had a force of surveyors and engineers. Whitney 
Hodgklns , Blair Bjornson, and John Luthin were my office engineers 
and inspectors on the Job. 

Lage: Did being project engineer mean you were in charge of--? 

McLean: I was in charge of the engineering and inspection work. I was the 
project engineer. George Hunter was the superintendent on the job 
for the district, and Ed Taylor was the general foreman. 

Lage: Did that make you in charge of designing the plant? 

McLean: No. The design was done by Bill Trahern, head of the design team. 
I was basically on the construction, to oversee the construction. 

Lage: It seems like your jobs are getting more and more supervisorial. 

McLean: That's right, yes. My role became more, as you say, supervisorial 
as project engineer on projects. 

Lage: Were you a hands-on supervisor? 

McLean: Just about that, yes. We had to inspect the concrete, even though 
it was done by district forces. We inspected the concrete and 
checked the plans, checked the forms, the reinforcing steel, and 
everything else to make sure they complied with the drawings. 

We had an office in an old ranch house on the property that 
the district had acquired. There had been a family orchard there, 
and there were some pears and apples and other fruit. The ranch 
house was about a five -room house, and I had one room for my 
office, George Hunter had another room for his office, and then I 
had a big room- -I guess it was a living room/dining room- -for my 
office force, the three or four fellows who were working with me. 
Of course we had to have room for surveyors once in a while , 
because the surveyors had to set elevations for forms and grade 
stakes for the pipelines, etc. 


Further Thoughts on the Deiien and Construction of the Orinda 

Lage: We want to talk a little bit more about the Orinda Filter Plant. 
We talked about it earlier, but I just found out that it has been 
declared an historic landmark. And you were in charge of 
construction? Do you have any remembrances about either the 
design of it or the construction? 

McLean: The Orinda Filter Plant is located at the confluence of the 

Lafayette Tunnel and the Claremont Tunnel. Prior to the time of 
construction of the plant, the water from the Mokelumne system 
emitted into the local distribution system of the East Bay Water 
Company through the Claremont Tunnel . The raw water going into 
the system- -we had what we called a screening basin at the 
confluence of the two tunnels, which is actually on San Pablo 
Creek. And the Mokelumne water was screened before it went into 
the Claremont Tunnel. 

Lage: Would this have been a fine screen? 

McLean: Yes. These were fine screens to take out leaves and so on. The 
water was not filtered. The water came directly from Pardee 
Reservoir into the distribution system. At the west portal of the 
Claremont Tunnel is what we call the Claremont lab. But that was 
actually a chlorination station where we chlorinated the raw water 
from the Mokelumne. A very small amount was added before it went 
into the distribution system. During the early thirties, district 
staff prepared the design for the Orinda Filter Plant. The filter 
plant was supposed to take Mokelumne water directly from the 
Lafayette Aqueduct, go through the filter plant, and then from the 
filter plant return the water back into the Claremont Tunnel. 

Lage: When you say they did the design, was this the architectural 

McLean: Yes. Well, the architect was Daniels. I can't remember his first 
name now. Paul Daniels, who was an old East Bay Water Company 
man, was head of the Land Department for the district. His 
brother did the architecture for the building. It was a kind of a 
Spanish mission- type architecture. 

The overall system, that is the overall filter plant, was 
designed by Bill Trahern and Thaddeus Hague. The construction was 
done entirely by district forces under George Hunter. George 
Hunter was the superintendent of construction. I was the engineer 
in charge of the construction, and 1 had engineers working with 


me. Blair Bjornson was one. Art Green and the survey parties 
were the ones that were in charge of laying out all the grades and 
the elevations and everything. 

The site for the filter plant was an old ranch, a pear ranch 
that was located along San Pablo Creek. The plant more or less 
extended in a north- south direction. Construction was started 
about midsummer, late spring, or early summer of 1934. For our 
office we used the old ranch house located on the site at the 
southerly end of the site. That was our construction office. 

Lage: Did that ranch date back to pretty early times? 

McLean: Yes. That had been a very early ranch there. Apparently they had 
raised pears, and as I recall there was some other fruit there- - 
plums, or something like that. Of course, we had to clear the 
site and grade the site when we went out there, and then we set up 
all the construction facilities. We had a mixing plant where we 
mixed the concrete. All the reinforcement steel was fabricated on 
the site, all the forms. The waste molds for the architecture 
work- -the waste mold is when you make up these molds for the 
architectural features. We set up a plant on that. Ed Taylor was 
actually the foreman on the job, although George Hunter was the 
superintendent in charge of construction. Ed Taylor was the 
project superintendent. After the plant was completed he later 
took over as the chief operator for the plant. 

Anyway, all of the work was done by district forces, and I 
guess at one time we probably had, oh, I imagine over one hundred 
men working on the project. We had the carpenters who built the 
forms, the steel workers who fabricated the steel, the concrete 
workers who poured the concrete, and all the rest of it. And then 
of course we had the equipment for excavating for the basins. 

Lage: Was there anything new in the design of the filter plant? 

McLean: Well, it was a design that was similar to what you call the rapid- 
sand filter type of plant. Probably some of the features that 
were unique to it that hadn't been used before were the pipes in 
the filter beds. At that time, we all used copper pipe. As I 
recall, it was two- inch copper pipe in the bottom of the filter 
beds. Those later were changed. I think now they use the ceramic 
collection system in the base of the beds. Those copper pipes 
were in place for many, many years, and I think it was along in 
the sixties that we went in and replaced the copper pipes with the 
ceramic collection system. 

The collection pipes are in the bottom of the filter bed. 
There are holes in the bottom of the pipes. You have your 


collection pipes all across the bottom of the filter beds. Then 
at that time you had a layer of coarse gravel. That gravel 
gradually gets finer, and then at the top you have a layer of a 
couple of feet of specially graded sand. 

Lage: So about half of the tank is filled with various levels of graded 

McLean: About half of it is filled with sand and gravel. And the sand, we 
had to have a certain fineness to it. The sand was obtained from 
down at Monterey; it was what we call the Monterey Beach sand. 
Fact is, I went down to Monterey at the time that we were getting 
ready to put the sand in the beds and stayed down there at the 
plant for several days while we were loading the material to make 
sure that it met the specifications for the beds. The gravel was 
obtained from the gravel beds in the Pleasanton-Livermore area. 
There we had to have a certain grading of it. At the bottom was 
the very coarse, and then it was gradually finer up to- -I think 
the smallest was three -eighths -inch in diameter. 

Lage: What kinds of things did this filter out? 

McLean: Well, it filters out all the silt and of course any material that 
comes down. Sometimes in the wintertime, when you begin to get a 
lot of turbidity in the water, you get a lot of silt. 

When we built them originally, the Walnut Creek, the 
Lafayette, and the Orinda plants did not have any sedimentation 
basins, and they did not have any reclaim basins. Just recently 
out at Orinda, about two years ago we put in reclaim basins. Now 
at Orinda they are adding what we call an osmosis plant, which, 
when it is finished, will eliminate the need for chlorinating the 
water and everything else. That is being added to the plant. 

Lage: Is that a trend now? 

McLean: Yes. This is a new trend because some people--! don't know 

whether they're allergic to chlorine, but there are many times I 
even notice myself here, maybe in the morning. I can turn on the 
faucet in the kitchen to get a drink of water, and I can get a 
slight smell of chlorine. And some people object to the chlorine, 
and that's why they go out and buy bottled water. But it's 
ridiculous buying bottled water because in buying bottled water 
you're not getting a water that's any more pure or anything else 
than the East Bay District water. 

Lage: Anything else that you remember about the Orinda plant? 







[laughter] I remember one thing. When we were ready to put the 
plant in operation- -as I had mentioned, they had this little 
screening process in there. San Pablo Creek at one time used to 
contain sea-run steelheads [trout] from the Bay into San Pablo 
Reservoir. And those were of course landlocked in San Pablo 
Reservoir when the San Pablo Dam was built. San Pablo Creek runs 
right alongside of the Orinda Filter Plant; the easterly boundary 
of the plant is San Pablo Creek. Well, evidently we used to 
release water every once in a while from the screening basins. We 
used to release this water down into San Pablo Creek. And of 
course with all this fresh water and everything, why, I guess the 
steelhead used to come up San Pablo Creek. And they got in the 
screening basin. 

Well, when the Orinda Filter Plant was put into operation, 
the water that formerly was going through the screening basin into 
the Claremont Tunnel was shut off and diverted into the filter 
plant. And of course this dried up the screening basin. Lo and 
behold, when we dried up the screening basin, why, here was a 
couple of washtubs full of steelhead trout. So we had to collect 
all those steelhead trout, put them in buckets, and go dump them 
into San Pablo Creek. 1 remember that quite well. 1 don't know 
how many pounds of steelhead we took out of the screening basin 
and dragged up and turned loose in the San Pablo Creek, but there 
was a lot of them. That was in 1935, when we placed the plant in 


But building the filter plant went very well; it was a good 

And you didn't use outside contractors? 

No. There were no outside contractors; it was all done by 
district forces. 

Was there a reason for that? 

Well, that was sort of the trend of that time. See, the East Bay 
Water Company at that time had done a lot of their own 
construction work. That is, the building of tanks and reservoirs 
and a lot of things like that had all been done by forces of the 
East Bay Water Company. And when the district took over the East 
Bay Water Company, they virtually took over all the personnel that 
was working for the district at that time. 

Were they pretty good quality? 

They were good men. They were good men. We had a lot of good 
carpenters. The steel benders, as we call them, the steel 


reinforcing crew, were hired for the particular job because the 
district never really had much occasion where you use large 
quantities of steel. But these engineers that I had, Whitney 
Hodgkins, Blair Bjornson, and 1 can't think of his name- -Whitney 
Hodgkins was a good steel detailer, and we detailed all the steel 
for the crew. We did all that, and we also detailed all the 
piping and everything else. It worked out very well. 

Rush Job on Pipeline to Crockett Sugar Refinery. 1935M/ 

McLean: One day Mr. Long-well came on the job this was along about August 
or September of 1935--and says, "I've got a job for you to do." I 
said, "Well, what is it?" He said, "We've got an urgent rush job 
to provide water supply for the Crockett sugar refinery." He 
said, "I want you to get crews together right away. We've got to 
get a location, we've got to get right-of-way, pipe fabrication, 
and everything else to get going on this pipeline out to 

Well, we started in Richmond, and then we followed the 
highway partially, the old state route, which was Highway 80 at 
that time. We followed that where possible, paralleling it- -not 
in the right-of-way, but paralleling it. A lot of the property 
was owned by Standard Oil, the first part going over what they 
used to call Standard Oil Hill. That's where you left Richmond; 
the old highway went up over the hill where all the Standard Oil 
storage tanks were. 

Lage: Isn't it similar to the route today? 

McLean: Yes, but about a mile west of the new freeway. When we got to 

Pinole and the Giant Power property, we cut off and went through 
the Tormey property. All of it was a 25-foot right-of-way. Then 
I put together another crew, a crew of engineers and surveyors. I 
also had a fellow by the name of Ted Tronough, who had been a 
private engineer, but he didn't have much work; this was during 
the Depression. I hired him to prepare the right-of-way maps. 
Then I had hired another fellow by the name by the name of Denny 
Driggs, who did all the mapping work- -that is, prepared the plans 
and profiles for the pipeline. And then I had another fellow by 
the name of Cliff Smith, who later became a superintendent with 
the district. Cliff had been a steel pipe man; he'd been with 
U.S. Steel for a long time as a pipe detailer. He was the one who 
computed all of the angles and pipe specials for fabricating the 
pipe. This was another pipe construction project that was done 


entirely by district forces- -that is, the pipe installation was 
all done by district forces. Roy Paul was the superintendent for 
the district. 

It was a rush job. The sugar company was operating, and they 
needed the water and needed it urgently. This was another job 
where we worked night and day, Saturdays and Sundays. I set up an 
office on the second floor of the San Pablo Filter Plant. There 
was a large space there . We got all of the equipment and the 
survey parties. Art Green headed the survey parties. We had two 
survey parties working, particularly on the alignment and the 
grades. The steel pipe was fabricated down at the U.S. Steel 
plant in South San Francisco. We prepared all the drawings for 
the shop specials, which were the curves needed for the pipeline. 
Construction was started in late fall of '35 and completed in '36. 

Lage: And that was a pretty good record? 

McLean: Oh, yes. We really rushed that project. And it also included 

construction of a pre-stressed concrete reservoir. It is known as 
the Crockett Reservoir. It was a million-gallon reservoir that we 
constructed on the hill above Crockett for storage for the water 
for the Crockett Sugar Company. Then in order to get to the 
Crockett sugar plant we went across the water on some pile bents 
and into the sugar company, where we connected directly to their 
water service. If I'm not mistaken, I think the water was turned 
into that line sometime in 1936. 

Lage: Did it serve any of the homes around there? 

McLean: No, not at that time. This pipeline was built exclusively for the 
sugar company and paid for by them. Now that pipeline serves as 
the main supply not only to Crockett but also for Pinole, Rodeo, 
Torraey, and all of those areas out there. That is the main 
pipeline that goes out to that area. Later on those towns were 
annexed to the district. You see, Pinole was basically owned and 
operated by the Hercules Powder Company, and the old town of 
Tormey had been the Selby Smelting Company. 

Lage: They were factory towns? 

McLean: Yes. There used to be a large smelting facility where they 

smelted ore; I think it was mostly lead and other ores. That's 
where they produced a lot of lead. Selby lead was well known for 
lead shot, etc. Tormey was built for the workers, and the town of 
Pinole was basically for the workers of the Hercules Powder 
Company. Rodeo was a Union Oil town. 

Lage: What kind of powder? 


McLean: Veil, they made blasting powder. I think most of the powder they 
made at that time was dynamite and blasting powders. They used to 
finish it in large metal kegs. The people who lived in Pinole 
generally worked for Hercules Powder. There were powder magazines 
and manufacturing facilities for producing the powder and 
dynamite. The pipeline went through their property in the town of 
Pinole and then paralleled the highway on the powder company 
property. Then we had to cross the highway, and we went through 
the Tormey estate property. What was known as the Tormey estate 
was the Union Oil Company. The oil storage tanks, office, and 
plant were on the Tormey estate. After we got past Pinole, we cut 
across the open country, with the pipeline over the hills, over to 
the Crockett Reservoir, and then down the hill from the Crockett 
Reservoir to the sugar company's water service. 

Using Work Projects Administration Workers in Pipeline 

Lage: Were you using any WPA [Works Projects Administration] workers on 
these projects? 

McLean: No. At that time we were not. 
Lage: At all? Or not just on these jobs? 

McLean: No. The WPA workers came into being just about after this 
particular work. We did a lot of work with WPA. 

Lage: Any you did yourself? 

McLean: Well, yes. They had a lot of WPA workers. We put in some 

large -sized pipelines. One, as 1 recall, was along Bancroft 
Avenue in San Leandro. That was a thirty -six -inch line. And then 
we built a couple of pre- stressed concrete reservoirs with WPA 
labor. One was the Pleasant Hill Reservoir. We also used WPA 
labor on some smaller pipelines. 

Lage: Did you supervise any of these works? 

McLean: Yes, particularly on the reservoirs. I had inspectors on the 

reservoirs; 1 had resident engineers. By then my organization had 
begun to expand. I had not only all the field parties but also an 
office staff. 1 think about that time my title had become 
supervising civil engineer. I began to accumulate a force of 
quite a few people. 


Lage: Now, did all this supervising come naturally to you? Or did you 
think about the best way to supervise your staff? What kind of a 
supervisor were you? 

McLean: I began to go out to the University of California Extension, and I 
began taking several business courses. I took six courses in 
business administration and related subjects. Then 1 acquired a 
secretary for doing all the correspondence and routine work. 
Gradually the district began to get into contract work, and all of 
that became my responsibility. That was when the district started 
contracting for a lot of new development work, particularly pre- 
stressed concrete reservoirs and pipelines. North Reservoir came 
into being at that time. 

Lage: We're still in the thirties, then. 

McLean: Yes. It was in the thirties that we started construction on some 
of the local reservoirs. 

Lage: Is there any more to say about using the WPA and what kind of 

workers they were? Were they mainly laborers, or did you have to 

McLean: It was all labor. The Pleasant Hill Reservoir was one of the last 
jobs we did with WPA, and we did have carpenters, concrete 
workers, and steel workers who were WPA. World War II had just 
started, and that was the end of the WPA work. 

Lage: Were they local people mostly? 

McLean: Most of them were local people, yes. On the pipeline work we did 
have WPA welders, and we had concrete workers who did concrete 
work. On the thirty- six- inch pipeline that came along Bancroft 
Avenue, I believe we used WPA welders. We had a full crew on that 
pipeline that was supervised by district personnel. 

Lage: Were you doing work that you wouldn't have been able to do if you 
didn't have the WPA workers? 

McLean: No. This was work that was necessary. This was an expansion of 
the distribution facilities at that time. We used WPA labor on 
that. We did a large amount of work with WPA forces. 

Lage: Did you find any difference in quality of their labor? 

McLean: No. We did do a pipeline that came down through Emeryville. That 
was a large pipeline that was done with WPA labor. The one 
problem that I think we had with WPA labor was the number of crews 
they would have in order to give everyone work. As I recall, they 


used to schedule them so that a crew would work maybe three days a 
week, and then another crew would come on the job. There was a 
lot of rotation of people on the Job. 

Lage : Was this to give more people work? 

McLean: Yes, it was to give more people work. It might be another week or 
so before you'd get the first crew in rotation back again. One of 
the comical things that happened was in Emeryville, when we were 
crossing some of the main streets there. You'd have a flagman to 
check the traffic, and one day the district superintendent on that 
job happened to go back over the job, and here was one of these 
VPA fellows still back there at a street that we'd passed a week 
before, still back there flagging the traffic. They told the 
superintendent, Kirk Thomas, "You'd better go back and get that 
fellow," because the main operation was way ahead of him. 

Lage: How about CCC [Civilian Conservation Corps]? 

McLean: Yes. Of course the CCC has been used on trail work in the 
district and throughout the watershed, where they had them 
clearing trails, clearing brush, cleaning up, burning, and doing a 
lot of work on the reservoir watersheds. That came under the land 
department and under the rangers for the district. I never had 
anything to do with that. 

Wartime Service with the District^/ 

McLean: During the war we didn't have much work. Things were quiet except 
for a service pipeline to Treasure Island and to Vallejo to serve 
Mare Island and the shipyards. And of course during the war a lot 
of the engineers within the district were very much in demand to 
go into the armed forces . 

Lage: Into the Corps of Engineer? 

McLean: Well, into the Army Corps of Engineers and into the Navy Seabees, 
the construction corp of the navy. The first instance I had of 
that was that right after the war commenced, in January 1942, I 
received a call from Frank Bonner, president of the San Francisco 
Section, American Society of Civil Engineers, to meet in San 
Francisco with Colonel Keller of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 
Bill Trahern and I went over there on a Saturday morning for an 
interview with this colonel. He was pretty blunt. He said, "I'm 
not going to mince any words. I'm here to offer you a commission 


in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. You will a receive a 
commission as captain of the engineers. Monday morning you are to 
report to the Presidio for a physical examination." 

Lage: Didn't give you much time. 

McLean: He said, "You will get your orders to go back to Fort Belvoir, 

Virginia, Monday morning. We'll expect you back there next week." 
I said, "My gosh!" Bill and I expressed the same thing, that it 
was impossible to do that in this short of time. "Well," he said, 
"we need people right now. If you want the commission, there it 
is." He said, "I'll write out the orders for you right now." 
Well, we turned that down. There were a couple of fellows there 
who I don't think were employed at that time, and they accepted 
the commission. They were free and could go. 

I guess it was the following summer- -it would have been 
1942- -that I received another call from the Corps of Engineers to 
come to their office. They had an office in Oakland at that time. 
Again they offered me a commission as captain in the Corps of 
Engineers, and that one was to go to the South Pacific war zone. 
Well, I turned that one down. 

In the meantime, two or three of the engineers from the 
district had left and joined the armed forces. Joe Decosta went 
into the Corps of Engineers, and there were one or two others who 
left to go into the corps. Things began to quiet down in the 
district, and there wasn't too much going on. Finally, I guess it 
was in the fall of 1942, I made applications to the U.S. Navy 
construction battalions, the Seabees of the navy. 

Lage: So you decided to take the initiative? 
McLean: Yes. 

Lage: Was there some reason for the navy over the army? 

McLean: Well, yes. I thought that the Seabees would be a much better deal 
than the Corps of Engineers. The Seabees were going mostly into 
the Pacific, although a lot of them went into the European 
theater. I kind of had more of an affinity for the navy rather 
than for the army. 

So anyway, I made the application, and lo and behold, I think 
it was in January of the following year, which would have been 
'43, I received a notice to come over and take the physical 
examination. I went to the office in San Francisco and was given 
a commission as senior lieutenant in the Seabees. I was to report 
to the Seabee base in Norfolk, Virginia. My next step, of course, 





was to get a clearance from the district to go. So I went to 
Mr. Longwell, who was then the chief engineer and general manager. 
"John," I said, "I've been accepted as a lieutenant senior grade 
in the Navy Seabees. Can I get a clearance from the district to 
go?" The district was considered a war industry because we were 
serving water to Mare Island in Vallejo and to Treasure Island. 

Oh, by the way, the service to Mare Island was taken from the 
Crockett pipeline that we had built in 1935. Mare Island needed 
water, so we served it through a pipeline that went across the 
Carquinez Bridge, and at the base of the Carquinez Bridge --that 
is, at one of the piers, we connected onto the pipeline that the 
sugar company had had across the bridge at that time. Then there 
were connections made over on the other side for Vallejo to get 
water to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard. We were also serving 
water to Terminal Island near Stockton, and also the big U.S. Army 
base at Camp Stoneman in Pittsburgh. We served them water during 
the war from the number-one Mokelumne aqueduct. That was a large 
army base. Also the Port Chicago ammunition base was served off 
the aqueduct. 

So you were going way out of the district's area? 

That's right, 
from Oakland . 

And then we also served water to Treasure Island 
We connected onto a pipeline for them on the Bay 

Did you have to build a pipeline out there? 

Yes, they put a pipeline on the bridge out to Treasure Island, to 
the navy base at Treasure Island. 

Anyway, I went to Mr. Longwell to get permission to leave for 
my acceptance into the navy, and he hit the ceiling. He said, 
"I'm not going to permit you to go." I said, "Oh, come on. 
Everybody else is gone; why can't I go?" He said, "Look. We've 
lost enough fellows now; Joe Decosta is gone and several other 
engineers. We've got to have somebody here. I won't approve your 

How old were you at this time? 

I was thirty nine; I would have been forty in July. I wanted to 
go. I really regret to this day that I didn't participate. 
However, I participated in a different way here, by all the work 
that the district did to serve these facilities. I participated 
in that I guess I provided service to the war effort shipyards, 
etc. I would have liked to have had the experience of being in 
the armed forces. I look back on it, and the kids say, "Oh, well, 



Dad, you did your share." But at the same time, I think I would 
have enjoyed maybe a year or two years in the service. One fellow 
I knew, Fred Early, went to the European theater and participated 
in the landings and the occupation in Germany. I don't know which 
direction I would have gone, maybe the South Pacific, or maybe 
not. Fred Early went in about the same time that I would have. He 
was a large contractor in San Francisco and a very close friend of 
mine. He served entirely in the European theater. 

Veil, anyway, I was turned down by Mr. Longwell, so I had to 
write a letter to the navy declining the commission. 

Did you have some hard feelings? 

Yes, I did. I had some hard feelings. My wife at that time, 
Marge, urged me to go. She said, "I think it will do you good." 
But unfortunately we had our son, Edward Bruce, who was born in 
1940. He was only three. 

Son's Service in Army Air Force and Death 

McLean: My oldest son, Walter Donald, had gone into the air force. That's 
him right there. [indicates photograph] 

Lage: And you lost him, didn't you? 

McLean: Yes. We lost him in '45, after the war in Europe was over. He 
was still in college when I tried to enlist, but he had enlisted 
in the air force and had been commissioned. They left him in 
college until the following year, until 1943. War was declared in 
'December of '41. He joined the air force in '42, and they didn't 
call him to active duty until '44. He was basically in the air 
force at UC Berkeley for about two years before they called him 
for active duty. 

Lage: That's surprising. 

McLean: Yes. They left him in college the entire time. I told him after 
war was declared, "Now, look. Don't rush into this, but don't 
wait to be drafted. If you wait to be drafted you're going to be 
a foot soldier out in trenches or some other thing like that. 
Take your choice now of what you want to do and enlist. Then you 
will have your choice of the service that you want to select." At 
that time the air force was gung-ho, you know. For young fellows 
to be in the air force, that was the greatest thing ever. So they 
were recruiting at UC Berkeley; he was at UC Berkeley. 


Lage: Did he see active service? 

McLean: Absolutely. He flew sixty-nine combat missions in the Italian war 
theater. Oh, yes. We have his log. They flew the Brenner Pass 
[in the Alps between Austria and Italy], They called the Brenner 
Pass the milk run. The squadron would start out every morning and 
bomb the Brenner Pass on a daily routine. They also participated 
in the raids on the Polesti oil fields. He went overseas, as I 
recall, in August of '44. They called him in '44, because he went 
to Missoula, Montana, for pre- flight training in February of '44. 
He graduated at Pecos, Texas, from the B-2S bombing school there 
in '44. He went overseas in August of '44, and was killed after 
the war ended in 1945. 

They were training fellows who had never had any night 
flying, and he was acting as copilot to one of these fellows. All 
the B-25s in his squadron were going to fly into North Africa, 
then to the Azores, then across the Atlantic to South America, and 
then home. They were going to fly all the B-25 planes back to the 
U.S.A. They were training some of these pilots who had come to 
the squadron and had never done any night flying. His squadron 
was located on one of the islands Just off of the Italian 

When the plane took off, it exploded in the air over the 
Adriatic just after it got off the runway. Both of them were 
killed. He was buried temporarily in a cemetery in Italy, and 
then later his remains were brought over to San Bruno. 

So his sequence was that he had enlisted in '42 when he was 
in college, right after war was declared on December 7, 1941. He 
enlisted in the U.S. Air Force; that's when it was the U.S. Army 
Air Force. He remained in college a little over a year. He was 
called up for active duty in '44. He went from Missoula, Montana, 
down to southern California, from southern California over to 
Pecos , Texas , and graduated from Pecos , Texas , in the spring of 
1944. He and Margaret Jones were married in '44, right after he 
graduated from Pecos, Texas, and they went to Virginia. Then he 
went overseas in August of '44, flew sixty-nine combat missions, 
and was killed just around two or three days after his twenty- 
third birthday, June 27, 1945. 

Lage: The air force gave you a lot of information on how it happened and 

McLean: Yes. There were some thoughts that it might have been sabotage. 
They weren't sure. But those B-25s were the twin engine light 
bombers. They were very fast, light bombers, and they were a very 
volatile plane from what I have been told. If you didn't handle 


them just right, why--. They were fast. They were not like the 
big B-S2s. The B-25s had a crew of five, I believe--a pilot, 
copilot, tail gunner, another gunner, and then a bombardier. They 
were pretty hot little planes. They also carried a good- sized 
load of bombs. He was killed in June of '45, after the war was 

Lage: That's sad, after the war was over--. He was a very handsome boy. 

Wartime Precautions 

McLean: Getting back to my career, I was refused the commission. I was a 
little disappointed. Things were pretty quiet at the district. 

Lage: In the book you've loaned me, I read about security precautions 
and a fear of sabotage . 

McLean: Yes. The army required us to do a number of things to .protect the 
district's facilities against sabotage. We had a large number of 
steel tanks in the system. Those had always been painted aluminum 
on the outside and were visible from the air. The army required 
us to paint those tanks a dark green so that they wouldn't be 
quite as conspicuous among the hills. Ve had security guards on 
the filter plants and patrols on the aqueducts and reservoirs. 
The district was required to take a lot of precautions because of 
sabotage . 

Lage: Was there a sense of fear in the atmosphere? 

McLean: Well, it was a sense of concern, I think, to be very watchful 

about the district's facilities. The government had cautioned us, 
particularly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, to be on the alert 
for sabotage. Right after war was declared we had two or three 
sessions with the U.S. Army. I remember one or two of them were 
held at the Grand Lake Theater [in Oakland], where they brought 
out a lot of the key personnel from the district and also from 
other agencies, and they cautioned us about sabotage. At that 
time, I guess, they were thinking that there could be some 
invasions into the Bay Area and particularly the California coast. 
Ve had a number of lectures by people from the army and the navy 
both as to what to look for, what places might be the most 
vulnerable , and what precautions to take . 

As a result, the district did take a lot of precautionary 
measures. There were a lot of things done to protect the most 
vulnerable district facilities. We fenced properties that were 


not fenced previously. We also had patrols on the dams and 
reservoirs where sabotage could occur, particularly along the 
aqueducts ; they increased the patrols along the aqueducts . 

Increased Ute of Outside Contractors during Postwar Years 

Lage : But you yourself, you mentioned, were not really busy. 

McLean: No. Construction slacked off pretty quickly. Ve completed most 
of the construction work that we had going on, but we did very 
little construction work during that time because of the fact that 
material was hard to obtain. You couldn't get material for pipe, 
you couldn't get steel or building materials. This pretty well 
ended the construction work that had been done by district forces. 
And I think this became the period of transition, because after 
the war a lot of the district forces had been depleted, and from 
then on we began doing more and more contract work. 

Lage: Rather than rehire so many back? 

McLean: That's right. 1 think probably during that time some of them had 
retired. I think this was the turning point from the time the 
district had been doing a lot of work with their own forces to 
where we began to contract work. And, of course, during the war 
there also emerged a lot of contractors who had been doing 
contract work for the government. They became available, then, 
for local civilian work. 

Lage: Do you have some feeling about which is the better system? 

McLean: It is difficult to judge. During the time that the district did 
this work, they certainly had very good crews. I think the 
contract work that we later got into, particularly on these larger 
projects, brought to the district a different organization. They 
had worked for the government during the war years, particularly 
those who were solely heavy construction. These contractors had 
done a lot of work on the army bases and other facilities. They 
had very efficient organizations, and they participated in some of 
our projects, particularly when we began to get into the waste 
water project. They brought to the district, then, a different 
organization entirely; they were operating on a profit basis. 

Lage: Did it change the way things were done? 

McLean: Yes, it did. There was a transition, a very definite transition. 


Lage : What did you see that was different about the dally work or the 
way a project was carried out? 

McLean: At that time Castro Valley was annexed into the district, Pleasant 
Hill, Orinda, Lafayette, and Walnut Creek were all annexed to the 
district after the war. This involved pipelines and reservoirs to 
serve them. The contractors were organized a little different 
than the district force, with different classifications of labor 
and workmen. And then their goals were, I believe, much higher. 
They had to bid for the work. They were more efficient. There 
were strict requirements according to the contract to accomplish 
the work within a specified time. 

Lage: So work might have been done more efficiently? 

McLean: Well, you probably could say it was more efficient, yes. They 
were well organized. They had been doing a lot of work, as I 
said, on army bases and all types of work for the army and navy. 
They brought to the district a background of experience that was 
needed at that time, because the district was in a period of 

Lage: So the profit motive seemed to--. 

McLean: That's right, the profit motive, and this has pretty much 

continued to this day. Anything now that's over a thousand feet 
of pipeline is to be contracted out. Anything less than a 
thousand feet in the way of pipes is done by district forces. 
Most structures are done by contract. 

Fact ShMt 


EBMUD Fact Sheet 
April 1985 

Special District 1, a separate district within EBMUD but administered by the same Board of Directors, was estab 
lished in 1944 and operates as the Wastewater Department of the Utility District. It treats the domestic, commercial 
and industrial wastewater of an 83-square-mile area that includes the cities of Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville. 
Oakland, Piedmont and Stege Sanitary District, which includes El Cerrito, Kensington and part of Richmond. Popula 
tion served by the Wastewater System is 572,000. 



The Wastewater System operates 21.6 miles of reinforced concrete interceptors, which are sewer pipes that range 
from 12 inches to 9 feet in diameter. These interceptors parallel the East Bay shoreline from El Cerrito to a point near 
the Oakland International Airport, and cross over onto Alameda as well. The interceptors collect wastewater from approxi 
mately 1,800 miles of sewers owned and operated by the cities listed above. 

Eleven pumping stations, ranging in capacity from 1.5 to 14 million gallons a day (MGD), lift wastewater into 
the interceptors from portions of the Alameda, Albany and Oakland city collection systems and from the Stege Sanitary 
District. One 57 MGD pumping station relifts the flow in the East Oakland section of the south interceptor. 



Raw Sewage Discharge along East Bay Shore^tf 

McLean: After the war, as far as the history of the district is concerned, 
the first monumental project was the formation of Special District 
1. This was brought about as a result of what we called the Hyde, 
Rawn, Grey Report. Professor Charles Oilman Hyde was professor of 
sanitary engineering at the University of California. Harold Grey 
was the head of the Mosquito Abatement District for Alameda 
County. Mr. Rawn was head of the Los Angeles County Sanitation 
District. At that time, as I recall, there were twenty- seven 
outfall sewers discharging raw sewage into the San Francisco Bay. 

Lage: Right into the edge of the bay? 

McLean: Right into the edge of the bay. They discharged right at 
tidewater, right at the shoreline. 

Lage: It's incredible to think of it. 

McLean: If you ever drove along the Eastshore Freeway at that time with an 
offshore wind blowing inshore, why, the stench was Just terrible. 

Lage: How did people put up with it for so long? 

McLean: Well, that was the mode of life in those days, with all of those 
large sanitary sewers- -and they were large ones. University 
Avenue, Adeline Street, Temescal, and Fruitvale were some of the 
larger ones. I don't remember all of them, but the survey party 
got into them all and gauged them to determine the flow. All the 
fecal matter, toilet paper, condoms, and everything else were all 
out on the beach along the shoreline. You had them clear out to 
Richmond and the Richmond inner harbor . The Richmond inner harbor 


was just nothing more than a big sewage lagoon. And then going 
south there was Elmhurst, and another big one was the Adeline 
Street one that discharged out along the shore at the beginning of 
the Bay Bridge, right out at the toll plaza. 

Lage: Yes. People probably smelled that pretty good when the Bay Bridge 
was built. 

McLean: The Adeline outfall discharged alongside the Bay Bridge. The 

Hyde, Rawn, Grey report was published about 1944, during the war. 
This was a big, thick book. 1 believe I gave my copy of that to 
the UC library. But anyway, this precipitated the formation of 
Special District 1. 

Lage: I understood that East Bay MUD didn't really want to get into the 
sewage business. Would that be something that you would be aware 

McLean: That is correct. I think the board of directors was very 

reluctant to get into the waste water problems. But there was 
enough pressure brought on them by the citizens that the district 
was the most logical agency to carry out the project. 

Lage: Did you and your coworkers feel that way, or did you side with the 
board of directors? 

McLean: Well, it was decided by the board of directors; however, we were 
enthusiastic about the project because it meant a lot of 
engineering design and construction. 

Lage: But were these kinds of policy issues discussed among the 
employees, by yourselves? 

McLean: Very rarely. Once in a while we'd get down to it on a staff 

level. We'd have a staff meeting every Monday, and we'd get some 
of these things that would come down to the staff level. We were 
told about them, but we were never participants in that sense. It 
was decided by the board. There were five board members at that 
time, and they were really pressured. There was a big outcry at 
that time to do something about this raw sewage discharge into the 
bay, particularly the smell. If the Eastshore Freeway had not 
been constructed, people would never have been aware of it. 

Lage: They weren't trying to save the bay; they just didn't like that 
smell, is that right? 

McLean: I think that was it. It wasn't a case of polluting or trying to 
save the bay; it was a fact that people suddenly had become aware 
of these sewers that were discharging raw sewage into the bay. 


Lage: Did the sewage go into the creek and then into the bay? Or they 
did just happened to be--? 

McLean: No. The pipes went out and discharged right at the shoreline. 
Lage: But they followed some of the creeks? 

McLean: Well, some were named after the creeks. The Temescal was named 

after Temescal Creek. University Avenue was the University Avenue 
sewer. All of these sewers were large -diameter pipes that 
collected the sewage from homes, commercial buildings, UC 
Berkeley, etc., within each drainage area. 

Ashby Avenue was a large sewer. There was University Avenue, 
Ashby, Temescal, Adeline, and then going south there was 
Lakeshore, Elmhurst Creek, and a lot of others. These were all 
large sewers, five, six foot in diameter. And those sewers were 
just flowing out into the bay. The Hyde, Rawn, Grey Report had 
all the information on the outfall sewers and the discharges, the 
quantities that were flowing into the bay. The Bay Bridge was 
completed in '36, and people traveled along the Eastshore Freeway 
going north instead of going along San Pablo Avenue the way we 
used to go. People became aware of these discharges on the 
Eastshore Freeway. I'll tell you, the smell was overwhelming. 
You would come along there on a hot summer day, and you wanted to 
put a clothespin on your nose. 

In t : ..- other direction, on Lakeshore, where a couple of large 
outfalls discharged down to Broadway, they were never noticed, 
because people were not down there. And they were some large 
ones: Lakeshore, Grand Avenue was a big one, there was one at the 
foot of Broadway, there was Elmhurst Creek, and there were a many 
others out in that direction that discharged into San Leandro Bay. 
But people didn't get to see them because they were discharging 
into the estuary, and people were not aware of them. The ones 
they noticed were those big ones at Adeline, Temescal, Ashby 
Avenue, and University Avenue. You could see those when you 
traveled along the Eastshore Freeway. 

This precipitated people to do something about these, to take 
care of these discharges and get them into a waste water treatment 
plant. And at that time treatment plants were beginning to be 
built in many of the smaller cities. At the time the Special 
District was formed it was supposed to take in Richmond on the 
north and San Leandro on the south. Well, it happened that 
Richmond elected to go their own way, and San Leandro elected to 
go on their own. Each of these cities built their separate 
plants. So when you got into the real mechanics of all this, 
certain areas were brought in, and certain areas were left out. 


Originally the Hyde, Rawn, Grey Report took in all the waste water 
flow from Richmond to San Leandro, including Alameda, which had to 
be brought into the system by people across the estuary at Vebster 

The district board of directors was very reluctant to take on 
anything more than the water supply. They figured that the water 
supply was all they wanted to handle, and they didn't want to get 
into the waste water business. But pressure was brought upon them 
to take on the waste water end of it, and that's when they formed 
Special District 1. 

Staffing Special District 1 

Lage: And you had some role in the work for Special District 1? 

McLean: Yes. At that time there wasn't much work going on, so 1 was 

shifted over on Special District 1. A new organization was formed 
entirely; I was divorced, basically, from the MUD part of it. 
That's when I formed all the field forces and project engineers 
for Special District 1. This included all the field parties, all 
the inspectors, and the engineers to carry out the field 
investigations, treatment plant location, location of the 
interceptor pipes, and float studies for the outfall sewer 

Lage: This involved a lot of hiring. 

McLean: Yes. Darrell Root became head of design, and I became head of all 
the investigations and construction management. Darrell and I 
worked together. Mr. Kennedy, who had been assistant chief 
engineer and assistant general manager, was put in charge of us; 
my supervisor was Kennedy. Then we commenced all the 
investigations for Special District 1. 

Lage: Now, for this project you had different problems? 

McLean: Oh, yes. Oh, you bet we did. 

Lage: Were there things you had to learn? How did you go about it? 

McLean: No, it was general engineering. We had to study the drainage 

areas to determine the flow from the various drainage areas, which 
went into the sizing of the interceptors. Then we started on the 
location of the interceptors. We had to construct interceptors 
running north to take in Albany. 


Lage : When you say interceptors , what do you mean? 

McLean: The purpose of the interceptors was to intercept all of the 
outfalls that then were discharging into the bay water. 

Lage: You had the basic system; you just had to capture it before it got 
to the bay? 

McLean: That's right, we had the basic system. We knew where the outfalls 
were. You see, outfalls are constructed to take in what we call 
drainage areas. All of the sewers that flow from all homes and 
commercial establishments had to be intercepted, and the flow 
diverted into the treatment plant and then into the outfall. Our 
job was to collect the flow from all of the existing outfalls. 
First we had to locate the interceptors within public streets or, 
where it wasn't possible in public streets, across private land in 
order to intercept all of these main outfalls as close to their 
discharge point as possible. You didn't want to get any 
individual sewers into the main interceptors . The purpose was to 
intercept all of the big outfalls nearest the discharge point. So 
we had to try to follow a location along some area where we could 
get at virtually the end of the outfall pipe. We couldn't go out 
into the bay, but we tried to get as close to that location as we 

Then I had to have an office for my office force, and of 
course I had several field parties. In conjunction with this, we 
had to search for locations where we could have a suitable area 
not only for the treatment plant but also for the outfall from 
each treatment plant. We studied three of those. We studied one 
near in the racetrack in Albany, another one in the San Leandro 
area, and then the area where the main plant is now located. 

Lage: Which is? 

McLean: Near the east approach to the Bay Bridge. 

Lage: Did you have outside consultants on this? 

McLean: Yes. We had two outside consultants on it. We had Mr. Tom Veatch 
from Black and Veatch in Kansas City, and we also had Mr. Sam 
Greeley from Greeley and Hanson in Chicago. Mr. Veatch was the 
man I worked with. His specialty was construction. Mr. Greeley 
was on design, and he worked with Darrell Root. Darrell was the 
head of design, and Mr. Greeley knew most of the criteria 
regarding the design of the treatment plant. Mr. Veatch was more 
cognizant on the interceptor locations and the various studies we 
did on those, and also on the outfall. I had a lot of contact 
with Mr. Veatch, and Darrell Root was in contact with Mr. Greeley. 


They both would come out on the projects quite frequently. I 
began to accumulate a pretty good- sized force of people. We had 
two or three survey parties in the field. 

Determining Outfall Location with Float Studies of Bay Currents 

McLean: We spent pretty nearly a year on the float studies in San 

Francisco Bay for the location of the outfalls from the treatment 
plant sites. 

Lage : How did that go? 

McLean: Veil, on the studies for the outfalls we had possible areas that 

we felt were probable locations, and we were studying the currents 
in the bay for the directions that the outflow from the proposed 
locations would go. The purpose was to locate an outfall where 
the discharge from the outfall itself would be dispersed rapidly 
in the bay and carried out the Golden Gate into the ocean. Ve 
carried out these studies for nearly a year, in which we had a 
boat that operated on the bay, and we fabricated a number of 
floats. We had six-foot floats, three-foot floats, and then we 
had bottle floats. The six-foot floats had a vein on the bottom; 
they were weighted so that about two feet or more of the float 
would be above the surface of the water, and the remainder of the 
float would be down below the water. What we were trying to do 
was to get not only the surface currents but also currents below 
the surface so we could tell which direction the effluence would 

We had reference points along the shore, like the stack of 
some building or some other object that was visible, which we knew 
the coordinate of, and then we'd have some other point that we 
could see. We had these points along the shore that we used for 
triangulation. We had a crew of four on the boat, two instrument 
men, a chief of party, and the boat operator. We followed these 
floats, sometimes for several hours. If there was one of the six- 
foot floats that was traveling in a particular direction, we would 
pick that one out and start following it. We would follow 
whatever direction it went over a period of ten to twelve hours. 
Then, by using two sextants, we would take readings off these 
reference points at shore as we followed the floats. By that we 
could plot our positions, you see. We would follow the float 
around and get the time and what the tide level was at that time. 
We would follow this float until we were sure it was headed out 
towards the Gate, and then we would leave it. Many times we would 


follow it pretty nearly to the Golden Gate Bridge if it looked 
like it was headed in that direction. 

Lage: Did you get out in the boat? 

McLean: Yes. I went out on the boat several times. We kept this up for a 
year. I don't know how many hundred floats we put out at that 
time, and then we put bottle floats out. In other words, the 
procedure was that we wanted to get a certain tide at a certain 
time during the day. They might start out at six o'clock in the 
morning, and they would usually turn maybe two or three of these 
six-foot floats loose, and then four or five of the three -foot 
floats , and maybe ten of the bottle floats . 

Lage: They just tell you the surface currents? 

McLean: Yes. They were just floating high. They had a little flag on 
them, and inside the bottle --of course we had a cork on itbut 
inside the bottle was a self -stamped postal card note. And it 
said, "If you find this bottle, please mark the location of where 
you found it, the date, and the time of day that you found it." 
And we did get some of those back. This gave us a record of 
surface material. In other words, if there was any surface 
material that came out of the outfall- -that is, floating material, 
which you very rarely see today- -then this would give us an idea 
of where this might land on a tide and a time of day. 

We worked at that for a year, and then of course in the 
office I had to have a man plotting this. Ve made up maps of the 
prospective locations of the outfall --as I said, one in the Albany 
area, another one in San Leandro, and the main one that we have 
comes out near Treasure Island. It soon became obvious after a 
lot of studies that we had made of the Albany site and the San 
Leandro site that these were not good locations. 

Lage: The outflow didn't go out into the ocean? 

McLean: As I recall, in San Leandro Bay the floats just went back and 
forth in the estuary; they never got out the estuary. We also 
found that to be true in the South Bay below Candlestick Point. 
The floats never got out of the bay. They Just kept going back 
and forth on the tide . This indicated to us that these were not 
satisfactory locations for an outfall. And at the Albany one we 
found that to be true also- -that unless you went out to the deep- 
water channel there was no way you could ever get the material out 
of the bay. 

So this was the reason for choosing the location off of 
Treasure Island, where we finally constructed the final outfall 


from the present treatment plant. These were very interesting 
studies . 

Lage: They seem like they would be, and might have other uses as well. 

McLean: Veil, yes. They indicated to us the surface water currents, what 
the underwater currents were doing, and which direction they were 

Lage: Once you decided on the one that was chosen, did you have to get 
permits and all? 

McLean: Oh, yes, of course you went through all the permits. 
Lage: Through the Army Corps of Engineers? 

McLean: Yes, all of that, and also the State Department of Water Quality 
Control . 

Lage: Was there any problem with that? 

McLean: No, because our studies had been very thorough. Of course, that 

was all handled through Darrell Root; I didn't get into that. How 
far out we would go became a part of design. Well, we went out as 
far as we could; we went out to deep water. As 1 recall, the 
outfall is located in somewhere around fifty feet of water just 
off of Treasure Island. And it has proven very satisfactory. I 
don't think there have ever been any problems regarding the 
discharge from the outfall . 

Lage: It's treated by the time it's out there? 

McLean: Oh, yes. It's all treated now; of course it's all treated. But 
these studies were very interesting 

Locating Sewer Line Interceptors 

McLean: Then the location of the interceptors was another real interesting 
problem. We had to get, as I said, out as close as we possibly 
could to the end of the outfall coming from the city sewers. We 
followed the railroad tracks north of University Avenue out to 
Albany . 

Lage: So you were on the land side- -the east side- -of the freeway? 


McLean: That's right, yes. Then south of University Avenue we were along 
the Aquatic Park, and then from the treatment plant north we 
followed the Eastshore Freeway. We were on the east side of the 
East shore Freeway, and that really created some problems. But we 
had to get there in order to intercept the Temescal Creek outfall. 

McLean: The Temescal Creek one is right north of the old Judson Steel 
Company. In fact, it comes through the property of the Judson 
Steel Company. 

Lage: Now, where is that? 

McLean: That's just north of the Bay Bridge interchange. We came out of 
the treatment plant and then followed through vacant Santa Fe 
property. South of the Judson Steel Company is all Santa Fe 
property. Then we followed the Eastshore Freeway on the east 
side, alongside the highway. Of course, there we had to get a 
permit from the state (now Caltrans), which required certain 
restrictions. We were in the shoulder area; we were not under the 
pavement . Of course we had to have equipment along the freeway to 
carry on the installation of the pipe. We worked along there from 
south of the Judson Steel Company on north to where the Aquatic 
Park is, a distance of maybe a mile. This was all tunnel; it was 
all tunneled underneath the shoulder because we couldn't open cut 
it. We had to tunnel. 

Lage: A little extra work. 

McLean: Oh, it was. It created some real problems, and then the 

contractor had to quit work at four o'clock in the afternoon 
because of the restrictions that the Caltrans put on. 

Problems with Sandfill under the Eastshore Freeway: 
Breastboardine the Headworks 

McLean: The interesting part about it- -the land in there was all sand- 
filled; it was put in hydraulically to make the bed of the 
highway, and we ran into what we called running ground. In this 
tunneling operation, the material would run in at the tunnel 
heading, and we had to breast board the headworks. When you're 
working like that, you keep boarding up the part that you're 
excavating to keep it from running in on the tunnel. We had quite 
a time on that. 



That was one of the most difficult operations on the entire 
north interceptor, and that's a large interceptor. It is ninety- 
six inches in diameter. It's a large pipe, and it required a 
large tunnel. You could drive along the shoulder, along the edge 
of the pavement of the freeway, and you could see the progress of 
the work by the settlement of the shoulder. The shoulder was 
settling on the surface as the tunnel progressed. That was done 
by Stolte, a local contractor. They did a good job. They had a 
portion of the south interceptor, and then they also had a large 
portion of the north interceptor. 

So you were overseeing and seeing that they performed to 

McLean: Yes. A fellow by the name of Bob Murdoch was my resident engineer 
on that project. 

Treatment Plant and Pumping Plants 

Lage: Did you also oversee building the treatment plant? 

McLean: Oh, yes. I was in charge of all that work- -the treatment plant 
and everything else, yes. Yes, I was in charge of the entire 
project. I don't recall how many men I had, but a lot of work was 
going on at one time. I had a project office for the north 
interceptor, one for the south interceptor, one for the treatment 
plant, and another for the work in Alameda. We had the Alameda 
interceptor and the estuary crossing, which was a large project. 

Lage: Yes, I would think so. Did you go under the estuary? 

McLean: Oh, yes. We went under the estuary with two pipes, east of the 
Posey highway tube. As I remember, we had a 42 -inch pipe and a 
60-inch pipe that went from Alameda under the estuary. It crossed 
just east of Jack London Square in Oakland, at Webster Street. 
That was quite an operation. The south interceptor was installed 
in First Street; it followed the railroad tracks on First Street. 
That was all difficult construction work. It was deep, and we had 
to use sheet piles to protect the railroad tracks and other 

All of these operations were going on at the same time. We 
had the north and south interceptor, the outfall sewer, the 
treatment plant, the Fruitvale pumping plant, and we also had the 
Albany pumping plant. 


Lage: It didn't all work by gravity? 

McLean: No. To get the flow from the airport into the south interceptor, 
we had to construct a pumping plant at Fruitvale. Then in Albany 
we had another pumping plant to collect the various sewers there 
to get the flow from them into the north interceptor. Then in 
Alameda there is a pumping plant to get the flow from Alameda 
across the estuary and into the south interceptor in Oakland. 

Installing the Outfall Sewer Line and Connecting the Interceotori 





And then you had the outfall pipe. 

Then we had the sewer outfall which we installed, and that was a 
large operation in itself, because that's a 96 -inch pipe. The 
pipe installation was all done with the use of divers. Healy 
Tibbets was the contractor on that project. We had to use divers 
for putting the pipe together. I had to have a diver for 
inspecting the installation. Ve had to have our own boat; we 
bought a boat. I had a boat operator to take the inspectors back 
and forth on the boat. 

Did you have your own staff doing the diving, or did you have 
people you hired? 

Ve had our own diver. 1 had a diver on my staff. We used him 
later also on the estuary crossing. The outfall paralleled the 
Bay Bridge, so we used the piers on the Bay Bridge for setting the 
grades for the pipe trench. I had to have a man with a level 
instrument on the Bay Bridge piers who could give the elevation 
for the grade of the trench and also the elevation for the grade 
of the pipe from the piers of the Bay Bridge. We had to have the 
boat because you had to get these fellows out on the piers, and 
you also had to have the diver on the diving rig. The contractor 
had the derrick barge where they did the excavating and the pipe 
laying. We had to have our personnel there all the time the 
contractor was working. 1 had a diver and a helper, a level man, 
and the project engineer. 

These are all new directions, I'd say. 

Yes. I had the diver and his helper to get out, and then I had an 
inspector in addition. Then I had to have an instrument man on 
the piers of the Bay Bridge to give them grades for the trench and 
the pipe. 


Lage: My, It did get complicated. How did that finally get finished? 
How long were you on the job? 

McLean: The first projects were let, oh, I guess somewhere around '46 or 
'47. The entire project was completed and dedicated in '52. 

Lage: Any hitches? Did it all work as you expected? 

McLean: Oh, it sure did. It worked perfectly. Well, we found one or two 
little bugs in it, but they didn't affect it very much. It 
functioned right from the day that we began operations. After 
everything was ready, then the big Job was cutting the existing 
outfall into the interceptors. There were twenty-seven of them. 
We had a separate contract for doing that work. The grade of the 
interceptor was designed in such a way that we could cut them in 
very easily. And we left manholes over the connections so that 
you could get into them. But in order to cut them in we started 
at the lower end, near the treatment plant, and worked out, 
because we wanted to have it dry when we were cutting these in; we 
didn't want to be swimming in sewage when we started in. 

That was a big operation. That was the last thing we did, to 
bring all those into the interceptors, and the treatment plants 
were started. The project was dedicated in the spring of '52. 



Planning for Growth: the 1958 Bond Issue 
[Interview 5, May 8, 1991 ]//// 

Lage: Last time we finished talking about the sewage facilities. Now 

let's turn to the work of the district during the fifties and the 
sixties. That was a period of growth in the Bay Area and for the 
district. And I think you're about to break into a story here 
about planning for growth. 

[The following section was added by Mr. McLean during the editing 
process. ] 

McLean: During the 1950s, studies were made and growth projected into the 
year 2000, and it was recognized that the existing aqueducts and 
storage facilities would not be adequate to meet the demand 
consumption. Additional storage was needed on the Mokelumne River 
to meet both the needs of East Bay MUD, the Voodbridge Irrigation 
District, riparian water users, and river losses to the ground 
water table. 

A high dam was proposed at the Middle Bar Site and also a dam 
at the Camanche site. A third aqueduct was needed of sufficient 
size and capacity to meet our water rights of 325 mgd from the 
Mokelumne River- -a second Walnut Creek tunnel, a Lafayette 
aqueduct, and a Lafayette tunnel to meet the 325 mgd. A storage 
reservoir was needed for the growth east of the hills in the 
Walnut Creek, San Ramon, and Danville areas (the Briones site 
within the San Pablo drainage area) . A filter plant was also 
needed for this area, and a site was chosen just east of the 
Walnut Creek tunnel. In order to provide for the growth eastward 
along Highway 80 in the Sobrante, Pinole, Rodeo, and Crockett 


areas, a new filter plant was needed to meet the projected 
consumption in that area. 

It was also recognized during this period that the true 
historical supply from the Mokelumne River would not be sufficient 
to serve the needs of the district beyond the year 2000. 
Accordingly, a search was commenced to obtain a supplementary 
supply that was equal in quality to the Mokelumne. The American 
River was selected as that source. It was finally decided, and 
the following facilities were selected and a $252 million bond 
issue put to a vote of the people within the district in June 1958 
for the ten-year program. 

The facilities included in the bond issue were: Camanche 
Dam, a 432 ,000-acre-foot reservoir to provide storage for 
Woodbridge Irrigation District, fish releases, riparian water 
uses, and river losses; a third Mokelumne aqueduct, 87 1/2 inches 
in diameter; a second Walnut Creek tunnel; a second Lafayette 
aqueduct; a second Lafayette tunnel; Briones Dam, capacity 60,000 
acre feet at elevation 576 to provide terminal storage for the 
Danville/San Ramon area; Briones pumping plant; Danville pumping 
plant and aqueduct; Walnut Creek, Lafayette, and Sobrante filter 
plants . 

The $252 million bond issue was passed with a large majority, 
and work on the design and construction of the new facilities was 
started immediately. Kaiser engineers were retained to design the 
Briones Dam, and Bechtel Company engineers were retained to design 
and administer the Camanche Dam contract. The design of the third 
Mokelumne aqueduct and all the other facilities, including the 
contract administration, was handled by district personnel. All 
work on the bond issue was completed in 1968. 

In 1970 the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation was searching for 
contractors to purchase the water that would be impounded by the 
proposed Auburn Dam on the American River. At that time the 
district signed a contract with the bureau for 150,000 acre feet 
(134 mgd) to be delivered at a turn-out point on the Folsom South 
Canal. To date, the district has not utilized this additional 
supply, although they have paid the bureau $260,000 annually on 
this contract. 

[end of added material] 


Population Growth. Annexations. New Pipelines 

Lage: Wouldn't it be useful to talk a little bit about how the plans 
were made that led to the bond issue and how the people in the 
community responded to the idea that we had to plan for growth? 

McLean: Yes. Well, the planning really started right after the war, in 

1945. During the war there had been a large influx of people into 
the district. 1 believe it was also about this time that there 
were a lot of annexations to the district. I've kind of forgotten 
just when Valnut Creek and the San Ramon Valley came into the 
district, but Pleasant Hill was annexed to the district about this 
time. And 1 also believe it was during this time that the Walnut 
Creek and the San Ramon Valley and all that area was annexed to 
the district. You see, originally the district boundary was along 
the west hills which started with Richmond. Pinole and Sobrante 
and those areas were not in the original district. It was 
Richmond, El Cerrito, Berkeley, Piedmont, Oakland, San Leandro, 
and those areas. Castro Valley was annexed in the forties, and 
San Lorenzo came after that. 

Lage: And Hayward didn't want to be a part of the district? 

McLean: Well, Hayward at one time was to be a part of the district, but 

they finally formed their own water company and got water from the 
city of San Francisco. A couple of times they were either asked 
or they wanted to come into the district, and then they turned it 
down. They got into some arguments with the district and how it 
was to be. They wanted to remain independent. There were a lot 
of Portuguese farmers there who didn't want to be mixed up with 
the district. They were on the city council, and they wanted to 
stay independent. The result was that they finally obtained a 
water supply from the city of San Francisco. But originally 
Hayward was to be a part of the district. I don't know whether 
they've regretted it since, but I think they probably have, 
because the district has had a much more stable water supply than 
the city of San Francisco, particularly in this drought year where 
they're being rationed, I believe, about fifty percent, where the 
district only has fifteen percent. 

But immediately after the war there was a tremendous 

Lage: And was your job involved with planning for this? 

McLean: Yes. The entire engineering staff was involved in planning for 
all of this expansion. Not only were a lot of contracts awarded 
for pipelines, but after the annexations occurred we were putting 


pipelines into all those areas. The Pinole-Rodeo area, all that 
area in north Richmond when we had installed the twenty -four -inch 
pipeline to the Crockett Sugar Refinery, why, this served as an 
excellent line to serve all those areas and still is in use today. 
So there was a large expansion out to the north. 

Of course, during the war there had been a large influx of 
people to work in the shipyards and related industries . More and 
more people had come into the area, and the district boundaries 
were expanded. We then reached into the area east of the hills 
and Moraga, Orinda- -well, Orinda had become part of the district 
at the time we built the Orinda Filter Plant. We took over the 
old Orinda Water Company [in 1934]. And of course the pipes and 
storage reservoirs were replaced, because most of them were too 
small to serve consumers and provide adequate fire protection. 

Then Moraga came into the district [1948], and finally Walnut 
Creek [1952] and the San Ramon Valley [1958] became a part of the 
district, and the district extended its boundaries to the hills 
and valleys to the east, over toward Mount Diablo and including 
all of Walnut Creek. At the same time Walnut Creek was served by 
the California Water Service Company that had the filter plant out 
at Baypoint and the Chenery Reservoir. Water was pumped from the 
bay into the reservoir. The city of Walnut Creek formed an 
assessment district, issued bonds to buy out the old water 
company, California Water Service Company, and were annexed to the 
district. And, of course, the addition of all this area again 
precipitated a lot of planning for facilities to serve that area. 

Lage : Was any of this controversial within our district? Did people 

say, "No, we don't want to annex new areas," or, "We don't want to 
grow"? For instance, today the idea of growth and increased water 
supply creates a lot of controversy. 

McLean: Oh, no, no. Everybody wanted to join the district because of the 
water quality. That is, all of the communities around here wanted 
to annex to the district. Castro Valley was a small community, 
and they wanted to annex. 

Lage: Did they approach the district, or did the district approach them? 

McLean: Well, most all of them approached the district. Castro Valley was 
a group of small chicken farms. Castro Valley was comprised of 
one- and two-acre chicken farms, and I guess some even larger 
parcels. During the war, when meat was short, we used to go out 
to Castro Valley, and we could buy chickens for a dollar and a 
quarter a piece. We'd maybe buy a dozen chickens at one time. 

Lage : Did they pick the feathers off for you? 


McLean: You had to pick the feathers off and clean the chickens. You just 
bought them on the hoof, you might say. Of course we had meat 
rationing during the war, and you couldn't get much meat. 
Chickens were cheap. Most all of Castro Valley was served by 
wells. Everybody there had wells and tanks for their water 

Lage: When did that begin to change? 

McLean: This changed right after the war, when Castro Valley came into the 

Lage: But it wasn't the chicken farmers who wanted to come into the 
district, 1 would think. Was it being developed? 

McLean: Well, it was the people living there, and Castro Valley then was 
being developed. There was a lot of building going on there. 
Also during this time we annexed the Fairview district, which is 
in the city of Hayward. 

Lage: So your growth was partly annexation, but it was partly 
development in the older area? 

McLean: That's right. That is correct, yes. 

Lage: What did all this growth mean to you as a district employee? 

McLean: During the war very little work was available except for those 
facilities directly connected to army or naval bases, shipyards, 
and related industries. Immediately following the war there was a 
tremendous expansion throughout the district. Between the years 
1945 and 1955 was probably the greatest period of development that 
the district has ever and will ever see. My engineering staff 
doubled and quadrupled several times . I had several field 
offices, with a staff at all the major projects as well as several 
personnel at the main office. They were busy times, and I think 
we all enjoyed it. 

Lage: What was your particular job at this time? 

McLean: Right after the war, the first thing I got assigned to was the 

waste water project; we began all the studies on that. And when 
that project began to more or less reach a finish, then I got into 
the future planning for water supply. 

Lage: Was it partly water supply but also how to supply these new 
developments with pipelines? 


McLean: Well, yes. And then in addition to that we began to contract for 
a lot of work. In other words, as I said, Castro Valley came into 
the district, and the Fairview district. Ve had a tremendous 
number of contracts, and I had men- -engineers- -as inspectors; we 
were building reservoirs. We built the north reservoir, we built 
the south reservoir, and we built a lot of --not only distribution 
reservoirs but the Danville Pumping Plant, the pipelines out in 
the Danville area. We were expanding in all directions. 

Lage: So it was really a busy time? 

McLean: It was a busy time. I don't know how many men I had, but I had a 
large group of not only surveyors but also inspectors , engineers , 
and personnel on all the different projects. And then I had a 
pretty good-sized office force; I think I had five or six men in 
the office who were keeping track of the contracts and progress 
payments. Of course, in addition to this came the waste water 
project. We were involved in the waste water project where we 
started all the studies for the interceptors and outfall and then 
into the construction of the project. 

Need for Additional Water Supply 

McLean: And finally, after we'd had all this expansion, during this time 

was when we recognized we were going to need additional water. We 
recognized that our supply of 200 million gallons a day which we 
then had rights to on the Mokelumne would not be sufficient to 
carry on into the future for Walnut Creek and all of this area 
that was then being annexed or brought within the boundaries of 
the district. So then we went to the mountain counties, Amador 
and Calaveras counties , and negotiated with them to obtain another 
1.25 million gallons a day. This would bring our entitlement 
water rights from the Mokelumne to 325 million gallons a day. 

Lage: Now, did you pay the counties for that? 

McLean: We paid each of the counties for the additional water rights. We 
paid each one of the counties, as I recall, $2.5 million. I don't 
recall exactly, but it was sometime in the late forties or early 

Before too long we realized that the additional water we had 
obtained from the Mokelumne was still not going to be enough. We 
knew we couldn't get any more water out of the Mokelumne, so we 
began to look elsewhere for additional water. This is when we 


signed the contract with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for the 
American River water. 

Lage : Do you remember the date on that? 

McLean: This came in 1970 [December 22, 1970]. 

Lage: What was the Ultimate Hokelumne River Project? 

McLean: The Ultimate Mokelumne River Project was the bond issue of '58. 
In other words , we recognized that we were going to need another 
larger aqueduct. The first and second aqueducts were not capable 
of delivering the 325 million gallons. The number one aqueduct 
with a gravity flow is only capable of delivering 41 million 
gallons a day to the system; the number two, 54 million gallons; 
and the number three, 107 million. Now, if you operate the pumps 
at the Walnut Creek Pumping Plant on the number one and the number 
two, that increases your flow on the number one to 67 million 
gallons a day and on the number two to 87 million; that adds up to 
154 million gallons per day. Now, when EBMUD acquired the 
additional supply from the mountain counties , that then gave us 
the entitlement of 125 million gallons more. So the gravity flow 
of the three aqueducts is 202 mgd, but the pump flow increases the 
capacity up to 326, which is the full capacity of the aqueducts. 

Veil, studies of the Mokelumne River have indicated that the 
true historical flow of the Mokelumne is only in the neighborhood 
of about 215 million gallons a day. Now, there are times during 
the year that you can take a flow of 325 mgd, but if you take the 
overall flow annually over a long period of time, the true 
historical flow is only equal to about 750 thousand acre- feet, 
which must provide for all prior rights on the river plus losses. 

Lage: So this was all looked at? 

McLean: Yes. We were studying all this, and we recognized that by the 
year 2000 we were not going to have sufficient water for the 

Lage: Projecting the growth of the area? 

McLean: That's due to the growth of the area- -that is, with the boundaries 
as they now exist. When Walnut Creek and San Ramon Valley and 
those areas came into the district, we changed the boundaries. We 
moved the boundaries out to the area east of the hills, along the 
eastern ridge of the San Ramon Valley. We moved the boundaries 
from the East Bay hills out to the hills east of Walnut Creek. 






With the growth that was taking place within the district at 
that time, we recognized that the true historical flow of the 
district would be only equal to about 241 thousand acre feet a 
year, or somewhere in the neighborhood of a little over 
215 million gallons a day. Ve would never be able to realize our 
325 million which we had rights to. 

So you had rights to more than you were able to get? 

We had rights for more than what the true historical yield of the 
river would be when you take into account the prior water rights 
of the mountain counties, Woodbridge, etc. 

Does this mean that you would take up all that water? 
be left in the river? 

What would 

Well, there's still water left in the river. Because you have to 
recognize that we still have to supply Woodbridge Irrigation 
District, and the mountain counties get their entitlement. They 
get their entitlement first from the river, then Woodbridge and 
the riparian owners along the stream get theirs, and we get what's 
left. This is what creates what we call the true historical flow. 

In other words, records of the Mokelumne probably go back to 
the early 1900s. And what you do is average out the flow over all 
these years , and then from that average you take out the prior 
rights that have to be recognized- -the decrees that we have with 
the city of Lodi and with the Woodbridge Irrigation District. You 
have to take those entitlements out, as well as the mountain 
counties- -Calaveras and Amador counties and the riparian rights 
along the river and also the river losses. You take those out, 
and then what is left-- 

Or you leave them in, we could say. 

Well, you leave them in, yes. That's what I mean. You leave them 
in, and then what water is left, that's what you get. When you do 
all of this, then the true historical flow cuts the district's 
dependable supply to 215 mgd or 241,000 acre feet, although we 
say, "We've got rights to 325 million." But you can't get them. 


The district, East Bay MUD, has water rights of 325 million 
gallons a day, which amounts to 364 thousand acre feet, from the 
Mokelumne River. However, the safe historical yield, with present 
storage facilities, is only about 241 thousand acre feet per year, 
which I believe amounts to 215 mgd. Let me work that down, and 


I'll tell you what Chat amounts to in millions of gallons a day. 
[gets out his calculator] 

An Aside on Slide Rules and Calculators 

Lage: Did you used to have a slide rule that you'd whip out instead of 
this calculator? 

McLean: Yes. [laughter] Here's my old slide rule, right here. 

Lage: You don't get much use of it now, I bet. Calculators must have 
pretty well replaced the slide rule. 

McLean: That's right. 

Lage : I never did learn how to use one of these . 

McLean: Well, here. It's really easy to read. Let me show you how you do 
it. Let's say you want to multiply- -well, let's take an easy one. 
Two times four. You put them one over the other, and then you run 
up on this just to four. And what do you get? You get eight, 
don't you? 

Lage: Oh, right underneath here. I see. 

McLean: Yes. 

Lage: Now wait a minute here. You line up the two and the four. 

McLean: Yes. This is your index number. This is on your C scale. You 

use your C D scales foryou can also go up above here, but those 
are all log logs and- -oh, this has got all kinds of hydraulic 
stuff on it. 

Lage: Is this a special one for your field? 

McLean: This is normally used for hydraulics. You can use either scale- - 
this one here , or you can use this one over here . See , they both 
read the same. It's a C D scale. 

Lage: You have to know what unit you end up in. 

McLean: Yes. That's right. And you have to memorize decimal points in 

your head and all that. I did hundreds of jobs with a slide rule 
in hydraulics. That's what we used in those days before we got 
the present calculators. 


Lage: When did you switch over to calculators? Do you remember? 

McLean: Oh, twenty years ago, 1 guess. These small calculators came into 
being about, oh, twenty years ago. 

Lage: They're easier to carry around. 

McLean: Oh, yes. Much easier to carry around. I've got two or three. 
Here's a little bit of a one right here that I can put in my 
pocket. You know, it's amazing the many functions they can 

Lage: Do you use the scientific calculators? 

McLean: Oh, yes. They're all over at the San Francisco office. All my 
sines and cosines and logarithms tables are over at the office. 
Years ago, why, we used to carry a whole library of books around. 
I've got a logarithms book that's about two inches thick, when we 
used to logarithms for many of our engineering calculations. 

Lage: You'd have to use your slide rule plus this whole array of books? 

McLean: Yes. 

Lage: And now all of that is on one little chip. 

McLean: Now you have this little calculator, and you've got all your 
functions . 

Lage: Did any of the old-time engineers have trouble switching over? 
Did any of them refuse to give up their slide rules? 

McLean: No. Well, I think a lot of them continued using slide rules as a 

Lage : They were not sure the calculator was working? 

McLean: Lots of times, you know, it's what you have been accustomed to 

using. Fact is, slide rules are quite fast. Most of the time you 
are dealing in round numbers. Of course nowadays we deal with 
three or four decimal points on these calculators. But with a 
slide rule, you dealt with round numbers. For instance, if you 
wanted horsepower --horsepower is qwh 1 divided by 550 [brake horse 
power]. Well, you take a slide rule, and you can work that pretty 
fast, where with the calculator you've got to go through several 

*q - cubic feet of water; w - 62.5 pounds, the weight of a cubic foot 
of water; h - height in feet. 


motions. Now, we'll say that q is maybe 500, water is 62.5, and 
then your head we'll say is 1500. 500 times 62.5 times 1500. 
Divide by 550. That's equal to about 852 horsepower. 

Lage: I can see that's a little easier than punching in the numbers. 

McLean: That's right, and that's why slide rules are fast for hydraulic 
calculations. If you wanted to know velocity in pipes or open 
channels, a slide rule is very fast. Let's go through that same 
problem again using the calculator. I said 500 times 62.5 times 
1500. And then I said divide that by 550. Well, you get--I said 
852, didn't I? Well, here it comes out to 852.27273. 

Lage: But you don't need that precision? 

McLean: No. You don't need all that. If you're working on that kind of a 
problem, a slide rule is faster. 

Lage: Well, we certainly got diverted, but I thought that your 
retrospective on slide rules would be interesting. 

Building the Pardee Recreation Area 

Lage: What other projects did you work on during the fifties? 

McLean: During this period of time is when we planned and built the Pardee 
recreation area. 

Lage: Tell me about that, because that was a new type of project for the 
district. How did you learn about what was necessary in a 
recreation area? 

McLean: At that time there was pressure brought by the fishermen of 
California to open up the district's reservoirs for fishing. 
Previously, because of health reasons, we didn't want any bodily 
contact, not only on our local reservoirs but on the main storage 
reservoirs. But there was considerable agitation by the people in 
the mountain counties and by fishermen in Sacramento to open up 
Pardee Reservoir for recreation. I don't recall whether there was 
an act of legislation, but finally we got a grant from the state. 
First, of course, we went through the planning stage as to where 
we could build a recreation area. There was a very excellent area 
on the north arm of Pardee Reservoir, the Jackson Creek area. 

Lage: And were you in charge of this investigation? 


McLean: I was In charge of that, yes. We went ahead with plans for a 
large concrete boat ramp and sanitary facilities --that is, to 
dispose of campground sanitary waste from toilets, etc. 

Lage: Did you bring in outside people who had had experience in the 
recreation end of this , or was that necessary? 

McLean: Yes. I don't just recall who they were, but we had talked to a 
number of people who were familiar with planning recreation 
facilities. We visited recreation areas that had been built. 1 
went to Cachuma Reservoir [on the San Ynez River in Santa Barbara 
County] , where they had a similar operation, and then I visited a 
couple more . There was one in the San Joaquin Valley which was a 
water supply reservoir, and we visited that to study what 
provisions they had for launching the number of boats, what fees 
were charged, what sanitary facilities you had to have, the number 
of toilets, and water supply requirements. I had a small group on 
that in the planning stage, drawing the plans and preparing the 
specifications. Finally we got funding from the state. I don't 
recall the agency, but it was one of the agencies where they fund 
a certain percentage of these projects. That was built some time 
in the fifties. 

Lage: I think it was in '57, or '58, that it was designed. 
McLean: Yes. It was done along in there. That is correct. 
Lage: Were you in charge of the building also? 

McLean: Yes. I was in charge of work, but all of the construction was by 

Managing Recreation on Reservoirs: Sanitary Considerations^/ 

Lage: That was the first recreation area for the district? 

McLean: Yes. This is what opened up recreation, I guess, in the three 
local reservoirs- -Chabot, San Pablo, Lafayette, and later 
Camanche . 

Lage: The district went into recreation not too happily, I understand. 

McLean: That is correct. This was opposed by, I would say, Joe DeCosta, 
who later became the chief engineer. 


Lage : What was his objection, do you think? 

McLean: Veil, sanitary. He wanted to keep the reservoirs from being 
polluted by human contact. That was the real basis of it. 

Lage: Was that a standard response among the water people? 

McLean: That was standard among the water people, yes. Joe was a sanitary 
engineer. He had taken sanitary engineering at UC Berkeley. He 
had gone to high school down in one of the little towns in the San 
Joaquin Valley and had come to the University of California and 
had taken sanitary engineering. The professor of sanitary 
engineering was Professor Hyde. These old-time sanitary engineers 
were very, very aware of pollution of reservoirs. They didn't 
want to see any bodily contact or any public use of public water 
reservoirs because of pollution. They resisted for many, many, 
many years, and, fact is, the district had a police force that 
would arrest anybody trespassing on the drainage area of San Pablo 
Reservoir, Upper San Leandro Reservoir, Chabot. People used to 
sneak in once in a while and go fishing and hunting. Bill Jordan 
was chief of the district's rangers. 

Lage: Especially with those great trout that you have told me about at 
the San Pablo Reservoir. 

McLean: Yes, that's right. 
Lage: But fishing was illegal? 

McLean: It was illegal, yes. It was mostly because of the pollution 

Lage: Did you have a feeling about it at the time? 

McLean: No, I didn't have much feeling about it. Of course, I didn't have 
much to do with the reservoirs because I was more on the 
engineering construction projects. 

Lage: How was Joe DeCosta as chief engineer? 

McLean: Joe was good; he was all right. Joe was a good chief engineer. 
We got along well with Joe. Bill Trahern and I, Thaddeus Hague, 
and the group that worked directly with Joe, why, we got along 
very good. We had a good rapport. He was a good chief engineer. 

Building the recreation facilities at Pardee precipitated the 
opening of San Pablo. And then we had not only construction of 
facilities of San Pablo but also construction of facilities at 
Lafayette Reservoir. Of course, Lafayette Reservoir has become 


one of the real recreation areas for Lafayette and that area. 
Today there are hundreds of people who use it daily. 

Lage: Has there been any problem of pollution? 

McLean: No. Well, I think they have had some problems, but I think they 
have finally educated people to prevent any pollution. 

Lage: There's no swimming allowed? 

No swimming, 
swimming. I' 
them. That'; 


McLean: No swimming, that's right. No bodily contact. That's one of 

I'm sure that once in a while they do a little 
'm sure of that, because 1 don't think you can stop 

the reason we had to put these floats for boat 
landings and install toilets, particularly around San Pablo but 
even at Pardee, where we've had to have chemical toilets. And we 
have boat patrols. At Pardee they actually have a boat patrol 
that travels around the reservoir to check on the fishermen. 

It was really an undertaking which the district had never 
been faced with before. It was a new era for the district, going 
into these recreation facilities. When Camanche Reservoir was 
built, we also constructed the facilities for Camanche. That 
happened after I retired. They formed a park board, and then they 
had leases for various concessionaires. That has become a real 
big operation, because they now have the problem of the permanent 
trailer homes. People have gone there and actually put in these 
big trailer homes. Some of the people are living there year 
round, and they've had to have agreements with them that they're 
only there for six months. That has precipitated a lot of 
problems . 

The operation of Chabot Reservoir has been turned over to the 
East Bay Regional Park Board. That is a complete year-round 
operation, and it's heavily used. San Pablo is only open from 
April 1 to October or November 1 and is operated by 
concessionaires. Lafayette Reservoir is open year round, and 
that's operated by the district. Lafayette has been a tremendous 
recreation area for people in the Walnut Creek-Lafayette area. 

Feasibility Study of the Middle Bar Prolect. 1950sM 

Lage: You talked about a feasibility study of the Middle Bar Project. 
What would that be? 








That vent on, I guess, right after we had finished the Pardee 
recreation area. 

That was '54 to '57, according to my notes. 

Yes. I worked with Orin Harder and Francis Blanchard on that. Ve 
carried out a feasibility study on the construction of a high dam 
for a reservoir at the head waters of Pardee Reservoir. 

What was the reason for that? 

To control the full flow of the Mokelumne River. You see, we've 
had maximum flows in the Mokelumne River of over 1,000,000 acre 
feet annually. Pardee holds about 210,000 acre feet. Camanche 
holds about 420,000. 

You didn't have Camanche then? 

Camanche had not been built then. Ve were looking at Middle Bar 
in lieu of Camanche. What we wanted to do was to provide 
additional storage on the river to control the flow of the river 
and to provide enough water for the downstream irrigation 
interests and the riparian owners on the river so that we wouldn't 
have to provide that storage in Pardee. That would free our water 
from Pardee for use in our distribution system. 

I see. 

So this would serve the same function as Camanche later 

That's right. The Middle Bar Project called for a low dam at 
Camanche. To regulate the flow in the river below Pardee, we 
would build a smaller dam at Camanche. This was all in the 
planning studies. We had studied a high dam at Camanche and a 
high dam at Middle Bar, and then we studied a low dam at Camanche. 

The reason for the low dam at Camanche was that if you stored 
the maximum amount in the high Middle Bar reservoir, then you 
could keep Pardee full most of the time, and you could have had 
maximum power generation at Pardee. That meant the release of a 
large quantity of water daily into the river. And to control that 
flow, when you are releasing water into a river from a powerhouse, 
you have a high fluctuation in the water level in the river. In 
other words, you have surges in the river. Hydropower in 
California operates on a demand basis. Ve worked with PG&E on 
this, and we also had Mr. Longwell, who had been formerly the 
chief engineer and general manager, as our consultant. Ve also 
retained a power consultant, an electrical engineer. He lived 
over on the peninsula near Burlingame. The reason for the small 


dan below Pardee was to regulate the amount of water flowing in 
the river so that you wouldn't have large surges. 

Lage: So you could use it for power but still keep the river under 

McLean: Yes. With the Middle Bar you would have had a much greater 

potential for power generation at both Pardee and Middle Bar. 
PG&E at that time did not use steam as the base of the load. What 
they normally do today, they have their steam plants on the base 
of the power load, which is a certain number of kilowatts per day. 
Then when your lighting demand comes on at night, or during the 
summer when you have a pumping demand by the farmers, for 
instance, then they call on the hydroplants . They bring the 
hydroplants on at any time of the day or night. Whenever the 
demand increases above what their normal base load is, they call 
on the hydroplants . 

The advantage of the hydroplant is that the minute you turn 
the water on, you've got electricity. The reason they keep the 
steam plant operating on what they call the base of the load all 
the time is that you don't have to shut down your boilers and then 
start them up again. It takes a long time to fire a boiler. So 
you keep your steam plants on the base of the load all of the 
time, like the nuclear plant that they have at Diablo now. When 
you begin to get peak demands, then you call on your hydroplants. 
You pull whatever hydroplant you need to take care of what your 
load may be . 

Well, what this does, when you're releasing water in the 
stream, like at Pardee, you get surges in the river. There might 
be a difference of between fifteen and twenty feet of the water 
going down the river. This creates a real problem all along the 
river, particularly with the farmers who are taking water. It 
creates problems in the river because the river can be way low, 
and then all of a sudden when you turn on your hydroplant, why, 
you've got a full stream flowing. So the purpose of a small 
reservoir downstream from Pardee is to regulate the flow in the 
river. You have a pool there into which you discharge your water, 
but the water going out [from the lower dam] can be at a constant 
flow. Along with any dam that you built at Middle Bar, and having 
Pardee already in existence, you needed a small dam with maybe 
100,000 acre feet capacity or something like that downstream from 
Pardee . 


Re lection of Plan for a High Dam at Middle Bar 

Lage: Now, why was that combination not decided on? Middle Bar was not 
built. Had you recommended it? 

McLean: Yes, we recommended it; it was certainly recommended bywell, I 
don't know whether I should get into that. 

Lage: I think it sounds interesting. 

McLean: The original plan was to build a high Middle Bar and then a 

smaller dam downstream. But if we built a high Middle Bar dam, it 
meant that the electric power plant of the PG&E would be 

Lage: It would be flooded? 

McLean: The existing electric plant would be flooded. And it meant that 

we would have to negotiate with PG&E. We had talked to them about 
it. And it meant that we had to give them a block of power, or 
that we had to locate the powerhouse in another location. There 
were several schemes studied, but they had to be compensated for 
the loss of the power at that plant, whether the plant was put at 
another location or whether you would give them an equal amount of 
power out of the Pardee plant or something like that. 

Well, we wrote a report on this, and I had made some contacts 
with PG&E. Of course, PG&E was agreeable as long as they were 
compensated. Our report recommended that we build the high Middle 
Bar and that we build a smaller dam at Camanche of 100,000 or 
150,000 acre feet, which didn't involve all the dikes that we had 
to build as a result of the high dam at Camanche. There also were 
some problems here, some seepage problems. If you built the high 
dam at Camanche , you had to take care of the seepage problems . 
Anyway, Mr. Breuner, who was the president of the board, 
apparently did not want to go through all the negotiations with 

Lage: Did it look as if it was going to be a long negotiation? 

McLean: Well, it looked like there might be a lot of problems in that. 

All of our studies were turned over to the Bechtel Corporation for 
a review, which I had recommended and which was good. 

Lage: Because they might be the contractors or just to get an outside 


McLean: They were power people, and we wanted a second look at the 

project. Originally, Bechtel had approved the project. They 
reviewed our report, and they agreed that it was feasible. They 
felt that the project was a feasible project and that it was cost- 
effective; they recommended it. Veil, then came the issue of 
going to PG&E and negotiating with PG&E regarding the electric 
power plant. 

Lage: Would PG&E end up getting more power? 

McLean: No. They would have been compensated; we had a formula. This is 
why we had this electrical engineer. Ve brought him into the 
picture because of the electric power plant and PG&E. He was an 
expert on these matters . He had represented power companies at 
the Public Utilities Commission. He was very cognizant of 
compensating and what you would do in a situation like this. This 
is not anything new; it has been done in many, many other 
instances where you have to take an old plant out and relocate it. 
And because PG&E had water rights, all of these things had to be 
taken into consideration. They had rights to this power, and they 
had rights to the generation of power by the use of the water from 
the Mokelumne. Well, their plant would have been under two or 
three hundred feet of water. 

Lage: Was the plant above the Pardee dam, then? 

McLean: The plant is above the Pardee dam. Right now the tail water of 

Pardee comes up pretty close to the power plant. Well, if you go 
in and build another dam, the Middle Bar site, five hundred and 
some odd feet high, then the PG&E electric plant would be under 
five hundred feet of water. Now, there were various ways to take 
care of that. One thing, you could just locate the pipeline for 
the plant downstream below the new dam and build a new power 
plant, or you could build a new power plant within the confines of 
the dam, utilizing the head that they have, and have an 
independent power plant. Or you could compensate them for the 
loss in power that they normally generate on that plant, and you 
generate more power in the new plant. 

Lage: You were saying that Bechtel looked at it and originally thought 
it was a good idea. 

McLean: Yes. Bechtel looked at it, and they approved our report. They 
went over our report very thoroughly regarding the cost -benefit 
ratio, and they approved it. But as I say- -and I don't know the 
full story and am only quoting what little bit I know- -evidently 
Mr. Breuner, who was then president of the board, or McFarland, 


who was the general manager, did not want to go through all the 
negotiations with PG&E to build this project. As a result, 
Bechtel reversed themselves on it and said "no* on the project. 
Consequently, we didn't go ahead with it. 

Lage : Did you hear some of the story on what happened? 

McLean: Veil, 1 heard some of the story, but I didn't get all of it. And 
I'm only quoting from what I know, but I do know that on the first 
report that Bechtel came out with they accepted our report and 
said the project was feasible, with a good cost-benefit ratio. I 
never saw what their final report was, but I heard that it was 
turned down. And then they recommended the high dam at Camanche. 

The High Dam at Camanche 

Geological Problems with the Site 

Lage: You also had put forth the high dam at Camanche as an alternative? 

McLean: That's right. They recommended the high dam at Camanche, and we 
were very skeptical about that for several reasons. One was the 
seepage losses in the reservoir itself. There was an aquifer that 
we knew was under the reservoir that would create problems with 
the higher dam at Camanche. 

Lage: So some of the water would sink right down into the aquifer? 

McLean: That's right. After the dam was built we got into some real 

problems . One of the first problems that came up was that we had 
a serious leak in dike number one. 

Lage: Now, what were the dikes? 

McLean: You see, the site for the reservoir was surrounded by a perimeter 
of hills, and the dam was built in a narrow section. The high dam 
created a problem which the lower dam did not. The high dam 
created problems where these valleys that went up toward the 
reservoir had to have dikes, which were small dams. Some of them 
are around one hundred feet or more high, and along the south side 
of the so-called reservoir we built a continual string of what we 
call dikes, or dams; they're small dams. Well, shortly after the 
reservoir was first built we ran into a serious leakage in dike 
number one, and we had to drain the reservoir very rapidly. The 
seepage coming out of the dike was beginning to show a brown 
color. This indicated that there was erosion taking place under 


the foundation of the dike. We were afraid that we would have a 
failure . 

Lage: And what is downstream from these dikes? 

McLean: A failure of dike number one would flood the town of Lockford, 

farmland, and could reach the city of Lodi. The damage could be 
in the millions of dollars. 

Efforts to Prevent Dam Failure, 1966 

McLean: This also was coupled with a very high phreatic line in the main 
dam itself. 

Lage: What's that? 

McLean: This shows that there was uplift pressure beginning to occur at 

the base of the main dam. So we had to drain the dam immediately, 
and we drained it by every means that we could. We opened all the 
outlets and drained the reservoir. Two things we had to do. 
Number one, on the main dam we had to put in a drainage system and 
relief wells. On the dike, we had to put in what we call a slurry 
trench. This was a seal to seal the dike. What this meant was 
that we had to go along the toe of the number one dike and dig a 
large, deep trench. We kept the trench filled with a slurry 
mixture of bentonite and water; we used bentonite as the slurry 
trench. Bentonite is a very heavy material that has a high 
specific gravity; although it is fluid, it has a much higher 
specific gravity than water. We had to construct this cutoff down 
to bedrock and then tie that in with the core of the dike so that 
we stopped the leakage. 

Lage: When something unanticipated happens like that, or maybe 
anticipated- - . 

McLean: Well, this was the one thing that we were afraid of right in the 
beginning, because the early geological studies that we had made 
of the reservoir showed that there was a gravel aquifer under the 
base of the reservoir. It indicated that we could get some 
serious seepage in the reservoir. We didn't go down with deep 
cut-off walls in the dam; when the dam was constructed, the plans 
had not called for deep cut-off walls. Consequently, as the 
reservoir filled, instruments in the dam began to show that there 
was a very high phreatic line within the main dam. The only 
remedy to lower that is to put in relief wells. We put a whole 
series of wells along the base of the dam, at the downstream toe 


of the dan. These wells were twenty inches in diameter and went 
down into the foundation of the dam. Then we had to put drainage 
pipes along to convey this water to the river to relieve the water 
pressure under the base of the dam. Had this water pressure 
increased, there could have been uplift pressure on the base of 
the dam, and we could have had a failure of the dam. 

The Decision to Build Camanche 










And these were problems that you more or less anticipated? 

That's right. 

So how did the decision get made to build a high dam at Camanche? 

They were intent upon building the Camanche Dam. 1 was never 
entirely involved. I felt that the better project was the high 
Middle Bar Dam and the smaller dam at Camanche, which wouldn't 
have created these problems. 

But I'm thinking now of your role as an engineer and employee. 
You put forth your recommendations. Are you in on any of the 
discussions about the decisions? Or do you just kind of retire 
from the decision? 

I wasn't in on the final decision. 

What about other staff people above you? Your supervisor? 

My supervisor at that time was Joe DeCosta. And he was the one 
who took part in all the decisions. 

Did he agree with you? 

Veil, I don't think he agreed with me, no. 1 think he took the 
Bechtel opinions, and I don't think he agreed with me and with 
some of the geological studies that we had made. At that time 
they had pretty well committed themselves to building Camanche 

And just didn't look at the things that didn't support this 

Bechtel became the engineer on the dam. And although it was in my 
budget, 1 didn't have anything really to do with the construction 
of the dam, although I did go up there once in a while. But they 


put Orin Harder on it, and he reported directly to my chief, who 
was Joe DeCosta. 

Lage: So Bechtel ended up building the dam and running into these 

McLean: That's right. 

Lage: And they hadn't anticipated them? 

McLean: They were the engineers. I forget who the contractor was, but it 
was contracted out, and they became the engineer on the Job. 

Lage: And then when the repairs and changes had to be made--. 

McLean: I had to do the repairs. 

Lage: Bechtel didn't come back to do them? 

McLean: No. It took a period of time; I don't know, it took a couple of 
years to fill the reservoir. Bechtel was gone by then. They had 
an office and everything else, and they were gone. It took a 
couple of years to fill Camanche, but when Camanche filled, then 
we got the problems. It was really serious; we could have had a 
failure . 

Serious Fear of A Failure of the Dam 

Lage: Do you remember any specifics of when the problems were discovered 
and how people reacted? 

McLean: I would have to go back into the records. 

Lage: I was just thinking about your memories, anecdotal things. 

McLean: Well, it was at least a couple of years after the dam was built 
that it filled. 

Lage: Did everyone see the urgency of it as you did? 

McLean: Oh, absolutely, sure. Everybody knew, because here was dike 

number one--. See, all of these dikes seeped water. There's no 
dam in the world that was ever built that doesn't seep water. You 
have relief wells, and you have drainage systems. What happened 
was that the seepage water from this number one dike , which is 
just south and east of the main dam, began to show dirt, and the 


flow was increasing. We began to recognize right then that we had 
a problem, that if this continued it could erode the dike. Also, 
over at the main dam we recognized that we were beginning to get a 
high water table on the downstream toe of the dam, and we had to 
do something about it. Ve have instruments in these dams- -not in 
the dikes but in the main dam- -that indicated we were getting a 
very high phreatic line in the dam itself. 

Lage : So that means within the dam the water is coming up? 
McLean: That's right, high water pressure on the base of the dam. 
Lage: Or is it beneath the dam? 

McLean: Beneath the dam, yes. We were getting high pressures under the 
dam. To prevent a failure, we immediately drained the reservoir. 
That cost us a tremendous amount of money because we lost all that 
water. The reservoir had been virtually full, and we had to waste 
all the water in the reservoir. 

Lage: Is that kind of thing kept quiet, or is it announced? 

McLean: It was kept quiet, I can tell you that. We had it right up to our 
ears, you might say, because we could have had a failure in that 

Lage: And that would be dangerous for the downstream area? 

McLean: Oh, it would have washed everything out downstream. Imagine if 
you turned loose 400,000 acre -feet down that stream; why, you'd 
have really had a mess. It was serious. It was real serious. 

Lage: So the cities downstream, you don't go and tell them you've had 
this problem? 

McLean: No. We didn't tell anybody about the problem. We recognized it, 
and as soon as we recognized it the order was given to drain the 
reservoir, and we did. We drained the reservoir immediately, and 
we immediately went to work on the relief wells on the downstream 
toe of the dam and also on the dike. 

Digging Relief Veils and Slurry Trench 

Lage: When you say the downstream toe, I'm not sure- 
McLean: That's the downstream toe of the dam. 


Lage: What exactly does that mean? 

McLean: Well, let me draw you a little sketch. That's the best way to 
explain it. 

Lage: Okay, let's look at the sketch [see following page]. 

McLean: In an earth- filled dam or a dike, particularly in the dam itself-- 
Lage: Is this an earth- filled dam? 

McLean: Yes. They're both earth-filled dams. You have a dam that looks 
like this. We'll say this is your foundation down here. In the 
center of this dam you have a clay core that looks like this. 

Lage: This is the top of the dam. 

McLean: This is the top of the dam, yes. This is the crest. And you have 
a core that looks like this that goes usually up the top. This is 
what you call the shell. 

Lage: what's the shell made of? 

McLean: The shell generally is rolled material. This is clay. 

Lage: Is that from local materials? 

McLean: Yes. From local materials. Generally it can be gravel, or it can 
be mixed material, conglomerate material. Then on the upstream 
face you have what is known as riprap . This is for water and wave 

Lage: This is the reservoir over here? 

McLean: This is the reservoir; this is the water in here. We'll say that 
your water is up to here. Now, normally your hydraulic gradient, 
or your phreatic line or whatever you want to call it, comes 
through like this. On the back of this you have what is known as 
a drainage system composed of a fine material, sand, and graded 
gravel, and this is your drainage system. This comes out here, 
like this. In other words, this drainage system comes out like 
that. When you get seepage through a dam it will go through this 
clay core, although it is supposed to be impervious. Generally 
you'll get a little drop off your line, like that. And then this 
seepage that comes through this core will drop down and go into 
the drainage system and waste into the main stream. 

Lage: And then you see it come out over on this side? 


Drawing by Walter 


McLean: Oh, yes. Oh, sure. You measure the seepage behind it. And 
that's what indicated to us that we were getting some serious 
seepage through the dam. 

Lage : But you expect some of this? 

McLean: Yes. Normally, you expect this. You have instruments in the dam 
that measure this pressure. What we found in here was that the 
pressures were an increase of pressure in here-- 

Lage : Underneath? 

McLean: --underneath the base of the dam due to leakage, or whatever it 
was, down in this area. 

Lage: Below the dam itself? 

McLean: That's right. Below the dam itself. And this causes serious 
concerns about what we call uplift pressures on the toe of the 


Lage: Is this the toe? 

McLean: This is what we call the toe, right here. This is the toe of the 
dam, the downstream toe of the dam. When you begin to get 
pressures under here, you begin to worry about the stability of 
the dam itself. You're not supposed to get them. This system is 
supposed to relieve that. So what we had to do was go in and put 
wells down in here, like this, way down. We went way down. 

Lage: So this is in front of the dam under the river that comes out of 

McLean: This is on the downstream toe part of the dam. This is the 
reservoir. We put in these relief wells. We put in a whole 
string of them along the base of the dam, and the purpose of that 
was to get below the foundation of the dam and relieve the 
pressure under the base of the dam. 

Lage: Did you put more under here? 

McLean: We put a whole string of the wells along the base of the dam, and 
these became, basically, what we call artesian wells. In other 
words, the water flows out of these pipes and relieves the 
pressure under the base of the dam. 

Lage: So it flows from underground and comes out of these relief wells? 


McLean: That Is correct. And that lowered this pressure under the dam. 

Then we connected these relief wells into a drain pipe. We laid a 
pipe along there, and we connected all the wells. Now we measure 
the quantity of water that's coming out of these relief wells so 
that we can determine if it's increasing, decreasing, or staying 
the same. We know, then, from the instruments in the dam, that 
these relief wells are doing the job of relieving the pressure 
under the base of the dam. 

Lage: Is this something that continues to be a concern? 

McLean: Veil, no. You watch it constantly. Once we installed the relief 
system it relieved the pressure. Had it continued, the dam could 
have failed. 

Lage: You would have had upward thrust? 

McLean: That's right. There was a possibility of failure in the dam. The 
relief wells basically took away that danger. And by monitoring 
the flow and seeing that these relief wells are open and flowing, 
the dam will remain stable. 

Now let's look at dike number two. Let me draw a picture of 
the dike for you [see following page]. Here we have the same 
foundation situation, like this. And we have a so-called dike in 
here, built the same as the dam. 

Lage: Just a small dam, basically. 

McLean: Yes, a small dam. Under the downstream toe of the dam, again we 
had a drainage system- -in other words, a place for seepage water 
to drain. [refers to diagram] Here's the reservoir, over here, 
and this is the downstream face. We had a drainage system here. 

We noticed that the water that came through this drainage 
system was beginning to become turbid. The flow was increasing, 
and it was getting to be turbid. We were worried about the 
increased turbidity and flow and what could be done to correct it. 
We knew there was an aquifer under the base of the dike that was 
causing the problem. Because this dam foundation had never 
completely gone down to bedrock, we decided that the only way we 
could stop the seepage was to install a bentonite slurry trench to 
bedrock at the upstream toe of the dam. We excavated a slurry 
trench along the toe of the dam down to bedrock with a large 
trench. The trench was kept filled with slurry during excavation, 
and the slurry connected to the clay core in the dam. 


This is behind the dam, on the reservoir side? 

Drawing by Walter 



$ " 



McLean: This Is upstream, on the reservoir side. And this is why we had 
to drain the reservoir in order to get in there and work on it. 
We had to completely drain the reservoir. 

Lage: And the main dam, you didn't do anything on the reservoir side? 

McLean: No. We couldn't get into it because there was water there. But 
the dike was dry because, you see, the base of the dikes are 
higher than the base of the dam. 

Lage: What do you call--? 

McLean: This was a slurry trench in which you use bentonite. It's a very 
fine clay material mixed with water. I guess it's about fifty 
percent water, fifty percent clay. But the specific gravity of it 
is much heavier than water. It comes from down in the southern 
California area, in the Bakersfield area, where they have big 
fields of this bentonite. It's a very fine colloidal clay. This 
was mixed in a plant on site. In some places we had to go down 
one hundred feet or more with a dragline. You keep the trench 
full of slurry at all times. It's heavy enough to support the 
trench sides. We had a trench that was about six to eight feet 
wide. We used a large dragline. This dragbucket was about sixty 
inches wide. In order to keep the sides from slopping in we had 
to dig this material out, and we'd cast that material to one side 
up on the upstream face. We'd cast the excavated material out, 
and we kept the trench constantly full of slurry at all times, up 
to the surface . 

In order to stop that seepage through the base of the dam we 
had to plug it on the upstream face. That meant that we had to 
drain all the water out of the reservoir- -all that we could- -so 
that we could get to the upstream toe of the dike. And then we 
installed this slurry trench. 

Lage: The slurry is impervious to the water? 

McLean: Yes. Once it solidifies, then it is impervious; it's just like 

you installed a concrete cutoff wall. This is common practice in 
dams where sometimes they're founded on gravel. And fact is, had 
this been done at the time the dike was constructed, we would have 
never had the problem. We knew this aquifer existed. I wouldn't 
say Bechtel ignored it, but they virtually ignored it and said it 
wasn't necessary to put in a cutoff wall. We had to waste about 
400,000 acre feet of water, and at a cost of even $10 an acre foot 
that would be $4 million. 

Lage: Even though you had pointed it out? 


McLean: Yes. We knew about it. Berney Gordon, who was our geologist, 
knew that this aquifer existed. 

Lage: I would think you'd have more control over your contractor, to 
tell them, "What are you doing about the aquifer?" 

McLean: Well, no. When you have a contract, you have to specify that 
you're going to do these things. The contractor doesn't know 
anything about it. In other words, he does what the plans and 
specification show, and if you don't show a cut-off in your 
specifications, he doesn't put it in his costs. 

Lage: So the district should have put it in? 

McLean: The district should have indicated a cutoff wall. We should have 
done this, because we knew there were problems. And it should 
have been provided for in the original contract. We did not. We 
went ahead and let the reservoir fill up, and then when the 
reservoir was nearly full, we recognized that we had problems at 
the main dam and at dike number one. Then this required remedial 
measures, which we had to do and do them damn fast, because we 
were very concerned about failures . 

Lage: You must have been kind of upset with the failure of the district 
to follow through on things that your first investigation had 
brought up. 

McLean: I wouldn't say that you could blame Bechtel, but I think they 

overlooked a serious problem which could have been taken care of 
during the construction. 

Lage: But it wasn't in their specifications, either? 

McLean: No, it wasn't. And they didn't think it was serious. But we lost 
a whole reservoir of storage by having to drain, and we had to 
drain very rapidly. We opened up everything. Nobody knew about 
it except the district. 

Lage: Somebody must have noticed all that water coming down the river. 

McLean: Well, I don't know. 

Lage : Nothing came up about it? 

McLean: I don't know whether they did or not, but we were seriously 

concerned. I don't recall the exact dates that took place, but it 
was in the early sixties. 


McLean: Camanche was completed in '64, so this must have occurred in '65 





McLean : 


or '66. 

By the time it got filled up? 

Along in there. I'm wondering if I got anything in my diaries 
about it. Let me see. [pause] [laughter] 

August, 1966. 

Yes. [reads from diary] "Met with Burns and Morrison Knudsen and 
Harnett in regard to the slurry trench and extra cost. Harnett 
told Burns that he could not Justify any additional costs at this 
time but would do so if such costs were justified." 

Who were Harnett and Burns? 

Burns was the superintendent for Morrison Knudsen, and Harnett was 
the chief engineer of the district. 

"Met with Burns and Wilson of 

Well, here we are, right here: 
M.& K. in regard to slurry trench." 

Who are M. & K.? 

Morrison Knudsen was a large contracting firm with headquarters in 
Boise, Idaho. They had the contract on the repairs. "In office 
until ten, went to Camanche and was there all day until 4:30. 
Went to Pardee and stayed overnight. At 7:00 A.M. went to 
Camanche. At Camanche all day with Bill Burns and Bob Woodruff. 
Back to Oakland at 5:00 P.M." So we were really concerned about 
Camanche . 

How long a drive is it up to Camanche? 

Oh, about an hour and a half, two hours, something like that. 
This all took place in 1966. I have some more notes here. "Met 
with Dave Dayton and Orin Harder in regard to going to Duncan Lake 
to see the slurry trench." Slurry trenches in those days were 
new. Duncan Lake, I believe, was in Canada. They had a large dam 
there that was founded on gravel. I sent these fellows there, the 
two of them, to learn how slurry trenches were constructed. 

Because the slurry trench wasn't a common way of dealing with it? 

That's right. This was something very new. I'm sure that if I 
looked through this diary enough I'd also find the date for the 
relief wells. I think this all took place about the same time. 
We were apparently working on the slurry trench in August. Let me 


see if I can go on here and see. Ve had a lot going on in those 

Lage: Those were busy times, the fifties and sixties. 

McLean: They were, yes. [looking at dairy] Apparently I had discussions 
on this as early as June of 1966: "Met with Dave Dayton, Jim 
Goodman, and Dick Hale to discuss Camanche slurry trench." 

Wearing Two Hats: Special Prelects and Field Engineering 

Lage: During those years, the sixties, you were manager of the Field 
Engineering Division? 

McLean: I guess so. I don't know when I changed from one to the other, 

you know. I was wearing a couple of hats. 1 was manager of the 

Special Projects Construction Division as well as running the 
Field Engineering Division. 

Lage : You kind of went back and forth? 

McLean: I kind of went back and forth. We had the Lafayette tunnel under 
construction. George Loorz and Ces Murphy were on the Lafayette 

Lage: What are Special Projects? 

McLean: Well, the Special Projects was the unit that covered all of the 
construction of the facilities under the $252 million bond issue. 

Lage: So that related to the bond issue, and then the Field Engineering 
Division took care of everything else? 

McLean: The Field Engineering covered the contracts within the local 

section. In other words, while a lot of this was going on 1 also 
had contracts going for installation of pipes, like this pipeline 
out on Garrard Boulevard in Richmond. That was handled under the 
Field Engineering section. The local construction was handled out 
of the local budget. 

But the Special Project Construction Division was formed as a 
separate unit to handle all of the construction under the bond 
issue. It was organized immediately after the approval of the 
bond issue in June of 1958. Mr. Macdonald at that time was 
appointed manager of Special Projects. In August of that year, 
although I still carried the title of head of the Field 


Engineering Division- -manager or whatever it was- -I was also put 
in charge of the design of the Third Mokelumne Aqueduct. I put 
together a crew- -I guess I was called "supervising engineer" --to 
design the Third Mokelumne Aqueduct. 

I came, then, under the Special Projects Construction 
Division, and a fellow by the name of Bob Tillison, who had been 
my assistant, took over more or less the duties in the Field 
Engineering Division. Well, I continued in that capacity. As we 
got into the design of the line, then of course we got into the 
construction phase. Along with that, a lot of other operations 
came into being: Briones Dam, Camanche Dam, and all these other 
facilities- -the Lafayette Aqueduct, the Lafayette Tunnel, the 
Walnut Creek Tunnel. 

Lage : These were all Special Projects? 

McLean: All these facilities came under Special Projects. Mr. Macdonald 
retired about 1960. No, not '60. Let's see. 

Lage: You became manager of the Field Engineering in '59. 
McLean: That's right. 

Lage: You were assistant manager under him in '58. So maybe he retired 
in '59. 

McLean: That is correct, yes. You've got it there. So that is correct. 
When he retired, I took over the Special Projects division, and I 
continued basically in that capacity until 1968, when I retired. 
In other words, during that time I was kind of wearing two hats, 
as supervising engineer of Field Engineering and, until we 
completed all the construction, as manager of the Special Projects 
Construction Division. I took that over and more or less 
continued for nine years until I retired in '68. All of these 
repairs- -that is, the relief wells on the dam, the slurry trench, 
and all this other work- -came during the period that I was manager 
of the Special Projects Construction Division. 

Lage: So you were more or less in charge? 
McLean: Of all that, yes. 


Storm Damage at Briones Dam. 1962 

Lage: Were there any problems on the other projects of a similar nature? 

McLean: No, we had no problems. Well, let's see. I'll have to remember 
the year. It was in '62 that we had the tremendous rain in 
October. Ve had a tremendous storm. [looks through documents] 
This was while Briones Dam was under construction. It flooded 
Briones Dam and also went down through the Lafayette Aqueduct near 
Pleasant Hill Road. It flooded out several homes there. Here it 
is, right here: "October 13, 1962. Severe storm. Roads flooded. 
Briones Dam topped by storm water." 

Lage : So the storm made the dam overflow? 

McLean: Oh, yes. "Went to Briones to check on storm damage and at the 
Lafayette Aqueduct. At Briones with Phil Rutledge, consulting 
engineer and spent all day on problems from the storm. Met with 
Joe DeCosta at the office." It rained so hard. It was over the 
weekend: "Starting on Thursday, October 11. Overcast.. Showers 
in A.M. High winds during the day." And I went to Stockton on 
that day. "Discussed Bixler Pumping Plant and the use of natural 
gas for the Melones Pumping Plant. Went to Woodward Island to 
meet Jarvis Gates." And then on Friday we had a heavy storm. 
"Very heavy storm. Al talked to both Joe New and Hugo Hanson in 
A.M. in regard to conditions after the big storm." Then on 
Saturday, October 13, all the roads were flooded. I remember that 
very clearly. You couldn't get anyplace. "Briones topped by 
storm water. Called New, Hanson, and DeCosta"- -this was on 
Sunday. I apparently got them together. Then I had a staff 
meeting. "Went to Briones to check on the storm damage at 
Lafayette Aqueduct," and again on Tuesday. Mr. Rutledge was our 
consulting engineer on the dam, and he was from New York. I had 
gotten in touch with him over the weekend and told him that he'd 
better come out. So I got him, and I spent the whole day with him 
out at Briones out on the problems . 

Lage: Because it actually did damage to the dam? 

McLean: The dam was only about half completed; we were still working on 

it. We didn't finish that until '64. When the storm occurred, it 
overflowed the top of the dam. It filled the reservoir and went 
over the top of the dam. So we were concerned about the erosion 
that occurred on the top of the dam. This is why I asked 
Mr. Rutledge to come. 

So that was one of the problems we had on the Briones dam, 
but that wasn't too serious. The main problem that we had on 


Camanche, as I mentioned, was the fact that we were very much 
concerned about the seepage under the dam. Seepage occurs. In 
other words, you have seepage in all dams --that is, drainage; 
let's not call it seepage. You get drainage out of every dam. 
All dams drain. You have drainage facilities, and the reason for 
that is to relieve the pressure under the dam. 

This is what caused the failure of the St. Francis Dam in the 
Los Angeles area. This was a very famous failure. That was a 
concrete -arched dam. It was built by Bill Mulholland, who was 
responsible for the Los Angeles water system. 

Lage: Was this on the Los Angeles River? 

McLean: No, it wasn't on the Los Angeles River. It was on a small stream 
north of Los Angeles, in some drainage canyon. But it was a 
concrete -arched dam, and this is different. When you get a 
failure of a concrete dam, you get a complete collapse. That is, 
the whole structure just collapses. The wall of water that went 
down the canyon was 250 or 300 feet high, and it just washed the 
canyon clean. I forget how many people were killed, but there 
were homes along this canyon. There were forty or fifty people 
killed and homes destroyed. 

After the investigations and conclusions, they determined 
that the failure had been uplift pressure because of an increase 
of seepage. They began to get seepage around the abutments. The 
seepage increased, and they became worried. They tried to drain 
the reservoir behind the dam, but they were unable to drain it 
fast enough. In the center of the dam on the upstream face there 
was a water level recorder. These are usually clock or 
electrically operated, and they record the water level for every 
minute or hour of the day. What they finally discerned was that 
one of the main blocks on the dam remained intact. That is, when 
the dam failed, it left this one section standing. I think I have 
a picture of it somewhere. They recovered the water level 
recorder and noticed that just prior to the failure of the dam 
there had been a sudden rise in the water level of the reservoir. 
Immediately, this told them that this center block had tipped 

Lage: So it appeared like a sudden rise? 

McLean: Yes. This appeared to be a sudden rise. The block had tipped 

upstream, and by tipping upstream, the water level recorded this 
as a rise in the lake level. Well, that was impossible. You 
couldn't get a sudden, instantaneous rise in the water level of a 
tremendous large lake like that. That's impossible, because it 
was in a comparably small drainage basin. So this is how they 


knew that the dam had tipped. This whole block had tipped 
upstream, and then the dam collapsed around it. The whole dam 
collapsed, and there were pieces scattered everywhere. There were 
big blocks of the dam all over the area. Some of them were even 
washed partially downstream. 

This is what created the State Division of Dam Inspection. 
I believe it was 1929. Since then, every dam built within the 
state of California has to be reviewed; not only the plans, 
specifications, and design, but the construction of the dam itself 
comes under the inspection of a state dam inspector. 

Working with the State Division of Dam Inspection 

Lage: So that's an office that you've had to work with over the years. 

McLean: That's right. 

Lage: Is that difficult, to work with them? 

McLean: No. We have found them to be very knowledgeable. But they want 
to know everything. When we had the overtopping of the Briones 
Dam, I immediately called them, and they came to the job site. I 
didn't notice their name in my diary, but you call them 
immediately anytime you have a problem or anytime you're doing 
something that may require them to look at it, as on Briones Dam, 
where we had quite a few problems in the south abutment. We ran 
into a lot of weak material in there in which we had to over- 
excavate and do a lot of extra work. 

Immediately when this occurred, I got in touch with the man 
who was assigned to Briones. I would immediately call him, or my 
resident engineer out there would call him. I would' meet him out 
on the Job, and we would decide right there on the job what had to 
be done, how much had to be excavated, or what we had to do. We 
had some abutment problems out on Briones, particularly the south 
abutment, where we had to do a lot more excavating than we 
normally would have done. We also had some problems on the 
spillway that I had to get them to review. You have to be in 
touch with those people all the time. When you're building dams, 
not only do they come down regularly of their own accord, but if 
you have any problems, you call them. 

That was the same thing that we had at Camanche Dam and also 
on dike one. When we had to put in those relief wells --well, both 
on the relief wells and on the slurry trench we had to submit 


plans, details, to the state as to what we were going to do in 
regard to these problems that we had on both the dike and the dam. 

Lage : And do you find that the people in the state office are 

McLean: Oh, yes. Most everyone that I ever called on in the State 

Division of Dam Inspection was very capable. As long as you keep 
them informed, as long as you let them know what's going on and 
keep them up to date on all the work, they're very cooperative. 
They'll come down and spend the entire day with you on the 
project. 1 always had a very fine relationship with those people. 
I don't recall the names of those I worked with, but those who 
were assigned to both the Briones Dam and Camanche Dam I found 
extremely cooperative. We had a very fine relationship with them. 



Cost-Saving Innovations on the Third Mokelmnne Aoueduct 
Using the Single Fillet Veld 

Lage: Is there anything special to tell about the building of the third 
aqueduct? You were in charge of that. 

McLean: Yes. 

Lage: Did it vary significantly from the first two? 

McLean: No. Ve had Morrison and Knudsen on one portion of it. I forget 
the other contractors now. 

Lage: Was the design much different? 

McLean: Well, there were a couple of things that we developed in the 

design stage of the pipeline. Early on, the American Water Works 
Association [AWWA] specifications for large diameter steel 
pipelines normally required what we call a lap Joint. And then 
they required a full fillet weld on the outside and a full fillet 
weld on the inside. 

Well, just stop and think. When you have 82 miles of 
pipeline --let's multiply that times 5280 feet. So the actual 
length of that pipeline is 432,960 feet. Now, each section of 
pipe is 40 feet in length, so you divide that by 40. That means 
on that pipeline we had 20,000 single welds. The cost of those 
welds is probably within the neighborhood of --let's see: a welder 
in those days was getting about sixty dollars a day, and he would 
normally do about three joints a day. That means each joint that 
he would do would be $20 or $25 per joint; well, let's say $30 per 


Joint, when you consider material. You've got to consider 
equipment, not only his wages. So it runs probably about $50 per 
Joint. All right, let's multiply that by 50. That means you're 
talking about $541,000 to weld one Joint on each section of that 

The standard from the American Water Works Association called 
for welding both the inside and the outside Joint. So we decided 
to run some tests, because in a project as big as this, every time 
you can save anything it is good business. 

Oh, and I forgot: in addition to this, when you weld on the 
outside, in your trench you have to have what is known as the bell 


McLean: In order for a welder to get underneath the pipe to weld the 

outside joint, you've got to dig what we call a bell hole; you 
have to dig a trench deeper underneath the pipe, and you have to 
dig it wider on the sides. 

Lage: So for each weld you have to dig a bell hole? 

McLean: For each forty feet you have to go in and do this. It requires a 
special bucket, a special piece of equipment that you come along 
with after the trench has been dug, and you go in with this 
special bucket and dig a bell hole. Well, this adds more cost, 
probably another half a million dollars or more to an overall 
operation like that. 

So Bill Trahern and myself --Bill was my supervisor- -got our 
heads together and said, "Well, gee whiz. We ought to look into 
this," knowing that generally in welding a single fillet weld 
develops the full strength of your plate. If you have a half -inch 
plate, a half -inch fillet weld will develop the full strength of 
that. We began to think the old AWWA specifications were archaic, 
and we wanted to do something about this. 

Furthermore, if you were able to weld a single fillet weld on 
the inside of the pipe, the welders could work in all kinds of 
weather. On the outside, if it were raining, your bell hole would 
be full of water and have to be pumped out. Inside the pipe, the 
welder could work continuously, winter and summer. So we carried 
out some experiments, and we found that a single inside weld was 
sufficient. We did not have to dig bell holes. The result of it 
is, I would guess, that we saved millions of dollars by being able 
to use a single inside weld. 


Lage : Did you have to get that passed through various levels of 
inspectors, or was that an internal decision? 

McLean: That was done entirely in-house. The decision was between Joe 

DeCosta, Bill Trahern, and myself. And believe it or not, the new 
AVWA standard is now a single fillet weld. 

Reducing the Number of Pressure Relief Valves 

McLean: The other thing that we did- -and this is something very 

interesting, but I'm getting into technical stuff here which you 
can digest as best you can. Normally where a large aqueduct or 
pipeline goes up and down hills, you have to have air and pressure 
relief valves, not only to fill the line but also to drain the 
line. The purpose of these is to prevent your line from 
collapsing when you begin to drain it; the relief valve lets air 
into the pipeline. When you're filling, it lets the air out of 
the pipeline until the pipeline is completely filled with water. 
In other words, when you have a high place on a pipeline, like 
this, [begins to draw] we'll say that your pipeline comes up and 
goes down like this, which is quite common. Why, at this high 
point, you have a valve in here, and then you have an air relief 
valve . 

Well, the old theory of collapsing was based upon a complete 
failure of a pipeline with a sudden rush of water out of it that 
required in some cases, like on the number one aqueduct, as many 
as five or more of these air valves in order to prevent the line 
from collapsing. Fact is, historically on the ten- foot diameter 
of the Los Angeles Aqueduct coming from the Owens Valley, and I 
don't remember the name of this big siphon, but it was a riveted 
steel pipeline, and I think they had a flood that came down this 
canyon and washed a portion of the aqueduct out. The result was 
that several hundred feet of the Los Angeles Aqueduct collapsed 
flat, because there was not enough air valve capacity to take care 
of it. From that was developed criteria for future pipelines as 
to the number of air valves you have to use to prevent a collapse. 
And, very interesting, on this pipeline that I'm talking about, 
the way they brought it back into shape again was to repair the 
place where it had washed out and put the water back in, and the 
pipeline came back into shape again. 

Lage: And could be used. 

McLean: This is historical and has been written up in a lot of textbooks- - 
the failure of one of the big siphons on the Los Angeles Aqueduct. 


And from that was developed this theory of the collapse of 
pipelines, large diameter aqueducts- -of steel lines, 
particularlyand the number of air valves that you have to have. 
Well, on the number one and the number two aqueducts we had 
followed this theory. Ve had what we called big valve houses, and 
they were all along the pipeline. We have batteries of these air 
valves in there for filling the line and for draining the line. 
We decided to run some experiments on that. (1 thought I had the 
article here by the mechanical staff on our district.) [looks 
through documents] 

Lage: Was this again you and Bill Trahern who got the idea? 

McLean: Yes. Here it is: "Crushing Strength of Steel Pipe Lined and 

Coated with Cement Mortar." This was done by Leslie Paul 1 in our 
mechanical division. See, it says right here, "The first 
experiments were performed on a 49 -inch ID [inside diameter] steel 
pipe, wall thickness one-quarter inch..." Anyway, they went 
through the procedure on this, and we learned from this experiment 
by Leslie Paul. This paper was presented in October of '51. Then 
later we ran tests in '58 on the 87 -inch pipe. 

Anyway, here are the statements they made. This is the 
conclusion: [reads] "1. The experiments on the 49 -inch -diameter 
pipe indicate the dependability of the von Mises formula as 
applied to collapse from external pressure of large -diameter bare 
steel pipe with closed ends. 2. Customary thicknesses of Portland 
cement mortar three-quarter inch for coatings and one -half inch 
for lining strengthen the 36 -inch- diameter bare steel pipe against 
collapse from external pressure by at least 600 percent. 3. 
Vacuum valves can largely be omitted in the installation of large - 
diameter bare steel pipe if the pipe is lined and mortar-coated 
with good portland cement mortar." 

Lage: You were able to eliminate the valves? 

McLean: You can't eliminate them, no, but you can reduce the number of 

them. And by reducing the number of valves you reduce the time of 
filling, and if you had a failure and a sudden draining, your pipe 
would not collapse. Based upon that theory we were able to reduce 
by nearly three-quarters the number of air valves that were used 
on the pipeline, which was a tremendous saving. The innovations 
on the third aqueduct, not only on the design but also the 
construction, saved a tremendous amount of money. 

*. Leslie Paul and Owen Edie, "Crushing Strength of Steel Pipe Lined 
and Coated with Cement Mortar," from Journal of American Water Works 
Association. Vol. 44 #6, June 1952. 


River and Freeway Crossings. Third Aqueduct 

[Interview 6: May 21, 1991 ]ff 

Lage : Last time we were talking about the construction of a third 
aqueduct, and you told about three cost-saving innovations- - 
reducing the number of pressure release valves, eliminating the 
second weld, and determining the proper thickness of the steel 
pipe. We hadn't talked about river and freeway crossings and if 
there were any particular problems associated with that. 

McLean: In reference to the third aqueduct, the logistics of it required 
such an enormous quantity of steel that we had to divide it up 
into a number of contracts in order to permit the construction to 
go ahead within the time frame that we wanted it to be done. This 
would permit the fabrication at different locations and the steel 
supply to come from different places, and that's the reason we 
divided it up into five sections. There was section four, which 
extended from the east portal of the Walnut Creek Tunnel to Indian 
Slough. That was all buried pipe. Then there was unit three, 
which was about ten miles across the peat land. That was all the 
elevated section. Unit two, which was thirty-three miles in 
length, extended from Holt to the town of Wallis, with the 
exception of the elevated section in the river crossing. Unit one 
was five miles in length, from the east end of unit two to the 
west portal of the Pardee Tunnel. That was the most rugged 
section; that was a section they had to do a lot of blasting on 
because of the rock. That was really the toughest section. 

The pipe for units one, three, and four, for about forty- 
eight miles was fabricated by Consolidated Western Steel Company 
in South San Francisco. C.K.F.M. Grover Company had a plant near 
Lockford, and they furnished the pipe for unit two- -the thirty- 
three miles- -and then the section for the river crossing. All of 
that latter part, which is about thirty- three miles, plus the 
river crossings were all fabricated at the plant in Lockford. 

Lage: The river and freeway crossings --were they a special problem? 

McLean: Well, yes. They presented a problem in that we had to go through 
the levees , and they required a coffer dam system where we could 
breach the levees; we had to breach these large levees on Woodward 
Island and the Orwood tract. There were two levees on Woodward 
Island, one on the east and one on the west. And then also the 
San Joaquin River crossing. 


At the San Joaquin River crossing, when we constructed the 
third aqueduct, we also had to put in new crossings for the number 
one and the number two aqueducts. At that time the Corps of 
Engineers was planning on dredging the San Joaquin River deeper to 
provide for- -I think it was a forty- foot depth or a forty- five- 
foot depth for the channel. So we had to lower both the number 
one and the number two at that crossing. 

One of the things which was unique was the eight miles or 
more of the elevated section that crossed Orwood and across 
Woodward Island, and also the elevated section on the upper Jones 
tract. That pipe was fabricated by Consolidated Western Steel in 
San Francisco, and they fabricated in the plant in eighty- foot 
sections. They delivered it to the job in the eighty-foot 
sections and installed it on the steel bents. After it was 
installed and tested, they lined the inside by what was known as 
the centerline process. It's actually a mortar lining that is 
spun in place. The reason for it was that a forty-foot length of 
these mortar-lined sections weighed about forty tons- -about a ton 
per lineal foot. Well, if they had lined all of the elevated 
sections the eighty- foot sections would have been too heavy to 
handle on a highway. 

Lage: A ton a foot! That's very heavy. 

McLean: Yes. Oh, that pipe was heavy. They had a special dolly made to 
haul an eighty- foot section on the highway, and the pipe was 
actually laid in eighty- foot sections. After it was in place and 
tested for hydrostatic pressure, they went in and lined the inside 
by the Cen-Vi-Ro method. I think I've got it described in here, 
[looks through documents] Then the outside was sandblasted and 
coated with a red lead and with one coat of aluminum. 

Avoiding Lawsuits with Accurate Written and Photographic Records 

Lage: You had written this paper? 
McLean: Yes. 

Lage: Is it common that the engineers write up the project for 

McLean: Yes, particularly on large projects. I don't know if it's 

standard, but I used to require a project report of all of my 
project engineers when they finished the job. We always had lots 
of photographs. I furnished every one of my project engineers 


with a camera, and we used to buy film by the gross. I told them 
over and over and over again, "Take pictures; take pictures of 
anything on the Job. Every day, take pictures." 

I don't mean to digress, but we've had a couple of lawsuits 
which were very interesting. I've always attributed the fact that 
the lawsuits were won to the photographs that were taken on the 
job. One of them was on the upper Jones tract. The Zuckerman 
warehouse was right near the Middle River crossing. Zuckerman had 
this warehouse where he used to prepare his asparagus for shipping 
to market, and it was adjacent to our right-of-way. It was during 
the asparagus season, and he claimed that during the period of 
time when we were building the number three aqueduct he could not 
get access to his warehouse and therefore claimed substantial 
damage by not being able to meet the first asparagus going to the 
market. Well, it happened that we had pictures of this particular 
time that he was talking about, where trucks were at the warehouse 
loading the asparagus. When we presented this to the attorneys, 
they dropped the lawsuit. 

I had the same thing happen on the waste water project, 
along the south interceptor on Wood Street. One thing that I had 
done on all the buildings that were along this street, because we 
had a very large trench to put in the south interceptor, was to 
set what I call bench marks. Bench marks are reference points for 
elevation. Many, many times when you're building a large project, 
you get lawsuits claiming "settlement of building" because of the 
operations. So one of the first things I did was to have the 
survey crew put reference points on all the buildings so that we 
could check periodically. If there were cracks in the building, 
we photographed those cracks; so if a complaint came in and said, 
"Well, our building has been damaged because of these operations, 
and we can show you a crack," I can show you a picture of that 
crack that was taken on such and such a day, long before we ever 
started operations. 

Anyway, we had set all these reference points, and in 
addition to that we went through and took photographs all the way 
along the interceptor location. We took photographs of buildings; 
we took photographs of cracks in the buildings. We had a 
substantial file of photographs. Then I had Ralph Aiken, an 
engineer, assigned to this work. He knew what to look for. He 
would go out periodically over the job and take photographs. 

As the job began to near its end, the first thing we know we 
got a lawsuit from a market on Wood Street. I forget the cross 
street, but it was around Fourteenth or Sixteenth or maybe 
Twelfth. This fellow claimed that during the Christmas season, 
when he needed turkeys, chickens, and hams in his market, he 


couldn't get deliveries because his entrance was blocked by the 
contractor's operation, and therefore he lost his entire Christmas 
trade by not being able to get the turkeys into his market. So we 
went through our photographs, and here we find a photograph, taken 
a few days before Christmas, of a truck backed up to his market, 
unloading the turkeys and produce into his market. 

Well, that fellow tried three times. He got different 
lawyers; he tried three times to get damages against the district. 
The attorneys refused to take it. They said, "Look, here are 
photographs of this place of yours , and here ' s the date and 
everything. How are going to refute that? You can't." 

Lage : Who alerted you to document things in this way? 

McLean: This was passed down to me from the good fellows I worked with, 
Bob Edmonston and John Longwell. They were my educators. I've 
always revered them, you might say, because I think they really 
were Just fantastic engineers. That was passed on. After I was 
in charge of all this work, the things that I did- -well, first of 
all, both Bob and John Longwell required that I write a report. 
The first job that I was on was with Bob Edmonston. Then when I 
went up to the Middle Fork of the Feather River on the 
investigations up there with Ben Painter, I had charge of all the 
field parties, and I had to write reports and send them to the 
head office of the Byllesby Company. 

Lage: So this is before your work with East Bay MUD? 

McLean: Yes. That's long before East Bay MUD. I had to send them monthly 
reports- -what I was doing and what we were finding out. When I 
later became in charge of things, I insisted that my project 
engineers write reports. I found one thing that I blame on the 
colleges. I think the colleges had been very derelict in 
graduating engineers and not preparing them so that they could 
write good project reports --that is, articulate clearly so that 
other people can understand. This is one of the most difficult 
things, to my estimation. Now, I had some good engineers, and 
those fellows who wrote good reports have gone on to bigger jobs. 
Don Paff was one. He is now chief of operations for the Bureau 
[of Reclamation] on the Central Valley Project. Don was one of my 
proteges, you might say. Hugo Hanson was another one, and Charlie 
Spink was another one. Charlie Spink has had a terrific position 
with the Bechtel Company. And Joe Jenno. Those fellows have all 
gone on to top jobs. Not only were they good engineers, but they 
could write good reports. 

Others I had, 1 would read their reports, and it was 
terrible. They didn't know how to really describe the project so 





that you could understand it. They knew what the project was, and 
they could write about it, but it didn't mean a thing. 

Did you work with those people to improve their writing? 

Yes. I would go through the report very carefully, edit it, and 
then I'd send it back to them. There were some times, I bet you, 
that I sent reports back three or four times . I know they used to 
think that 1 was an s.o.b.. But I said, "Look, if you're going to 
write a report that goes in the files, it's going to be there, and 
it has to be so that somebody can understand it twenty- five and 
thirty years from now." 

Did Mr. Longwell put emphasis on good reports also? 

Yes, very much so. Bob Edmonston was a terrific writer. He wrote 
most of the early reports for the California Water Project. I 
worked for him for a couple of years before I came to work for the 
district. I always admired Bob. He was extremely articulate. 
When it'd come to writing reports, he turned out volumes and 
volumes . 

Did you model your reports on his? 

it? ' 

Is that how you learned to do 

McLean: Yes, very much so. I learned a lot from Bob; I learned a 
tremendous amount from him. And I learned a lot from John 
Longwell. Bob used to tell me, "Mac, if you don't learn anything 
else, learn how to write a good report." You know, all the time 
that I was with the district, we never had one lawsuit. I 
attribute that to the fact that before we started a project we 
went through and documented it carefully with photographs, 
reference points, and everything else. The result was that we 
never had any problems . 

Lage: So lawsuits were on your mind, even though society wasn't being as 
litigation-conscious as they are now? 

McLean: That's right. We were not looking for litigation; we were trying 
to prevent anything. As I said, I had this Ralph Aiken, who went 
out and took photographs- -weekly , daily. This saved us millions 
of dollars in lawsuits. Then when the project was finished, my 
project engineers wrote the reports. And they're in the file. 

Lage: And are all the photographs preserved as well? 

McLean: All the photographs, I'm sure. What they've done with them, I 

don't know. But we had all the photographs and reports in there, 
and the address of the buildings and so on. On one of the 


buildings, as 1 recall, they did file a claim, alleging that they 
had settlement of the building. It was on Wood Street, and it 
belonged to a trucking company. They had built the perimeter 
walls of the building that were well supported on a good 
foundation. Then they had filled inside the building with earth. 
There had been a slight settlement in the floor, but that was due 
to the fact that it was their own fill that they had put in, not 
settlement due to construction of the south interceptor. 

Building the Second Lafayette Tunnel 

Experimenting with New 

Lage: You mentioned that you thought of a problem that came up. 

McLean: When were building the second Lafayette Tunnel, the contract was 
held by a joint venture between Stolte Construction Company and 
Fred Early, Jr., Construction Company. They had decided that in 
order to construct the tunnel they wanted to use one of the new 
boring machines . This is quite a common practice now for large 
diameter tunnels. They use enormous boring machines. It must 
have cost between fifty to one hundred thousand dollars to put 
this machine together. It's a large rotary machine that actually 
bores the tunnel. 

Lage: Like a giant drill? 

McLean: It's like a giant drill, just like you were going to bore a hole 
in that wall. You have this machine with cutter heads. The muck 
that comes from this big rotating head is fed through a conveyor 
belt back into cars underneath this boring machine, and then those 
are hauled by an electric locomotive out to a dump. 

They decided that they could save considerable money over the 
old method of tunneling. The old method of driving a tunnel is to 
install wooden sets and then use spiling that you drive in behind 
the sets to support the walls and crown. It requires a lot of 
timber and a lot of men to do it. With a boring machine, you have 
fewer miners and operators. On a normal tunnel operation, you 
probably have twelve to fifteen men at the heading, and they're 
the fellows drilling, shooting, and mucking. They go in and drill 
a round of holes. They load these holes with dynamite, and they 
use electric detonators to detonate the dynamite. 

In a large tunnel where they shoot it with an electric 
battery, they shoot the center drill holes first, and then the 


outside holes are shot so that the material all comes in to the 
center of the tunnel. Then they go in with a mucking machine and 
load the cars , and they ' re hauled out to the dump . You have men 
called powder monkeys, you have others who handle the drills, and 
then you have the muckers, the men who go in with the mucking 
machine and pick up the muck. So it takes at least fifteen men at 
the tunnel heading. 

When you use a boring machine that runs on the track, it only 
requires about half that number of men who work in the heading. 
With a boring machine you have an operator and an oiler. You 
don't do any shooting; you don't have to handle any powder, and 
you don't have electric detonators. 

And there is a difference in the rate of pay also. When 
you're in a tunnel like that where you have to handle explosives, 
you've got to have a special place to store your explosives. 
You've got to have what we call a powder monkey who heads the crew 
loading the drill holes. The pay rates for those fellows are much 
higher, and also your insurance for the fellows working in the 
tunnel is much higher because you're using explosives. Where with 
a drilling machine you don't have any of those risks. 

Lage: Was the drilling machine a new technology at the time? 

McLean: That was a new technology at that time, and few had been used. 

Today most major tunnels except large vehicular tunnels use boring 
machines. On tunnels for penstocks, for power houses and water 
tunnels, it's become universal to use the boring machine. 

Lage: But at that time it was something new? 

McLean: This was something new. This was an experiment. The contractor 
built this machine at a substantial cost. My guess is that it 
went between fifty to one hundred thousand dollars to build the 
machine. The machine had to be built first and put together in 
prototype. Then it had to be dismantled and brought to the tunnel 
and reassembled. It was put together at the entrance of the 
tunnel. It had to be transported in pieces. I think it was 
fabricated in southern California and brought to the Job by truck. 

On all contracts you have a time schedule in which the work 
is supposed to be started and completed. Then you have liquidated 
damages. If the contractor doesn't complete the job within a 
reasonable length of time, they're assessed so much per day. This 
is based upon need. Technically, you cannot have penalties unless 
you have bonuses. There is a difference between liquidated 
damages and penalties. On a contract, you set a date for 
completion, and if you set a penalty it will be a thousand dollars 


a day if you don't complete the job within the time specified. 
That must be offset by a bonus. In other words, if the contractor 
completes it ahead of time, he turns a bonus. 

But with liquidated damages, which are common on most 
contracts, you have to be able to prove that it has cost you 
because of the delay. If you don't have a tunnel to put the water 
through, it costs you so much per day due to the inspectors, the 
engineers you have on the job, and the loss of that facility. 
Those are liquidated damages. 

The contractor decided to try the boring machine, and 
unfortunately the type of material they encountered in the tunnel 
did not permit the operation of this type of equipment. They were 
continuously getting cave-ins, and the machine would get stuck. 
To bore a hole, you've got to have a reasonably firm formation. 
The hole that you bore has to leave a neat hole that you can then 
shore behind the machine, with ribs to hold the ground until you 
can place your concrete lining. Well, it happened that the 
material was so soft that we were getting continual cave -ins. It 
jammed the machine, and the machine would be stuck. Then they'd 
have to back the machine out of the tunnel, go in and muck it out, 
and put the machine back in again. 

They worked on this for several months. They finally pulled 
the machine out of the tunnel and went ahead with the usual method 
of regular tunnel work- -that is, using sets, mucking, and blasting 
wherever it was necessary. This delayed the construction of the 

Assessing Liquidated Damages on the Lafayette Tunnel 

Lage: It must have increased their costs. 

McLean: It increased their costs considerably. Under the terms of the 

contract we had to assess the liquidated damages. The liquidated 
damages, as I recall, were two million dollars or more. We 
withheld this money from the payments to the contractor. This 
brought a protest from the contractors, George Loorz and Fred 
Early. They felt they were being unduly penalized. We had some 
long discussions over the damages. I can remember one meeting 
where we had the district attorney, Harold Raines, Joe DeCosta, 
John McFarland, myself, and the contractors' representatives. We 
had a long session on the subject. I was the one who really had 
to make the final decision. 


Lage : Was the final say that you had to give an estimate of what the 
damages were? I mean, there was no question that they didn't 
complete the work in time. 

McLean: They didn't complete the work within the scheduled time, but the 
real question was whether the district incurred any damages. The 
district was not ready to put water through the tunnel, so there 
was really no loss. Ve couldn't prove the liquidated damages. 

Lage: Was that the point of view you took towards it? 

McLean: Yes. I had to agree that there was no way that they should be 
assessed the liquidated damages. Of course, that was quite a 
shock to John McFarland, but I was the one who finally just said, 
"There's no way." In other words, the district is not ready to 
put water through the tunnel, so how can you assess liquidated 
damages when you can't prove that you have suffered a loss? 

Lage: Did your attorney agree with you? 

McLean: Yes. Harold Raines agreed. 

Lage: But McFarland--? 

McLean: McFarland was a little upset. 

Lage: He was looking for a little windfall for the district. 

McLean: Yes. If we had assessed the damages of two million dollars or 
more, we would have been in a lawsuit. In order to assess 
liquidated damages you have to prove that you have actually been 
damaged; they are actual damages. You have to prove that you've 
been damaged in that amount, and there was no way that we could 
prove it. 

Nelchbor Relations In Relocation of Lafavette Aaueductt 

Lage: What was the project I read about that involved tunneling that 

created a lot of upset among the neighbors because of the noise? 
Was it this same tunnel? It was in the East Bay MUD book. It was 
out in the Lafayette area. The tunneling caused so much noise 
that the neighbors Just had a fit. 

McLean: That was on the relocation on the Number One and the Number Two 

Lafayette Aqueducts. We had to relocate them because of the state 
freeway location. I can tell you about that because I was in 


charge of the construction. In order to have a place where you 
can work, the contractor had to work at both the east and west 
portals . When you have tunneling operations , not only do you have 
to have trackage and a place to dump, but you also have to have 
large air compressors with sufficient capacity for your work. You 
also need a maintenance area for maintaining your equipment. 
When you're working on tunnels, you work twenty- four hours a day 
except Saturdays and Sundays. You work around the clock. 

It was in this residential area, and these compressors go 
continuously, and they are noisy. 

Lage: Twenty- four hours a day? 

McLean: Twenty- four hours a day. The only time off is Saturdays and 
Sundays. There are three shifts. One shift goes on at eight 
o'clock in the morning and works until four o'clock in the 
afternoon; the swing shift comes on at four o'clock in the 
afternoon and works until twelve midnight; then you have the 
graveyard shift that comes at midnight and works until eight 
o'clock in the morning. You've got a continuous operation- - 
compressors going, locomotives going in and out of the tunnel, and 
men working in and out of the tunnel. You also have men arriving 
and leaving each shift. 

Lage: And this was very close to homes? 

McLean: This was close to homes. I think there was one family right 

alongside the work area. We paid for them to live in an apartment 
while the tunnel was under construction. Also, there were a 
couple of other families we actually paid to take a two-week 
vacation. That was over at the east portal, near Pleasant Hill 

Lage: Would you have gotten in the midst of that? 

McLean: Well, I got in the midst of the appeasement part, but I think it 

was Hart Eastman, who was the district secretary at that time, and 
the district's insurance carrier who appeased these people. I 
didn't get into all those details, but I knew that we'd had the 
complaints and that it was handled out of the secretary's 
department . 

Lage: So there was a lot besides engineering. Public relations. 

McLean: Yes. There are always problems, you know. Any construction job 
you get into, there's always appeasement of people, even when 
you're building pipelines. Tunnel operations --well, even Briones 
Dam was a twenty-four hour operation. Pardee was a twenty-four 


operation. Camanche Dam was twenty- four hours. You have to work. 
You see, the cost of those projects is so large that it's only on 
pipelines and similar projects you work an eight-hour shift. 

Lage: You've got to keep your equipment going? 

McLean: You've got to keep your equipment in operation. You have such an 
enormous cost of equipment, manpower, and overhead that you have 
to operate around the clock. You can't just work an eight-hour 

Lage: Unless you're using a boring machine. 
McLean: Yes, unless you're using a boring machine. 

Successful Use of Borine Machine and Laser Technology 

McLean: The contractor used a boring machine on the Lafayette relocation 
tunnel. John Artukovitch was the contractor, from Los Angeles. 
He had a boring machine, and they did an outstanding job. They 
bored a ten-foot diameter hole. 

That was very interesting, because we had two tunnels. One 
had to cross over the other. The state paid for that work, 
because the two Lafayette aqueducts had to be relocated to make 
room for the new freeway. That was near the Pleasant Hill Road 
intersection and Highway 24. The contractor used a boring 
machine, but here the foundation was much different. That machine 
bored an excellent tunnel. Then they put in the steel and placed 
the concrete. The 96- inch diameter pipe was laid on track and 
then concrete placed around the pipe. 

The problem with the two tunnels was that west of Pleasant 
Hill Road, the number one aqueduct is on one side, and the number 
two aqueduct is on the other. When you come west from the Walnut 
Creek Tunnel, the two aqueducts are on different sides, and in 
order to keep them in line so that number one goes into number one 
and number two goes into number two, they had to cross over each 
other at Pleasant Hill Road. 

John Artukovitch was awarded the contract. It was, as I 
recall, a three -and- one -half or four-million-dollar contract for 
the relocation. The state paid for that, because the freeway made 
it necessary. He elected to use a boring machine on that. That 
was in the mid-sixties- -' 66, '67. The boring machine was 
fabricated in Los Angeles, dismantled, and hauled up to the site. 
He bored both of those tunnels. 


He used a laser beam to keep the boring machine on line. 
When we came to the middle of the tunnel from each end, they came 
within inches of each other, which is good. When you're drilling 
tunnels from both ends, when you come within inches you are doing 
very well. To get a control point down through the tunnel, we 
bored a hole from the surface down to the tunnels where we could 
hang a plum line in order to make sure we were on alignment and at 
the same check elevations, because they were both inaccessible. 
Both tunnels came within a matter of inches of true alignment, 
which really was good for tunnel work. 

Lage: Are the terms Lafayette Tunnel and Lafayette Aqueduct 

McLean: The number one Lafayette Aqueduct is a 96-inch ID [in diameter] 

monolithic concrete structure that extends from the west portal of 
the number one Walnut Creek Tunnel to the east portal of the 
number one Lafayette Tunnel constructed in 1927. Lafayette 
Aqueduct number two is a 96 -inch ID reinforced concrete pipe that 
extends from the west portal of the number two Walnut Creek Tunnel 
to the east portal of the number two Lafayette Tunnel, constructed 
in 1962. The relocation tunnels were on both the number one and 
number two aqueducts near Pleasant Hill Road and were necessary to 
clear the right-of-way for Highway 24. 

Construction at Pardee Dam, 1929 

At the construction site of the San Francisco Bay outfall sewer, 1950. 
Left to right: Walter McLean, R.C. Kennedy, and Otto Bohls from EBMUD; 
Tom Veatch, consulting engineer; project manager and project 
superintendent from Healy Tibbets Company. 

At the Orinda Filter Plant, 1967. 

Orinda Filter Plant 

Interior of Walnut Creek Pumping Plant 

The three aqueducts for delivering water from the Mokelumne River, looking east from 
Indian Slough where they cross the marshy delta peat lands. The original aquaduct, 
center, has riveted joints and wooden supports. The second and third aqueducts have 
welded joints and steel supports. 

The dining hall at Pardee , named in honor of Walter McLean in 1990. 



Recalllnc General Manaser and Chief Enclneer John Loncwell 1934- 


Lage : Earlier you mentioned Mr. Longwell as sort of a mentor. Could you 
tell in a little more detail what kinds of things he passed on? 
Were you working closely with him? 

McLean: Yes, very much so, particularly during the early part in reference 
to the construction of the San Francisco pipeline, the Crockett 
line, the Orinda Filter Plant, and also the work on the waste 
water treatment plant. I was very close to John during all that 
time . 

Lage: He wasn't manager yet at that time? 

McLean: Yes. He became chief engineer and general manager after Mr. 

[Frank] Hanna left [April 1, 1934]. At the beginning he was the 
division engineer on the construction of the first Mokelumne 

Lage: What kind of general principles or working style did you absorb 
from him? 

McLean: Well, he was an outstanding engineer. He had a very, very broad 
knowledge. He graduated from Cornell and went to work for the 
Bureau of Reclamation. He was on the Minnedota Project in 
Wyoming. At that time all of the top staff people --Arthur P. 
Davis, Frank Hanna, James Munn, John Longwell --left the Bureau of 
Reclamation to come with the East Bay MUD. Longwell came along, 
and he became the division engineer on the main section of the 
aqueduct between the Walnut Creek Tunnel and Pardee . That was his 
division. That was the entire aqueduct division. I became well 



acquainted with him. The headquarters office for that was in a 
building in Stockton. 

When I went to work on October 4, 1927, John Longwell was the 
division engineer. When they closed that division office, it 
became the maintenance section. Then John Longwell moved down to 
Oakland, and Arthur P. Davis was our chief engineer and general 
manager. Arthur P. Davis left in the first part of the thirties 
when we had completed the aqueduct. I think it was about that 
time, 1929 or 1930, that Mr. Davis left and went to Russia. He 
took with him Lyman Wilbur from the design staff. He and Lyman 
went to Russia to build a big irrigation system in Turkistan in 
Russia. Mr. Hanna became chief engineer and general manager 
[1929], and Mr. Longwell was assistant chief engineer and 
assistant general manager. That was the time that I came in to 
work on the distribution system in 1931. Then when we started the 
waste water system project, Mr. Hanna had left, and Mr. Longwell 
became chief engineer and general manager. Robert Kennedy became 
assistant chief engineer and assistant general manager. 

And that was the last time those two titles were combined? 

Mclean: That's right. That is correct. 

New Leadership under General Manager John McFarland. 1950-1968 

McLean: During that time --and I don't recall the exact date, but it was 
about the time we had really gotten into the waste water 
investigation with Special District 1 about 1945 or '46, just 
about the end of the war- -John McFarland came in [as head of the 
control division, 1947], and shortly after John Longwell resigned. 
When John Longwell left, John McFarland became general manager. 

Lage: Let's talk a little bit about that, because you indicated last 
time that the new management brought a lot of changes. 

McLean: That brought a number of changes. John McFarland came into the 

district. He was brought in by K. Leroy Hamman, who was chairman 
of the board at that time. His business was advertising. About 
that time, right after World War II, the district began to expand 
enormously. Lafayette, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, Castro 
Valley, and all those areas were annexed to the district. There 
was a tremendous expansion going on. And at that time the 
district began to do a tremendous amount of contract work. 


Lage: Vas this the time of changeover from working with district forces 
to contract work? 

McLean: That's right. There was a tremendous transition right after the 
war. There were numerous annexations and contract work, 
installation of pipes in many areas like Castro Valley and 
Pleasant Hill. 

Lage: So you Just couldn't handle it with district forces? 


McLean: There was such a demand that it couldn't be handled with district 
forces, so a lot of work was contracted at that time. This is 
when the district went over to a tremendous amount of contracting, 
even for the installation of steel tanks. We began to get into 
pre-stressed concrete tanks about that time. This all came about 
during that period of time. Prior to the war we had done a lot of 
work with the WPA, the Work Progress Administration. There were 
some large pipelines installed with WPA help. We installed one 
here in San Leandro, and then we built Pleasant Hill Reservoir 
with WPA. There were a lot of Jobs that we did with WPA. That 
ended right at the beginning of the war. 

Then there was very little work except work for the war 
industries and such as the shipyards. Right after the war is when 
Special District 1 was formed, and we got into the investigations 
of that. Then there also came a tremendous amount of annexation, 
and we had to start installing a lot of pipes in those areas. I 
don't know the reasonof course, you never know the reasons- -but 
K. Leroy Hamman decided to bring John McFarland aboard as an 
assistant to Mr. Longwell- -that is, to help Mr. Longwell out. 

Lage: And McFarland was a business manager, I understand. 

McLean: He was a business administrator; he was not an engineer. He came 
in, theoretically, to help Mr. Longwell, who was chief engineer 
and general manager. But eventually Mr. Longwell resigned; this 
must have been 1949. 

Lage: Its Name Was M.U.D. shows him resigning at the end of 1949. 
McLean: Well, that's when it was. 

Lage: McFarland came with the district in 1947. Do you remember the 
kinds of changes that occurred when McFarland--? 

McLean: I was in Special District 1. We had a $23 million bond issue to 
construct the waste water project. That was after Longwell had 








Did you ever talk to Longwell? Did he leave with some 
unhappiness? He must have been of retirement age. 

He was with us during the construction of the interceptors and the 
outfall sewer. Mr. Longwell left in 1949, before the waste water 
project was completed, but 1 worked with him very closely during 
the time before he left the district. He was very interested in 
looking at the construction. I guess his main love was 
construction. He liked to come out and go over the projects. 

I was not in close contact with current events, but 1 
understand from what transpired at the main office that there was 
considerable turmoil during this transition period because a lot 
of new people came in with the district. Bill [William J.] 
Stephens was brought in to head Personnel, and then Tully Ferris 
came as an assistant to McFarland. There was a whole group of new 
people that John McFarland brought with him. Hart Eastman became 

Were they well received? 

How did they look at you, in your 

Well, actually it didn't affect me very much. I had a separate 
office for Special Project 1. They left us pretty well alone. 
Darrell Root and I worked close together, and we got along very 

Out in left field? 


What happened in the central office? 

I can't tell you too much, and this only came from Bill Trahern 
and Thaddeus Hague , the ones I had worked with there . There was 
considerable turmoil. First of all, when it came to signing 
drawings, you're supposed to have a chief engineer who is supposed 
to sign all the drawings. Well, nobody had been appointed chief 
engineer. When John Longwell left there was no chief engineer. 

They didn't replace him right away? 

No. They didn't designate anyone as chief engineer. The first 
thing we ran into when we started filing drawings with the state 
and others was who the chief engineer was. He was supposed to 
sign the drawings and put his stamp on them. All drawings and 
documents must be signed by a registered professional engineer. 
That's what I am; I'm a professional engineer. And you put your 
stamp on there. You also have a seal, and sometimes you use a 



seal. Then you sign your name. This is the requirement by the 
state and federal government, and this shows that these planr have 
been approved either by a chief engineer or by a licensed 
professional engineer. After several months they finally 
appointed Bob Kennedy as chief engineer [October 1950]. 

So that quieted that turmoil down. Of course, I was pretty 
much out of this, because Darrell Root and I were running the 
waste water project, and they left us alone. They didn't bother 
us, because 1 had an office separate from the group, and Darrell 
had an office that was also completely separate. In fact, his 
office was in the old Fox Theatre at Nineteenth and Telegraph. We 
had the ground floor of that building, and that's where Darrell 
was located. I had an office that I had fixed up on the top floor 
above the old meter shop. We improvised an office there, and I 
had about fifteen men or more there. George Marr was my office 

Well, they didn't bother Darrell or me. All of the changes 
took place in the main office. They brought in Chick Adleman as 
head of all the maintenance operations. 

So a lot more employees. 

Well, they brought them at the top level, above everybody. 

From an Engineering-Oriented to a Business -Oriented Management 

Lage: Was it a loss of authority for the engineering side? 

McLean: Well, it was a completely new regime that came in. 

Lage: New people. 

McLean: They were new people. 

Lage: What were their new procedures? 

McLean: They were not knowledgeable at that time about the operations of 
the district, and there was a lot of resentment among some of the 
older employees. It took a long time for things to really settle 
down. They did retain Mr. Longwell as a consultant. Mr. Longwell 
then opened up an office in the Financial Center Building in 
Oakland. He opened a consulting office there and was retained as 
a consultant to the district for quite a long period of time. 


When I got Into the Investigation of the Middle Bar Project, 
Mr. Longwell worked with me and Or in Harder. That was after we 
had finished the waste water project. 

Lage: The East Bay MUD book that you loaned me indicated that all this 

reorganization led to fewer management positions for engineers and 
more management positions for business personnel. 

McLean: They did. That is correct. 

Lage: Was that part of the hard feeling? 

McLean: I think that was a lot of the hard feeling, yes. See, when Arthur 
P. Davis, Mr. Hanna, and John Longwell were there, they were all 
engineers. When John McFarland came in, this transition was 
completely over to business oriented rather than engineering 

Lage: How did that affect the quality of the engineering that went on? 

McLean: I can tell you that they were badly disturbed over a long period 

of time. It took a long time for that to straighten out. I would 
say that during that period of time there was a lot of efficiency 
loss. It didn't bother me, because I had the waste water project, 
and nobody bothered me . 

Lage: When you came back from waste water did you notice some changes? 

McLean: When I came back from the waste water project I got into a 

different setup all together, where again I was left alone. I was 
on the Middle Bar Project; I did that working with Francis 
Blanchard and Orin Harder. Then I had the Pardee Recreation Area; 
that was my daily work. And then when the $252 million bond issue 
was passed, I was immediately put in charge of design of the third 

Lage: But did the kinds of changes that went on in the office affect the 
way you handled your budgets or the kind of people that were hired 
to work under you? 

McLean: Well, at that time John McFarland brought to the district the 
budget process, and he brought forth also the management 
procedures that are in use today. Really, it was a time that the 
district had to go through, but it was a tough situation, because 
previously the district had never really had salary schedules, 
management procedures, and all of these different things that were 
brought when McFarland came to the district. 


He brought to the district the business procedures, whereas 
the engineers previously had been completely engineering oriented. 
Although there was a budget, all of the procedures and the 
policies that we got into, job descriptions and all that, didn't 
exist before McFarland. We had had titles for various positions, 
but when Tully Ferris, John McFarland and the others came in, they 
developed all the procedures which the district has carried on 
today. The district had entered a new era. 

Lage : Were you able to work under those new procedures when you came 
back from Special District 1? 

McLean: Certainly. We finally were able to work under them. The 

animosities, you might say, that developed when this group came in 
melted off into the background and were forgotten. 

Lage: Mr. McFarland was there until '68? 
McLean: That's correct. 

Lage: Was he well respected by that time, or was there still a kind 

McLean: I think by that time he'd been pretty well accepted. He actually 
went over with Great Western in 1968. He didn't retire from the 
district; he resigned to accept the job with them. And John 
Harnett came in, who was colonel of the Army Corps of Engineers. 
[Harnett was chief engineer May 1965-September 1968 and was 
appointed general manager in September 1968.] 

Lage: And that was about the time you left also? 
McLean: I left the first of August of '68, yes. 

Rewards of Working for the District 

Lage: Is there anything else you want to add about what it was like to 
work for East Bay MUD? 

McLean: I was with the district during the greatest expansion period, from 
1945-1968. Looking back on it, I think I was probably one of the 
most fortunate ones in the district, in that I had new challenges 
all the time. There was always something new that came up so that 
I had a new challenge to do this or to build that project, or to 
do something else. I look on my career with the district as 
probably one of the outstanding times in my professional career. 


There were a couple times when I had the opportunity to 
consider a change of jobs. In fact, I was selected as one of two 
finalists for the job to head the construction of the State Vater 
Project- -that Is, not the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Project but 
the State Water Project. I went to the interviews, and I wasn't 
selected. I was one of two who were being considered for the top 
job with the state, under Harvey Banks. 

Lage: So you would have taken that if you'd gotten It? 

McLean: I think so. I think I would have taken that, because it was in a 
kind of slack period with the district. It was after we had 
finished the waste water project and before we had the $252 
million bond issue. That was one time that I had thought of 
leaving the district, and I'm sure that had I been selected, why, 
I would have gone. That would have been a real challenge too, to 
be on the construction of the Oroville Dam, the canals, and the 
pumping plants. They finally selected someone who had been with 
the Bureau back in Washington. He had very little construction 
experience. Harvey Banks did his best to get me; Harvey wanted me 
because I had worked with him. Harvey was then head of the 
department, and he wanted me, but he was overruled, and I never 
did find out why. 

Then I had another opportunity. Mr. Greeley of Greeley and 
Hanson in Chicago had a couple of projects. They had a large 
project In Brazil in which they were going to design and construct 
all the facilities for Sao Paulo; it was a big waste water project 
for the entire city of Sao Paulo. He wanted me to go to that, and 
they made me a very fine offer to go down there on that project. 
First of all, I was to go down and do all of the investigations 
for it, and then they were to set up a design office in Sao Paulo. 
I would have been in charge of all the work. 


When was that? 

McLean: That was right after we finished the waste water project. That 
was after '52. 

Lage: That would have been a new turn for your career. 

McLean: That would have been a challenge, yes. They made me a very fine 
offer to go down there, including all expenses. Just about that 
time we were looking at this $252 million issue for the district. 
With that in sight, I stayed with the district. And I've never 
regretted it, because I think I've left a very fine legacy with 
the district, and certainly my friendships with everyone in the 
district have been outstanding. I finished a forty- one -year 
career with the district when I retired in 1968. 


Lage: That's something of a record, I would say. 

McLean: I could have gone elsewhere, because I certainly had the 

opportunities. But when I look back, and then the period of time 
that I had on the board of the directors, they were all good. 
They were good years . 

Relations vith Board Members 

Lage : In your employee years , was an employee at your level affected by 
changes on the board? 

McLean: No. 

Lage: Were your aware of, or did you get to know any of the people on 
the board? 

McLean: 1 got to know all of them. 

Lage: How would you get to know them? Did they come around? 

McLean: Well, some of them used to come around, yes. And fact is, I had 
the opportunity in many cases of escorting them around the 
projects, you know. When we were building the aqueducts, there 
were times that we escorted them over the projects. 

Lage: Did you ever escort Dr. Pardee around? 

McLean: Very little. He usually came out with Herbie Nelson as his 

chauffeur. Dr. Pardee didn't come on the project very often. 

Lage: But he was a very active person? 

McLean: Yes, he was very active. Oh, yes, he was active for his age. My 
gosh, when he finally stepped down from the board, I think he was 
well along in his eighties. Then Bert Carrington, the director 
from Alameda, was a member of the board for thirty- two years. I 
got to know Bert very well. We used to have trips to Pardee when 
we were working on the aqueducts and Camanche Dam. Many times 
we'd take members of the board over the projects, and it was my 
pleasure to escort them on many of these trips and describe the 
projects to them. Particularly when we were building the 
aqueduct, I would take them through the steel plant and where they 
were installing the pipe. I got to know Bill McNevin very well 
and the others . 


Lage: Anyone stand out as particularly--? 

McLean: Yes. Louis Breuner always stood out as a real businessman. One 
thing I can say about the board in those days, and even up to the 
time I was on the board, the presidents of the board, excepting 
this present board, were all good businessmen. They had the 
district at heart; that is, the district was their prime interest. 
I would say that in most cases the projects that we put before 
them to build and to provide the money for, they were one hundred 
percent behind the staff. I don't know of any project other than 
the Middle Bar Project that was rejected. 

Lage: That was an unusual case? 
McLean: Yes, it was. 

Board Decisions on the Middle Bar Prolect 

Lage: It was the same time that you were having the reorganization in 

the district. Was there an interplay there between the new staff 
and the decision on Middle Bar? 

McLean: I don't know. We worked on this very strenuously. I worked on it 
for over a year. Of course, we didn't get into the design of the 
project, but we looked at the feasibility of the project, and the 
feasibility of the project was good. Cost effective, it was good. 
We recognized that we were going to inundate the electropower 
plant. The electropower plant was old, and PG&E was not against 
the removal of the plant. There were ways to compensate them, and 
all they were interested in was due compensation, basically for 
the destruction of the power house and loss of power revenue. 
Louis Breuner, for some reason or other- -and I am not sure of 
this- -did not want to tangle with PG&E on this issue. He didn't 
want to either compensate PG&E or go through the process to build 
the project. 

Lage: But he was the dominant figure? 

McLean: He was president of the board at that time. John Longwell was our 
consultant on that project, and Longwell was very much in favor of 
the Middle Bar Project. 

The Middle Bar came up again in the eighties, after I was on 
the board. The district was going to go ahead with it and had 
filed with the Federal Power Commission. Then we were threatened 
with a suit by Amador County, and finally it was up to Sandy 


Skaggs, president of the board at that time, and Jerry Gilbert, 
the general manager. We decided not to fight it, and consequently 
nothing was ever done on it. 

Need for More Water Prolects in Califomia## 

McLean: But looking back, I think it was a big mistake that we never went 
ahead with the Middle Bar Project. We would have had to fight 
Amador County- -that is, the litigation that they were threatening 
us with. But I think had we gone ahead with it and built the 
project, we wouldn't have faced the environmental situation that 
we face today . 

In other words , if we are ever today to have enough water to 
take care of the people in the state of California, we are going 
to have to build more water storage projects. Otherwise the 
economy of California will be seriously affected. Agriculture 
uses around eighty percent of the water in the state, and the 
farmers are using it pretty efficiently. I don't know of any 
areas where they can reduce the amount they use without taking 
land out of production. 

There are probably areas where they can conserve, but I don't 
believe that the conservation is going to solve our water problem. 
You see, the State Water Project is only delivering about one- 
third of the water that it should be delivering, and the Central 
Valley Project of the Bureau is delivering less than half of what 
it could be delivering. 

Lage: If they had more dams, is that what you mean? 

McLean: Yes. They have to complete the facilities that are supposed 
completed. The Auburn Dam should be completed and the Peripheral 
Canal built. I know that the Peripheral Canal is one of the 
biggest controversies in the state, but a lot of the problems that 
are in the Delta would be solved by building the Peripheral Canal. 
People don't understand that. The Peripheral Canal has become 
political, and this is going to prevent it. But if you're ever 
going to solve the problem in the Delta, the Peripheral Canal has 
got to be built. 

What happens today is that when you turn the pumps on at 
Clifton Court Forebay, and you turn the pumps on at the federal 
project, what you're actually doing is pulling salt water 
upstream. This affects the striped bass and the salmon fishery. 


If you build a Peripheral Canal, the water goes directly into the 
State Water Project in Clifton Forebay and also into the federal 
project. And then the outlets in the Peripheral Canal, into the 
channels of the Delta, keep the fresh water flowing into the 
Delta, and you don't get the backup of the salt water. The duck 
club of which I am one of the owners , the duck club on the Suisun 
Marsh, used to take water directly out of Suisun Bay and out of 
Grizzly Bay. 

Lage: Your water for--? 

McLean: The water for flooding our fields. We have twelve hundred acres, 
which is on the most westerly end of Grizzly Island. Up until 
about five or six years ago our water used to be so salty when we 
turned it in that it was killing all of our native plants. We 
were having a terrible time. Finally, through the Suisun Marsh 
Conservation Act, the State Division of Water Resources cut a 
channel into Roaring River which takes out up near Montezuma 
Slough. Now the water that we get to the marsh is much fresher. 
They spent several million dollars to get this water so that we 
can have fresh water for the many duck clubs there. Previously, 
ove'r the years our water had increased in saltiness. That has 
been due entirely to the operation of the projects, and that would 
have been prevented by the Peripheral Canal. 

The large water projects like the State Water Project and the 
Bureau's Central Valley Project have only developed about half of 
what was originally proposed. Of the $1.7 billion water project 
for the State Water Project, they've only spent a portion. 
They've got to complete some of the facilities that were in the 
original plan. The Casagrande Reservoir in Kern County and a 
number of others have not been completed, and they need to be 
completed in order to deliver the full amount of water for which 
they were designed. 

Lage: So that seems to you to be the problem we have now, aside from our 

McLean: Yes. You know, the problems that we have today, which now are 
politically--. Don't misunderstand me; you and I are both 
environmentalists. We believe in taking care of our environment. 
You know, they talk about the wild river rafters. Those wild 
rivers did not exist until we built reservoirs that turned the 
water loose into the various streams. The American, the 
Stanislaus, the Mokelumne, the Tuolumne, and all of those- -many of 
them never even had any water flowing in them during the dry 
seasons in the summer. Yuba River was virtually dry. Now they 
talk about the Sacramento Parkway, which follows the American 
River from Sacramento up to the Nimbus Dam. There is water 


flowing in that river today. Going back to my childhood, when I 
lived in Sacramento, that river was dry in the summertime. 

Lage : So the dam regulates the flow? 

McLean: The dam regulates the flow, releases the flow. There was never 
any water until Folsom Dam was built. There was never any water 
in many of the Central Valley streams during the summertime. 

Lage: That's kind of ironic, isn't it? 

McLean: And they have these white water rafters that raft down the 

streams. They do the same on the Stanislaus and all the other 
rivers. That condition didn't exist until the dams were built. 

Lage: What response do you get when you point that out to people? 

McLean: People marvel at the fact that these now exist, but they don't 

know historically the way I know that when we used to go swimming 
in the American River, you couldn't find a place to swim. The 
only place you could find to swim was where there was a big hole 
around one of the piers on the H Street Bridge. The rest of the 
time you could wade the river. If there was any water flowing, it 
was six to twelve inches deep, in one little stream along one edge 
of the river. 

Lage: And those were normal rain years? 

McLean: Those were normal years. In the summertime those streams were 
virtually dry. 



Retirement from East Bav MUD. 1968 
[Interview 7: June 5, 1991 ]//# 

Lage : How did you happen to retire in 1968? 

McLean: Well, 1 had reached the mandatory age of sixty-five. I don't know 
whether they still do or not, but at that time they had the 
mandatory retirement age of sixty- five. My birthday was July 16. 
The subsequent month after that was August, so I was compelled to 
retire on August 1, 1968. 

Lage: I think those laws have changed now. I think that's considered 
discriminatory . 

McLean: That's right. I think it is. 

Lage: Were you about ready to get out anyway, or would you have stayed 

McLean: No, I could have stayed on. See, I had finished the major 

construction work on the $252 million bond issue. There was a 
tremendous amount of work that was done. I had charge of all that 
construction, and by the time I retired it had all been finished. 

Lage: That was very good timing. 

McLean: Yes. The aqueducts were finished, the tunnels were completed, the 
Sobrante and the Walnut Creek filter plants were completed. All 
those projects were completed, and I had completed all the 
reports. All the personnel who were temporary had left. Then I 
went back to my previous position as manager of field engineering, 
and that group was considerably smaller than all the personnel I 


had previously. The work then was mostly local, within the 
distribution system. 

Lage: Not quite as exciting. 

McLean: It wasn't as exciting as the work I had been on. So it was a good 
time for me to retire. 

I was very much interested in going into consulting. This 
was a prime time for me to get into consulting work; with all the 
background and experience that I had had on all the major projects 
with the district, it was a prime time for me to get out and try 
my wings. 

Exoert Witness for Kaiser Steel In 1969 Lawsuit 




Let's talk about your consulting jobs, 
that sound interesting. 

You've mentioned several 

As I said before, I had hardly been retired and was just beginning 
to take a vacation, do a little traveling, when I got a call from 
John Feist, the head attorney for Kaiser Steel Corporation. They 
had a very large lawsuit that was going to be heard in the federal 
court in Denver, and John asked me to come talk to him at the 
Kaiser building. He wanted to know if I would go to work for him 
as an expert witness on the Home stake Project. That was the 
pipeline that went from Homestake Tunnel on the Continental Divide 
to supply water to Colorado Springs. It was a water supply line, 
a 48 -inch welded steel pipeline. I said I'd be willing to go to 
work for him. 

What was the lawsuit about? 

The suit was brought by the contractor, the R. F. Fulton Company, 
against Kaiser Steel, the manufacturer of the pipe. The pipe was 
manufactured in their plant in southern California. Their 
contention was that the pipe didn't meet the specifications. 

The pipeline was designed by Black and Vietch of Kansas City. 
It was what we call a bell and spigot welded steel pipe, and in 
specifying the tolerances on the pipe I believe they had a 
tolerance of plus or minus one-eighth on the spigot and plus or 
minus one-eighth on the bell. When they laid the pipe they used a 
tack weld at the top of the pipe and then put another tack weld at 
ninety degrees on the circumference, and then they lowered the 
pipe in place. 

Late on Saturday, June 22, 1929, when 
workmen at Pardee dam knocked out 
bulkheads to release the first Mokelumne 
river water which would flow into San 
Pablo dam, Walter McLean, recently re 
tired manager of the District's field engin 
eering division, was watching. He is one 
of the few who was involved with almost 
every major construction project for the 
development of the District's Mokelumne 
river water supply during the last 40 

"As a young ambitious engineer just 
starting out," McLean said, "I wanted the 
experience of working on a really big 
project and I set my sights on Pardee. I'd 
worked for more than a year as a junior 
hydraulic engineer for the California State 
Division of Water Resources and I was 
just finishing up a two-year job as assist 
ant engineer on a preliminary investiga 
tion of sites for the Feather River Power 

"I wanted to work on Pardee," McLean 
continued, "because at that time it was 
one of the largest concrete dams to be 
built in the world. In October 1927, I 
was hired as an assistant engineer in 
charge of concrete construction for the 
first Mokelumne aqueduct." 

When the pipeline between the Lana 
Plancha gorge and Walnut Creek was fin 
ished, McLean was transferred to Pardee 
dam where he became assisitant to the 
resident engineer, E. L. MacDonald. "I 
got to Pardee just as the first foundations 
for the dam were being poured," McLean 
continued. "I stayed on until the power 
house was finished and the machinery set. 
That was May 1930." From that year until 
1945, he was senior engineer and super 
vising civil engineer in the District's dis 
tribution division. His work included 
construction of redwood tanks, steel tanks, 
prestressed concrete reservoirs, steel and 
cast iron pipelines, pumping plants, wa 
ter treatment plants, dams, spillways, tun 
nels, roads, bridges and distribution res 
ervoirs required for the steadily growing 
E.B.M.U.D. system. 

A change of pace came in 1945 when 
McLean turned his attention from storing 
and distribution of water to the problem 
of disposing of it. His assignment was 
supervising civil engineer in charge of 
field engineering and construction for 
Special District No. 1, Water Pollution 
Control. In 1952 he had a chance to 
look to the future when he was assigned 
as supervising civil engineer, investigating 
the development of facilities for the Dis 
trict's future water supply from the 
Mokelumne river. 


"A project which I really got a big bang 
out of came along in 1957," McLean re 
calls, "when I supervised the investigation 
and design of the Pardee Reservoir Rec 
reation Area. We worked on designs for 
the buildings, layout of the water lines 
and sewers, boat docks, everything. Then 
we went to the State Wildlife Conserva 
tion Board to get the money." His final 
assignment as a supervising engineer 
came in 1958 when he worked on the 
design, plans and specifications for the 
$68 million Mokelumne aqueduct num 
ber three. 

McLean was promoted to manager of the 
field engineering division on May 1, 1959. 
In December 1961 he was transferred to 
manager of special projects construction 
division, responsible for building Briones 
dam, the Lafayette tunnel and aqueduct 
and the third Mokelumne aqueduct. In 
October 1963, he returned to his former 
position as manager of the field engineer 
ing division and remained there until 
his retirement on July 31. 

McLean was born in Sacramento at a 
time when regular ferries were the mode 
of transportation between the Capital and 
San Francisco and when water problems 
were of no legislative concern. He gradu 
ated from Sacramento High School and 
attended Sacramento Junior College, one 
of the oldest in the State, and the Univer 
sity of California at Berkeley. As a regis 
tered engineer, he belongs to numerous 
professional organizations and is a Fellow 
of the American Society of Civil Engin- 

McLean's wife, Margaret, was also born 
in California's gold country at Plymouth 
and was raised in Placerville. The Mc 
Lean's have three children, all of whom 
are married. Their daughter, Phylis Click, 
is director of the College for Early Edu 
cation in Los Angeles; one son, Robert 
James, is an engineer with Stolte Con 
struction Company in Oakland and a sec 
ond son, Edward Bruce, is employed by 
Pinkerton in Oakland. 

Retirement plans for McLean include 
some consulting work after a long vaca 
tion. "I've been working all my life and I 
can't stop now," he said. But first he 
plans to do a little upland bird shooting 
and deer hunting this Fall. 

Contractor Elmer Freethy, left, bids 
farewell to former manager of the field 
engineering division, Walter McLean. 
Over the years, they worked together 
frequently on many District construc 
tion projects. 

A Time 



August 1968 





Veil, by laying the pipe by that method it accumulated a 
large gap at the bottom. If you happened to get two pieces of 
pipe that have a plus one-eighth on the bell and a minus one- 
eighth on the spigot, then you actually have a quarter of an inch 
gap. When the pipe is laid, you can have a gap as much as one- 
half inch. It was the contractor's fault in laying this pipe in 
this manner. As a result, they had to put a rod in the gap, what 
they call slugging, which is very poor practice. 

In addition to that, when they shipped all this pipe, 
because of the very high head that was on the pipe, it had to be 
all in sequence. Every section of pipe had to be laid at a 
specific location. There was a section of about a quarter to a 
half mile in length, right within a couple miles of the Homes take 
tunnel, where the pipe was delivered out of sequence, and the 
contractor had to skip this section. He had to go ahead and lay 
the pipe and leave a gap in order to keep crews working. This was 
during the late fall. It was getting pretty cold high in the 
mountains; fact is, they had temperatures that were getting down 
to zero and even some minus temperatures. 

When the pipe arrived that went into this section, he had to 
move all of his crew back to lay the portion where the gap in the 
pipeline was. As a result, he was claiming damages for the 
additional cost of the delay and moving the crew. 

He was claiming damages for it from Kaiser Steel? 

Yes, the contractor was claiming the damages for payment for the 
delay and move caused by the out -of -sequence pipe delivery, and he 
was also claiming damages for this problem with the gap in the 
pipe joints, alleging that the pipe did not meet the 
specifications. As I recall, the suit was for several million 
dollars, and it was in the U.S. federal court in Denver. 

Did it actually go to court? 

Oh, absolutely, you bet. I testified. 

Was this your first time on the witness stand? 

This was the first time I was on the witness stand, yes. I 
testified, and I was in court a week. 

Did the lawyers work with you very much to prepare you? 

Oh, yes. Absolutely. In order to be represented in the federal 
court in Denver they had to use a local firm. I was the adviser, 


basically, not only as the expert for Kaiser, but in addition to 
that I had to work with the attorneys in Denver. 

Lage: Tell me what you learned about being an expert witness. What does 
it take? 

McLean: One thing I learned on this in working with the attorneys was that 
very few of them were familiar with engineering or construction 
practices. I think most of my time as an expert witness has been 
to educate the attorneys to engineering terms and construction 
methods. The attorneys I worked with in Denver were Don Gentry 
and Charles Haines. They were a large firm of attorneys in 
Denver. John Feist, of course, was the chief attorney for Kaiser 
Steel Corporation. 

That was '69. I started there late summer and worked just 
until Christmas . 

Lage: Did you go on site? 

McLean: Oh, yes. I would go back there when they were preparing the case 
and spend an average of a week. I stayed at the old Brown Hotel 
there in Denver. They had a suite of rooms reserved for Kaiser in 
the annex. I think the annex was about twelve stories high. 1 
had a room with an adjoining room that had a desk, and I could 
work there. Kaiser had three or four rooms on the floor below me. 
It was about a two-block walk to the attorneys' office where I 
would go each day. 

We flew first class on United Airlines both to and from 
Denver. I made several trips back there, beginning in September 
1968. I would spend an average of a week there with all the 
attorneys, and during that time we went out to the site. Of 
course, the construction work had been finished, but we went out 
to the site and drove over it so that I could explain to the 
attorneys how the contractor would excavate the trench and lay the 
48 -inch pipe. 

Most of my time was spent with them going over the 
contractor's claim. Then we went to court, and I believe we were 
in court for two weeks. 

Lage: Were there any other engineers testifying? 

McLean: No. I was the only one. Kaiser had their own engineers, but they 
did not testify. 


But what about the contractor? 


McLean: He was represented by his superintendent on the Job and a couple 
of others who had been on the job. In the federal courts they 
would start at eight o'clock in the morning. The judge would 
start at eight o'clock in the morning, and we'd go until five 
o'clock at night. Sometimes it would even go beyond five o'clock. 
This was jury trial, and as I remember the most intelligent one on 
the jury was a schoolteacher. 

Lage : So you had to make your testimony such that they could understand? 

McLean: The testimony had to be made in such a way so that they could 

understand it, and this resulted in a lot of illustrations, just 
like I've done here. We had one of these great big pads on an 

Lage: Did you draw right there in the courtroom? 

McLean: Yes. I had to get up and draw before the jury. I remember one 
day- -and I always got a big kick out of this- -the judge was 
questioning me. I had been on the stand all morning, and the 
judge was questioning me about the process of welding and how they 
laid the pipe. I was showing the way it should have been done; 
they should have used a hydraulic jack in the spigot end of the 
pipe to elongate it. And then it should have been tacked on the 
sides at the midpoint. 

Lage: Tacked down the sides and not just the top? 

McLean: Yes, so that you would equalize this space all around the 

circumference of the pipe so the space would be uniform all the 
way around. I was explaining this to the judge, and the attorney 
for the contractor tried to interrupt. The judge shut him up fast 
and said, "Mr. So and so, if you'll just sit down and listen to 
Mr. McLean you'll learn something." [laughter] It kind of took 
the wind out of his sails. I'll never forget that, because the 
judge went on questioning me. 

I had analyzed very carefully the extra costs for the 
contractor caused by the out-of -sequence delivery of pipe. That 
was Kaiser's fault, but the contractor had grossly exaggerated the 
costs in his claim. First of all I eliminated his claim 
completely on the problem with the extra work he had to do because 
of the gap; that was his own fault. Then I reduced his claim on 
the sequence of delivering the pipe. 

It was getting very close to Christmas, and finally the case 
was given to the jury. 



McLean: What got to the Jury was a claim for somewhere around $160,000 for 
one item in addition to the original claim. When the Jury brought 
the verdict, they had included this $160,000 in the total claim. 
The Judge said, "I'm not going to allow that! I'm not going to 
allow that. That's completely wrong. I'll cut that in half." 
The final award was less than $100,000. 

Lage: And the original suit had been for--? 

McLean: The original suit was over $5 million. 

Lage: So you earned your consulting fee on that money. 

McLean: Yes, I earned it, absolutely. I sure earned it. 

Testifying for the Bureau of Reclamation. 1969-1970 

McLean: I hadn't any more than finished with the Kaiser suit when, while I 
was staying at the Brown Hotel in Denver, I got a call from Barney 
Belport of the Bureau of Reclamation. This was in '69. Barney 
said, "I want you on a lawsuit that we have down in Texas." I 
said, "Barney, you don't need me. You've got all kinds of good men 
in your organization." He said, "I want somebody who is unbiased 
and who can look at this objectively as my expert." And he said, 
"I want you to come to work for me on this case." Veil, I had 
hardly finished the Kaiser litigation when I went to work for the 
bureau. I spent pretty nearly a year again commuting to Denver 
for the bureau, into 1970. 

Lage: Were they being sued? 

McLean: Yes. They were being sued by another contractor. It was a 350- 
mile aqueduct through the Panhandle of Texas. This was all 
concrete pressure pipe, and it went from Amarillo, Texas, to 
Lubbock, Texas, and served all the communities and irrigation for 
farms from the Canadian River. It commenced at the Canadian River 
and went through the Texas Panhandle. 

Lage: And the Canadian River is--? 

McLean: It's in Texas, and there was a reservoir on the Canadian River 

Just north of Amarillo. I spent a year on that project with the 
bureau. That was in the U.S. Court of Appeals. 

Lage: Do you have to be specially certified to be an expert witness in 
these cases? 


McLean: Yes. I had to be certified by the federal court in Denver, and I 
had to be certified by the court of appeals that I could serve as 
an expert witness. Fact is, I have a list of where I have been 
certified. I've been certified by the federal court in San 
Francisco and there are several, I guess, in northern California. 
I think there's a half a dozen or more courts that I've been 
certified by. 

Lage: Is that just a rubber stamp process, or do they really examine 
your qualifications? 

McLean: They review all your qualifications and your background experience 
for you to be permitted to serve as an expert witness. 

Well, that went to trial in August or September 1970. That 
was just heard before the judge; that was not a jury. 

Lage: Does that affect the way you present your case? 

McLean: Oh, absolutely. These federal judges are pretty keen. They've 
been in there for a long time on the appeal judge circuit, and 
they are good, no question. Henry Strand was the chief attorney 
for the bureau. When I got his Christmas card this year, he told 
me he was retiring. I had a very fine relationship with him. 
There again, I commuted back and forth to Denver about twice a 
month. I would go back and spend whatever time he wanted with me, 
reviewing all the claims, reviewing the pictures. We went over 
the project. There were two or three times that we went to the 
project. We flew from Denver to Amarillo, and a government 
chauffeur would pick us up there. We'd spend the whole day going 
over the project. There were miles and miles and miles of reject 

Lage: The bureau rejected the pipe, and the contractor sued? 

McLean: The bureau rejected the pipe. Normally this pipe is made in about 
a ten- foot length. The pipe is made in molds, and it's 
centrif ically spun by what they call a Cen-Vi-Ro process. When 
they spin the pipe, it's in a mold. They use a very dry mix. 
When they put this in the mold and spin it, they have a roller in 
the pipe that compacts the concrete. Normally the pipe is made in 
ten-foot lengths, and they put just enough concrete in the mold to 
give a proper thickness . 

Well, they got the idea that they could extend the length of 
this pipe to twenty feet. They didn't want so many sections of 
pipe, so they made the mold longer. The trouble with that was 
that by making it longer, they couldn't make the roller stiff 
enough to compact the concrete, the roller would bow, and the pipe 


would be eight to ten inches narrower in diameter in the middle of 
the pipe than it was at the ends. If you had a forty-eight inch 
pipe in the center it might be as little as forty inches . 

Lage: Now, I don't see how the contractor thought he had much of a claim 
against the Bureau of Reclamation. 

McLean: In addition, many the bells were full of uncompacted concrete. 
There were miles of rejected pipe. 

Lage: So the bureau rejected the pipe? 

McLean: The bureau rejected the pipe as not meeting the specifications. 

The judge didn't come out with his report for about a year. 
He mentioned all of the different things that I had testified 
about the project. He gave quote after quote of what I had said 
about the contractor's pipe fabrication methods. Finally he 
awarded the contractor $223,000 which I had testified they were 
entitled to. The suit, again, was around $10 million or so. I 
told the judge that in my opinionand I gave him all the figures- 
-they were entitled to a judgement of about $223,000 and that was 
all, period. 

Well, the Cen-Vi-Ro Corporation then appealed this judgement. 
Finally, believe it or not, after going through the appeal 
process, which took four or five years before finally coming up 
with an award, they didn't get any more out of it. They finally 
accepted the $223,000. I wrote back to Hank Strand, the attorney 
for the bureau, and I said, "How lucky can you be!" They got the 
judgement on inflated dollars. If they had accepted the $233,000 
five years ago , the money would have been worth a lot more . But 
getting it today, why, it's worth a lot less." He wrote back and 
said, "Leave it up to you to figure something out like that." 

Thoughts on Being an Expert Witness 

Lage: Were you ever offered a case where you thought you couldn't accept 
it because you didn't agree with what you'd been asked to do? 

McLean: Yes. I don't recall which one, but I have had one or two like 
that, where I told them I didn't think they had a case, and I 
wouldn't work with them on it. 

Lage: Do you enjoy it? 







Lage : 

I do. I really do. I receive a good fee. It takes a lot of 
research, and I receive $90 per hour for the research work. On 
the witness stand I get $250 an hour, with a minimum of $1,000 per 

You're surely worth it, when you consider what's at stake. 

You know, I've always said that they're paying for my background 
and my experience. On all the cases I've been on, there's never 
been a complaint about my fee. Every case I have been on, I don't 
remember one that we ever lost. 

There must be something else, though- -the ability to communicate 
to the jury and the judge. Do you have any thoughts about that? 

That's right. Very rarely do you ever get a jury in any of these 
cases, even in federal or superior court, where I would say they 
have more than average high school intelligence. The thing you 
have to do is to get the jury or judge to understand what the case 
is about. "iou have to be able to draw pictures and explain to 
them things that they can understand clearly. 

Also the judge --generally this sort of thing is not common 
knowledge to the judges. Unless the Judge does a lot of research 
work, you have to explain these things to him. You have to get 
the judge so that he knows what you're talking about. If it's 
laying pipe, or whatever it happens to be, he has to know what 
you're talking about. This is why I've always been very careful 
to draw pictures and spell everything out, even put down formulas 
related to the problem. Whether they understand the formulas or 
not doesn't make any difference. They see that you know what 
you're talking about. I think this is a big help. 

I think every case that I have worked on, I've always felt 
that the judgement was fair and equitable and reasonable. I don't 
think I have ever had one where I felt the judge or the Jury 
awarded any exorbitant amount. In most all cases the judgement 
has been virtually zero; they haven't gotten anything. 

Or does 

I have been 

Are you usually on for the defendant or the plaintiff? 
that make a difference to you? 

I have been on both, but I prefer the defendant part, 
on several for the plaintiff. 

Why do you prefer being for the defendant? 

As a general rule I've felt that I'm more interested in defending 
someone against a claim than I am in trying to help the plaintiff 


make a claim. Generally when you analyze many claims, the 
plaintiff has grossly exaggerated the claim. The first thing you 
have to do is review the claim and tell them what is fair. 

Lage: So if you were on the plaintiff's side, you'd have to go along 
with his grossly exaggerated claims? 

McLean: You have to go along with what he wants. Sometimes, in one or two 
cases, 1 said, "Look, I can't take this because you don't have a 
case. Look for somebody else." 

Lage: Is the cross-examination process a painful one? 

McLean: No, it doesn't bother me. I know engineering and construction, 
and the attorney who's cross examining me doesn't. When I'm 
answering questions on engineering, he doesn't understand. 

Lage: It gives you the advantage. 

McLean: I have the advantage. Any time they start to question me on 

construction or engineering, I know that I've got the better of 
them. I like to match wits. I enjoy matching wits with an 
attorney when it comes to cross examinations, because even on 
depositions they are playing my game. I don't mind it at all. 

The Case of the Leaky Sewer Line. Bethel Island 

Lage: Is it any problem for you keeping up with new technology? 

McLean: No. 

Lage: Or have there been that many changes? 

McLean: Well there 've been a few, but generally most of them are 

straightforward. The last lawsuit I worked on was at Bethel 
Island in the delta. I worked on for it for a couple years. 

Lage: And who was that with? 

McLean: It was the installation of the sewer system for all of the homes 
on Bethel Island. This was a case where it was all originally 
septic tanks, but because of the high groundwater tables- -this 
island is in the Sacramento -San Joaquin Delta, one of the islands 
where there was a marina and a lot of homes- -it got to the point 
where the pollution was terrible. 


Lage: It's right there in the middle of the delta, isn't it? 

McLean: Yes, it's right in the middle of the delta. The result was that 
finally they were compelled to build a sewage collection system 
and take the waste water into the treatment plant at Oakley. They 
were having a very high infiltration into the system. 
Infiltration may be due either to roof downspouts and poor joints 
in the laterals or main line system. In the old days, when they 
used to make cement joints, the cement joints were made very 
poorly, and you get infiltration into your system from ground 
water. Now we use plastic and rubber joints, which are very 

In some of the old sewers in Oakland and Alameda it used to 
blow the manhole covers off because of excess water when it 
rained. All the water poured into the sewer system through the 
old cement joints. Many homes had their downspouts connected into 
the sewer. All this extra water overloads the collection system. 

This also creates a problem for your waste water treatment 
plant. The waste water treatment plant is designed for waste 
water flow only, and when you get double that during a rainstorm, 
this puts a big load on your waste water treatment plant. This is 
what was happening at Bethel Island. They let a contract for 
fourteen miles of sixteen- inch collecting pipe throughout Bethel 
Island to sewer this entire area, plus a long line that went to 
the treatment plant. After it was in operation, as I recall, the 
flow was somewhere around over a million gallons per day into the 
treatment plant, whereas the flow from homes and commercial 
establishments was less than a half a million. Immediately, 
because of the poor soil conditions, they blamed the contractor 
for the joints in the line leaking. The contractor called me in 
as the expert. 

Lage: And who was suing the contractor? 

McLean: Contra Costa County and the homeowners on Bethel Island were suing 
the contractor. I don't remember the contractor's name. The 
attorney for the contractor was the firm of Catalano and 
Associates in San Francisco. I was called in as the expert. The 
lawsuit was for was over five million dollars. After looking at 
the plaintiffs' claims, I said, "The first thing we must do is 
make a TV survey of it, to find out where the leakage is coming 
from. Then we can determine the merits of this claim." Their 
claim was against the contractor who had built the system, saying 
that he hadn't installed it properly, and that it was leaking to 
the extent of over half a million gallons per day. We retained a 
TV firm from Fresno, and we made a complete videotape of the 
entire system with a color TV camera. 


McLean : 

I think of the system as being underground. 

Yes. The system is all installed ten or twelve feet below ground. 

How do you do make a videotape in those conditions? 

They had a television camera that was about five or six inches in 
diameter and about two feet long, and they had a cable. Manholes 
are normally located four or five hundred feet apart, depending on 
the terrain. They passed a cable down through one manhole and up 
another manhole. Let's say we'll take a five hundred foot reach. 
Then they put the camera down the manhole, and attached to this 
cable is the electric transmitter that comes from the camera. It 
actually measures the number of feet it travels between manholes , 
and as they electrically reel this camera along it takes a 
complete picture of the inside of the sewer. You can sit there in 
the van alongside and watch in color- -they have a large TV 
screenand watch every joint in the pipe and the water that is in 
the pipe. You can also see any leaks in the joints. 

First they have to flush the pipe. There is always some 
sewage flowing in this pipe. The pipe is flushed from a fire 
hydrant before they put the TV camera in the pipe. 

McLean: If there's any obstruction of any joint or a leak, it's all 

recorded on the TV tape. The camera shows the amount of water 
flowing, and it records a dip in the pipe. If there happens to be 
a sag, it will show on the camera. Sometimes the camera will be 
underwater. If there is standing water in the line, the camera 
will show that. The TV gives you a complete picture of this sewer 

We did find some sags. By judging the depth of the water, 
why, we could tell where there was a three-inch sag or a four-inch 
sag in a pipe. But that doesn't hurt anything; it means water 
stands in there. But we found the leakage was coming from the 
laterals where the people themselves had connected into the sewer 

Lage: Oh, so the people had come in, or hired contractors to come in--? 

McLean: After this sewer line was built, the people were compelled to 

disconnect the septic tanks and bring their house sewer into the 
main sewer. At the sewer line they leave a lateral connection. 
The lateral is fabricated right in the pipe, and it has a bell on 
it. The people are supposed to bring their line and connect into 
the lateral in the main sewer line. 


In most cases the water table was above the pipe. When the 
homeowners made their connections to the main line, they just put 
a piece of pipe in the joint, and then they put a little plaster 
around it. Well, the leakage was coming in from the pipe that 
connected to the main. 

Lage : So the connection between the main sewer pipe and the household 
pipes was where the water was coming in? 

McLean: That's where the leakage was all coming from. The county was 
supposed to have inspected this to make sure that it was 
absolutely bottle tight. Ve saw some where there was so much 
water flowing, it was actually shooting out of this pipe into the 
main sewer. This all showed on the TV. 

Lage: It's amazing that there are companies that provide this kind of TV 

McLean: Yes. I've used it in cases, and in cases just like this, where 
you have to take a look at a pipeline or sewer line. The nice 
part about color is that it shows everything clearly. 

Lage: When you showed this, I'm surprised that the county would even go 
ahead with suing you, once you've shown the problem. 

McLean: The plaintiffs wanted to go ahead with it, yes. I have forgotten 
the judge's name. We went to court four times, and the judge told 
the plaintiffs, "You don't have a case!" He saw these pictures, 
and he said, "You don't have a case!" And they kept insisting, 
"Well, we want to go to court; we want to have it tried before a 
jury." So he said, "Okay, I'll set a date for you." And it would 
come just about the date, and then it would be postponed, and we 
would have another hearing. This took two years. It was 
absolutely ridiculous. They didn't have a shred of evidence, 
because we had found the contractor's work to be without fault. I 
sat there in the court room, and there were experts for the 
county, experts for the people, and the attorneys for the 

Lage: Did it ever go to trial? 

McLean: It didn't go to trial. We spent one day there from eight or 

eight -thirty in the morning until nearly eight -thirty at night, 
and the judge tried to convince these people that they didn't have 
a case. He said, "How can you go against this evidence that you 
have of where the water is coming from?" And they still insisted 
that they wanted to go to trial. Four times we did that. Four 
times . 


Finally the last time- -I wasn't present that time --they 
settled. The plaintiffs who made the claim got zero, the county 
came out with nothing, but the contractors and engineers, of 
course, had a lot of money coming. They got all their fees and 
costs. I never did get all the full details of the settlement, but 
the plaintiffs lost everything; they didn't get anything out of 
it. I was on that case for pretty nearly two years. 

Desieninjz a Honduran Shrimp Farm 

Lage: Let's talk about some of your consulting jobs that were not court 
cases. You've mentioned the Honduras experience, and that sounded 
very interesting. Tell me about that. 

McLean: That was for a shrimp farm (aquaculture) in Honduras. I was 
working with McCreary-Koretsky, a consulting firm in San 
Francisco. They had a contract with Armour and Company. Armour 
and Company had been experimenting with the propagation and 
rearing of shrimp, or prawns, as we call them. They had had a 
facility in Florida in which they had carried out a long series of 
experiments for three or more years, rearing these large prawns 
artificially on an experimental basis for market. McCreary- 
Koretsky was doing some other work, and they had an office in 
Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. 

My particular role was not only to oversee the hydraulics of 
it, but also the proposed construction. Our assignment was to go 
to the Caribbean coast in Honduras, near the port town of La 
Ceiba. They proposed to construct a series of shallow ponds that 
would cover approximately two thousand acres. That would be 
around three square miles. These ponds were to be constructed of 
a size that would range from two acres to four or five acres per 
pond. They were to have a water depth of not more than four feet. 
It meant that you had to build levees around each pond to get a 
water depth of about four feet in the ponds. These shrimp grow to 
marketable size in about ninety days. In other words, all the 
criteria that was given us was that you would have shrimp in the 
ponds for about ninety days. They were really small, minute, when 
they were put in the ponds , and you fed them fish meal . The 
reason for going to Honduras was that there is a tremendous 
abundance of fish meal down there , and there was plenty of land 
available. The total amount of feed that you would give them was 
about a pound and a half of fish meal for every pound of shrimp. 
As the shrimp grew, you increased the amount. 


We had a number of problems. First of all, we had to find an 
area where the soil was mostly clay, because that had to retain 
the water in the ponds. Then the next thing was the levees. The 
other was the system of pipes that we had to have that would not 
only permit us to fill the ponds with water but also to drain the 
ponds. We had to be able to drain the ponds rapidly; you harvest 
the shrimp when you drain the ponds. We had to provide an eight- 
foot security fence, and this was very interesting to me. Around 
the perimeter of the 2,000 acres we had to install an eight-foot 
security fence, and we had to install electric flood lights along 
the fence to keep the natives from trespassing and stealing the 

Then we had to construct a town, a small town for the 
workmen. I think there were somewhere in the neighborhood of 
about one hundred workmen. Some of those were bachelors, some had 
families. They employed both women and men, and we had to provide 
separate quarters for them. And then we had to have family 
quarters for superintendents, chemists, and all the other 
personnel who worked on the farm. 

- We had to provide a water supply and a waste water system. 
We had to have a laboratory and a refrigerated warehouse. We had 
to have the processing plant where you process the shrimp and 
where they were packaged and frozen. And then we had to have a 
freezer warehouse. We also had to have a vermin-proof warehouse 
in which to store the fish meal. These were all the criteria that 
were given to us by Armour Company. 

The laboratory was very interesting, because the way they 
obtained the eggs from the shrimp was from the boats out in the 
Caribbean that harvest the shrimp by nets. When they brought in 
the shrimp, they would pick out the females, which apparently are 
very easily identified because they are all covered with eggs. 
They would collect all those together on the boats, and then 
helicopters would go out to these boats and get the pregnant 
females, if you want to call them that, and bring them to the 
laboratory. There they milked them of the eggs, and the eggs and 
larvae went through about five or six different processes. The 
eggs were first put in agar agar to grow as a culture. 

Lage: Agar agar? 

McLean: Yes. Agar agar, just like you do for bacteria; you put them in 

that. Then they went through various stages as they were growing. 
I don't recall the length of time, but it was two or three months 
that they went through this process before you could put them out 
in the pond. 


We had several criteria to meet in constructing the ponds. 
The water in the ponds had to be of uniform salinity- -that is, as 
close to a uniform salinity as you could get. We couldn't permit 
predatory fish or the eggs or the fry of predatory fish to get 
into the ponds, because if they did they would feed on the fish 
meal and eat the baby shrimp, see. We had to provide facilities 
so that in drawing the water out of the Caribbean we didn't get 
these predatory fish. We had to locate a site where there was 
good clay bottom, with soil that was mostly clay, where we could 
use it not only to build the levees but also to make the ponds. 

They had several methods by which they wanted to harvest the 
fish. You would harvest the shrimp every ninety days. We looked 
into one method that used a vacuum process . As you draw the water 
from the pond, the shrimp follow the water. If we had a large 
vacuum suction pipe in there where they were following this water 
as we were draining the pond, we could suck them out of a sump and 
take them into an area where we could remove them in baskets near 
the processing plant. That was one idea that we investigated. 
The other was to have large baskets when the water was being drawn 
out? of the pond, and when one of these baskets got full, to hoist 
that up on a carrier and take the shrimp into the refrigeration 

There had to be a big refrigeration storage area because you 
have to hold the shrimp for forty -eight hours before you can de- 
head them. That has to be done by hand. In order to keep from 
damaging the meat when the head is removed, experiments have shown 
that they have to stand for about forty-eight hours in- -not a cold 
temperature, but about forty degrees. As I recall, it was around 
forty to forty-eight degrees, and then the heads would come off 
easily. And this is done by hand. 

The other problem was to obtain a uniform source of salt 
water. We ran tests for about a year. Along the coast of 
Honduras there are a lot of large fresh water rivers that come 
into the Caribbean. The currents flow out from these rivers and 
follow the coastline. You have to go quite a distance into the 
Caribbean in order to get away from the influence of the fresh 
water. You cannot have fresh water in the ponds. If you get 
fresh water in the ponds, that kills the shrimp; the shrimp 
wouldn't survive. So we had to go far enough out into the 
Caribbean to where we would find water of a salinity that was 
reasonably constant year in and year out and of the correct 
uniform temperature. We found that the intake for the pumping 
plant which would deliver the water into the ponds had to extend 
four thousand linear feet into the Caribbean. We found this by 
carrying out a series of tests throughout the year, so it took us 


about a year to determine how far the Intake would go out into the 

Lage: Were you down there for the whole time? 

McLean: No. I went down there several times when all the work was going 
on. We had an office in Tegucigalpa and also a field office at 
the site where these tests were carried out. 

One of the things that I noticed down there was that there 
are two levels of wealth, the very poor and the very wealthy. 

Lage: Do you have some observations from your exposure to living 
conditions there? 

McLean: You'll see that many of the people living there are very poor, 
although one of the things that I noticed was that all the 
youngsters, the schoolchildren, though many of them were 
barefooted and didn't have sandals, why, they were always clean. 
They had their clothes cleaned, washed, starched, and ironed. 
Even the poor were neat and clean. 

To get to the coast we had to fly from Tegucigalpa to La 
Ceiba. The landing field there was just gravel, and of course 
only small planes could land there. Ue had to take a DC 3 flight 
from Tegucigalpa. The airport was just an open shed. They had 
one locked area where I guess they kept baggage and things that 
had to be stored. The airport itself had just a corrugated tin 
roof --an open shed. Every time you'd get off a plane there was a 
group of beggars. Wherever you'd go you'd find people begging. 
There was one woman you never failed to see down there. She had 
two blind children, I don't know whether they were hers. As soon 
as the plane would land, why, these people would come out, asking 
for money, and she always had these two blind youngsters with her. 

Lage: It was quite a cultural shock to fly back and forth to Honduras, 
it seems. 

McLean: Yes. I think I told you that we went one night to a birthday 
party for the president of the Bank of America. It was very 
interesting to find that the men were all in one area, and the 
women were in another area no mixing of the sexes. 

Lage: Were these Americans or Hondurans? 

McLean: They were mostly local natives. There were a few Americans. This 
was in Tegucigalpa. Usually the Americans are there on business; 
you meet a lot of Americans on business. To my knowledge we were 


the only firm working down there as consulting engineers. The man 
who was the president of the Bank of America was American, and he 
could speak Spanish fluently. The engineer who was head of our 
office there, Leon Delhey, had worked in Peru, and although he was 
American, his wife was from Peru. He could speak Spanish very 
fluently, and he was our interpreter wherever we went. 

After we had worked on this project for over a year, we 
finally put together our report. At that time Greyhound had taken 
over Armour Company. We went back to Chicago and spent a couple 
days there in which we presented the project to the Armour and 
Greyhound people . 

One of the things that I forgot to mention, though I talked 
abut the harvesting, was the process we had to go through after 
the harvest. The shrimp are in large baskets, and the baskets are 
put in the refrigeration room. After forty- eight hours of being 
under refrigeration the shrimp go to the processing plant. At the 
processing plant they go to the women who take each shrimp and 
pull the head off. Then they go on a conveyor belt, and from 
there they're sorted according to the number of prawns per pound. 
They go into this sorting mechanism over conveyors, where they are 
graded. As they are graded, they go into five -pound boxes and 
through a quick freeze unit where they are frozen solid in five- 
pound boxes. From there they go into a large freezer warehouse. 
They are stacked in there until they get enough to provide a 
shipload. Then refrigeration trucks take the large boxes of 
shrimp out of the freezer warehouse , down to the docks , and into 
the freezers on the ship. From there they go to New Orleans or 
other gulf states . 

McLean: When we priced out the total cost of the project, the cost of 
producing the shrimp was about two dollars per pound. 

Lage: Two dollars a pound loaded aboard the ship, and from then on in, 
the price of transportation and the middlemen- - . 

McLean: Yes. It was an interesting project. 

Lage: It sounds as if you got involved in every step of it. 

McLean: Yes, I did. 

Lage: Was that your job, or you were just interested? 

McLean: Yes. I was involved in the salinity test, temperatures, ocean 
intake pipelines, hydraulic engineering, ponds, piping, etc. 


Lage: Were you working as a team with people who weren't engineers? 

McLean: Yes. See, we had these people in the office at Tegucigalpa, and 
my job was to go down there and consult with them and go through 
the tests they were doing. 

Lage: Kind of review the whole process? 

McLean: Review the whole project. 

Lage: They must have had biologists there. 

McLean: Oh, yes. We also had a fellow working with us from Armour and 
Company. He was the biologist and the one who had been through 
all the previous experiments. He worked with us the full time. 

We went to Chicago and appeared before the board of directors 
of both Armour and Greyhound. They accepted our report, which 
went through all of the cost data on all of the work and the 
various ways we had planned everything, and we submitted drawings. 
They took a long time to review our work, and finally, because of 
the political situation down there, decided not to build the 

Lage: After all that planning? 

McLean: Yes. They never went through with it. 

Lage: So all of this that you are telling me is just in abstract. It 
wasn't really in operation? 

McLean: It was never built. 

Lage: Oh, I had visions of the ship coming right up to New Orleans. 

McLean: We were disappointed that they didn't build it. I was really 

disappointed that they didn't build it, because I had put in a 

tremendous amount of work in it. We worked for nearly two years 
on it. It was pretty costly. 

Lage: I would think so. And ic seems to have given you some insight on 
cultural differences. 

McLean: Yes. Oh, we had a lot of fun on that. It was very interesting. 
The few trips that I made down there were worthwhile. On one of 
the trips, flying back, we had a layover in Mexico City for nearly 
a full day. While we were there we went up to that beautiful 
museum, the Aztec museum. That was a real experience. 


I can tell you the big contrast between the very wealthy and 
the very poor there. They use a lot of charcoal. You see it 
coming in large bags from the mountains on muleback. A lot of 
the cooking the natives do is with charcoal. The houses where 
they live, those that I saw, don't have glass in the windows- -the 
windows are open- -and there are no chimneys, so the smoke from 
cooking fires comes out the windows , and you* 11 see the smoke 
stains above the windows. All the washing, or at least a big 
portion of it, is done in the river. You see the women taking 
their big baskets of clothes to the river, where they wash them, 
and they carry them back and hang them up on long lines near their 
homes. At the airports, you go into the men's room, and all the 
toilet paper has been stolen; there's no toilet paper. If you have 
to use the toilet, you'd better have your own toilet paper. 
There's no soap; it's also been stolen. 

We were there once during a time when they were holding the 
general election. The way they get people to vote, at least how 
it was in Honduras, is that they go out with these large army 
trucks. The people stand alongside the road, and they load them 
in these trucks and bring them into town where they can vote . 
Then they take them back and let them off where they were picked 
up. That was one of the last times that I was down there. 

The airport was closed the day of the election, and we were 
told it would be closed. It was a Sunday, and everything in town 
was closed. We'd been to La Ceiba, and then we'd flown to San 
Pedro del Sol and stayed there overnight. We were to meet our 
plane at San Pedro del Sol, but the airport was closed. I called 
up whoever was in charge and asked if we would be able to get the 
flight to Mexico City, and they said, "You'll get the flight out 
all right. But you'll have to go through the airport; there will 
be a way for you to get through the airport, and then you go 
directly out to the plane. Don't stop in the airport." 

We got down to the airport, and there were armed guards 
patrolling. Finally the plane came. I told them we had a flight 
out to Tegucigalpa, and they let us through. There were three of 
us on that flight. There were all these armed soldiers guarding 
the airport building. When the plane arrived, it just came up the 
runway, we ran out and got in the plane, and they closed the door. 
All the window shades were drawn. We went to Tegucigalpa for a 
stop and then to Mexico City. 


Troubleshooting on a Pipeline in Ghana 

Lage : Did I notice that you also had some jobs in Africa? 

McLean: No, I didn't go to Africa, but I worked with Kaiser Steel on a 
project in Ghana. It was one of the largest reservoirs in the 
world, on the west coast of Ghana. Kaiser had built a large 
aluminum plant. A pipeline runs from the dam to the towns of Tima 
and Accra on the west coast. It supplies water to the aluminum 
plant. I was called in on that because the concrete lining had 
failed in the line, which was about thirty miles in length. It 
was a mortar-lined steel pipe. The lining was only about three- 
sixteenths of an inch, which is a very thin lining. It was 
designed by an engineering company in Tel Aviv, a Jewish company. 
It was well designed; there was nothing wrong with it. 

The water in the reservoir has a ph of about seven, so of 
course it's very corrosive. It was a well designed plant, and the 
pipeline was well designed. They had a hydrated lime plant in 
order to treat the water and to raise the ph to 8.0-8.5 so that 
the water would be alkaline and not so corrosive. The natives 
didn't know how to operate this lime plant, and consequently they 
had just shut it down. Something had gone wrong, and they hadn't 
done anything to repair it. Adding lime solution to the water was 
necessary to prevent the corrosion in the pipeline. 

Lage: And you looked at that problem from here? You didn't have to go 
over to Ghana? 

McLean: I looked at it from here, from the plans and all the data. I did 
do some long distance telephoning, talking back and forth. What 
happened was that they started to get corrosion in this pipeline. 
When they started to get the corrosion in the pipeline, it started 
to loosen the cement mortar lining. Once the water got behind the 
lining it started to remove the lining. The broken lining started 
to plug the pipe, and it decreased the flow in the pipeline. To 
counteract that, they put more pressure on the pumps, and this 
tore out more lining. One section of pipe was practically filled 
with this broken lining. At the end of the line there was a 
reservoir that served the towns of Tima and Accra. A large amount 
of this lining was carried into reservoir. There were tons of it 
in the reservoir. 

Kaiser wanted to know what could be done about it. You 
couldn't get in to re- line it; they needed the water. First I 
wanted to know what had happened to their lime plant. Was it in 
operation? By long distance calls back and forth to the treatment 
plant I found that the motors on the lime slakers had burned out, 


and they hadn't done anything about getting new motors. The lime 
machines had been idle. Then they brought in the firm from Tel 
Aviv that had designed the plant to look at the problem, and I 
gave them a copy of my report. I told them they better get the 
lime plant functioning; otherwise the pipeline will be leaking 
like a sieve, and they won't have a pipeline. They'd better get 
the lime plant operating and get the ph to 8.0 or 8.5 so that they 
can protect the bare pipe. 

One of the first things they had to do was take out the 
section of pipe that was filled with the concrete lining material. 
They had to get in the pipe with wheelbarrows and shovel the 
debris out. That was my recommendation. They had to shut down 
the pipeline for a period, as they should first fill the reservoir 
full and cut down on their water use. The pipeline not only 
supplied Kaiser's aluminum plant with water but also the adjacent 
cities. My recommendation was to fill the reservoirs, get the 
pipe opened up, clean it out, and then get the lime plant 
functioning so they would protect the pipe. 

Lage: And just forget about the lining? 

McLean: Forget the lining. There was no way they could line it, because 
it would take too long. I suggested that if they wanted to line 
the pipe sometime in the future, they would have to shut the line 
down for a period of time; then they could line a short section, 
but they would have to have a bypass. They would have to move 
this bypass along so that they could shut down a section, bypass 
it, and then re-line. Whether they ever did that I don't know, 
because my job ended when I made the report and the recommendation 
to get their lime plant going and clean the muck not only out of 
the reservoir but also out of the pipeline. I don't what happened 
after that. 

Consulting on BART's Market Street Tunnel 

Lage: I wanted you to talk a little bit about your consulting work on 
BART [Bay Area Rapid Transit] . You worked on the Market Street 
station and the transbay crossing. 

McLean: The work I did on BART was with Ed Peterson, who was head of 

construction for the Three Companies. He had come from Bechtel. 
Ed called me in to consult with them on the Market Street tunnels. 
The problem there was that until they got nearly to the Civic 
Center on Market Street, the soil was all sand fill. In drilling 
the tunnel through the sand, they were getting settlement on the 


street. This is probably due to a number of things, not only to 
de -watering- -that is, to removing the water- -but also, when 
drilling tunnels like this one, they use a breast board in the 
heading to prevent sand from running into the tunnel. There's 
always a certain amount of sloughing; you cannot always prevent 
it. The result was that the street was settling. In some reaches 
this amounted about two feet. 

There were two factors that came in here. San Francisco has 
a high pressure salt water fire line. Probably very few people 
know that, but they have a twenty -four -inch pipeline that goes up 
Market Street and parallels the BART tunnel. That's a cast-iron 
line, bell and spigot joints, with a special lead joint. 
Accordingly, as the ground settled, the pipeline settled. 

Lage: So that puts a lot of stress on the pipeline? 

McLean: This is what the city thought. The city was concerned that with 
this amount of settlement the pipe joints were going to leak. I 
plotted the pipeline, showing the settlement at the joints, and I 
didn't agree with the city. The city wanted the contractor to dig 
up every one of these joints and recaulk the lead joint. The 24- 
inch line was five feet or more below the surface. Each pipe 
section was twelve foot in length, and you'd have to uncover every 
joint and caulk it. I said I didn't agree with them. I felt that 
the line was perfectly all right and that it would take that 
settlement without any deformation or any leakage. 

Lage : What did you base that on? 

McLean: Because many years ago, when I had been with the district, we had 
a 12 -inch cast-iron line that went over what was known as Standard 
Oil Hill in Richmond. That was when the highway went through 
there. We had to lower that line, and of course everybody thought 
we'd have to go out there, take the line apart, and lower it. 
Instead of that, we just dug underneath it and let the pipe come 
on down, which it did. I think we lowered the pipe a foot and a 
half or more. It never caused a bit of leakage, and that was a 
pipe with lead joints, the same as the San Francisco line. So the 
experience that I had had proved to me that there was enough 
flexibility in the lead joint that it could take this amount of 

To satisfy the city we did dig up some joints where they 
indicated and proved to them that it wasn't necessary to do any 
caulking. That settled the problem. 


Cathodic Protection. Under -Bay Cables, and Ships' Anchors^// 

McLean: The other problem I got involved in with the Corps of Engineers 

was on the anodes they had for the BART bay crossing tube. In the 
Oakland inner harbor, which is alongside the San Francisco-Oakland 
Bay Bridge, there is the Port of Oakland inner harbor. The BART 
train tube is just south of the harbor. At that point you have 
anode cables, a cluster of piles, and a cathodic station to the 
north of the harbor entrance. Cathodic protection is to prevent 
corrosion in and on the tube. Where there are stray electrical 
currents they are conveyed through the cables to anodes , and the 
bay tube is protected. Stray currents may come from street 
railway rails or the train operations. 

Lage: From the BART train itself? 

McLean: Yes, the BART trains. There are stray currents, and the tube may 
become an ideal transmission line for those stray currents. If 
you don't drain those off, they will drain off the tube. Wherever 
they drain they will remove metal. This is how you get. what we 
call electrolysis of pipelines. To take care of that, like we 
have on the aqueducts, you must bond the joints. Then you install 
drainage stations. The drainage station is just as if you were 
draining the water off, but instead of that you're draining off 
the electrical currents. You drain the current off into magnesium 
anodes so that rather than corroding the metal on the pipe or the 
tube, the current goes off to these magnesium anodes. 

Well, to take it from the tube to the anode beds you have a 
cable from the BART tube to the anode station. This was across 
the channel, north of the tube, where they put in a battery of 
piles. They had a cable that extended across the harbor entrance 
to the drainage station. 

Lage: Did that drain the whole tunnel? 

McLean: They have these at frequent intervals. The main one was in the 
inner harbor where the cable crossed the channel. They laid the 
cable right on the surface of the Bay floor. 

In order to reduce the speed of ships entering the harbor, 
when they come into the dock they drag an anchor. Sometimes the 
anchor would drag the cable and break it. 

The contractor was under a guarantee , so he had to replace 
the cable. Every time he'd replace it, the ships would come in 


and pull it out. They'd lost half a dozen cables by that time, 
and the contractor was screaming. 

Lage: They didn't think that one through too well. 

McLean: No. So he asked, "What are we going to do?" I recommended to Ed 
Peterson that they go in and dig a deep trench five feet or more 
in depth and put the cable in the bottom. Then cover the cable 
with gravel to a depth of two feet and fill the trench to the 
surface with large rip rap boulders- -all the large rocks they can 
put in the trench. After that they never had any further trouble 
losing the cables. 

Lage: I suggest that when the Port of Oakland gets its permit to dredge 
the channel, you'd better remind them that that's there, 

McLean: Yes. Oh, they will watch it, because it's got a sign up there. 

Lage: It sounds to me as if you're a good idea man, a problem- solver. 
Is that something you're known for? 

McLean: I think so, yes. You run into this in engineering all the time. 
This isn't anything unusual, you know. 

Lage: But they didn't think of it. 

McLean: Well, no. Believe it or not, there are lots of cables laid 

across the bay like that. Normally all these power cables that go 
across the bay are laid right on the surface. Nobody ever thinks 
about it. But here you had a case where they overlooked the fact 
that ships coming in have to slow their speed down, and they drop 
their anchor. 

Lage: I wonder how long it took them to figure out what the problem was 
after they kept breaking? 

McLean: Nobody stopped to think, "Dig a deep trench, install the cable, 
and fill the trench with rip-rap." When they did that, they 
didn't have any further trouble. I run into lots of things like 
that. That's just part of the game. 

Lage: I know we haven't covered all of your consulting work, but we 
really should move on to your time on the district board of 
directors. But I think we've gotten a good picture of the kinds 
of things you ran up against as a consulting engineer. 



Running for the Board 
[Interview 8: August 5, 1991 ]## 

Lage: This time we want to talk about the board of directors of East Bay 
MUD. Tell me how you ran for the board. 

McLean: Well, let's go back a few years. After I had retired from the 

district [August 1, 1968], I had done a little consulting work for 
the district. They called me in on a couple of occasions on 
problems they had, and I worked with them on those. At that time 
Charles J. Wright, who was an attorney and who lived in Richmond, 
was appointed to the board. He had been an engineer who had 
worked for me on the waste water project. I knew the family quite 
well. He had been an officer in the Seabees in World War II, and 
he came to the district right after he was discharged from the 
U.S. Navy, when we were building the waste water project. 

His wife was a legal secretary, and she had worked for the - 
city attorney [Tom Carlson] for the city of Richmond. They 
encouraged Chuck to take up law, and even while he was working for 
the district he was studying law at night. He eventually passed 
the bar examination and then took up practice as an attorney after 
he had left the district's employ. Because he was well known in 
the Richmond area, he was appointed to the board of directors to 
fill out the term of William McNevin. When he came up for 
reelection, I had known him so well that I helped out on his 

Lage: Had you done this kind of work before? 

McLean: No, I had never done this before. But being very interested in 

the board of directors and who was perpetuated on the board, I was 


very much interested in having him continue , because he was a good 
member. He was on the board with Louis Breuner, and he ultimately 
did become president of the board. 

I had known most of the members on the board- -Louis Breuner, 
Howard Robinson, Bert Carrington, and also Ted Hitchcock in San 
Leandro . 

Lage: Did you know them as an employee? Did you have occasion to know 
them through your job? 

McLean: Yes. When we had the large projects under construction, the board 
members many times would come out and visit the projects. It was 
my duty to take them around, and I became well acquainted with all 
of them. K. Leroy Hamman was president of the board. He was also 
president of the Boy Scouts, and I was on the executive board of 
the Boy Scouts. I knew him personally, and I knew Ted Hitchcock 
very well . 

Well, Ted was up for reelection in November of 1978, and I 
was interested in helping him out on his campaign. Lila, my wife, 
and I had been on vacation. I think we'd been to Montana on a 
fishing trip for a couple of weeks, and when I came back I 
contacted Ted Hitchcock and was going to help out on his campaign. 
It wasn't known publicly, but he had developed cancer, and after I 
had met with him and talked with him about the forthcoming 
campaign with the district, he said, "I'm not going to run for 
reelection because of health." He said, "Why don't you run?" 

Well, that kind of shook me off my feet, because I'd never 
been interested in running for any political office. But he said, 
"You go ahead and run, and I'll endorse you." So I went to the 
district office, and I'll never forget this. John Plumb was the 
secretary of the district at that time, and you'd get your 
nomination papers from the district. I went down, and I said, . 
"John, I want nomination papers to run for Ted Hitchcock's seat." 
He said, "You!? You want papers?" And I said, "Yes. Is there 
anything wrong with that?" He said, "No, I guess not." 

[the following section was revised during the editing process by 
Mr. McLean, with the assistance of his campaign manager, Jim Zeno] 

McLean: My previous campaign experience was limited. I did some 

campaigning in 1974 for Charles J. Wright. In 1976 I served as 

finance chairman for Bert Carrington and Bill Moses to the water 

board. Art Ames, like myself another retired EBMUD employee, was 






My first of four elections for the water board was on the 
November 1978 ballot. Ted Hitchcock was chairman, and Bill 
Groeniger was finance chairman. I engaged James V. Zeno, Sr. , a 
San Leandro public relations and media consultant, as my campaign 
manager. Zeno brought a strong, winning track record from 
previous EBMUO campaigns. He had managed the $252 million water 
development bond campaign in 1958, plus winning campaigns for 
Charles Wright, Bert Carrington, Ted Hitchcock, and other EBMUD 
directors during elections spread over two decades, from 1958 to 

In my second, third, and fourth campaigns, Zeno continued as 
campaign manager; and Jack Maltester, former mayor of San Leandro, 
and James Dieterich, past president of the Alameda County 
Taxpayers Association, served as chairman and finance chairman 
respectively. The steering committee also included co-chairmen 
Bob Tucknott and Ted Kuntz of Castro Valley, and Dick Karn of 
Hayward; co-chairwomen Cecile Johnson and Violet Zeno of San 
Leandro; and publicity director Jim Zeno, Jr., of San Francisco. 

What media did you utilize to get the 

'Elect McLean" message 

Ue used direct mail, including brochures and postals targeted to 
the five cities in Ward 7, with its more than 100,000 residents; 
publicity stories; newspaper ads in the Havward Review. Oakland 
Tribune . San Leandro Gazette. San Francisco Chronicle, and San 
Francisco Examiner: more than 2,500 outdoor signs; pencils with 
McLean punch-lines; business -size election cards; pamphlets; 
handbills; and other materials. [See following pages for sample 
campaign materials, 1978-1990] 

Did you have any campaign slogans? 

Yes, I had several: "Elect Walter 'Mac' McLean, East Bay MUD 
Water Director Best qualified by on- the- job experience." "Elect 
Walter McLean- -Keep high quality water at reasonable rates." 

How did you personally campaign? 

The best way to get elected is getting yourself known and 
implanting your name and office sought in the minds of the voters, 
trusting they'll remember to vote for you on election day. I 
attended an average of a hundred meetings and public gatherings 
before each election. I was given a courtesy introduction at many 
of these meetings. With my on- the -job campaign manager and 
volunteers, we passed out hundreds of small "Elect McLean" cards. 
We pursued this route for more than a year and a half before each 
election day. Many candidates punch doorbells; I never did, 
because 1 was also busy with my consulting engineering practice in 


San Francisco. I took time off to attend public luncheons and 
dinners, after which I returned to work in my San Francisco 
office. Between my professional assignments and running for 
office, I was putting in a seventy- five -hour week. 

During my first campaign in 1978, I was extremely busy. I 
had several legal cases and was working on litigations. Also, 1 
had a large pipe job in Virginia. I had to go there once a month, 
flying to that project. Obviously, I didn't have time to walk 
precincts in five cities in Ward 7. Therefore my presence at 
public gatherings, with one hundred to five hundred in attendance, 
was the best opportunity to shake hands with potential voters. 

Lage: Vere there issues that had to be discussed? 

McLean: Many issues, primarily the American River water rights and the 

proposed Buckhorn Dam, both relative to water supply and storage. 
Future water supply was a key theme of all four of my election 
campaigns . 

Lage: Was there any relations to party politics? 

McLean: Not in behalf of my three winning campaigns, which were conducted 
on an independent, nonpartisan basis. However, in each of these 
successful races the opponents linked their campaigns to political 
parties. These were fundamental errors on their part, because 
consumers disdain partisan ploys in the administration of water 
development. In contrast, we distributed literature documented by 
background qualifications, with emphasis on my credentials 
synonymous with my water development training and experience. 
Zeno, Sr., and Jim Zeno, Jr., did most of the campaign writing. 
In all of the material and copy they prepared, you will not find 
one reference to a political party. 

Lage: What was the basic structure and format of the EBMUD campaigns? 

Were the individual members of the water board elected by all the 
voters in the district? 

McLean: Before my tenure on the water board, five members were elected at 
large by voters in Alameda County and Contra Costa County. When I 
ran in 1978 to succeed Ted Hitchcock, the utility district 
boundaries had been revamped, and the board had been expanded from 
five to seven members, each representing one of the seven areas. 
I ran in Ward 7, representing San Leandro, Castro Valley, San 
Lorenzo, and portions of East Oakland and Hayward. Helen Burke of 
Berkeley, who was elected in November 1974, promoted the seven- 
ward system, which went into effect January 1, 1974, and 
facilitated her election the following November. 

asvaaoiMi xvi ON' saiva UBIVAA H3AAcn aod N VBI OIAI 13313 


Campaign Brochure 




Please vote Tuesday, November 7, 1978 

WALT Me LEAN is supported by civic, fraternal, professional, 
labor, industrial and numerous other community leaders 

Citizens for the Election of Walter R. Me Lean 

Clifford Asbill 

John A Deadnch 

Paul Hertzog 

Richard Mills 

Allan Ramos 

Bettie Agliano 

Paul Davis 

Gertrude Hertzog 

Anne Milhiser 

Sam Rubin 

Joseph Agliano 

Marcia Davis 

Dave Houser 

Edward B McLean 

Dr. F N Rasche 

Gus Beckert 

Aldo Davalle 

Richard Houser 

Lila R McLean 

Belinda Rapold 

William J Bettencourt 

Carolyne Fahrbach 

Nancy Lynn Holm 

Donald McGue 

Joe Smith 

Joseph M Bettencouri 

Charles E Foster 

Charles R Hitchcock 

Larry McClure 

Joe T 1 Smith 

Helen A Bettencourt 

Dorothy H Foster 

Cecile Johnson 

Wesley McClure 

Gunner Seymon 

Jill Brenneman 

Stanley Ferguson 

Sadie Jackson 

Theo Mailiet 

Richard Soares 

Dudley H Beeson 

Jack H Froeming 

Edna Mae Johnson 

Charles Matzen 

William Soulis 

Elizabeth S Berg 

Jesus Gill 

H B Johnson 

Frank Middleton 

Don Spruance 

Douglas Berg 

Valance P Gill 

Robert G A Jones 

Donna Nicholas 

Everett Tasto 

Georgia A Coppa 

Val Gill. Jr 

Guy T Kuntz 

Gilbert Nicholas 

Jane Tasto 

Lucial P. Colby 

Charles Gebbardt 

Ann Keshishian 

C M Nickerson 

Robert Turknolt 

Eluabeth Cordoza 

Robert Goddrich 

Cecile Keavcrney 

Kathleen Omick 

Victor Viviani 

Violet S Cobb 

Anthony Gomes 

Layton Landis 

Kathleen O Brien 

C. E Wilson 

Wilma Castillo 

Virginia Gebhardt 

Virginia Leger 

Helen Olsen 

Mary Wilson 

Bob Coney 

Wilma Gebhardt 

Evelyn Lowman 

Peter Paietta 

Richard Wilson 

Richard B Cowell 

Mark Gebhardt 

Jeffry J Lewis 

Lillian Paietta 

James V Zeno 

Jerry Connilt 

Russell Gebhardt 

Jack D Maitester 

Bill Quarry 

Violet M Zeno 

Anne Howell Dean 

Ruth Maitester 






A Proven Water Resources Leader 

Me LEAN is former manager of both the Field Engineering and Special Construction Divisions of the East E 
Municipal Utility District. 

Me LEAN was associated with or responsible for studies, design, construction and development of all water fa 
ities at EBMUD for more than 30 years. 

Me LEAN left EBMUD in 1968 to form his own firm as a Consulting Civil Engineer specializing in Water Resourc 

FOR THE LAST 10 YEARS. Me LEAN has been a consultant on Water Development Projects and U.S. Envin 
mental Protection Agency Grant Projects throughout the United States. 

MC LEAN was chairman of the Citizens' Shoreline Commission, whose feasibility studies led to the developm 
of the San Leandro Marina and adjoining golf course. 

Me LEAN'S water administrative affiliations include: 

Past President, American Public Works Association 
California Water Resources Association 
American Water Works Association 
Society of American Military Engineers 

McLEAN is the only candidate in the field of seven, with water development experience that's what this elect 
is all about! Me LEAN knows the job! 

Me LEAN, with his educational background, training and knowledge of EBMUD, plus his broad experience 
consulting Civil Engineer, is the best qualified candidate for Water Director of Ward 7, representing San Leanc 
Castro Valley and East Oakland. That's why C. R. (Ted) Hitchcock, retiring water director, and the overwhelm 
majority of the city officials responsible for the needs of those communities, have endorsed Me LEAN for the wj 
Board of Directors. 

Me LEAN pledges to fight for lower water rates (such as eliminating the extra charge for drought conditions t 
were controlled as of last February 1). 

Me LEAN pledges to fight for the full value of every tax dollar in the true Jarvis Gann spirit expressed by 
people at the June election. 

Me LEAN is Vice-chairman of the San Leandro-Castro Valley-East Oakland Committee for Lower Taxes. In 
dition to his water service, Me LEAN has established a record of professional and civic leadership: 

Current Chairman, San Leandro Board of Appeals. . .prominent member of California Alumni Associat 
(majored in civil engineering and business administration). . .Society of California Pioneers. . .Amerii 
Society of Civil Engineers (Fellow and Life Member). . .Consulting Engineers Association. . .Engineers C : 
of San Francisco. . .Board of Directors, Bay Area Council Boy Scouts of America. (Presently, Chairmar I 
Physical Properties Committee). . .Silver Beaver Award, Boy Scouts of America. . .Arthur Greulich AWJ , 
Camp Fire Girls of America. . .United Crusade. . .Red Cross. . .Many other Community, Fraternal and Yo i 

Notice To All Citizens 

Don't Be Fooled! By Law, the EBMUD Water Board is a Non-Partisan 
Independent Office; Whatever Your Party Affiliation, You May Vote For 
Walt McLean on Tuesday, November 7. His Name is on Your Ballot. 

McLean Campaign Committee: 

655 Montague Avenue, San Leandro - William Groeniger, Finance Chairman 
C. R. (Ted) Hitchcock, Honorary Chairman 

iu- ^ 



EBMUD Campaign Committee 

To Re-Elect ?986 tion Results 

Walter R. McLean, Water Director, Nov. 4, 1986 

655 Montague Avenue San Leandro, California 94577 Telephone 357-4330 

Jack Maltester. Chairman Jim Dieterich, Jr., Finance Chairman 

December 3, 1986 

Memo to: Walter R. McLean, Incumbent EBMUD Director, Ward 7 
From: James V. Zeno, Political Consultant and Campaign Manager 
Subject: RESULTS - Area breakdown, November 4, 1986 Election 

McLean margin 
McLean Hindshaw Cryer Kinder over Hindshaw 

San Leandro 


--.- . . - , 





Un- Incorporated 
(Castro Valley, 
San Lorenzo, 
Hayward area) 






Hayward (City) 






E. Oakland 
















Absentee Vote (Included in above results): McLean 1,485 

Hindshaw 703 
Cryer 236 
Kinder 148 

Precincts won by: McLean, 116; Hindshaw, 21. 

**McLean's total with four contestants in one race, was the highest 

victory percentage in EBMUD election history. With the third 
and fourth candidates garnering a combined 14% of the total in 
this (11-4-86) plurality race, 44% was needed to win first place. 

McLean 21,108 

Hindshaw 15,596 

Cryer 3,426 

Kinder 2,366 

TOTAL VOTE 42,496 

cc: Maltester, Tucknott, Dieterich 
Kuntz, Johnson, Jim Zeno, Jr. 

Ted Kuntz, Cecille Johnson, Bob Tucknott, co-chairmen; Jim Zeno, Jr., media consultant 

EBMUD Campaign Committee I.D. 761-261 

OPEIU-3-AFL-C1O (3) "j 


Campaign Materials 



A Proven Water Resources Leader * 

EBMUD Water Director 

(Covering San Leandro, Castro Valley, 
Hayward, East Oakland) 

VOTE TUBS., NOV. 6, 1990 

Jccfc UaltMtor, Chair.. Jim DMartch, Fin Chairman 

EBMUD Campaign Committee I.D. 761261 
655 Montague Ave., San Leandro 


Re-Elect McLean Best Qualified By On-The-Job Experien 






Lage: Did you hook in with any other candidates running for other 

McLean: No, in my winning campaigns that would have been antithetical to 
my policy of separating our election race from partisan 

Lage: Wasn't that the time when a group called PACE started endorsing 
water board candidates? 

McLean: Yes, Helen Burke emerged as the storm symbol of their anti- 
development philosophy. In fact, several groups dubbed as "no- 
grovthers" opposed my candidacy during all four of my election 
campaigns. They were unsuccessful in my first three winning four- 
year campaigns. They scored in my quest for re-election as an 
incumbent to a fourth term in November 1990. Unfortunately, this 
happened on the same ballot when voters passed a two- term-only 
limitation for state officeholders. This voter revolt carried 
over to district and local elections and helped defeat many 
incumbents who were overcome by the "too long in office" syndrome 
that is peaking out in the 1990 decade. 

Lage: What groups endorsed you? 

McLean: Union entities: the Operating Engineers, headed by vice president 
Bob Skidgel; the Building Trades Council; the Carpenters Union; 
and the Associated General Contractors. 

Lage: Where did you encounter your strongest opposition? 

McLean: It came from the Alameda County Central Labor Council, two EBMUD 
employees union affiliates, and the Sierra Club. 

Lage: What was the composition of your grassroots support? 

McLean: A citizens committee labeled "1,000 Citizens for McLean." These 
volunteers were recruited by Zeno Associates through signature 
petition solicitation and "people to people" polls and interviews. 
This committee passed out McLean literature door to door in the 
neighborhoods. They also furnished women and manpower for the 
"McLean telephone callers." 

Lage: What was the motive of the three labor organizations that endorsed 

McLean: They were strongly interested in the water district contracting 
out work to the private sector and creating more jobs. I'm 
referring to the Operating Engineers, Building Trades Council, and 
the Carpenters Union. Paradoxically, the Central Labor Council 


supported the "no-growth" candidates at the financial behest of 
their EBMUD employee union affiliate, two large groups of dues- 
paying members. And therein lies the sad water election tale: 
three incumbents --McLean, Mary Warren, and Sandy Skaggs--who 
decided to quit the political wars are out! Today candidates 
sponsored by the "no- growth" elements have seized control of the 
East Bay Municipal Utility District board of directors, and are 

[end of revised section] 

The Contractine-Out Issue 

Lage: You believe in contracting out? 

McLean: Yes, I've always believed in contracting out, because I think that 
is the most efficient way for work to be done by the district. It 
is true that there is a lot of work done by district forces that 
cannot be done by outside contractors. But installation of new 
pipelines, the construction of reservoirs, and even consulting 
work can be done by outside firms. I have always believed that 
that is the most economical way for public organizations to 
operate . 

Lage: Did you observe something as an employee that developed that 

McLean: It's from my own observations. 
Lage: But why? 

McLean: Well, I'll tell you why. To begin with, when you take an 

organization within a public entity, you have a force of people to 
take care of X amount of work. Sometimes to keep that force busy 
you generate work that is not necessary. Furthermore, you have to 
look at inclement weather- -rainy weather and such as that- -in 
which your forces can't work, and there again you make work which 
sometimes is not necessary to keep the personnel occupied. With 
contractors, first of all they go out to bid; you get the lowest, 
most responsible bidder. Those people come on the job and do the 
job; and when they are finished, they are finished and are off. 
You don't have anybody that is on civil service, on a payroll that 
you have to carry because he is a permanent employee. 

I have always believed that all of the work that is possible 
to contract out should be contracted out. I've always believed in 


private contractors. That is through my years of working, you 
might say- -to begin with, in the private sector, and then being in 
charge of millions of dollars' worth of work with the district on 
big contract work. You know, a public organization cannot gear up 
to do big work, like building the Mokelumne Aqueduct or something 
like that. It could be done, yes. But the big contracting firms 
have the equipment, and they have the skilled personnel carry out 
big projects, whereas the district does not have qualified 

Now, when it comes to installing services, replacing small 
mains, or things like that, the district maintenance and operation 
personnel are highly qualified to do that, and you can't compete 
with them. But when it comes to installing big pipelines and 
building dams or things like that, there are not the personnel to 
do that. 

Lage: Is there a difference of opinion on that? 

McLean: Oh, you bet there's a big difference of opinion. The district 
personnel would like to do everything. 


Lage: And hire more--? 

McLean: Yes, hire more people. But I disagree with them. The whole time 
I was on the board I was very much against expanding the district 
forces to do more work. My philosophy has always been that the 
district should have a force of people, engineers and maintenance 
people, who can handle basically all the routine work that comes 
to the district. When it comes to replacing small lengths of 
pipeline, installing services, and doing all those jobs, this is 
what the district is highly qualified to do, and this what they 
should be doing. But when it comes to larger work, not only in 
the engineering department but larger projects, then those 
projects should go out to the private sector. 

There are a number of reasons. Let's look at the engineering 
part of it. The district's engineers are highly qualified, they 
are very fine people, a good organization. But unfortunately they 
don't get into enough of a variety of work so that they know what 
is going on on the outside. The private consulting engineer does 
a large variety of work to survive; he does everything, all types 
of work. Those people are far more experienced in some jobs, like 
the design of a dam or many things like that, where the district 
does have qualified people. Consequently, that type of work 
should be contracted out. And on big construction projects, 
building reservoirs and other projects like that, this is the 
place to contract out. 


Lage: Has that been the policy overall? Has your view prevailed? 

McLean: Originally it was the policy of the district. Way back in the 

early days, this was the policy of the district. And it was the 
policy of the district because the people who had come over from 
the Bureau of Reclamation were great believers in that. They 
believed in a small organization and then contracting out 
everything beyond that. That carried for a long, long time, but 
later on the district forces began to build up more and more. The 
Municipal Utility District Act, as it's known, says that the 
district shall contract out any and all work that cannot 
reasonably be done by district forces. 

Well, that leaves a little loophole there, and that's 
unfortunate. There has always been quite an argument- -or 
disagreement, I should say- -between the unions at the district and 
staff and board. While I was on the board, when it would come to 
cases like pipeline installation or other work, we said that 
anything over four thousand feet of pipeline had to be contracted 
out. The unions always wanted to do more; of course they want to 
do more all the time and build up more and more personnel. We 
altfays had a restraint on that, and that's why we've always tried 
to keep the forces in the district at a fixed number of people. 

Lage: Is there a trend towards more work done by district forces, do you 

McLean: Well, I don't think there's been any change. The fact is, I'm not 
so sure what they're doing now. With this new board that was 
virtually elected by the unions, I'm afraid there's going to be 
some slippage on this. I know that myself, Sandy Skaggs, and Mary 
Warren were always in favor of holding the line on increasing 
personnel . 

My philosophy has been this: If you take the average amount 
of work that the district does, this should be done by district 
forces, and you can draw that line at a certain point. Any peaks 
above this, any time that you have a lot of work that comes in, it 
should be contracted out. And I mean this both from an 
engineering standpoint and a construction standpoint. I think 
this is good business, and this has been my philosophy. This is 
why private industry has backed me for the board. 

Lage: The unions as well as the contractors? 

McLean: That's right. Not only the contractors, but the labor unions and 
everybody else, because they have believed in my philosophy on 
this. I think this is the most economical way for any public 
entity to work. This is the way that they should work. You 


should have enough people for emergency and to carry on the 
general operations of the district. Those people are skilled; 
they're qualified to do the work. But anytime that you have 
anything above that- -that is, peak work where you have to build a 
reservoir, a dam, a big pipeline, a big pumping plant, or anything 
like that- -then that should be contracted out, both from the 
engineering standpoint and the construction standpoint. 

Lage: Okay, I'm glad we got into this. 

McLean: This is the way public entities should work. 

Lage: Let's get to something I wanted to discuss about your board 

membership. Were environmental issues raised during that first 

McLean: I don't think any environmental issues ever came up in the early 
elections at all. It wasn't until this last election that the 
environmental issues began to rear their ugly head, you might say. 
I think this occurred when Nancy Nadel came on the board. She 
worked for the Environmental Protection Agency in San Francisco. 

Lage: And she came on just at the last election? 

McLean: Yes. She came in on the last election, three years ago in 1988. 

Lage: Is it every four years that they run? 

McLean: Yes, four years. She's up for election in '92, and she came on in 
'88. She defeated Ken Kofman. Helen Burke also has always been a 
very strong environmentalist. 

Representing Ward Constituency on the BoardM/ 
Back-Flow Devices for Veils 

Lage: Did you see your role on the board as representing the views of 
the people of this ward or more making use of your expertise? 

McLean: I do feel that I represented this area, my ward, that I 

represented those people on the board. We met with groups on 
three or four occasions, but as a general rule, if I received a 
request or a complaint from someone, from a constituent in my ward 
here, I immediately followed it up and pursued it as to what the 
request was and what I could do about it. 


A good example was in reference to the back- flow devices for 
wells. In my ward I guess 1 had most of the private wells. There 
were a couple thousand of them in this area. You see, when this 
area was developed, particularly in San Leandro and Castro Valley, 
they were all little farms. Even in this area they originally 
were little farms, maybe one acre. In fact, this property of mine 
was a part of an acre farm. I guess if you look at it, Castro 
Valley used to be a group of little chicken farms. Most of them 
were five-acre plots, and there was no water supply out there; it 
was all private wells. When you bought a piece of property, you 
drilled a well for your water supply. 

Lage: So there's an aquifer underneath this area? 

McLean: Yes, there is an aquifer. Fact is, there's a well next door, and 
there's a well across the street that they use for irrigating 
their gardens. And I think the house in back here that I bought 
my property from had a well on it. I would judge that within my 
ward, and this includes Castro Valley and around the Marina and 
that area out there, I forget what the count was, but there were a 
couple thousand wells. 

The Clean Water Act of several years ago said that all 
private wells within an area where there was a domestic or public 
water supply had to have a back- flow device on it. The purpose of 
that was so that if you were connected to the utility district 
supply, you could not get the water from the well into the public 
water supply. They have to have back-flow devices. You'll see 
these in many, many, places around here; well, up here at the San 
Leandro high school they have a well for irrigating their lawns 
and all their shrubbery, and they have back-flow devices. A back- 
flow device is a unit that has check valves on it and two little 
pet cocks, as we call them, or gate valves, for checking whether 
there is any pressure on the one side that could permit water to 
flow into the utility district system. 

Well, the district notified all those that we knew had 
private wells. Now, a lot of them we didn't know; a lot of the 
wells were not revealed. Of course we notified the people that 
they would have to do something about these private wells. 

Lage: Was it an expensive procedure? 

McLean: The average cost was around a thousand dollars or more, and in 
some cases up to a couple thousand dollars. What happened was 
that the district sent notices to those who had wells, that this 
had to be taken care of within a period of time. Of course, my 
phone got to ringing with calls from these people: "What are we 
going to do about it?" It required them to install this back- flow 


unit, and then it had to be checked and inspected. Veil, some of 
them went ahead with the installation. After hearing from many of 
the people with wells who could not afford the cost, I discussed 
it with the general manager and asked why we couldn't do it free 
of charge or at a very small charge. In many, many cases these 
people were only using the well for irrigation; it was not 
connected to the house supply. 

Lage: How did it get into the system if it was separate, if they Just 
used it for irrigating? 

McLean: Well, it did not. But you see, the act does not define it. It 
says that whenever there is a private well on the property you 
must install this back-flow device. Now, some people did have it 
connected to their house supply. Others, like those who live over 
near me, only use the well for irrigation; but they still had to 
put in a back- flow device. The one across the street is the same 
way. You still have to have it on the utility district supply. 
And this is in case --let's say that something happens to the water 
supply, if we got into an earthquake situation where there was no 
water or something like that. All they'd have to do is make a 
little connection from their well to their house supply, and they 
would have water for their toilets and other uses. So it was 
because of the chance that they could connect to the house supply 
that they had to install the back- flow unit. Most all of these 
are installed right outside the house or very close outside. 

Anyway, because there were so many of them and because of the 
cost- -to have a plumber come and do the work, the cost was 
anywhere from one thousand to two thousand dollars. To put out 
that large amount of money was difficult for many of the 
homeowners, particularly in my ward. 

Lage: So you suggested the district do it? 

McLean: Jerry Gilbert and I talked quite a little bit about doing 

something about it, and finally the district came up with the idea 
that we could make up our own units, and we would install them 
free of charge . I was one of the ones who pushed to do this . The 
result was, as far as I know, that many of them have been changed 
to date. They're still working on it; they haven't changed all of 
them, but they are working on all the ones that are known. The 
district is doing it as part of the work. But that was one of the 
issues that came up four or more years ago. Most of them were in 
my area. 

Lage: Did other board members object to this kind of--? 


McLean: They went right along with it, and everything was okay. But it 
did save the people a lot of money on the installation of the 
back- flow device. Of course, industries like Gerber Foods that 
used to be here had their own wells. Granny Goose had their own 
well, and Fleischmann's also had wells. But those back- flow 
devices, which are large, were installed at the time they received 
service. Many of the small wells out in my area were virtually 
unknown, and people were using them for irrigating lawns and 
gardens as a matter of course . Fact is , some of them even 
occurred after the drought. When the drought of '76 -'77 first 
started, some people even drilled wells. 

Lage: I heard they had water witches coming and locating water. 

McLean: Oh, yes, you bet. They went in and put in wells so that they 

could irrigate their shrubbery and gardens. That was probably one 
of the biggest issues that I had during my time on the board. 

Lage: Of a local-- . 

McLean: Yes, of a local nature. And 1 took care of most of them. 

Stand on Buckhom Dam and Elevation Charges 

Lage: What about on the broader issues that the district faced, say on 
how rates should be set? Did you feel you were representing your 
people or some larger--? 

McLean: Yes. Yes I did. On the rates and even on Buckhorn Reservoir. I 
had several occasions where I addressed people not only on 
Buckhorn Reservoir but also on the need for the American River 
supply, in which I pointed out to them that Buckhorn. Reservoir was 
needed for many reasons, particularly after the first reports came 

Lage: I don't want to get into a whole discussion of Buckhorn yet but 
more on how you operated on the board. Did you try to find out 
how your district felt, or did you try to shape your district's 

McLean: I don't know whether you remember Measure Z. 
Lage : Yes . 

McLean: Why, all of my area voted for Measure Z, for Buckhorn Reservoir. 
I have the records here, which I saved. I always believed that 


that was influenced by my talks that I gave before people as to 
why we needed more storage. That was not true of Oakland- -of 
course I had nothing to do with Oaklandand Berkeley voted 
overwhelmingly against Buckhom, as you know. But my ward carried 
fully on that. I don't know whether I was influential on it or 
not, but I think that in talks 1 gave before the Sirs, the Rotary 
Club, and various other organizations, it had something to do with 
the vote . 

Lage: Before the "Sirs," did you say? 

McLean: Sirs. That's an older men's organization. "Sons in Retirement" 
is a national organization. 1 gave a talk before them in Castro 
Valley, at the Willow Park Golf Course, and on two or three other 
occasions, at the Blue Dolphin and several other places. On 
general overall water issues, but particularly related to storage. 
I'm sure that had some effect upon the vote in my ward. 

In regard to the water rates, I received many questions on 
water rates. I always explained very carefully to them so that 
they would understand why the rates were necessary. I had very 
little of it in my ward, but one issue was the so-called elevation 
charge. I think there is a little of it in the Fairview district 
and some in Castro Valley. There are some people out there who 
have the elevation charge, and I really never heard any complaints 
in reference to it. However, I was never in favor of it. I felt 
that there was a little discrimination with it, and all the time I 
was on the board I tried to get it changed, but I was not 
successful . 

Lage: That seemed to be part of a larger trend toward rates reflecting 
the actual cost. 

McLean: That's right. 

Lage: That's something that you don't agree with? 

McLean: No, I don't agree with it. The purpose of it- -and this was 

fostered by Jack Hill and Jerry Gilbert, all due respect to them. 
They felt that people who lived in the higher elevations, because 
the water had to be lifted up to reservoirs for the higher 
elevations, should pay that additional cost, the so-called energy 
charge. I always felt it was more equitable to have the same 
rates for everybody, and I'll tell you why. Number one, a good 
portion of the elevation charge is related to areas like Orinda, 
Lafayette, and maybe a little of Moraga, but the bulk of it is out 
in the San Ramon Valley. Now, the district every year has a 
replacement cost. Part of the annual budget is the cost for 
replacing old mains. Everybody pays for that, whether you live in 


the elevation charge area or in a low area. It's part of the 
budgetreplacement of more or less ten miles of pipe every year. 
Practically all of the replacement work is in the area west of the 

Lage: The older-? 

McLean: The older areas. In Alameda there are pipes that are over one 

hundred years old. Alameda had what we called old sand-cast, cast 
iron pipes. Many of those have corroded so badly that you can 
only get about half the flow through them of what the normal 
capacity would be. All of this replacement program has been going 
on since the district took over the East Bay Vater Company. Well, 
you have to take a look at the areas, particularly Orinda, Moraga, 
Lafayette , Walnut Creek (well , Walnut Creek may not be so much) , 
Danville, and San Ramon; they're all in elevation areas, but 
they're also paying for replacement of mains over on this side. 
Whereas all of those installations over there are practically new; 
Pleasant Hill was started in the late forties, early fifties, and 
the piping in Castro Valley was put in somewhere in the late 
thirties, I believe, just before the war. Most of those are new 

Lage: So you think it kind of balances out, the elevation and the 
replacement fee? 

McLean: What I'm saying is that you are charging people because they live 
in the higher elevation areas; you charge them an energy charge. 
But they're also paying for the replacement of these pipes over 
here. I've always said that if you're going to require them to 
pay an elevation charge, then you should charge the people west of 
the hills for pipe replacement and not the people east of the 

Lage: How did your fellow board members react to that? 

McLean: Well, I could never get it through; that is, I couldn't get it 
through the general manager. 

Lage: Oh, even the general manager? 

McLean: I couldn't get it through him; he didn't see the logic of it. 

That's why I said everybody should pay the same rate. In other 
words, those people who had the energy charge --forget about that. 
And forget about the fact that the people west of the hills have 
the costs of all the replacements. But we never did get very far. 
I fought that down to the bitter end. Even up to the time I left 
the district I was still talking about it. 


The Proper Role of the Board vis a vis Staff 

Lage: I'm trying to get a sense of how the staff, and Jerry Gilbert in 
particular, related with the board. You mentioned that you could 
never get your plan through Jerry Gilbert. 

McLean: The board is a policy-making board. I know that I and none of the 
other directors ever got into the day-by-day work of the district. 
This was out- -verboten, you might say. I have always believed 
that. Of course, I had lots of personal discussions with Jerry, 
but Jerry ran the staff. He was the general manager of the 
district, and we let him manage all the affairs of the district. 
The board established the policies, and if there was anything of a 
policy nature that would come up, why, it always came to the board 
for approval or disapproval, discussion, and everything else. 1 
headed the planning group for pretty nearly the whole time that 1 
was on the board. 

Lage: Now, what was the planning group? 

McLean: Any of the projects to go in the budget or any of those things 

that came from the staff went through the planning committee. I 
was also on liaison board between the district and the East Bay 
Regional Park District. 

Most all of the planning that the staff was working on came 
before the planning committee- -the new projects and everything 

Lage: Did it also involve rates and things like that? 

McLean: No, rates came under finance. But the planning committee, which 1 
chaired, mostly was the new building and the various other 
projects that were either in the mill or were under construction. 

Lage: How closely did you look at that as a board member, but also as 
somebody with expertise? 

McLean: Well, we looked at it very carefully, not only from a feasibility 
standpoint but also the cost standpoint. 

Lage: Did you look at it as an engineer? 

McLean: Absolutely; you bet 1 did. 1 took a very careful look at it. Ve 
always had discussions on it. Then they were approved, and our 
recommendation went to the board for voting. When it came before 


the board, It was up to the board whether to vote yes or no on the 
committee recommendation. 

Lage: Was there any difficulty in working with staff? 

McLean: Oh, no. If it was an engineering project, as most of them were, 

we had Dennis Diemer. If it was waste water, we had Vally Bishop. 
We'd go through all the charts and the costs and listen to their 
recommendations. We also had Ted Way, the chief engineer. They 
always came before the committee with the costs and the charts. 

Lage: Do you remember any instances where you helped modify plans? 

McLean: I don't recall any, but I'm sure there were. I'm sure there were 
suggestions made by the committee. Then they went back to do 
changes and came back again for a review and recommendation. We 
covered a lot of projects and a lot of work on the committee. 
That was one of the main committees. Of course, there were also 
the finance committee and the human relations committee. 

Lage: But you didn't sit on those? 

McLean: No. I didn't sit on those. I did sit on the retirement board. I 
was on the retirement board I think for the full time that I was 
on the board of directors. There were a lot of things that came 
up while I was on retirement board which we went over very 
carefully. One thing I can say is that there was a very definite 
separation between board and staff. We left staff alone, which I 
understand is not true with the present board. They want to get 
involved in everything. 

Lage: Was that the consensus on the board as you served on it all those 
twelve years? 

McLean: Oh, absolutely. 

Lage: Was there a change in balance of power between board and staff 

during those twelve years, or do you think it remained about the 

McLean: It is my suspicion that the relations between the board of 

directors remained about the same. The board of directors stayed 
away from the day-to-day staff operations. 

Lage: You had [A. C.] Carrington, yourself, [Sanford] Skaggs, [William 
P.] Moses, [Kenneth] Simmons, and [Helen] Burke; and [Jon Q.j 
Reynolds was president when you came on. 

McLean: That's right. Yes. Skaggs and I were new. 


Lage: And you had John S. Harnett as general manager until April '81. 

McLean: Yes. 

Lage: How did that board function with staff? 

McLean: There was a good relation between the staff and the board. Burt 
Carrington had been on for a long time, Bill Moses I think was 
either in his second or third term, Jon Reynolds was in his second 
or third term, and Helen Burke had been elected to the board in 
1974. When the ward concept was enacted by the legislature and 
the board enlarged from five to seven directors, C. R. "Ted" 
Hitchcock was the other director to fill one of the two new seats 
in Ward 7. 

Hiring Jerry Gilbert as General Manager. 1981 




And Mr. Harnett was general manager. 
Mr. Harnett? 

How did that board work with 

All right. What happened was that John S. Harnett had come to the 
district as an assistant to John Me Far land. He was a colonel from 
the Corps of Engineers. I forget how long his term there was, but 
he came in somewhere in the mid-sixties as an assistant to John 
McFarland. When Joe DeCosta retired as chief engineer in 1965, 
McFarland appointed Harnett as chief engineer. There was quite a 
change at that time. Harnett remained as chief engineer until 
McFarland left [in September 1968], Harnett became general 
manager, Walt Anton was promoted to director of engineering, and 
Don Larkin became chief engineer. 

They were not the best qualified, you might say, to carry out 
the policies of the district. 

The team that was in place? 
The team that came into place. 
So when you came on the board--? 

When I came on the board, there was considerable discussion about 
the attitude of the staff. We were not moving ahead with things 
like the American River and projects to carry the water supply 
into the next century and a lot of those things . The American 
River litigation was being handled by the legal department. Walt 
Anton was director of engineering, Don Larkin was chief engineer, 


and Gordon Laverty was in charge of distribution. They were not 
qualified for the job. 

Lage: Did you know that from your previous work with them? 

McLean: From working with them. I worked with all of them. Don Larkin 
was a sanitary engineer. It was just one of things where no 
progress was being made. 

Lage: And Mr. Harnett was not the greatest leader either? 
McLean: That's right. He was not the best leader in the world. 

Lage: Did other board members agree, or did you know this from the 
insider's view? 

McLean: They agreed. Finally we asked Jack Harnett to resign, 
and that's when we brought Jerry Gilbert aboard. 

Lage: It seems to me that you told me there was some story behind either 
the resignation or bringing on of Gilbert. 

McLean: Yes. The story behind Jerry Gilbert was this: We had one of 

these head-hunters, as you call them, out to find a replacement 
for the general manager. It finally was down to two persons. One 
was an Afro -American, and I think he was in the waste water 
department or a similar position in Washington, D.C.; and Don 
Paff, who was the manager of the Las Vegas Valley Water District. 
Don had previously worked for me in the district. He was my 
project manager at Briones Dam, and he had been with the district 
previously. A very good man. 

We had interviewed both of those men, and we had had them 
bring their wives to dinner. We had a room at the Holiday Inn 
near the Oakland airport where we carried out all of our 
interviews . When we got down to the final interview we also had 
them bring their wives so that we could meet with them in a social 
atmosphere. When we finally got down to voting, it got down to a 
deadlock of Simmons favoring the fellow from Washington, D.C. , and 
he had with him Jack Hill and Helen Burke. 

Lage: In '81 [Jackson] Hill and [Kenneth] Kofman came on, replacing 
Moses and Carrington. 

McLean: It was myself, Kofman, and Skaggs who were for Don Paff. Then 
there was Hill, Burke, and Simmons for the other person from 
Washington, D.C. 

Lage: And you had one more person. Who was that other person? 


McLean: Jon Reynolds. 

Lage : He was the president. 

McLean: Jon Reynolds was president. And Jon wouldn't vote to break the 

Lage: Why not? 

McLean: I don't know. He wouldn't vote. 

Lage: Is it usual for the president not to vote on these things? 

McLean: Well, yes, it's possible. He wouldn't vote, and we were 

deadlocked for two or three sessions. Every time we went through 
this situation we were deadlocked. On Sunday evening I received a 
phone call at my home. It was Jerry Gilbert. Jerry said, "I 
understand that the board is deadlocked on the general manager 
issue." I said, "That's correct." He said, "Do you think there's 
any chance for me?" I said, "I think there's a terrific chance 
for you, Jerry. " 

Lage : Where did Jerry come from? 

McLean: Well, Jerry had been with the North Marin Water District, and he 
had also been on the State Water Resources Board. He'd been the 
executive director of that at one time. Then he left and went 
into the consulting business. How I happened to know him so well 
was that I had been called in by his firm and another consulting 
firm in Sacramento because they had a problem on what they called 
the 1-5 interceptor, which was the large sewer pipeline from the 
waste water treatment plant on the Sacramento River to a big 
holding basin near the 1-5 interchange structure in Sacramento. 

What had happened there was that they had a budget of about 
twelve million, and when they had finished the final design of the 
interceptor the cost was up to about sixteen million. They didn't 
know what to do. They called me and asked me to take a look at 
this and see what I would suggest. I spent several days walking 
the project and looking at the aerials, and I finally came to them 
and said, "Here is my suggestion." Number one, they had this 
routed all the way around through city streets and under the 1-5 
interchange structure. They had a ceiling there, which was going 
to be hard to get equipment under, and they also had to drive some 
long sheet piles. 

I said, "I'm going to recommend that you do this. Number 
one, you'll follow the freeway through the city housing area and 
school property alongside the freeway, through the housing area of 



the Sacramento Housing Authority, and cut the end of an apartment 
building off so that you can get through." They said, "Oh, my 
gosh! We can't cut the apartment building off." And I said, 
"Well, why don't you go to the city and ask them?" They said, 
"What do you estimate that this will save?" And I said, "My total 
estimate is less than ten million dollars." 

They went to the city housing authority, and the city housing 
said, "Yes, we'll let you cut the apartment building off." So 
they followed the route I suggested and tunneled under the 1-5 
freeway. Due to the shorter length and less problems in city 
streets, the final cost was $9,600,000. 

I had worked with Jerry on that project, and I'd known Jerry 
when he worked at North Marin and also when he was with the state. 
I guess it was about seven o'clock at night that he called me and 
wanted to know if he had a chance to apply for the general 
manager's job. I said, "I think you've got an excellent chance. 
Your background and experience is what the district needs. I'll 
give you Jon Reynolds' telephone number, and you call him at home 
tonight." So he called Jon, and Jon told him to come down 
immediately. Jerry came down and met with the board, and he 
agreed to accept the position if he was chosen; and we voted for 

Just like that? 

That's how he got the job. 

Did you get support from all the factions? 

Yes. We finally got a majority vote. After Jerry came down and 
talked before the board, we got the majority. And that's how 
Jerry got the job. But Jerry always said I was the one 
responsible for getting him the job. 

General Managers from Davis to Gilbert: A Firsthand Assessment 

McLean: Well, I knew Jerry. I have worked under all the general managers 
in the district, every one of them. Every general manager. 

Lage: That's quite a record. 

McLean: Yes. I've worked for every one of them, both on the board and 
also as an employee. Remember, there have not been that many. 
Arthur P. Davis and Frank Hanna, John Longwell, John McFarland, 


Jack Harriett, and Jerry Gilbert; and I've worked for every one of 
them and have known them very well. And I would say this: Of the 
outstanding ones that have been with the district, there have been 
John Longwell; Arthur P. Davis didn't stay very long. Veil, you 
have to look at him; he was the organizer of the district. He put 
the district together and oversaw the projects: the first 
aqueduct, the acquisition of the East Bay Vater Company, the 
construction of Pardee Dam, the construction of Lafayette Dam, and 
tunnels. That was his real job. Then he left for Russia and took 
with him one of the fellows from the district; Lyman Wilbur went 
with him to Russia on a big irrigation project in Turkistan. 

The next one who became general manager was Frank Hanna. Mr. 
Hanna was the chief design engineer for Pardee Dam and the 
Mokelumne Project, and Frank was general manager for about two 
years. Then he left and retired. The next phase was John 
Longwell, from 1934-1949. This was when we got into the 
annexations of a number of areas: Pleasant Hill, Castro Valley- 
those areas were annexed during his particular regime. Orinda, 
Moraga, Lafayette, and Walnut Creek were all annexed to the 
district. Then came the war, and we had the period in which there 
was more or less coasting. But during that period of time we also 
have to look at some of the things that were done. Number one was 
the connection to give San Francisco water. That was a 24- inch 
pipeline that commenced at Lake Chabot and went to San Lorenzo, 
where San Francisco installed a pumping plant and pipeline to 
connect to the peninsula. That was the story of San Francisco- - 

The next was the 24- inch W.S. Crockett pipeline, which was 
put in in 1935. That was under John Longwell, and it supplied the 
sugar company at Crockett. Then there was the supply to Mare 
Island during the war and the emergency there. There was the 
supply to Treasure Island from the district for the water supply. 
That covered the war period, and right after the war we had all of 
this tremendous amount of expansion and the various annexations. 

Lage: And we still have Longwell in charge here? 

McLean: Still Longwell. He served up until- -oh, I forget when he left 
[December 31, 1949]. He was general manager until most of the 
waste water project was under construction. This is the time when 
John McFarland became general manager. John McFarland did not 
have any experience in the water field; he was a businessman. 
Leroy Hamman, who was on the board of directors at that time and 
was president of the board, was later succeeded by Louis Breuner. 
I knew Roy very well, because he was president of the Boy Scouts 
when I was on the Boy Scout executive board. He was instrumental, 
I believe, in bringing John McFarland aboard. 


Lage: Now you're rating your general managers here. 

McLean: Yes, okay. I'm going to tell you the ones I think have been the 
outstanding general managers. Number one, John Longwell. Veil, 
first I think you have to consider Arthur P. Davis, who laid the 
foundations for the district and who really established all of the 
early policies of the district. From an engineering standpoint, 
he was the one decided on the Mokelumne River supply. 

John Longwell was the next engineering general manager. He 
was the one who really built a lot of the facilities: the first 
aqueduct, the waste water facilities, the large filter plants, and 
the large expansion that occurred during this time. Those two I 
would rate quite high because they were the ones who laid the 
foundation for the district as it is today- -the distribution 
systems and all of that. 

Then we got into a phase about that time where McFarland 
became general manager. He was a business administrator, and he 
established the salary rates and a lot of the policies that now 
exist today- -personnel policies and everything else. You have to 
look at him from the business side. He was the one who really put 
the district on a business basis more than had previously been 
done. John McFarland was a good administrator who relied upon the 
engineering staff to carry out the policies of the board of 
directors . 

Under McFarland, Bob Kennedy became chief engineer for a 
short period of time [January 1, 1950 to July 31, 1958]. He and 
McFarland didn't get along, Mr. Kennedy resigned, and Joe DeCosta 
became chief engineer. It was during Joe DeCosta 's time [August 
1, 1958 to April 30, 1965] that we moved forward again with the 
big construction program, the $252-million bond issue which was 
voted in in June of 1958. That ten-year program went through 
until I retired on August 1, 1968. Joe DeCosta was chief engineer 
until '65, when he retired. 

Then John Harnett took over the last period, and this is when 
we finished up all the major construction. John McFarland 
resigned on September 3, 1968, and John Harnett became general 

Jack Harnett came when all the construction work was 
complete. During this period we experienced the first severe 
drought [1976-77], when the district had to pump water out of the 
Middle River. Then Jack Harnett resigned, and Jerry Gilbert was 


In rating the general managers, I would rate Arthur P. Davis 
and John Longwell as outstanding engineers and nationally known. 
You have to look at John McFarland from a little different 
standpoint. As far as engineering was concerned, he had no 
knowledge of it. However, he did establish the business policies 
of the district which have carried over to today. I think that 
was necessary. Prior to that time the district had been 
engineering oriented: Lay the foundation and do the building to 
maintain service. Then John McFarland came in, and there was a 
tremendous upset in the district staff. He came at a time during 
the annexation and expansion of the district's boundaries. New 
policies and procedures were needed, and John met the challenge. 
During this time several key staff personnel left the district. 

Lage: You mean he fired a lot of people? 

McLean: Well, there was disagreement, and people left. Bob Kennedy left. 
Bob was a good engineer. There were several other people who 
left. Why, I can't say. Then, because of the studies that we had 
made previously- -this is when we carried on the $252 -million bond 
issue. We had finished the waste water project in 1952; John 
Lorfgwell was there during part of that period. Then we had the 
tremendous expansion period, 1958-1968: the third aqueduct, the 
second Lafayette Aqueduct, the second Lafayette Tunnel, the Walnut 
Creek Tunnel, the Briones Reservoir, the Camanche Reservoir, the 
Sobrante Filter Plant, the Lafayette Filter Plant, and the Walnut 
Creek Filter Plant. That was the $252 -million bond issue, and 
that was a tremendous expansion period. 

In rating the general managers you cannot leave out John 
McFarland. John did establish the business policies and 
procedures of the district. 

Lage: What would you describe as Jerry Gilbert's contributions? 

McLean: Jerry Gilbert's contributions, to my estimation, were moving the 
district out of a period of lethargy into the period of doing 
something about the American River supply and doing something 
about additional storage, such as Buckhorn. I think his 
contribution was pushing that through, particularly during a very 
difficult time of environmental situations. This has been a tough 
battle , the water supply management program which he really 
inaugurated. Plus we had a lot of expansion out in the San Ramon 
Valley and then the controversies we've been through on this- -the 
lawsuits by the Environmental Defense Fund in regard to the size 
of the pipe to serve the San Ramon Valley, the American River 
supply, and Buckhorn Reservoir. 


Regrets about Abandonment of High Middle Bar Dam 

McLean: The one thing that I regret very much is that the construction of 
the High Middle Bar Dam was not pushed. The High Middle Bar Dam 
was a project upstream from Pardee that I worked on in the 
fifties. After I had finished the waste water project, there was 
a period of four or five years , and Orin Harder and I put together 
the Middle Bar Project. This was a project that had been looked 
at back in the twenties. We were to the point of filing to the 
Federal Energy Commission to build the project. We had all the 
analyses and the feasibility studies, and we were ready to 
proceed. This was right after I came on the board, about 1980, 
1981. Because Amador County threatened us with a lawsuit, we 
dropped it. I think one of the biggest mistakes we ever made was 
dropping the High Middle Bar Project. If we had gone to the 
courts and fought Amador County on that, we would have had that 
project, which would have been of tremendous benefit to the 
district today. 

Lage : Would you have needed that and the American River both? 


McLean: Yes. We still need the American River. 

Lage: So this wouldn't have solved the problem of the American River? 

McLean: No, this would not have. The true safe yield of the Mokelumne is 
only in the neighborhood of 215 million gallons per day, in spite 
of the fact that we have water rights to 325 million. 

Lage: What would have the High Middle Bar Dam have done? 

McLean: I'll tell you what the High Middle Bar Dam would have done. 
Number one, it would have controlled the full flow of the 
Mokelumne River. The full flow. It would also have generated the 
maximum amount of hydroelectric energy from the stream flow. 

Lage: And then that gets sold to PG&E, is that right? 

McLean: That's sold to PG&E. It would also have given you a maximum pool 
in Pardee Reservoir, which would give you a gravity flow in the 
aqueduct at all times, winter and summer. It would also have 
controlled the flow over what we call the south spillway at Pardee 
Dam, which has always been a very dangerous situation, because any 
time we get a flood flow over the south spillway we get a blockage 
of the stream below the Pardee powerhouse. This creates some real 
problems of removal of debris. The last time we had that it cost 
us somewhere in the neighborhood of $300,000 to clear the river, 
plus the loss of the powerhouse during all that period of time. 


By building the High Middle Bar Dam you would have added all these 
particular benefits, and you would have been able to control the 
full flow of the Mokelumne River. 

San Joaquin County is now looking at the project. The 
district has turned over all of our reports to themI guess a lot 
of my reports and every thing --that we wrote during the time when 
we made the study. San Joaquin County wants to build it because 
they say they need more water supply. 


McLean: San Joaquin County needs more water. One of the problems there is 
that the groundwater table in the Stockton and Lodi areas has been 
badly depleted, and because of the present drought they need 
additional water both for agricultural and urban use. 

Lage: What role did Jerry Gilbert have in this Middle Bar decision, and 
what role did the board have? How was it decided? 

McLean: I don't know whether Jerry recommended it or whether Skaggs 

recommended it, but it came before the board. The fact is, we 
didn't want to get into a legal battle with Amador County. I 
forget who the district attorney was up there. But you see, with 
all the legal battles that we had with Amador County in the early 
days --we had pretty well got those behind us. Since then our 
relations with Amador and Calaveras Counties had improved, 
particularly after we paid them generously for additional water 
rights- -$2.5 million each for the 125 mgd. 

You see, our first rights on the Mokelumne were 200 million 
gallons a day. We fought both Amador and Calaveras counties for 
seven or eight years after Pardee was built to make sure that we 
had the rights to the 200 million. That was a bitter battle, and 
it left some very, very bad blood in those mountain counties. The 
fact is, the district was hated for many years afterward. If you 
said you were with the district, they might take a shot at you. 

Lage: You experienced some of this yourself, I would think. 

McLean: Yes, you bet. I'll tell you, the hatred of the mountain counties 
against the district in those times was pretty volatile because of 
the lawsuits, not only with Lodi and those people but also Amador 
and Calaveras counties. Well, when we acquired the additional 125 
million, which brings us up to 325, we paid each of the counties 
$2.5 million. That was back in the fifties, and it kind of 
changed our relations a little, that we were the guys with the big 
sack, you might say, and we gave them this in order to acquire the 
rights for the other 125 million. 


Among the old-timers there's still been the resentment 
against the district, and the particular one who had lost the 
battle of all the lawsuits was the district attorney of Amador 
County. As soon as we started having public hearings on the 
Middle Bar Project in order to get the public's opinion- -this was 
before we had to file an environmental impact report- -to determine 
if we should go ahead with it, there were many protests against 

Lage: This had been in the works a long time. 

McLean: Yes, you bet. We started the studies back in '52. 

Lage: And then it was in the eighties when they decided not to go ahead 
with it? 

McLean: That's right. It's been nearly thirty years ago since we started 
on it. Then we revised it again after Jerry Gilbert came aboard, 
to go ahead with the construction of the Middle Bar Project, and 
the district was all set to do it. And then this district 
attorney of Amador County threatened a lawsuit and to get out an 
injunction. Apparently Jerry felt that couldn't be resolved, and 
Skaggs recommended to the board that we drop it. So we dropped 

Looking back, of course, your hindsight is always better than 
your foresight. But looking back today, had this been Arthur P. 
Davis, John Longwell, or Ted Wittschen, the attorney, I think we'd 
have said, "To hell with them; we're going go ahead and build it, 
and we'll fight them in court." 

Lage: So the general manager could have had a deciding role, do you 

McLean: That's right, yes. 

Lage: If the general manager comes down strong on an issue, does the 
board tend to follow along? 

McLean: Yes. Also, I think Skaggs himself, being an attorney, didn't want 
to put the district in a long legal fight. He's not the type of 
attorney like Harold Raines [EBMUD attorney, 1947-1966] and the 
other one, the first attorney we had [Theodore Wittschen, 1925- 
1947]. Harold was ready to do battle at the drop of a hat. If 
anybody opposed the district, he was ready to battle with them. I 
don't know whether that's good or bad as far as a public agency is 
concerned, because you do create a lot animosity, but also we won 
a lot of cases. If it hadn't been for Ted Wittschen, the first 
attorney--! want to tell you, he was an aggressive attorney. He 



had come from Miller and Lux [owners of vast California land 
holdings who were engaged in protracted legal battles over water 
rights], and had been in all their water rights battles, and he 
was a tough opponent. When he took on a lawsuit, it didn't make 
any difference how big it was; he battled it through to win. And 
he did; he won all his cases. If he hadn't won the cases that we 
had against those people and come to an agreement, then the 
district would not be where it is today. 

You would like to see a more aggressive policy? 

Yes. He was a very aggressive attorney, and so was Harold Raines. 
Harold Raines was very much so. 

Gilbert's Role in Tightening a Lax Administration 

Lage: Shall we finish off with Jerry Gilbert's contribution? I want to 
be sure that you complete what you have in mind now. 


McLean: Yes, okay. Jerry Gilbert, to my estimation, has brought the 
district forward to where it is today. I think he did an 
outstanding job; he's a tough administrator. He had a lot of 
demands, and he made his staff toe the line. This is what the 
district needed. 

Lage: Needed a tough guy in charge? 

McLean: Yes. John McFarland and Jack Harnett were sort of- -I wouldn't say 
patronizing, but more or less easy-going with staff. As I say, I 
have to compliment McFarland on his policies of administration. I 
think that's what put the district where it is today on the 
business policies. But there was a lot of patronizing going on. 
within the ranks of the district during the time that they were 
with the district. 

Lage: Now, what do you mean by that? 

McLean: Well, I'm not going to go into all the details on that. 

Lage: "Patronizing" is such an intriguing word. 

McLean: I don't want that to be on the record. 

Lage: You know we can remove something that you think is indiscreet when 
you look at the transcript. 


McLean: You know, we've had the dining hall at Pardee and other facilities 
at Pardee. Both John McFarland and Jack Harnett used to take 
their families and friends up there on weekends and use the 
district facilities. This was never permitted under John Longwell 
or Arthur P. Davis. The only ones who went to Pardee and used the 
lodge and the dining facilities were those on business. Or, when 
we had the $252 -million bond issue, when we took groups of people 
there, particularly the press, city managers, and local business 
executives, where we wanted to show them the facilities. 
McFarland and Harnett were taking their friends and their wives 
and using the facilities, and the district paying for the meals, 
housekeeping, and all the rest of the stuff, see. When Jerry 
Gilbert became general manager, that was stopped. 

Lage : Did you talk to him about it? Or did he just pick it up right 

McLean: He picked it up, because it was obvious. It was a matter of 
having known. Jerry Gilbert then stopped all of it. 

Lage : So he sort of tightened up the ship? 


McLean: He tightened up the ship. And of course that created a lot of 
resentment, not only within the two unions but also with other 
personnel. As I say, I don't want go into detail, but--. 

Lage: No, but it helps to understand. 

McLean: There had been a lot of favoritism going on within the district. 

Consequently, when Jerry learned of it, he stopped it immediately. 

Jerry Gilbert was a tough administrator. This was completely 
opposite from Jack Harnett. Joe DeCosta was easygoing; he had a 
good, responsible staff, and he let them do their jobs without any 
interference. Joe was a good engineer, and he expected his staff 
to keep him informed; otherwise he never became closely involved. 
Joe was easygoing, and he got along well with everyone. 

Lage: So Jerry Gilbert was more of a return to the previous standards? 

McLean: Jerry Gilbert was a good administrator, and he was a good 

engineer. His management style was more of the Arthur P. Davis 
and John S. Longwell type. 


Urgent Need for Understanding of Calif omia'i Unique Water 
Problems and Needs 

Lage: Do you think it helps to have an engineer as general manager? 

McLean: Absolutely. I think, to be very truthful with you, that the ones 
they are looking at for general manager now are administrators in 
public works, not water. The fellow they're looking at is from 
Arizona [Jorge Carrasco hired as general manager in 1991], a 
former city manager of Scottsdale. 

Lage: So it's public administration? 

McLean: Yes. I think they're going to have a difficult time. My personal 
opinion is that California's water situation is one of the most 
difficult and complex in the United States. This coming decade in 
California is going to decide what is going to happen to our water 
in California. Unfortunately we have a chief engineer who is from 
Texas, a head of planning who is from Seattle, a fellow from 
Personnel who is from Seattle, and now the district is going to 
have a public administrator from Scottsdale, Arizona. Just 
totally out of the California water picture. 1 think this is 
going to just create havoc for the district; I really do. 

Lage: You don't think they can learn about the situation? 

McLean: Well, the water picture in California goes back to the Gold Rush. 
Ve have water in California, but the problem is that you have 
everybody taking a shot at it. These are all environmental 
issues: you've got the Save the Bay Organization; you've got the 
bay delta situation; you've got fish and wildlife, the endangered 
smelt, and the chinook salmon; you've got the commercial 
fishermen, wetlands people, the State Division of Fish and Game, 
white water rafters, save -the -river people, and others all 
demanding that the water in California be managed to their 
demands, with urban and agriculture at the end. 

Lage: So it might take a public administrator to deal with all of this? 

McLean: It is going to take a long time for the new people to become 

familiar with the problems. That's my personal opinion. Now, he 
may be all right as far as administration is concerned, but here's 
a chief engineer who's only been with the district six or seven 
months, and here's the fellow who's head of Planning who has been 
with the district six or seven months--. 

Lage: So it's a real change-over time. 


McLean: Vally Bishop will probably leave within a short time. Vally 

Bishop should have been the general manager. He's leaving; he's 
going back to waste water for a while, and then apparently he is 
going into the consulting business. Keith Cams, another 
outstanding engineer, has left. And then you've got a board that 
is completely environmentally oriented, and they don't know the 
picture. They don't know what the water problem of California 
really is. 

Nancy Nadel makes a statement in the newspaper that we 
already have rights to 325 million gallons a day, so why do we 
need the American River water, when the true annual flow of the 
Mokelumne River is only 215 million gallons a day. And by the 
year 2000, the consumption, regardless of conservation or anything 
else, is going to be up to 246 [mgd] . And you tell me why the 
district needs storage or the American River supply. 

If we have a failure on the Hayward fault that severs every 
one of our supply tunnels, you have less than a six-month supply 
of water here to serve the Bay Area if the aqueducts are also out 
of service. 

What I'm saying is that we have people who are completely 
unfamiliar with the water situation in California, and it is 
serious. We have enough water, but we've got to conserve and 
recycle all of the water that we can. That's number one; we've 
got to recycle all the water we can, and we've got to practice as 
much conservation as we can- -low- flow toilets and showerheads and 
all of those things. 

And we've got to build more storage. We've got to control 
and conserve all the surplus water that occurs on the Mokelumne 
and American Rivers. Water only occurs in California between 
roughly between October 1 until about April 1. That's our maximum 
source of water. Historically this is when we have had our large 
floods in California. But you've got all these other agencies 
that are pecking at that water. The economy of California is 
agriculture. Very few people know that, but the economy of 
California is agriculture. They keep screaming about agriculture 
using eighty percent of the water in California. This is true; 
they do. But look at what they produce. They produce $19 billion 
in business for the state of California. 

Lage: Do you think agriculture could do with more water conservation? 

McLean: They are doing conservation. I was consultant for the Tecopa 

Irrigation District near Bakersfield for a couple years on some 
problems they had with their distribution system. All of their 
vineyards and orchards are on drip irrigation. It's true that you 


do use a lot of water for rice, but the type of rice that is grown 
in California is not grown anywhere else. They also use a lot of 
water on cotton, but the type of cotton that is grown in 
California cannot be grown anyplace else. It's what they call the 
long fiber cotton, and it's the only place in the United States 
that I know today where they can grow the long- fiber cotton. I 
don't know whether it's the soil or what it is. But people say, 
"Oh, cotton uses too much water. Rice uses too much water." 
Maybe they do. But you have to understand; that's a part of the 
economy of California. 

Now, there are a few orchards in northern California that to 
my knowledge still use the old flooding process that they used 
years ago. The new orchards and the new vineyards that are going 
in, every one of them is irrigated by drip irrigation. I was up 
through the Sonoma Valley a couple of weeks ago. I had to go up 
to the Boy Scout camp; they had some problems up there. I noticed 
all the new vineyards going in, and every one of them is using 
drip irrigation. There is a pipe running along the trellis and 
then a pipe going down to each vine. 

So farmers are conserving. You still have cotton and rice 
that they point their finger at and say, "Look at all the water 
that they're using." And they do use it. But you have to remember 
that with rice the only water that is used is evaporation and 
transpiration. With rice, the water flows in the field at the 
highest elevation, and then it flows down through the rice field 
and returns to the river. Water comes into what we call the high 
check, and then it gradually flows all throughout the various 
checks. It comes into the top check, goes in the next one lower 
down, and finally, from the last one, it goes into a drainage 
ditch and back into the river. The only water that's used is 
evaporation, and up in those rice fields you probably get about 
thirty- six inches of evaporation a year. Then you have 
transpiration, which is used by the plant growing. The annual use 
to grow a crop of rice is about 4.5 acre feet per year. One acre 
foot of water is 325,800 gallons. Water is required during the 
entire growing period, because rice grows in water. Rice is 
planted in the spring and usually harvested in September. So you 
can blame rice and cotton for excess use of water, but where can 
you grow the type of rice that we grow in California, and where 
are you going to grow our type of long- fiber cotton? In the 
Central Valley of California you cannot grow any other kind of 
crop on the land where the rice is grown. The soil type is adobe, 
and the land is suitable only for rice. 

Lage: Those are all good points. 


McLean: Where new orchards and new vineyards are being planted, those 

farmers, every one of them, are developing new methods to irrigate 
the trees and vines. 

Lage: Changes are being made. 

McLean: Yes, they are conserving. There are lots of things that they can 
do. For instance, the city of Los Angeles, in the Coachella and 
Imperial Irrigation Districts, and a lot of those districts are 
being served by open canals. They're large canals, and they're 
not lined; they're earthen canals. Los Angeles is paying for the 
lining for some of those canals to gain the water that is lost. 
Even in the Central Valley and in northern California there are 
lots of the irrigation districts where the canals are unlined, and 
you do get losses from transpiration and evaporation; where there 
are earthen canals, you do get losses. The economics of lining 
those canals has got to be weighed against the crops, the cost of 
lining, and cost of water. 

Lage: I would think they'd be replenishing the water table, too, in the 
unlined canals. 

McLean: They do. They do replenish the water table, and when you get the 
losses through the sides of the canals you do get some losses that 
go into the groundwater table. But the point I'm trying to convey 
here is that I think the next decade in California, whether the 
drought continues or not, is going to be the most critical period 
that we've ever had because of the water situation. People are 
beginning to wake up to the fact that we've got to do something 
about all of these situations. What are we going to do about the 
salmon? What are we going to do about the smelt? What are we 
going to do about San Francisco Bay? What are we going to do 
about the delta- -the saltwater intrusion in the delta? 

Lage: How do you place these issues? Are they important in your mind? 

McLean: I think they're all equally important. You cannot consider one 
without the other. 

Lage: Can they be solved along with the water situation? 

McLean: They've got to be solved. If California is going to continue to 
growand it's going to grow; you can't stop itwe've got to 
solve the water problem. This means a lot of development work. 
It means building the Auburn Dam. It means building Buckhorn 
Reservoir. It means building the High Middle Bar. And it means 
building the peripheral canal, the large state reservoir in the 
San Joaquin Valley, which is a part of the water project. 


It means building all of these facilities. Also, we may have 
to go to recycling water, like the district is now doing. It's 
going to mean that a lot of these industrial facilities that we 
have today will have to recycle the water rather than putting it 
in the sewers. This is what we're doing now at the Chevron 
refinery in Richmond. The district has a $20-million-dollar 
project to build the facilities there for the Chevron refining 
plant, to take the waste water from the West Contra Costa 
treatment plant and treat the water down to the point where 
Chevron can use it in their cooling process. We've got to do more 
of that. That saves about four or five million gallons of water a 
day. That's a large amount. You can do the same thing with the 
Union Oil Company. You can do the same thing with Exxon, and you 
can do it with the Shell Oil Company in Martinez. 

Lage: Are these things that the district helps fund? 

McLean: No. Exxon and Shell are not within the district. Only Union Oil 
is within the district. Shell is in Contra Costa County. 

Lage: Is Union willing to go along with something like this? 

McLean: Well, they're going to have to. If we're going to conserve water, 
all of these facilities have to be utilized. But you have to 
recognize that in spite of all this conservation you're still not 
going to meet the needs of this area unless you develop more 
resources. Desalinization is not practical. 

Lage: Is that for financial reasons? 

McLean: Financial reasons it costs about four times as much. Recycling 

costs about twice as much, but you can afford it providing you can 
save X number of gallons of water. These things, Ann, are going 
to have to be done. We're going to have to do the ultimate in 
every bit that we can. But what I'm trying to say is that in 
spite of all the conservation and everything else, you still have 
to develop facilities to conserve water, storage. 

And another thing I'll tell you, and whether it can ever be 
realized--. There's still a lot of water in the north coastal 
basin that is virtually untouched. The Mad, the Klamath, the Eel, 
the van Dusen rivers- -every one of those have large quantities of 
water. When I was working with the state Division of Water 
Resources we looked at those many years ago as a source of water 
that could be conveyed into the Central Valley. It still can be 
done. But environmentalists put the Eel River into the Wild [and 
Scenic] River Act, and it takes an act of Congress to get that 
out. You could take water out of the Klamath, the van Dusen, and 
the Mad. Every one of those has very large flows, and there is 


somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.5 to 3 million acre feet of 
water available in the north coastal basin. Someday that's going 
to have to be utilized. We're going to have to develop it and 
bring it over into the Central Valley. But we've got to do more 
than that. We've got to raise Shasta Dam; Shasta Dam can be 
raised. We've got to build the Auburn Dam. 

Lage: This is a big agenda. 

McLean: If we're going to sustain the population growth that we have and 
continue our style of living--. Look at the number of industries 
that because of the water situation are leaving and moving to 
Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. I don't know whether you've read 
about the situation in Oakland- -the number of industries, the 
number of people, and the number of stores that have left. 

Lage: Because of water, though? 

McLean: Well, I don't think it's entirely because of water. I think there 
have been a number of factors. But the big industries that are 
talking about future expansion are going to Washington,. Colorado, 
and other states where there is an ample supply of water. What's 
going to happen to the economy of California if we don't take care 
of the local water problem and solve our statewide water problems? 
Industries needed to employ people here are going to leave. 

Why are developers going to these outlying areas? Because of 
the water situation and taxes. Look at the developments taking 
place in Tracy, Manteca, Modesto, and also towards Sacramento. 
Look at the developments in the Benicia, Fairfield, and Vacaville 
areas. Why? Because of water and the cost of connections 
becoming prohibitive. 

Lage: Because they can't afford homes here. And there's not much land. 

McLean: That's right. Land is cheaper, water is abundant. But they're 
going to run into problems here, too, because they're now taking 
water out of the groundwater table. The first thing you know, 
within a few years the groundwater table is going to be depleted. 
This is what I say, Ann- -that in the next ten years, we've got to 
do something about the water in California. Some way or other the 
governor has to come up with a coalition to solve California's 
water problems . 



Water Conservation and the Rate Structure 
[Interview 9: August 12, 1991 ]#// 

Lage: Today we're going to go on with the board period, and I thought 
we'd start talking about water conservation. I know there were 
some differences of opinion about when water conservation should 
be turned to and what its role was. It seems you were one of the 
members of the board who was most reluctant to impose 

McLean: That's right. I thought that, looking at the water we had in 

storage and also in regard to particularly stringent conservation 
measures, particularly proposed by Helen Burke, and also wanting 
to go to a much higher rate structure that would create a 
situation where people would have to pay more. I never felt that 
a rate structure was conservation-oriented. I didn't feel-- 
particularly for the people east of the hills, who perhaps might 
have a higher income than the others in the hill area here- -that a 
rate structure was going to have much effect as far conservation 
was concerned. 

Lage: Oh, I see. Because they have more ability to pay? 

McLean: Well, they are more able to pay. They have much larger pieces of 
property plus extensive landscaping, and they were going to retain 
their landscaping as far as possible. With conservation, I'm sure 
that to get 15 percent, which we did and were very successful, I 
don't think the rate structure has had anything to do with it. 
Historically, rate structures have never had an effect on 


Lage: So you don't think people are that concerned about what their bill 

McLean: There might be some low income groups where that might have some 

effect, but most people in low income groups don't have large land 
areas, and therefore it really doesn't affect them. It only 
affects those people who have like my place here, where 1 have 
about a quarter of an acre , and many of the places out in the area 
east of the hills. It's not at all uncommon for them to have half 
an acre or even an acre with large lawn areas and lots of trees 
and shrubbery. An inclining rate is not going to affect them, 
because they're going to pay it. They'll complain, but they'll go 
ahead and pay it. There's always been a real question as to 
whether a rate structure has any affect upon conservation. 

Limitations and Successes of Water Conservation 

Lage: What do you think is the answer, then, to promote conservation? 
Or why was the district successful? 

McLean: Well, the conservation, of course, has been successful, there's no 
question about it. Conservation has been successful with the 
result that for the past three or four years the rate of 
consumption has remained about level. Previously, consumption had 
been increasing over the years at 5 or 6 per cent annually. I 
think a lot of things have taken effect, particularly like the 
people who installed low- flow showerheads, and they have cut down 
on the yard watering. I know I have; you can see my lawn. There 
has been voluntary cooperation. How long this can be effective is 

Lage: You think it's more a response to a crisis? 

McLean: Yes. People have responded to this, but when it rains again and 
we get back to a normal snowpack and a normal year's water supply, 
I don't think people are going to be so free about wanting to 
conserve. Because they have seen their lawns go dry, they have 
seen their shrubbery distressed. They're going to say, "Why do we 
have to continue this water rationing?" I hope this year, after 
Governor Wilson gets through with all the budget problems, he gets 
in and does something about the overall water problem in 
California. We have got to do something about it. Conservation 
is not going to be the entire answer. We must stop the loss of 
surplus water into the ocean during flood flows by building more 
storage to conserve the water for future use. 


Lage: You think that we have to increase supply? 

McLean: We have got to increase our supply. I was just reading an article 
in the paper this morning in regard to the tremendous loss there 
has been in agriculture this year. People forget that California 
is agriculturally oriented. Our economy is agriculture. Even in 
the delta, a lot of the farmers are not going to plant beets, 
they're not going to plant tomatoes, they're not going to plant 
asparagus, they're not going to plant corn; they're not going to 
plant a lot of crops. The water which they are normally entitled 
to for riparian use they have turned over to the state for the 
state water bank, which could in turn be given to an urban area 
that needs the water. 

Just stop and think of the jobs that this affects. It 
affects not only the processing plants but the trucking industry 
and many, many, other labor-oriented industries. It's a domino 
effect. Industries also are beginning to feel this. Those that 
are water-oriented are moving out of California. Many have gone 
to Portland, Seattle, Colorado, Denver, Boise, and Nevada. 
They're leaving California. Think what that's doing to the 
economy of California. 

Lage: Now, on this very issue that you just talked about, did board 

policy change over time? It seems like conservation is an answer 
that came to be more accepted. Is that your view of it? 

McLean: We didn't enter into the drought era until five years ago, and I 
wasn't on the board when we had the '76- '77 drought. The board 
never anticipated that we would ever get into a five-year drought. 
Historically, we've never had a four-year drought. Well, it 
happened, and we've had the fifth year now. People begin to 
wonder, "Are we going to have a sixth year? What is the 
situation?" There's always an effort on the part of Helen Burke. 
Helen Burke has always been on this conservation orientation. 
Nancy Nadel was the same when she came on the board, and we also 
had Jack Hill. They wanted to go to extremes strict rationing 
and higher rates. 

Lage: Did this include changing the rate structure? 

McLean: The rate structure and everything else. The inclining block rate 
structure was Helen Burke 's idea. 

Lage: What about the gutter flooder law that was passed [August, 1987]? 
Do you remember that? 


McLean: Yes, as I remember the board proposed the use of shut-off nozzles 
when using a hose for washing cars. Also no washing sidewalks and 
no flooding of the gutters when sprinkling lawns, etc. 

It didn't have much effect. I think the greatest effect was 
the advertising we had in the papers, the billboards, and the 
signs on buses and BART trains and stations. I think this had 
really the greatest effect to get people to conserve. It was 
effective, no question about it. 

Lage: Did Jerry Gilbert sign onto that enthusiastically? 
McLean: Yes. 

Lage: Do you think he did a good Job of directing the public relations 

McLean: Yes. I think Jerry did a very good job. The board was in favor 
of the effort toward voluntary conservation. But Helen Burke was 
constantly wanting to make everything compulsory, either to fine 
people or something like that. Sandy and I and Mary Warren never 
did go along with that theory. We felt that voluntary 
conservation was far better to get people to cooperate. And it 
has proven out. This year, as you've seen, they asked for 
25 percent reduction; last year I think it was a 15 percent 
reduction. I think this year they asked for 25 percent, and 
they're even going as high as 30 percent. So I think rather than 
force people and try to fine people and those sort of things , it 
is far better on a voluntary basis --that is, to try to get people 
to understand why it is necessary. And I think this has been very 

Lage: People seem to have signed onto it, during the drought at least. 

McLean: Yes. And the district has been very successful. I'm going to be 
very much interested in seeing how the people are going to react 
when we get into some of this information that they will have on 
the water supply management program regarding additional storage. 
I have felt that conservation is not the entire answer. You have 
to have conservation; there is no question about that. And then 
it may be necessary for new construction, which of course comes 
under the line of conservation- -for new homes and new buildings to 
use low- flow toilets and to have everything in the building that 
will induce low flows. Rather than have high pressure in toilets, 
washbasins, and showers, maybe reduction of pressure as well as 
low- flow units are part of the answer. 


Is that required now? 


McLean: No, it is not required. There are some cities that require them. 
Lage: It's a city ordinance, then? 

McLean: Yes, it's a city ordinance. If I'm not mistaken, I think Monterey 
has an ordinance on new construction. I don't know about Santa 
Barbara. Santa Barbara may have, or San Luis Obispo. 

Lage: Any cities within the East Bay MUD district? 

McLean: No. 

Lage: Is that something the district works with the cities about? 

McLean: Yes. We have a landscape ordinance now, as you know, and fact is, 
we've been trying to get all the cities to adopt a uniform 
landscape ordinance, using drought- tolerant shrubs, trees, etc. 
The district has worked with the nurseries and the nursery people 
who do that work to use drought -tolerant shrubs and to reduce the 
area of lawns and those sort of things. There are a number of 
those ordinances , but it has not really been adopted every place . 

I think the water industry itself is doing this. There is a 
Water Coalition now that is attempting to have a universal 
practice throughout the state --that is, to get the various water 
agencies to adopt something like low-flow toilets and low-flow 
showerheads, and then to even limit lawn areas based upon the size 
of the property. I think this has got to come. I think it's one 
of the things that will have to come, because I think conservation 
is in the cards, there's no question about that. But conservation 
is still not going to solve the problem of our water supply. We 
have still got to build storage, and we've still got to utilize 
every drop of water that we can. 

District Water Recycling Prolects 

McLean: This means recycling. We're going to have to recycle water--. 
Lage: From the sewage treatment? 

McLean: From sewage treatment plants, because there's a tremendous amount 
of waste water. A great deal of that, of course, is from various 
automatic facilities- -dishwashers , laundry, and all of those- - 
which all go into the waste water system. And we've got to 
utilize it. Of course, you have to recognize that there is a 
limitation to using that water. The district was one of the 


pioneers in this; it started out with the Richmond golf course. 
Recently we added the Galbraith golf course in San Leandro, and 
we've gone to the Alameda golf courses. The real big one has been 
the Chevron plant out in Richmond. That site will be under 
construction this year. Two of them that will be on line this 
year will be the Willow Park Golf Club and the Chabot municipal 
golf course, which will be using water from Lake Chabot. 

Lage: Does this require a special pipeline? 

McLean: Yes, they require pipelines and pumping plants. The cost of the 
recycled water is about twice of what the regular water is. In 
other words, all of this requires facilities, and this costs 
money. But we are saving water. Most of these golf courses use 
upwards of a million and a half or two million gallons of water 
annually, or even more. The Chevron plant out there will save 
upwards of five million gallons per day. However, that's only a 
small percentage of the water they use. Chevron has been one of 
the largest consumers of water from the district for years, using 
upwards of ten or fifteen million gallons of water per day. 
They're one of the district's large industrial consumers. 

Lage: But they can't use the recycled water for all of their needs? 

McLean: No, they can't use it for everything. They are using it 

apparently in their cracking facilities and in their cooling 
towers. I think they use the water over and over; that's my 
understanding. I'm not sure of all the mechanics. But those are 
areas where you can use recycled water. The cost of that plant 
will take a long time to pay off. 

Lage: Who pays for that? The district? 

McLean: The district is paying for it. 

Lage: So the district doesn't charge them twice as much for the water? 

McLean: No. The price of the water to Chevron will be just about the same 
as the regular supply. 

Lage: It costs the district more. 

McLean: Yes. However, you are limited as to where you can use recycled 
water. For instance, take the sprinkling that goes on along our 
freeways on the median strips. All of those are supplied by pipes 
that are connected to the regular distribution system. To use 
recycled water in those areas you have to go from a treatment 
plant that is located several miles away and build an independent 
pipeline to supply a few gallons of water along a freeway. The 


answer there is not to use shrubbery or plants that require 
water- -to use something that can carry over from your winter 
rains. Use some other type of landscaping. I think in the future 
you probably will see some other method along our freeways that 
will get away from landscaping. 

Now, in reference to the Chabot golf course and the Willow 
Park golf course, those require pumping plants, and they require 
very extensive pipelines. If you know where the Chabot golf 
course is, way up on the top of the hill- -they have to put in a 
pumping plant at Lake Chabot. This was one of my ideas, to use 
the water from Lake Chabot, which is not used in the system. It's 
rain water or water that is released from Upper San Leandro 
Reservoir. Rene Viviani, the owner of the Willow Park golf 
course, is a very close friend of mine; I've known him for many 
years. He uses district water for irrigating the golf course. He 
said to me one day, "Here's all that water down there at Lake 
Chabot. Why can't we take the water out of there to use for 
irrigating our golf course rather than buying regular water?" I 
said, "Well, maybe you've got a good idea." Rene said, "Why don't 
you look into it?" So I talked to Jerry Gilbert about it, and 
Jerry said, "Yes, why don't we?" 

Lage : Is Lake Chabot considered an emergency storage? 

McLean: Lake Chabot could only be used in case of an emergency. There is 
no connection to the system as it is now because there is no water 
treatment plant there. There was a small plant, but it was 
limited in capacity. The only time Lake Chabot would ever be used 
would be in case we had a failure of our three tunnels and we had 
to release water from upper San Leandro into Chabot, and then we 
could take water from Chabot into the system. One of the problems 
is that it is very low in elevation. The elevation of Chabot is 
215 feet, and our aqueduct zone is around 300 feet. So the only 
part that you would serve would be from elevation 200 down. You 
could get water into the areas that are below that elevation, such 
as Alameda and Oakland, but to get it into the aqueduct zone you'd 
have to pump. That is, you'd have to boost the water into the 
aqueduct zone; the aqueduct zone is elevation 300. 

Lage: So by using it for the golf course, how does it get replaced? 

McLean: Water flowing into Lake Chabot is either from rainfall or by 

release from Upper San Leandro Reservoir. They're installing a 
pumping plant and putting in a pipeline from Chabot to a small 
lake near the clubhouse. All of the water for their irrigation 
system comes from the lake on the golf course, and there they have 
a pressure pump that serves their entire golf course. So the 
district will pump the water over into this small lake, then they 


will pump it out of the lake to irrigate the entire golf course, 
and they'll have all the water they need. The cost of the water 
is slightly less than using the water out of the system. The 
important part is that we're saving about half a million gallons 
of water per day from the distribution system. 

Lage: But doesn't that water have to be replaced in Lake Chabot? 

McLean: It's replaced by rain water. Chabot has a small drainage area. 
During times of peak flow, Upper San Leandro overflows and goes 
into Lake Chabot. Lake Chabot overflows sometimes, and then the 
water goes into San Leandro Creek to the bay. But normally the 
water level remains uniform throughout the year except for 
evaporation. Chabot is operated by the Regional Park District for 
boating and fishing. 

The district is also looking at Union Oil Company in Rodeo to 
see what can be done about installing a plant similar to the one 
at Chevron in Richmond. The cost of using recycled water is about 
twice the cost of regular water, and there are not many places 
where there is a nearby source of water that can be readily 
obtained for recycling. 

In the San Ramon Valley they have been looking at the golf 
courses for a long time in conjunction with the Tri-Valley 
Authority wastewater treatment plant and also the Contra Costa 
sanitary district, thinking about using recycled water from those 
plants for park areas. At Danville, San Ramon, and Walnut Creek 
there are schools and other public places with large playgrounds 
and park areas where they could use recycled water, as well as at 
the many golf courses. Those projects, unless they are located 
close to a wastewater treatment plant, are not economically 
feasible. It means separate pipelines, pumping plants, and 
storage reservoirs. You must have a system which is independent 
completely from the domestic water system. You can't use the same 
pipes; it has to be completely independent. 

Lage: So there are limitations to that recycling? 

McLean: That's right. There are limitations. Eventually you're going to 
reach a point where you're using basically all the recycled water 
that you can, and your increase then is going to have to be from 
the regular distribution system- -the regular water supply. 


The Charged Issue of Supplying New Development out tide District 
Service Areas 

Lage : Veil, that seems to lead into a discussion about annexing- -the 

annexations and supplying areas outside the boundaries. That was 
a hot issue, it seems. 

McLean: Yes. Annexations were always a problem with the board. When 
Nancy Nadel came to the board, you had her and Helen Burke who 
were very much opposed to annexations. Prior to Nancy Nadel it 
was Jack Hill. 

Lage: Were these annexations within the district boundaries? 

McLean: Let me define the boundaries. Originally, when the district was 
organized, we acquired the first 200 million gallon Mokelumne 
supply, and that was only to take in the area west of the hills. 
It took in only the cities of Oakland, Richmond, El Cerrito, 
Albany, Berkeley, Piedmont, and San Leandro--the seven cities west 
of the East Bay hills [a 93-square-mile area). 

McLean: Castro Valley was annexed in 1931. Then, recognizing that the 200 
mgd was not going to be sufficient to meet the growth, we started 
negotiations with the mountain counties, Amador and Calaveras 
Counties, for another 125 mgd. 

Lage: Is that million gallons per day, mgd? 

McLean: Yes. Our original rights were 200 million gallons per day. 

That's what we had when we built Pardee Dam. As time went on 
there were annexations in Lafayette [1931], Orinda [1934], 
Pleasant Hill [1941], Moraga [1948], Walnut Creek [1952], and 
finally into the San Ramon Valley [1958, 1964]. But prior to the 
time the San Ramon Valley really came in, we recognized the fact 
that we would not have enough water from the 200 million gallons a 
day to meet the district's growth. So we started negotiations 
with the two mountain counties in which we agreed to pay them 
$2.5 million each for another 125 million gallons out of the 
Mokelumne River. At that time we established basically what we 
call the ultimate boundaries. Those boundaries were drawn 
somewhat irregularly, following along the line of the hills, out 
in the San Ramon Valley, and took in partially down to about the 

county line. 


Lage: When were lines drawn? 


McLean: We would have to go into the records, but I think it was right 

after the war. At that time --and we'll have to look at the dates 
on that- -all of these annexations started coming in. 

Lage: I'm surprised they even thought of development in the San Ramon 
Valley. It was so remote at that time. 

McLean: Well, you see, what precipitated that was Walnut Creek. First we 
had Pleasant Hill, which came in just before the beginning of the 
war; we built the Pleasant Hill Reservoir by WPA labor. I don't 
recall when Walnut Creek came in. You see, Walnut Creek was 
served by California Water Service, which was located in San Jose. 
They still are a water company that serves a lot of little 
communities throughout the state. But the people in the Walnut 
Creek area at that time were unhappy with the water because it 
came out of Mallard Slough, near Pittsburgh. It was river water, 
and it had a very high saline content. 

So Walnut Creek wanted to join the district. The only way 
they could join the district was to form an entity within 
themselves, have a bond issue, buy out the water company, and then 
annex to the district. This took place, I believe, right after 
the war. I think it was during that time that the district was 
negotiating with the mountain counties for the additional 125 
million gallons per day. This is when we drew the so-called 
ultimate boundaries. 

Well, during this period of time LAFCO, the Local Agency 
Formation Commission, came into being. They are the agency that, 
when an annexation occurs, designates who the water supplier may 
be. Take the San Ramon Valley; there is no other agency out there 
that can supply the water. The problem that you run into is that 
there is no other source of water for these people unless they 
drill a well. 

Lage: So either you're annexed or you don't build there? 

McLean: That's right. Of course, most of these areas originally had 
wells, but the wells have gone dry. 

Lage: These are all out in the Danville -Alamo area? 

McLean: They're in the Danville and the Alamo area. See, this [refers to 
map] denotes an area not served by the district. I think that may 
have been one that came in recently that had their own wells. We 
had two or three of them while I was still on the board. Here 
were small areas that consisted of five-acre parcels. When they 
went in there originally, they drilled their own wells. Now that 
we've had five years of drought, the wells are not sufficient. 



P. O. BOX 2105S OAKLAND. CA 94613 (UiJ83i-3000 

Fact Sheet 

April 1985 


EBMUD is a publicly owned mater district formed in 1923 under the Municipal Utility District (MUD) Act of 1921. 
Today, it serves water to 1.1 million customers and provides wastewater treatment for 600.000 customers residing in 
portions of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. 

The Water System includes a network of reservoirs, aqueducts, treatment plants, and other distribution facilities 
stretching from the Sierra foothills to the Bay Area. The service area of 8+6, square miles includes 20Jncorporated cities 
and 16 unincorporated communities in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. 3 / "7 

The Wastewater System treats the domestic, commercial and industrial wastewater collected by six cities and a local 
sanitary district in an 83-square-mile area in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. This system is described briefly on 
page 7 and in a separate fact sheet available from EBMUD's Public Information Office (891-0615) or the Wastewater 
Department (465-3700). 


The 20 cities served by EBMUD's Water System include Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Danville, El Cerrito, Emeryville, 
a portion of Hay ward, Hercules, Lafayette, Moraga, Oakland, Orinda, Piedmont, Pinole, a portion of Pleasant Hill, Richmond, 
San Leandro, San Pablo, San Ramon, and a portion of Walnut Creek. Brentwood is served water by contract. 

Unincorporated communities served include Alamo. Ashland, Blackhawk, Castro Valley. Cherryland, Crockett, 
Diablo, El Sobrante, Fairview, Kensington, North Richmond, Oleum, Port Costa, Rodeo, San Lorenzo and Selby. 












The wells are going dry, and there's no water. At some of the 
homes, people are hauling water by truck. They didn't have enough 
water. Well, we had many arguments about this on the board. 

Lage: It sounds like one of the hottest issues on the board. 
McLean: It was one of the hottest issues on the board. 

Lage: Over whether you would take in these areas that were not part of 
the service area? 

McLean: That's right. People have the option of one or two things. 

Number one, LAFCO designates that there is no other water company 
to serve them; there's no other source of water except the 
district water. Basically, what they can do if we refuse is go 
back to LAFCO, LAFCO can go to the board of supervisors, and the 
board of supervisors can order us to serve them. We've never gone 
that far. The other action is that they can annex to one of the 
cities which now is served by the district, and then by law the 
district is obligated to serve them. 

Lage: So these areas were outside city boundaries? 

McLean: Yes, that's right. We've had many, many arguments on that. 

Basically, we had Helen Burke and Jack Hill, and then Nancy Nadel. 
Particularly after Jack had left the board, Nancy Nadel was 
absolutely against serving these people. 

Using Water District Policy to Control Growth 



What was their reasoning as you saw it? 

What did you see as their 

They didn't want any more development. Their policy is no more 
growth. They didn't want any more people within the district. 
Bruce Smith, a developer in Contra Costa County, built five 
beautiful homes that were adjacent to but right outside the 
district boundary. This happened about three years ago. 
Originally these homes had wells, but the wells went dry. They 
applied to the district to give them a service connection. Well, 
we had a long battle on the board because of that. Helen Burke 
and Nancy Nadel were opposed to giving them water. I've always 
looked at it from a humanitarian standpoint: give them the water. 

In other words, the amount of water that we were selling to 
these people was so small in quantity that it didn't amount to a 


drop in the bucket. I think one of the last was somewhere around 
four or five million gallons per year. This was a group of small 
ranchettes that had their own private wells, and the wells had 
gone dry. They applied to the district for water, and of course 
we had another long argument about not wanting to give them water. 
I would have given it to them right in the beginning, because when 
you talk in terms of the amount of water, it's minimal. 

Lage: It seems like one issue when people are already established there 
and have been using wells, and the wells go dry. The other issue 
is new development. 

McLean: Let's take a look from the standpoint of new development. Most of 
these developments are within the ultimate boundaries, and we are 
compelled to serve them unless we declare an emergency. We never 
did declare one. There was a big argument about declaring an 
emergency during the drought, but we never did declare an 
emergency. It was up to the board as to whether we would serve or 

Lage: What position did the staff take on it? 

McLean: The staff always was in favor of serving. 

Lage: So it was mainly a few people on the board in opposition? 

McLean: It was the people on the board, and we had many arguments 

regarding serving water. I always took the attitude, and Sandy 
Skaggs and I think Mary Warren did, that these people were 
entitled to the water. They were within the boundaries, they had 
paid taxes on their property to the district for many years, and 
they were entitled to the water service. 

There was a time that the district had a very high tax rate. 
The people who were within the district boundaries paid a district 
tax, basically for the water supply. They were entitled to the 
water service. As long as they are within the boundaries, the 
district must provide service. 

Lage: Were these arguments brought up that the district could be 
compelled to serve? 

McLean: Oh, absolutely, every member of the board knew it. Helen Burke 
knew it. They knew that we had to serve them. 

Lage: What were the dynamics on the board? It sounds as if it was a 
charged atmosphere . 






Well, It was. Every time one of these requests to serve came up, 
it really became a knock-down-drag-out battle, you might say. The 
attitude from Helen Burke and Nancy Nadel was: "We don't have 
enough water . " But the amount of water that those people would 
use was so minimal it was a drop in the bucket in comparison to 
the overall consumption. 

We had the same argument over the city of Brentwood. 
Brentwood had a serious problem, because the water from their 
wells had a high concentration of nitrates. It was really ground 
water pollution. Brentwood was different, because they were 
completely outside the district's boundary. They were asking for 
surplus water. Well, of course, the last two years we declared 
that we did not have surplus water, and finally we didn't give 
them any. There was a period of time when it was a health 
problem. Their wells were very high in nitrates. The water was 
just not safe to drink because of the health effects on babies and 
elderly people. Finally we gave them a million and a half gallons 
per day. Again, we had another fight in the board about giving 
them water. 

* When we built the first aqueduct, the founding fathers 
envisioned that many of the cities along the pipeline would be 
served from the aqueduct. This, of course, was right in the 
beginning, and I do not know the reason for their thinking. On 
the first aqueduct we left taps where a connection could be made 
for a water supply. At Stockton I believe we left a twelve- inch 
tap, and I think at Antioch and Pittsburgh we also left taps. I 
don't know whether we did that for Walnut Creek, but we left taps 
where those cities could connect into the aqueduct. During World 
War II, Camp Stoneman at Pittsburg was supplied by water from the 
Number One aqueduct. 

So that was the vision? 

That was the vision of the founding fathers. Coming along to the 
issues today, where we have now a board of directors that are 
ant i- development, what they're really trying to do is stop 
development in this area by curtailing water development. 

I don't think they would argue with you on that, 
they come straight out and say it? 

I mean, don't 

McLean: This is a fact. 

Lage: They agree that that's their purpose? 

McLean: Yes, that's their goal: no more water, no more people. I don't 

know how you're going to stop growth. Financially, it is going to 


hurt the entire Bay Area. It is going to affect the consumers of 
the district, because industries and developers that require a 
dependable water supply are locating elsewhere. 

Lage: I noticed in the minutes of board meetings that during debates 
over the San Ramon Valley annexations a lot of conflicts -of - 
interest charges were made. 

McLean: Well, Helen Burke and the Sierra Club sued the district. When we 
put in the last pipeline to serve that area, we already had one 
(48") pipeline and this was the second line (66"). The Sierra 
Club and the Environmental Defense Fund brought suit against the 
district to prevent the district from putting in a pipeline that 
would take care of the ultimate growth of the San Ramon Valley. 
The people in San Ramon, Alamo, and those areas said, "Look, when 
you put in a pipeline this time, make it large enough to take care 
of the ultimate growth of the entire area." This is what we did 
after protests by certain members of the board. 

Lage: And I remember seeing in the minutes arguments between board 
members about the size of the pipeline. 

The Tri-Valley Sewer Connection 

McLean: I want to tell you there were some big fights, and there was a 
lawsuit. We won the suit. This is what happened in the Tri- 
Valley situation. The Tri-Valley area is that area of Livermore, 
Pleasanton, Dublin, and adjacent unincorporated areas. When they 
planned to put in the so-called "super sewer" from the Tri-Valley 
area that discharges into San Leandro Bay, the engineers at that 
time planned to make the sewer pipe large enough for the ultimate 
development of the valley- -that is, put it in now to provide fo 
all future development. 

Lage: How would you decide what the ultimate growth would be? 

McLean: You take in to account the kind of development that will occur in 
the area, whether multiple or single family or industrial. To 
give you an example, when we were making the studies for the 
original East Bay wastewater treatment plant, we used models of 
drainage areas. Every sewer line that you have is built in a 
drainage area. Normally you have these ridges and high areas, and 
in between you have a low drainage area. Then a sewer line is 
installed in the drainage area, and all houses that are built up 
to the crest of that ridge will drain into this sewer line. The 
models we used for sizing the north interceptor and the south 


interceptor, the ones that follow along the San Francisco Bay 
shore- -the models that we used at that time for ultimate 
development of the drainage area- -were models of Philadelphia, 
Chicago, New York, St. Louis, and other large eastern cities where 
they had similar population density. Then you use the projected 
ultimate density, the present density, and what you estimate the 
density will be in fifty years, and you size the interceptor 

We used a high density model for both the north and the south 
interceptors. These were to be sized for fifty years. This was 
starting back in the fifties, and they were to be sized to the 
year 2000. The result is that the south interceptor has not 
developed the flow as we had estimated. We are now twenty- five 
years into our model, and we still have additional capacity in the 
south interceptor. This is why Tri- Valley wanted to come in and 
connect into the south interceptor, and there was enough capacity 
to handle the estimated Tri -Valley flows. 

Lage: Did Tri -Valley want to send untreated wastewater into the EBMUD 

McLean: The Tri -Valley Authority wanted to convey the untreated wastewater 
into the district's south interceptor, thence to the treatment 
plant where it would be processed, and into the San Francisco Bay 
outfall. They wanted to size that pipeline for the ultimate 
development of the Tri -Valley area. They were prevented from 
doing that by the Sierra Club and lawsuits. By the end of the 
next couple of years they will have reached the capacity of the 
present pipeline and outfall. This is why they are searching for 
another facility to discharge the additional flow from the area. 
They're nearing the capacity of the present outfall, and they have 
no means to handle the excess. This is why they wanted to come 
across the hills into the district's interceptor to the treatment 

Lage: Could the treatment plant handle it? 

McLean: We could handle it very nicely. There is sufficient capacity in 
the district's facilities to handle the additional flow. The 
growth model we used for the year 2000 has not occurred; as a 
result, we have excess capacity to handle the flow from Tri- 

Lage: So who won the argument about whether to take on the Tri -Valley? 

McLean: We could have taken the Tri-Valley flows, but both Oakland and San 
Leandro were opposed to the project. San Leandro said, "We don't 
want raw sewage under pressure going through our city." Both San 


Leandro and Oakland threatened to sue Tri- Valley if they went 
ahead with the project. They didn't want this sewer in either 

Lage: Do you think it presented engineering problems? 

McLean: No. It was all political. They didn't want Tri-Valley 
discharging their wastewater into the district's system. 

Lage: Where did the original sewer line come from? 

McLean: The original sewer comes from the Tri-Valley wastewater treatment 
plant to a pumping plant through a pipeline across the hills and 
into the San Leandro Bay outfall discharge. 

Lage: All treated? 

McLean: Yes. It is treated effluence. Because of the lawsuits that were 
brought against them, it prevented the Tri-Valley Authority from 
building the pipeline and outfall to the ultimate size for the 
entire Livermore Valley. They should have built the sewer line 
and the outfall large enough to take care of the ultimate 
development of the Livermore Valley. If they had been able to do 
that, it probably would have cost them only a very small amount of 
money to add five or six inches to the inside diameter of the 

In order to take care of the development which is occurring 
there --they have reached the capacity of the present facility- - 
they have to go through the San Ramon Valley to the north into 
Suisun Bay. The present plan is to connect the Contra Costa 
Sanitary District's sewer line in the San Ramon Valley to the 
district's wastewater treatment plant and the outfall into Suisun 
Bay. The Contra Costa treatment plant will have to be enlarged to 
handle the additional flow from the Tri-Valley district. To take 
the flow from Tri-Valley through Contra Costa Sanitary District 
will cost many millions of dollars more than their original plan 
of going to San Leandro Bay. Just think how much this has cost 
the people in Livermore Valley who were prevented by the Sierra 
Club and the EDF lawsuits from adding a few inches to the original 

Lage: Perhaps what you're saying is that making it difficult for them 
doesn't stop growth. 

McLean: It didn't stop growth. That's what they tried to do; they tried 
to stop growth by limiting size of the sewer line. They tried to 
do the same thing on the 580 highway by limiting the amount of 
traffic with a diamond lane. The same thing has happened with the 


sewer line. This is the same thing that happened in the San Ramon 
Valley when they tried to stop us from putting a large pipeline to 
Alamo and San Ramon, so that it would only take care of the 
present growth rather than the expanded growth. 

Limits to Controlling Growth in the Bay Area 

Lage: As someone who has lived here for so long, what do you think about 
all this growth? 

McLean: I don't know how you can control the growth in this area. We're 
trying to control growth, the Sierra Club and the 
environmentalists are trying. What is this doing? It is forcing 
people into automobiles to live in Fairfield, Tracy, Manteca, 
Modesto, Stockton, and Lodi, where they can find affordable 
housing. My grandson was compelled to go to Tracy for a home for 
him and his family. Finally, he's gone to Portland; he's gotten 
out of here completely. He was head meat cutter for Safeway, and 
in order to have affordable housing they had to go to Tracy and 
then to Portland, Oregon. 

What this has done is force people into automobiles, driving 
miles away, where we have to increase the size of our highways. 
In West Oakland and a lot of other areas we could demolish a lot 
of the single family homes that are virtually worthless, put in 
multiple family dwellings where people can afford to live, and 
keep the people living within the core cities. 

Think of the cost of developments that are taking place in 
areas such as Tracy. First they're going to be faced with water 
and wastewater problems, whereas within your core cities you have 
all the necessary facilities. When I was in England and other 
European cities, I saw them demolishing five- and six-story 
apartment buildings to be replaced by fifteen- to twenty-story 
apartment buildings. 

McLean: Affordable housing, that's what's needed within the core cities. 
You're creating more air pollution; you have more automobiles for 
people to get to the workplace. Get on any one of our highways on 
a workday. Go to Walnut Creek. I had to go to Walnut Creek on a 
consulting job that I had a month ago, and I had to be at the 
office in Walnut Creek at eight o'clock in the morning. Every day 
I would get tied up fifteen minutes or more trying to get through 


the Caldecott Tunnel. This happens both going east in the morning 
and coming west at night. 

Proposed Merger with Contra Costa Water District 

Lage : I was confused about the issue of either coordinating or merging 
with Contra Costa' a water district. That seemed to be under 
discussion throughout your whole period on the board. 

McLean: Ve had meetings on that subject for a long time. I was a member 
of the liaison committee. Craig Randall was the president of the 
board of Contra Costa Water District. Sandy Skaggs was our 
president. When I came on the board we had many meetings. We had 
them for three or four years. There was discussion of a merger of 
the two agencies. I think it would have been good for both 
districts; that's my personal opinion. I was in favor of it, and 
I think Sandy was also in favor of it. 

Lage: Now, their water quality was not the equal of EBMUD's? 

McLean: Their water comes out of Rock Slough, which is delta water from 
Lake Shasta, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation water. They were very 
anxious to get district water. Of course there would have been 
some problems, but I think it would have been good for both 

Lage : In what way? 

McLean: For the district from the standpoint of development and income. 
The district has lost industries here within our original 
boundaries. All of the canneries that used to be here have left. 
Heinz has left, General Foods, Gerber, and all of thpse have moved 
to Tracy and elsewhere. They were large consumers. Contra Costa 
County Water District is basically domestic consumers; they don't 
have many industries. They have a few along the waterfront, but 
they're not large consumers, with the exception of Shell Oil 
company. I guess they serve Shell Oil, but I don't think there 
are many other large consumers that are served by the Contra Costa 
Water District. 

This would have been a good base of revenue for the district. 
In addition to that, it would have extended the district 
boundaries out to take in the eastern areas of Walnut Creek. 
These areas should have been within the district's boundaries to 
begin with. 


Lage: So Just part of Walnut Creek is within district boundaries? 

McLean: Yes, that's right. There's a line through Walnut Creek--! don't 
know Just how it cane to be, but it was probably the area 
originally served by the California Water Service Companywhere 
one side is Contra Costa County Water District, and the other side 
is the East Bay Municipal Utility District. 

Lage: So in a sense you're saying that having more consumers can be good 
for the district financially? 

McLean: Yes. 

Lage: Does it keep rates down? 

McLean: Keep rates down. And we had plenty of water. 

Lage: But not when the drought started. 

McLean: Well, of course if you look at it from a drought condition, you 

still could have used the Rock Slough supply. This probably would 
have precipitated the requirement for additional storage. 
Probably we would have built the Middle Bar Project, and we might 
even have built Buckhorn and Pinole Reservoir. 

Lage: It would have forced--? 

McLean: Yes. 

Lage: What about the Los Vaqueros Reservoir? 

McLean: I have always been in favor of the district participating in that. 

Lage: That was the Contra Costa Water District reservoir? 

McLean: Yes. They are going ahead with that. 

Lage: And do they want the district to help build that? 

McLean: Yes. 

Lage: And then share it? 

McLean: We gave them some money. I seem to have the figure of around 

$100,000 that we gave them to participate in the studies. I've 
always been in favor of the district participating. It's Just 
another source of supply in an emergency, if EBMUD ever got into a 
situation where we had some problems of supply. I've always felt 
that a large agency such as the district ought to have alternate 


sources of supply. Things can happen. Normally nothing is going 
Co happen; the aqueduct has held up for fifty years or more. But 
it's always good to have another source of supply. Los Vaqueros 
would have been that. I've always felt that the district should 
have participated in it to the extent of 150,000 or 200,000 acre 
feet. It does pose problems for the district to use that water. 
But in an emergency you use whatever is available. 

Lage: It's not of good quality? 

McLean: It is not as good a quality as the Mokelumne or American River 

supplies. However, the operation of Los Vaqueros Reservoir is to 
obtain the water from Rock Slough when there are peak flows-- 
during the wintertime when the water has much less salinity, when 
you have less sodium in it- -and then store it, which is good. 
It's a good deal. The problem the district [EBMUD] would have 
using this supply is that if they wanted to supply the aqueduct 
system, you have to recognize that the Walnut Creek, Lafayette, 
and Orinda filter plants do not have sedimentation basins. 

Any use of the delta water, taking water out of the delta or 
out of Rock Slough, you have sedimentation problems. So to use 
water from Los Vaqueros Reservoir, you'd have to build a 
pretreatment plant to reduce the turbidity of the water. Contra 
Costa may have to do that. You'd have to build a pretreatment 
plant large enough to take care of the capacity of Walnut Creek, 
Lafayette, and Orinda filter plants. Those plants now take the 
water directly off of the aqueducts. The turbidity in Pardee 
Reservoir is practically zero less than tenwhereas the delta 
water is very high. 

Lage: So there are a lot of problems? 

McLean: There are problems with the use of a supply from Los Vaqueros, but 
our district serves 1,250,000 people. Accordingly, you've got to 
have means to obtain an additional supply. I've always said we 
need the American River supply. We need the American River supply 
for emergencies and also for our future water supply. 

Lage: Is the quality of the American River water better? 

McLean: The reason we chose the American River water is that it has the 
same high quality as the Mokelumne River. That can be taken 
directly into the aqueduct system and the three filter plants east 
of the hills. 

Anyway, I have always been in favor of Los Vaqueros, and I 
hope the new board will participate in Los Vaqueros Reservoir 
with Contra Costa Water District. 


Lage: It's not a decided issue yet, then? Is it still ongoing? 
McLean: As far as I know. I don't think there's any definite agreement. 

The Vet Weather Prolect 

Lage: I also wanted to get your comments on the wet weather project. 

McLean: The wet weather project now is pretty well underway and nearing 

Lage: Did that have conflicts or problems associated with it? 
McLean : No . 

Lage: It's designed to end the frequent overflows of raw sewage into San 
Francisco Bay during storms, is that right? 

McLean: The north and the south interceptors were built for just the 

regular wastewater flow to the year 2000. That's the way they 
were sized, based on our studies. Because of old city sewers and 
many, many cases of building roof downspouts and drains being 
connected to existing sewers, we had a tremendous infiltration 
problem. That infiltration problem, which occurs in many of the 
older sewers, exceeds in many cases several times the capacity of 
the interceptor sewers. 

Lage: So the rain flows directly into the sewers, is that the idea? 

McLean: Yes, that's right. The excess water goes into the interceptors. 
Consequently we had to provide for the excess flow, because the 
treatment plant couldn't handle the excess. You reach the 
capacity of the sewer and the treatment plant. We had to 
construct overflow structures where we intercepted many of the 
large city outfall sewers; Fruitvale Avenue was one, there was one 
at the Embarcadero , and there were another two or three sewers 
from Berkeley. 

When you had a severe rainstorm, a heavy storm, you would get 
all of the water from the city sewer lines, and the interceptor 
would overflow into the bay. We would have discharges into the 
bay of raw sewage several times a year. It was untreated sewage 
with all the rainwater flowing into the bay from these overflow 
structures . 







Because of the Clean Water Act, EBMUD was issued cease and 
desist orders to stop the overflows. There is a fund, called 
Super Sewer Fund, to permit the district to go ahead with what is 
known as the Vet Weather Program. 

Is that federally funded, then? 

That's federally funded, and the state of California also 
participates. I think 75 percent is federal, 12.5 percent is 
state, and then a similar amount is from the local entity. The 
district has then gone ahead with the Wet Weather Program, which 
is now nearing completion. In addition, the cities have also had 
to repair many of their large collecting sewers. There's the 
Foothill Sewer and also the Grand Avenue sewer, where they had to 
replace the old sewers because of the poor condition and 
infiltration. Previously these sewers (twenty-seven of them) all 
discharged into the bay, and the infiltration was not a problem. 

Why does the city pay for those rather than the district? 

Well, because these are city sewers. The ones contributing to 
this infiltration were some of the very large sewers in the city, 
where ground water seepage and rainwater entered where joints were 

So those are owned by the city and not by the district? 

That's right. They were built by the various cities, and each 
city was responsible for them. The cities are responsible for the 
water entering the interceptors. This is why we had to build the 
Fruitvale retention basin near the coliseum. Storm water is 
retained in the basin until the main treatment plant can handle 
the flow from the retention basin. The excess flow goes into the 
retention basin, is released into the sewer after the storm has 
passed, and flows in the interceptor get back to normal. Then you 
can treat the water and discharge it out through the regular 
outfall. All of this work is under construction. They have a 
contract that was just awarded recently for the Point Isabel 
plant. The Point Isabel plant is going to handle all the flow 
from the north. The retention basin being built at the wastewater 
treatment plant is the one that was supposed to be constructed in 
the Emeryville area. 


There seemed to be a controversy about where that should go . 
me about that. 


Well, it was originally designed to be put in the area near the 
Judson Steel Company in Emeryville, right near the Bay Bridge 
interchange structure. 


Lage: Where 880, 80, and 580 all come together? 

McLean: Yes, where 580 and all of them come together. To the right hand 
side of that there's a piece of vacant property that I think used 
to belong to the Key System or Santa Fe railroad. It was an 
excellent site for the storage basin, because the north 
interceptor goes by the west side of the property. The advantage 
of this location was that when the north interceptor was full, 
with the surplus wet weather flow coming in, it would flow into 
the basin. Then after the storm had passed, it could be released 
into the interceptor to enter the treatment plant. 

Mary Warren was against the location because she said that 
the city of Emeryville expected to develop that area as a bio 
plant. Nancy Nadel stirred up the neighbors to the south of the 
area, so they protested to the district. 

Lage: Did it have some odors associated with it? 

McLean: No, these wet-weather basins are covered; there's no odor. This 
particular one would have been covered and landscaped. In fact, 
at one time they considered using the roof of it for a parking 
area. Because of the opposition from Emeryville and the 
neighborhood to the south, they forced the district to construct 
it at the treatment plant. The basin has been built in an area at 
the treatment plant that was needed in the future to expand the 

This change of location cost an additional $12 million or 
more to move it over to the treatment plant site. And the real 
problem is that it has taken up space that ultimately will be 
needed for the plant itself. 

Lage: So that was another issue that you lost? 

McLean: That was another issue that I lost. I fought for putting it over 
in Emeryville, and so did Skaggs ; but Mary Warren and Nancy Nadel 
were against it. I don't remember who else was against it. 
Anyway, the board voted to go to the treatment plant. I was very 
much disappointed, because I think it was a mistake to occupy the 
limited space at the treatment plant. That space will be needed 
in the future for additional facilities of the wastewater 
treatment plant. 

Lage: Is there anything to say about the composting project? Finding a 
market for that sludge? 


McLean: They only compost a small portion of the sludge, but it has been 
very successful. They have always found a very ready market for 

Lage: Why do they only compost a small part of it? 

McLean: Because there is no demand. In other words, we're about meeting 
the supply and demand. In the Central Valley we'd have a larger 
market, but our market here is limited basically to local 
landscape organizations. I use the compost; I can show it to you 
in all my flower beds . Through one of the local nurseries here , I 
think I have bought twelve to sixteen yards of it. But it's a 
supply and demand situation, and so far I don't think the market 
has expanded much beyond the district's boundaries. It's an 
excellent material for mulch. It keeps the weeds down and saves 
on water. I think if the district was located in an area where 
you had a larger market, it would be all right. They've expanded 
some, but they are limited also in space when it comes to handling 
it at the site. But with the amount of tonnage that comes from 
the plant daily, it's difficult to process all of the sludge. 

More on the Need for Middle Bar Dam and Buckhom Reservoir 

Lage: The next topic I've written down here was hydroelectric plants. 
We talked about Middle Bar. 

McLean: Yes. We were looking forward to proceeding with the construction 
of Middle Bar project. At that time the district was threatened 
with a lawsuit from Amador County. We also had protests from the 
white water rafters, and there were local protests against the 

Lage: What about Railroad Flat? Was that a similar problem? 

McLean: Railroad Flat, that's a small project, and it wasn't the most 
viable project. Had we built Middle Bar- -there were many 

Lage: Middle Bar was a big project. 

McLean: Middle Bar was a big project. It was a high dam located at the 
headwaters of Pardee Reservoir, at the upper end of Pardee 
Reservoir. It would have provided many benefits which I felt were 
essential in addition to the water supply. It would have given us 
a high pool in Pardee where we could obtain maximum gravity flow 
in the aqueducts at all times. 


Lage: So it was for water supply as well as for hydroelectric power? 

McLean: Yes. The Middle Bar project would have controlled the full flow 
of the Mokelumne River. The reservoirs that we have on the 
Mokelumne do not provide the full control of the maximum yearly 
peak flows. As far as the average flow is concerned, the present 
reservoirs are sufficient. But we have had some very tremendous 
floods. In '86 we had a peak year. We had over a million acre 
feet or about twice the mean annual flow in the Mokelumne River. 

The mean annual flow is about 750,000 acre feet, whereas the 
peak flow that we had during those floods was 1,200,000 acre feet. 


McLean: The PG&E reservoirs at Salt Springs and Lower Bear reservoirs hold 
about 150,000 acre feet. Camanche holds 420,000 acre feet, and 
Pardee will hold 210,000. So there was a surplus of several 
hundred thousand acre feet of water that went to waste. If you 
had Middle Bar reservoir, which would contain about 400,000 acre 
feet, you would be able to store that water to carry over into 
drought periods. 

Lage: If you had that, would you not need Buckhorn? 

McLean: You need Buckhorn. Don't confuse Buckhorn Reservoir with the 
Mokelumne River storage. You need Buckhorn for local storage. 

Lage: But I thought that was to get wet weather water. 

McLean: That is intended for the American River water supply. The reason 
you need Buckhorn Reservoir is because you have to have some 
storage for the American River water because of Judge Hodge's 
decree regarding the time that the district can take that water. 
You can take American River water for use here within the district 
only for a short period of time, from about April 1 to July 1, 
when there is surplus flow in the American River. In order to 
store 150,000 acre feet of water, you've got to have storage for 
that water, because all of the other district reservoirs would be 
full or filling. 

Lage: But if you have the Middle Bar, would you need the American River 

McLean: Oh, absolutely. 

Lage: It's not enough even if you control the full flow of the Mokelumne 


McLean: You need Buckhorn for local storage. In the event of a failure of 
the aqueducts across the delta or a failure of the tunnels. 
Additional storage is needed for the distribution system, both 
east and west of the East Bay hills. Pardee or Middle Bar 
reservoirs don't serve the distribution system. If you have a 
failure on the aqueducts, you've got to have local storage to 
carry over until the aqueducts can be repaired. 

Problems vith the South Soillvav of Far dee Dam 

McLean: The benefits from Middle Bar- -there would be a high pool at 

Pardee. Maximum hydrogeneration. It alleviates the problems that 
we have with the south spillway. The south spillway at Pardee Dam 
has always been a problem. Every time you have an overflow at the 
Pardee spillway, debris that is washed from the hillside at the 
base of the spillway blocks the main channel below the dam. It 
stops the hydrogeneration. The last time we had an overflow was 
way back in the sixties. That time it completely blocked the 
river below the dam and flooded the powerhouse. It took us four 
or five months to remove all the debris from the river at the base 
of the dam and open the river channel . 

Lage: Was that a problem with the original engineering concept? 

McLean: It is a problem, yes. Many studies have been made to correct the 
condition, and all are very costly. But we have taken the risk 
instead of actually correcting it. Every time there is an 
overflow, even a small flow, it washes the hillside and keeps 
sliding the debris into the river. We should have built a 
different type of a spillway, but we've lived with it. 
Fortunately, we've been able to control the river over many years. 
Since Pardee Dam and spillway were built we've had about three 
spills in which the river was blocked below the dam.' If we ever 
get the maximum storm flow that the spillway was designed for-- 
120,000 cubic feet per second- -you'd have a real problem on your 
hands, and you could have a problem with the safety of the dam. 

Pardee is a concrete arch gravity dam. Every dam, whether it 
is an earth-filled dam, a concrete dam, or a gravity dam, has to 
have a means to relieve hydrostatic pressure under the base of the 
dam. To prevent that pressure, we have a drainage system within 
the dam itself. Earth- filled dams and concrete dams have drainage 
systems. In the base of Pardee Dam there is a series of pipes to 
intercept all of the seepage from the reservoir and convey the 
water to the stream channel below the dam. This drainage system 
is located near the upstream base of the dam and extends across 


the base and the abutments, 
system is measured daily. 

The amount of water flowing from the 

Lage : Does it flow into the spillway? 

McLean: It flows out into the river. If you get a high tail water on the 
base of a dam where that pressure is not relieved, you get an 
uplift pressure on the base of the dam. And from that can come a 
dam failure. 

Lage: So if the spillway is blocked, that would occur? 

McLean: If the river is blocked and the drainage system cannot function, 
then you get uplift pressure on the base of the dam, and you have 
a failure. The famous dam that failed, the St. Francis Dam near 
Los Angeles that was designed by the Department of Water and 
Power, had this same problem. In this case the center of the 
concrete dam actually tipped upstream, and the entire dam 
collapsed, sending a wall of water down the canyon. There were 
nearly three hundred people killed. 

Lage: I think you told me about that. 

McLean: The failure of the St. Francis dam in 1929 was due to uplift 
pressure under the base of the dam. 

Lage: So is that something you suggested be corrected at Pardee? 

McLean: Oh, yes, absolutely. This is one of the problems that I have 
mentioned to the engineers, because they're planning to raise 
Pardee Dam forty feet or more. If they raise the dam as planned, 
they will have to provide for a new spillway and abandon the 
present spillway. That will prevent further erosion of the hill 
at the end of the present spillway and any further blockage of the 

Lage: Do they agree with this? Are they listening? 

McLean: They listened to me; I don't know whether they've agreed with me. 
The location of a new spillway will be a problem if they proceed 
with raising Pardee Dam. The south abutment is another problem. 
Originally Pardee was designated as an arched dam. After the 
contract was awarded for the construction, exploration of the 
south abutment showed serious faulting of the rock. As a result, 
the design was changed to an arched gravity dam. During 
construction, the south abutment was grouted very extensively with 
cement grout to fill the seams in the rock. A new spillway and 
the foundation for the south abutment will be real problems if 
Pardee Dam is raised. 


Other Issues: Fluoridation. Watershed Rangers. Watershed 

Lage: Shall we turn to some side issues that seem to occupy the board? 
One would be fluoridation. Did you get in on that? 

McLean: Yes. I was on the board when the fluoridation issue came before 

Lage: Did the board take a stance on that? 

McLean: Yes, the board agreed to go ahead with the fluoridation. 1 think 
that was the one of the few issues where the district actually 
agreed with the public. 

Lage: Was there public pressure? 

McLean: There was considerable public input on fluoridation 

Lage: Was it on both sides of the issue? 

McLean: On both sides, yes. We had both the pros and cons, and I think 

from all the testimony and letters that we had, the board decided 
to put the fluoridation issue on the ballot for the consumers of 
the district to vote on it. 

Lage: Did it go to a vote? 

McLean: Yes. It went to a vote of the people, and they voted for the 
fluoridation [November 5, 1974). 

Lage: That really is public input. 

McLean: Yes. I think it was unanimous on the board that we would put it 
up to a vote of the people, and the people voted for it. 

Lage: Did you have a personal opinion about it? 

McLean: I've always been kind of neutral. I've always felt that there are 
other means to accomplish fluoridation. Actually, it's the 
younger generations who benefit most from it- -that is, the 
youngsters up to the age of fifteen. I have never believed that 
you should subject an entire population to benefit a few. You 
have fluoridated toothpaste and other means that are just as 
beneficial, rather than going through not only the cost of 
fluoridating the water supply but subjecting the entire population 









to It when it doesn't do the older generation any good. Although 
fluoridation doesn't cost very much, it is a cost additive. Why 
subject a public water supply to an additional cost when the 
benefits are only for a small portion of the population? 

But you did feel that going along with the public vote was a good 
way to resolve it? 

Oh, yes. Sure. I think that was one of the logical ways to do 

You mentioned you were on the liaison committee with the East Bay 
Regional Parks. 


And I saw reference in the minutes to a lot of controversial 
things about watershed rangers. I didn't quite understand what 
all that was about. 

One of the first issues we had was the arming of EBMUD rangers. 
The district has always patrolled the watershed lands. We still 
do; we still patrol them. But the district rangers not only did 
maintenance, they devoted a lot of time to patrolling and looking 
for trespassers and unauthorized persons in district lands. 

Were they unarmed originally? 
They were unarmed originally. 
When did they decide it was necessary to arm? 

1 forget the exact date, but the rangers felt they had to be armed 
for their own protection. 

I saw it mentioned first in the minutes in 1982. 
about right? 

Does that sound 

Yes, I think that's when it was, about '82. The board began to 
take a pretty hard look at their request to carry firearms, 
because then they really became peace officers. In discussing the 
issue, we found that the board of directors would be personally 
responsible for the action of the district's rangers. If one of 
the rangers got into an argument and shot somebody, the board of 
directors would have been personally responsible. There was some 
lengthy discussion on this subject between the rangers, staff, and 
the board of directors. 

Lage: It srmnded like there was a lot of public input on that issue. 


McLean: Yes, there was. 

Lage: Vere people for or against it? 

McLean: Most of the people were against the rangers having firearms. They 
were against arming any of those people. There was a lot of 
controversy in regard to the need for firearms . 

Lage: Was it the staff that felt they should be armed? 

McLean: No, the staff took a neutral position on it, but the rangers 

themselves wanted to carry the firearms for their own protection. 

Lage: I see. They felt the need. 

McLean: They felt that they needed the additional protection. In case of 
a confrontation with a hunter who was carrying a gun, they would 
be unarmed. Every once in a while you have people poaching and 
hunting deer and other game on the district's properties. The 
rangers tried to give us this story about confronting a hunter 
with a gun, they would have no way of protecting ourselves, and 
they would be killed. That, of course, was a good argument. 

Lage: How was it resolved? 

McLean: Actually, there is a duplication of services between ourselves and 
the regional park district. All of the district lands really are 
contiguous to or more or less integrated with the regional park 
district. The regional park district has a regular police force; 
their people are regular policemen. They have a helicopter and a 
short-wave radio for instant communication, and they are on duty 
full time. Finally it was resolved by having an agreement with 
the park district that they would do all of our patrolling and 
emergency response where they could dispatch the helicopter for 
emergencies. That's the way we finally resolved it, by turning 
over all of police patrol duties to the regional park district. 

Lage: Did they then take on your watershed rangers? 

McLean: Well, some of the rangers went to the park district. They took 
those who wanted to do only the armed patrolling. We gave them 
the opportunity to transfer. I do not remember how many of them 
transferred; perhaps there were a half dozen of them who elected 
to go to work for the regional park district. The remainder of 
the rangers stayed, and they still patrol the district's watershed 
lands , but they are unarmed . 

Lage: And then they call in for help if they need it? 


McLean: Yes. Well, they're at the San Pablo and Lafayette recreation 

areas, and they do maintenance work as necessary. They are not 
permitted to carry any firearms. They no longer have the policing 
duties; that has all been taken over by the park district. 

Lage: Was that satisfactory to the populace? 

McLean: It's worked out very well. Of course, the district people can 
call in the regional park district for a police officer or the 
helicopter if needed. Mary Varren and I were on the liaison 
committee with the park board, and we met about every couple of 
months to review the costs. It worked out very well; I think it's 
a good arrangement. 

Lage: Any other areas that you had to work on in that committee? 

McLean: No, that was basically it. We did have some discussions in 

reference to particularly the properties along Redwood Road that 
drain into the Upper San Leandro Reservoir. Some of them are 
contiguous to the park district, and some of them are contiguous 
to the EBMUD district. There's always been a problem of 
contamination from the dwellings. Both districts have an 
agreement that whenever the opportunity would occur, either the 
regional park district or the water district would buy the land 
and get rid of the residence. There's a good-sized population 
living in there, and all of the residences have septic tanks. Any 
effluent from the drainage fields flows into San Leandro 

Lage: Are we talking about the little community of Canyon? 

McLean: It's the Canyon community. That has always been a problem. The 

district always had a policy that whenever any of those properties 
were available, the district would buy them. I don't know how 
successful we've been through the years, but some have been 
acquired. That community has been a nuisance not only to the 
regional park district but also to the EBMUD district. There were 
horse stables also, but the horse stables are all gone now. 
Recently the park board bought an old stable area there. 

Over the years both districts have had the policy of 
eliminating or getting rid of any property within the drainage 
basin of the district's reservoirs. 


Fi thing and Boating on District Reservoirs 

Lage: You've mentioned fishing at the reservoirs. When did the policy 
to allow fishing on the reservoirs come about? 

McLean: The East Bay Water Company and the district [EBMUD] had a policy 
of no fishing in any of the reservoirs. There was a bill that 
went through the legislature to open the district's reservoirs for 
fishing in the fifties, before I came on the board. Staff and 
management discussed this for a long time, and finally we 
recognized that we would have to agree to it and provide access. 
After I finished the wastewater project, one of the first 
reservoir recreation projects I worked on was Pardee. There we 
received money from the state fish and wildlife fund. That was to 
provide a boat launching rarap and the means of access, sanitary 
facilities, water supply, and facilities for opening Pardee 
Reservoir for fishing [opened to the public in 1958). Then we 
opened up San Pablo [1973]. We did very few improvements at San 
Pablo. There weren't many improvements required, because that was 
leased to a concessionaire, and the concessionaire provided most 
of the facilities. The district did some of the workbuilt the 
access road and picnic areas and a few other facilities. At 
Lafayette Reservoir we constructed all the facilities, including a 
beautiful building. District personnel operate the Lafayette 
Reservoir recreation area, and it is used largely by people from 
the local communities [opened 1966]. 

Lage: Without a concessionaire? 
McLean: Without a concessionaire. 
Lage: How does that compare with San Pablo? 

McLean: Well, of course, it's a much smaller reservoir. It does get a 
tremendous amount of usage, particularly from Lafayette, Orinda, 
and Walnut Creek. 

Lage: And the district manages it all right? 

McLean: Yes, the district has done all right in the management. However, 
you have to understand that none of these recreation areas have 
ever been money makers. I don't know how much is in the budget 
this year, but the district normally contributes about $5 million 
or more annually to these recreation areas. 

Lage: So they don't even break even? 
McLean: They don't even break even. 


Lage: So you consider it a public relations asset? 

McLean: That's basically what it is, public relations. San Pablo and 
Lafayette are used extensively. A lot of the people come from 
different areas. Lafayette is used mostly by local people; Pardee 
is used considerably by people from Stockton, Sacramento, Lodi, 
and those areas. It gets heavy use during the summertime. 

Problems vith Recreation at Camanche Reservoir 

McLean: Camanche Reservoir [opened 1966] has been a kind of a problem 

because of the drought years and the low water. Originally it was 
leased out to two concessionaires- -one for the north and another 
for the south. They built all the improvements. Because of the 
lack of attendance, they finally reached the point where they were 
nearly bankrupt a couple of years ago. The district finally had 
to take them over. Now we lease all the facilities to 
concessionaires . 

Originally there was a tri- county board composed of Amador, 
Calaveras, and San Joaquin counties to oversee the Camanche 
recreation area. 

Lage: 1 see. So you had the other counties involved? 

McLean: We had the three counties in it originally. They wanted to 

participate, and we turned that over to the tri-county board. The 
facilities were all leased out to concessionaires, and they built 
most of the improvements. Because of several years of drought 
that we've experienced and the low water, attendance has declined. 
The other thing is that the summers are so hot at Camanche that a 
lot of the people from the valley go to the mountains; they go up 
to Strawberry, Lake Tahoe, and Silver Lake. 

Lage: To get away from the heat. 

McLean: To get away from the heat. Consequently, Camanche Reservoir is 
more or less left out during the heavy usage. Also, the water's 
been so low recently that there is no way to launch boats . Use at 
Camanche Reservoir recreation area has been rather limited. When 
the reservoir was full, there was a lot of use. But it never was 
enough to repay the original costs for constructing the 
facilities. Finally it got to the point where the concessionaires 
could not continue, so the district had to take it out of their 
hands . 


The district has had to put quite a bit of money back into 
the various facilities. The restrooms were all going to pieces; 
they hadn't maintained them. Some of the toilets were not 
functioning, windows were broken--. 


McLean: The district has had to take care of the maintenance which the 

concessionaires had neglected to do. Consequently there has been 
a considerable additional expense the last couple of years on 
Camanche. Whether it will ever be a tremendous success is hard to 
say, particularly if the drought continues. 

Boaters used to do a lot of water skiing on Camanche, which 
is not permitted on Pardee Reservoir or any of the local 
reservoirs. Camanche Reservoir was ideal for water skiing when it 
was full; it has a large surface area that is excellent for 

Lage: You don't worry about the affect of boating on the water quality? 

McLean: Camanche is not used for a public water supply. Camanche was 

built to store water for the Woodbridge Irrigation District, the 
riparian owners along the river, and the Woodbridge Water Users 
Association, which had prior water rights on the Mokelumne River. 
The district does not take any water from Camanche. All of EBMUD 
water comes from Pardee. This is why we prohibit water skiing and 
swimming at Pardee . 

Lage: Is Pardee big enough for speed boating? 

McLean: Yes, Pardee would be large enough. But it's prohibited there 

because of the potential risk of polluting the water. Camanche 
was for irrigation only. Prior to constructing Camanche Reservoir 
we had to store enough water in Pardee to take care of the 
riparian owners, the fishery downstream, the Woodbridge Irrigation 
District, and all others who have rights to water from the river. 
Today the river losses are such that in order to get the full 
entitlement to the people downstream, we have to nearly double the 
flow that is released from Camanche to the Mokelumne River. If we 
had to store this water in Pardee, there would be very little 
water left for the district's water supply. That's why we built 
Camanche Reservoir. When Camanche Reservoir is full, it holds 
water enough for nearly two years of supply for the irrigation 
districts and riparian owners. Camanche holds twice as much water 
as Pardee. Camanche holds 420,000 acre feet, where Pardee only 
holds 210,000. 



Instituting Affirmative Action Policies 








Let's talk just briefly about affirmative action. 

The board has always had a policy of affirmative action, and I 
believe that the district's affirmative action record was good. I 
resented very much- -one of the problems we had on this board was 
Helen Burke, Jack Hill, and Ken Simmons constantly advocating more 
minority participation in the district's contracts and work. 

Ken Simmons was a strong proponent of affirmative action. 

Ken Simmons was a strong advocate for the use of more minorities, 
particularly Afro -Americans . He always felt there should be a 
higher priority for minorities. Simmons always emphasized the use 
of more African-Americans, to the extent that he wanted to reject 
contracts if the contractor did not have the specified minority 

He was concerned about the policies of your contractors as well as 
the district. 

That's right. I have never felt that we should ever have a quota 
system. Everybody should be on an equal basis; in other words, 
qualifications should be the criteria, rather than saying you've 
got to hire a certain percentage of Asian Americans or other 

What viewpoint actually prevailed? Did you turn down contracts 
because of contractors' minority hiring records? 


McLean: I don't think there was ever a time when we rejected a bid or 

proposal because of affirmative action. Staff usually screened 
all bids and proposals and came in with a recommendation to the 
board. You see, the problems you have with contractors are 
different than hiring personnel. With the district you can 
establish a policy where you can employ people to conform to the 
affirmative action program. But with contractors you have to 
recognize that they do not have control over the people they hire. 
Most contracting organizations have a permanent staff of a fixed 
number of estimators, foremen, truck drivers, and office 
personnel. This is only a small portion of what they need when 
they go on a job. If they get a job from the district, whether 
it's an office building pipeline or whatever it happens to be, 
they go to the union hiring hall for the remainder of the 
personnel they need. 

Lage: And they take what is given them? 

McLean: They take whoever is sent to them from a list. They really don't 
have any choice. Whatever is sent out to them they have to take, 
if they are a union contractor. Trying to control the 
contractors' affirmative action virtually becomes an impossible 
task. When a contractor bids on a job, he will list minority 
firms as subcontractors. Every contractor today has a list of 
minority firms that they use. They can be Hispanic, women-run 
firms, Asian, Afro -American, or a combination. When the minority 
firms need electricians, plasterers, painters, roofers, pipe 
workers, welders or any other classification, they obtain them out 
of the union hall. They take whatever the union hall sends them, 
regardless of nationality. 

What Ken Simmons wanted was a quota system. The entire time 
I was on the board, Ken was always insistent about the role of the 
black community. He wanted to go to a system based on the 
population of the different races within the district. Because 
there was a high percentage of blacks, in the affirmative action 
program you would have X number of blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and 
native Americans. The board overruled Ken Simmons' proposal, but 
generally it was on a four-to-three vote, because Sandy Skaggs , 
Mary Warren, and I saw that we would have some real problems with 
the contractors' associations. 

Lage: Who on the board would have been your fourth vote? 

McLean: Ken Kofman and later John Gioia. But Ken Simmons, you couldn't 

make him understand. He, Helen Burke, Jack Hill, and Nancy, when 
she came on, were all oriented to hiring more Afro-Americans. 


Lage: Were they more concerned about blacks than about women, Hispanics, 
and Asians? 

McLean: Yes. Ken Simmons particularly was mostly for blacks. His idea 
was that you should have more blacks even with the district. 

District Employment of Minorities 

Lage: What about minority employment of district personnel? 

McLean: The district has done very well. I forget what the percentage of 
minorities is now. We received regular reports from Jerry 
Gilbert. We've never been up to what Ken Simmons thought we ought 
to be, but the district has a fairly good cross section of all 
minorities. Don Jackson, who is head of maintenance and 
operations, is outstanding. 1 believe he came from BART. Ruth 
Foster, who was secretary to the general manager, and Artis Dawson 
are both exceptionally fine people. They're all black and really 
highly qualified, which I think is excellent. My personal feeling 
is that anyone coming into the district should be on an equal 
basis and should be qualified. If they are qualified, I don't 
care whether they are black, Asian, Hispanic, or white. I think 
they've all got to meet the same qualifications. I have never 
been able to feel that because the district is a public 
organization there should be a difference between them and any 
outside organization. 

Lage: Do you think the district should make an effort to find the 
minority workers who are qualified? 

McLean: Absolutely. Well, the district has always had a recruiting 

program to find them, and I know there's been a terrible lack of 
Afro -American engineers. They are just not available. The 
greatest number of minority engineers come from Hispanics, Asians, 
Chinese, and Japanese. 

Lage: I didn't know so many Hispanics--. 

McLean: Oh, yes. We've had Hispanics; there are Hispanic engineers. I've 
worked with Hispanics in the private sector in the consulting 
business, and they're good. I think the Asians are tops, 
particularly the Japanese and the Chinese. Even in the private 
sector you'll find a lot of Asians. There are more Asians- - 
Japanese and Chinese- -and even East Indians. But few blacks. I 
only know of one black engineer, Jeff Milliard, who is now 
employed by the district. 


Lage: That makes problems recruiting, doesn't It? 

McLean: Yes. Veil, I don't know the reason, but they apparently don't 

have the technical background; there are very few in engineering. 
You'll find them in the business sector, but they're not in the 
technical field. 

Lage: Well, maybe it has to start down in the school level. 

McLean: Yes, that's where it starts. I think it starts right in the 

elementary schools and in the high schools. The district has even 
tried going to high schools to encourage them to take the 
engineering and mathematical subjects. They just don't seem to 
have the interest for the technical subjects. 

Difficulties of Bonding Minority Contractors 

McLean : 




1 think the district has had a good recruiting program, 
particularly with minority contractors. They have tried very hard 
to get minority contractors to submit proposals on district work. 
The big problem that many of the minority contractors have is that 
they do not have the bonding capability. They haven't established 
a good bonding experience, and they cannot get a faithful 
performance bond or other types required by the district 

Is this like an insurance policy for them? 

You see, on any public works contract you have to put up what they 
call a faithful performance bond. It's a bond that says you are 
going to complete that contract. If you don't complete that 
contract, the bonding agencies have to complete the contract. Not 
so much Hispanics , but when it comes to blacks , very' few are able 
to get bonding. 

Did Ken Simmons deal with this kind of problem? 
on how to deal with it? 

Did he have ideas 

He's never dealt with it, no, because I don't think Ken, to begin 
with, realizes what the problem is. In the private sector, in my 
consulting work, we did a job for the Oakland schools at one time. 
There were two or three minority (black) subcontractors who wanted 
to bid on the job. They went so far as to ask the Oakland school 
department if they wouldn't bond them. You really defeat the 
purpose of bonding if the agency does the bonding. 


Lage: Is it a state law? Is the bonding required? 

McLean: It's a state law that on any public work of this type you have to 
have a faithful performance bond. 

Lage: It oust be hard to get started- -to start up a contracting firm. 

McLean: That's right; you have to have gained a reputation and be well 

Lage: But how do you get a reputation when you are a new firm? 

McLean: That's always the big question. I guess the thing is to work long 
enough as a subcontractor under a contractor. The general 
contractor has to have the faithful performance bond. A 
subcontractor can work for another contractor unless the general 
contractor requires a bond of him. On many large jobs, if a 
subcontractor has a contract for one million dollars or higher, 
the general contractor may require a bond from him or some type of 
signed agreement that he will finish the work. If he doesn't 
finish the work, he has a bond that's responsible for completing 
the work. 

There have been a few large contracts, and one of them was 
the Caldecott Tunnel --the first Caldecott Tunnel. I believe it 
was Kaiser Construction Company that had the contract, and they 
had some real problems in that tunnel. They walked off the job, 
and the bondsmen had to finish the tunnel. 

Lage: That's not good for the reputation. 

McLean: True. But this minority situation--! read that the district, on 
some of these contracts, is encouraging minority contractors, 
women-owned organizations and particularly the Afro-American 
minorities, to bid on district work. This is the new board. The 
new board is very much oriented toward minority contracting. 

Lage: But it seemed that your board did a lot for minorities. 

McLean: True, we did a lot of work with them. We did everything we could 
to encourage them to bid on district work, but many minority 
contractors bidding on district work are unable to obtain a 
faithful performance bond. 


Comparable Vorth 







What about the issue of comparable worth? 
for women's jobs within the district. 

That's related to wages 

The district certainly looked at that problem. I have always 
believed in comparable worth. I've always believed that women 
should be paid for whatever type of work they do. If they work 
alongside a man, and they're both painters, they should be paid 
the same wage. However, you get into some gray areas when you 
start to compare, we'll say, an executive secretary with some 
other type of position. 

With a more laborer-type position? 

Yes, something like that. It's a little difficult to say, "The 
secretary should be paid as much as this person out in the field 
because they're both performing a skilled function." One is doing 
one type of work, and the other is doing another. That confuses 
me a little bit; I haven't been able to reconcile that. But I can 
say that where two people are doing similar types of work they 
certainly should be paid comparably. And I think the district has 
attempted to do that as much as possible. It is a little 
difficult to say that a secretary ought to be paid as much as a 
skilled automobile mechanic or similar situations. I have a 
little difficulty relating that theory of comparable worth. And I 
think the board also had that same problem. 

It presents more problems. 

I think we'll stop here, because we'll have to come back, and we 
might as well be fresh. 

A Controversial Contract Award Decision//// 
[Interview 10, August 20, 1991] 

McLean: In all of the years that I was on the board, most of our meetings 
finished by four -thirty or five o'clock. During the process of 
the award for the furniture and the partitions in the new 
building, there was a bid submitted by a black firm from Oakland. 
The bid they had submitted for the partitions and the furniture 


was about $600,000 lower than the next bidder. The reason for 
that was that they had not submitted their bid in accordance to 
the plans and specifications but on an entirely different type of 
furniture and partition. 

The result of it was that there was a large delegation from 
the community, comprised mostly of blacks, who were protesting the 
award to anyone other than the firm that had submitted this bid. 
It was a long session, with speakers from the Oakland community. 
Among them were Paul Cobb and a number of other prominent persons . 
The meeting went on for several hours. There were twenty-five or 
thirty speakers who got up and spoke before the board, and as a 
result it was getting into the evening hours. 

Finally the attorney, Bob Hadow, asked for a recess and a 
closed session to consider the bids. Mr. Madow told the board 
that they had only two alternatives: either award the contract to 
the next responsible bidder whose bid was based on the plans and 
specifications or reject all bids. Those were the only 
alternatives. We could not award the contract to this black firm 
that had submitted this lower bid, because the bid did not comply 
with the plans and specifications. 

Lage: Was it drastically different? 

McLean: Yes. It was an entirely different material and everything else. 
The board deliberated on the alternatives and then went back into 
regular public meeting. The board rejected all bids. I think it 
was close to nine o'clock that night before we got out of the 
board room. That is the latest board meeting ever during my 
tenure on the board. 

Lage: Why did the board decide to reject all bids instead of deciding to 
award it to the low bidder who was in conformity with the 

McLean: Well, the next bid was about $600,000 higher than the one that had 
been submitted by this other firm. I never liked to re-bid work, 
because it's just like playing poker. You've already revealed 
your hand, and you've told everybody about what the price is. 
However, we did reject all the bids. About three months later we 
received bids again on the same plans and specifications, and a 
Hispanic firm from Sacramento bid the job and was awarded the 
contract. I don't recall what their bid was in comparison to the 
previous bids, but as I recall it was more favorable than the 
original bid. 


That was one of the longest meetings we ever had. Sometimes 
the board meetings might go to six o'clock, but that was very 

Lage: What time did they begin? 

McLean: Always at 1:15. We'd start at 1:15, and then we'd go until we 

finished the agenda. Most of the time the meetings went rapidly. 
There were many times when we were finished by two or three 
o'clock in the afternoon. 

Value and Problems of Public Involvement in Board Policy 
Neighborhood Objections to Building Buckhom Dam 

Lage: You had a lot of meetings, I noticed in the minutes, that were 
public hearings and seemed to be pretty fiery. 

McLean: Yes, some of them, particularly when we were on the water 

management program. Most of those meetings were scheduled at 
night. We had one at the Oakland Center, another at the Kaiser 
building, and one in Walnut Creek. However, those were scheduled 
for seven or seven- thirty at night. The one we had in the Kaiser 
auditorium was a long session. The house was full, standing room 

Lage: Now, what was the issue there? 

McLean: That was in reference to the EIR [environmental impact report] -- 
that is , the water management plans . 

Lage: On the Buckhorn Dam? 

McLean: On Buckhorn Dam and Reservoir, yes. We really had a fiery session 
on that. 

Lage: Were both sides represented? 

McLean: Both pro and con sides were represented. There was a lot of 

opposition to Buckhorn Dam, particularly from the people in Castro 
Valley. Their protests were in regard to the traffic on Redwood 
Road. The study of traffic conditions is required by the EIR. On 
earth- filled dams you have a lot of imported material, what is 
known as drainage material. On the back of the dam there's a 
gravel drainage blanket for relieving the pressure on the dam. On 
the upstream face of the dam you have rip rap rock for slope 


protection. All that material had to be imported for Buckhorn 
Dam. Altogether it required a million tons or more of that 
material, and that has to be hauled in over roads during the 
construction period. Because of the Redwood School on Redwood 
Road, there was a tremendous amount of protest about the truck 
traffic . 

One of the things that was very interesting to me was that 
back in the late seventies we built the new Upper San Leandro Dam. 
The original San Leandro Dam [1926] was a hydraulic fill. The 
clay core of the hydraulic fill had never completely dried. Tests 
were made at the University of California when we studied the dam 
for seismic forces, and the tests showed that in case of an 
earthquake we could have had liquefaction in the core, and the dam 
might have failed. We had lived with this for many years. 

With San Pablo Dam, also one of the early hydraulic-fill dams 
(1919) , because there was ample room on the abutments we were able 
to reinforce the dam both on the upstream face and the downstream 
face. With Upper San Leandro Dam, because of the very narrow area 
where abutments for the dam were located, it was impossible to 
strengthen the upstream and the downstream face as we were able to 
do at San Pablo. Consequently, in order to provide the storage 
for the Upper San Leandro Reservoir, we had to go downstream 
between a quarter and one-half mile to a new site and build a new 

The interesting part about it is that this new dam had about 
the same quantities as the proposed Buckhorn Dam. At several 
meetings we had in reference to Buckhorn Dam, I questioned a lot 
of the people, particularly the principal of the Redwood School. 
First I asked him how long he'd been at that school, and I think 
he'd been there twenty years or something like that. I said, "Do 
you remember when we built Upper San Leandro Dam about seven or 
eight years ago? Do you remember all the hauling that occurred .on 
Redwood Road at that time?" He said, "No. I don't remember it." 
This was very interesting, because I questioned several people 
about this , and none of them remembered the trucking on Redwood 
Road during the period the dam was under construction. 

Lage : It was the same road? 

McLean: Yes. And all the quantities were virtually the same. We hauled 

continuously- -concrete, rock, and gravel- -and none of those people 
remembered. It proved to me that today, because we have these 
EIRs and public meetings, people imagine the negative things. 
Suddenly we have these waves of protest, many times brought about 
by a small group. When the new San Leandro Dam was built we 
didn't have to have the impact report and public hearings. 


Consequently, we went ahead and built the dam, and nobody paid any 
attention to the project. The environmental impact report process 
costs the taxpayers millions of dollars annually in preparation of 
the reports, public hearings, and delays to the work. Personally, 
I have felt it is a waste of time and money. 

Lage: As a board member, do you see the public hearing as a way to try 
to convince the public or a way to hear what the public is 

McLean: I've always believed that public meetings are good, but I think 

what actually is happening today is that people get all disturbed 
over something that really, if they didn't know about it, wouldn't 
even bother them. I don't know how you can overcome it, because 
our present EIR process requires public meetings and hearings. As 
soon as you get the public involved, then you have all this 
reaction. I certainly believe that public meetings are good to 
inform people of the project and to listen to their problems. 
After all, they are really shareholders, and they should know what 
the district is doing. However, it only takes half a dozen or 
less individuals among a group to arouse the people , and then 
yoil've got a whole wave of reaction against the project. This was 
proven to me very definitely on the Buckhorn-Castro Valley 
situation along Redwood Road. 

Lage : Were you able to make an impact by that kind of comparison that 
you put forth? Did people listen? 

McLean: No. Here was a dam that people didn't even know had been built. 
It was under construction for over two years, and we were hauling 
concrete, drain rock, and all kinds of material. There were 
trucks going up and down Redwood Road, and people paid no 
attention to them. But here you have a report that says there's 
going to be a truck every so many minutes, and right away they 
conjure up a large truck full of rock that will be traveling past 
their school and making noise. The traffic that goes past there 
day after day, you know, they don't pay attention to it. And they 
never paid any attention to it when we built the original dam in 
1979. I don't know the answer. I think public meetings are good, 
but sometimes they stir up a lot of problems that people really, 
if they didn't know about it, wouldn't pay attention to. 

Lage: It did seem, over your period on the board, that the level of 
public involvement increased. 

McLean: Absolutely. Helen Burke and particularly Nancy Nadel have always 
been great ones for public meetings. I certainly agree; I think a 
public meeting is good, but I believe that many times the final 
result is just the reverse to what we hope it would be. 


Lage: What is the hope? 

McLean: Many of the big projects that we've built- -Briones Dam was one, 
and many of the other large projects that we have built- -for 
Briones we had to haul large quantities of imported material, with 
trucks going back on forth on the San Pablo Dam Road. We never 
held public meetings on those. It was our Job to build the dams, 
tunnels, and pipelines for the public water supply, and we never 
held a public meeting. 

Objections to Adeline Yard and Lafayette Maintenance Center 

McLean: Once you get into public meetings, like cases like the Adeline 
office and maintenance yard, the north intercepter wet weather 
basin, and also the proposed East Area Center at Lafayette- -for 
all of those we held many public meetings, and the animosity, the 
resentment against these projects was stirred up by one or two 
individuals. In the Adeline situation we could have got by very 
well with only a negative declaration. 

Lage: What is the situation at Adeline Street [former site of EBMUD 
headquarters ] ? 

McLean: We could have got by with a negative declaration, which would have 
cost very little or nothing. An EIR was required because of the 
local protests, and as a result it has taken over a year to 
complete the report. The EIR has just been completed. 

Here is a situation where there has been a maintenance yard 
in this location since 1913. This was the maintenance 
headquarters for the former East Bay Water Company. These people 
are protesting about it because they don't want a maintenance 
center located there , even though all of that area is zoned 
industrial. There are a few houses around there, but they really 
don't belong there. These houses are remnants from a community 
that has become an industrial area. There's the Pacific Pipe 
Company and many other industries in the area. Breuners used to 
have a warehouse right across the street from the district office. 

The city of Oakland wants to purchase the district's Oakport 
property. That is land that the district owns, a part of which is 
used for pipe storage west of Highway 880, across from the Oakland 
Coliseum. The Coliseum wants to buy that for parking and other 
uses. It is too valuable for warehousing and pipe storage. I 
forget what the value of the property is, but I believe it is 
somewhere around five or six million dollars. 


The district has leased one piece to a large trucking company 
(Comozzi). Then we have a storage yard for pipe, hydrants, and 
other material . But the property is too valuable for pipe 
storage. They can realize a substantial sum of money from the 
sale. In addition, it is a poor location for storage facilities. 

At Adeline, with the maintenance people being able to move 
into what was formerly the headquarters office, a lot of the 
adjoining property can be vacated of the trailers and parking, and 
the area can be used for pipe, hydrants, and many other materials 
that we normally store at Oakport. Furthermore, the advantage of 
having the storage and all of the other facilities in one area is 
that it is the most accessible to the freeways. Also, you have 
all personnel in one location. Materials stored at Adeline are . 
needed everywhere in the distribution system. Trucks can come in 
there for material, travel to Richmond, to the South Area Center, 
or east to Lafayette and Walnut Creek; it's a good central 
location. Whereas Oakport is accessible to only one freeway, 
which is very heavily traveled at all times. 

Lage: But, again, we're talking about public input. 

McLean: That's right. 

Lage: Is the public in the neighborhood of Adeline a problem? 

McLean: Yes. The people in the Adeline area are opposed to a maintenance 
yard. I believe Nancy Nadel generated this, because she lives in 
Vest Oakland, and the people there have protested having a 
maintenance yard at this location. This has been a maintenance 
area for seventy-odd years; this was the maintenance headquarters 
of the former East Bay Water Company, and it hasn't changed. All 
we did was buy the property across the street and build an office 
building. The maintenance yard, which takes in that entire block 
between Adeline and Magnolia, has always been used for that 
purpose. We could have got by very cheaply with a negative 
declaration. Instead, we have to go through an EIR with the 
public hearings, which has cost the district more than the 
negative declaration. 

Lage: But you don't think the EIR was required by law? 

McLean: We could have gotten by with a negative declaration. It was not 
required by law because there already was a maintenance center. 
That's the same as with Lafayette. 

Lage: Yes, what happened at Lafayette? 


McLean: We had a maintenance center at Lafayette as early as 1929. 


Lage: Was it near the reservoir? 

McLean: At the time the Lafayette Reservoir was built, we had a 

maintenance center north, across the street from the reservoir. 
That was the headquarters for the division that handled the 
maintenance of the aqueducts from Lafayette to Indian Slough in 
Contra Costa County. We had both a maintenance building and a 
storage building. The headquarters office was near the base of 
the dam. Now the people in the Lafayette area don't want it at 
this location. There is a costly lawsuit against the district to 
determine whether the district, under the Utilities District Act, 
has to obtain permission from a city in order to build a 
maintenance facility. 

Lage: So you wanted to build a new facility on the same ground? 

McLean: We wanted to build a new facility in the Lafayette water treatment 
plant area. We have a large available area, and we want to build 
the maintenance facilities there. That is the most economical 
location, according to the district's studies, as far as ingress 
and egress to the service area. The district conducted a series 
of studies to determine the most feasible location. We studied 
sites in Danville and Walnut Creek. At present the district has a 
very small area in the center of Walnut Creek, but that is not 
large enough for present and future needs . 

Lage: How did the board line up on that? It is a very different 
community from the Adeline community. 

McLean: The board as a whole voted to go ahead with the Lafayette Center, 
after all the studies and the EIR showed it was the best location. 
The result was that the city filed a lawsuit against the district 
to prevent the district from building the maintenance facility. 
The suit was settled in favor of the city of Lafayette, pending an 
appeal by the district. 

The district has been courteous by going to the city, having 
a public hearing, and meeting with the planning committee. Then 
we get all these protests from the people. It is costing the 
district millions of dollars annually just because of these 
situations. Many years ago, when I first came to the district, we 
went ahead and built the project. We got the necessary building 
permit and proceeded with the work without all the cost of EIRs, 
public hearings, etc. 

Now, you can say this is good, or it's progress. I sometimes 
question whether it's really necessary, because the cost of all of 
this is coming out of the taxpayers' pockets. The EIRs on any one 
of these projects is costing the district millions of dollars. 


Lage: Before the EIR requirements, when you were designing and building 
new facilities, did you take into account the feelings of the 
neighborhood where you were working? 

McLean: We always notified the city and the residents in the immediate 

area. I'll give you a good example. When we built the north and 
the south interceptors on the wastewater project, we went down 
Wood Street. We had a wide, deep trench in. The first thing 1 
did, when we had the drawings and specifications complete and 
ready to go to out to bid, was to sit down with the Oakland city 
engineer, the fire department, and the police department. Those 
people were concerned about traffic, fire access, and police 
protection. We held many meetings about their concerns. We 
learned what they wanted us to provide for crossings, etc, and we 
provided those facilities. We also notified the people living 
along Wood Street by sending letters to everyone as to when 
construction was going to be in progress. We never received any 

Lage: Did you make an effort to accommodate--? 

McLean: Absolutely. If someone needed a driveway access, we made 

provisions for them. Or we told them, if the street was going to 
be closed on such and such a date, that they should take account 
of this. We also sent notices to people of street closings and 
also had people contacting the residents daily if there was 
anything unusual going on. 

Costs of the EIR Process 

Lage: So you think you don't need the EIR process in order to be 

McLean: Well, it seems to me, having seen both conditions, that the 

environmental impact process has had the result of bringing people 
into a situation about which they know very little and having them 
become adversaries. It takes only one or two people to stir up 
the rest of the people on the situation, and the result is that we 
have an adversarial situation that creates a lot of problems. We 
built many large projects where we never had to prepare EIRs or 
hold public hearings. 


McLean: We never had a lawsuit on any one of the large projects, and some 
of those streets were really torn up. There was no access at all, 


because we were right in the middle of the street. Having worked 
in both eras --the non EIR and with the EIR- -maybe the EIR, the 
public meetings, and the public hearings and all are good. But I 
seriously question if we haven't gone to the other extreme. It is 
costing people millions and millions and delaying or stopping many 
projects that are urgently needed. 

Lage: It is costing a lot of money. 
McLean: Yes. 

The Long Overdue Administration Building in Oakland's Chinatown 

Lage: Okay, let's talk a little bit about the new administration 

building, which seems also to have been a bit of a controversy- - 

the location of the building, and now I understand there's some 
concern about the costs. 

McLean: I Have always believed that the district needed a building where 
everybody could be together. This building is long overdue. 
First, the building at West Grand and Adeline, which was built in 
1952, should have been built large enough for future growth or 
provisions made to enlarge it in the future. When it was built, 
it was not large enough to contain the full staff at that time. 
Also, it was in the wrong location. That area is an industrial 
area. I don't know why they chose that location. Louis Breuner 
was president of the board at that time, and the Breuner warehouse 
was right across the street. Whether this was an influence or 
not, I don't know. 

Furthermore, the building is on a concrete pile foundation. 
That location was an old arm of the San Francisco Bay. The pile 
foundation is not strong enough to sustain another addition. 
There is no elevator. It was a very frugal design. All of the 
furniture and equipment in that building had to be carried up and 
down flights of stairs, which to ray estimation was stupid. There 
was not enough space to contain the entire staff. There was no 
thought of future needs of the district. The minute they moved 
into that building, it was too small. 

I was always a strong advocate during my tenure on the board, 
of having a building located in the center of a transportation 
network where it was accessible not only by automobile but by mass 
transit. And the building should be large enough to take care of 
future expansion. Consequently, I was always a strong advocate 
for the new building. I was not entirely enthusiastic about the 


location that was chosen for this new building; I thought we 
should have gone further uptown, near the Kaiser Center. There 
was vacant property there, or we could have acquired suitable 
property. I felt that further uptown was an ideal location, but 
the board finally settled on the location in Chinatown as a result 
of the insistence, I think, of Mary Warren and Ken Simmons. They 
were strong advocates to get in the Chinatown area. 

Lage: In the redevelopment area? 

McLean: In the redevelopment area. Also the city of Oakland wanted us 

down in the redevelopment area, and we got the property from the 
city of Oakland. That was part of the idea of locating there. 

Lage: Was that choice itself a controversial one? 

McLean: Well, not too much. I don't think there was much discussion on 
it. I had my opinion on it; I don't know how Sandy Skaggs stood 
on it. My opinion was that we should have been uptown. I think 
it was a better location, although the transportation situation 
wasn't as good as it is in the redevelopment area. 


The redevelopment area is a good area for transportation. Of 
course, they didn't provide parking space for all the employees' 
cars. The unfortunate part of it is that there's been a very 
strong reluctance among a lot of the employees to use public 
transportation. Whether this transition will take place is hard 
to say. Personally, if I were working as a staff member there, I 
think I would ride BART or other public transportation. 

Lage: Is it close to a BART station? 

McLean: Oh, it's right across the street from a BART station; it's about a 
block and a half from the Fourteenth Street BART station. 

Lage: It's just getting people accustomed to taking it. They weren't 
really accustomed to taking public transportation at the Adeline 

McLean: I have my office in San Francisco at 580 Market Street, and I'm 

right near the Montgomery Street BART station. You think I would 
drive over to San Francisco? I can go to the San Leandro BART 
station and catch the train, and I'm in my office in San Francisco 
in thirty minutes . 

But the trouble is, the people working for the district have 
become so accustomed to driving their cars and parking in that 
open area near the Adeline offices that's it's going to take a 
long period of time to change the habit. The result is that the 


district has contracted for a shuttle bus at a cost of $140,000 
per year to provide transportation for employees from 22nd and 
Adeline up to the new building. 

Lage: You mean they're going to park at Adeline and take--? 

McLean: They're going to park at Adeline and take a shuttle bus up there, 
and the district is paying for the shuttle bus. 

Lage: That does seem ludicrous. 

McLean: It's ludicrous in my estimation. There are key personnel who have 
district cars, and space has been provided for them. They also 
provide visitor space, but because of the cost of providing 
parking space in a building like this, it becomes prohibitive to 
provide for everybody who works for the district. The result is 
that a large percentage of the people have to park at 22nd and 
Adeline and take a shuttle bus to the main office. That will cost 
the district a substantial sum of money annually, and this is 
going to continue until they get the people divorced from their 
automobiles and taking public transportation. 

Lage: Were there other problems with the new building besides the 
parking? I think I heard about cost overruns. 

McLean: Well, there has been a large cost overrun, and I can't tell you 

why. There were delays, that's one thing. They got into a lot of 
hazardous material, but I think the city of Oakland is supposed to 
pay for the removal of the hazardous material under the building. 
But that delayed the project a lot. Then they had some damage due 
to the Loma Prieta earthquake. That dislodged some of the panels 
on the outside of the building and also some windows. They had to 
do some additional work on those items. The cost overrun I think 
has been ten or twelve million dollars. What the details on all 
of them are, I don't know. 

Regardless of the cost, I think the important issue finally, 
after sixty-nine years, is that the district has a building which 
is large enough for all of the staff and all of the people who are 
connected with the headquarters group. In addition to that, they 
at least have the communications systems and everything else all 
together in one place rather than having them scattered all over 
the country, you might say. In addition to that, there is ample 
space for expansion in the future --in other words, when the time 
comes . 

This building has only nine stories. It was supposed to have 
twelve stories, and they were going to lease out any vacant areas 
for office space. I am not sure of the reason, but they finally 


cut off the three top stories. Whether this was good or not, I 
would question. I don't think we can predict what the future 
holds and what might happen in the long run. As you know, there 
was talk for a long, long time of merging with the Contra Costa 
County Vater District. I sat on that committee for a long time, 
and we used to have regular meetings and talks about consolidating 
with Contra Costa. Whether that would be a good move, we don't 
know, but it might have been to the advantage of both agencies, 
because the areas are so contiguous. There might have been a real 
advantage to consolidate with Contra Costa. Also, at one time 
there were discussions of Hayward joining the district. 

Lage: And all this would require even a bigger building. 

McLean: The day may come when the additional space would be needed. At 
present, San Francisco now supplies Hayward. Hayward uses about 
25 to 40 million gallons a day. Hayward originally was going to 
come into the district, and then they decided to connect to San 
Francisco. The day may come when San Francisco is going to reach 
the limit on their water supply. If that time comes, I doubt they 
will continue to serve Hayward. At that time there's going to be 
a real demand for the district to serve them. 

Lage: It seemed from the minutes that there were people on the board who 
were opposed to the idea of a new building altogether. Is that 

McLean: Absolutely. Helen Burke, Nancy Nadel, and Jack Hill. 
Lage: Did they want to stay on Adeline? 

McLean: Jack Hill and Helen Burke were strongly opposed to a new building. 
They were very much opposed to it. 

Lage: What was their thinking? 

McLean: Well, I don't know. They said we should add to the building at 
the Adeline site, either build upwards or go outward. When you 
analyze that building, it was unsuitable to try to expand. Number 
one, there was no elevator. To get additional area, you would 
have to triple the capacity of the existing building. And how 
would you do it? You would have to enlarge horizontally, go out 
into the lot and build just two stories all the way through. You 
couldn't increase the height of the present building, because the 
foundation is not adequate for any additional stories. 

Furthermore, it's in a very poor location. It's isolated. 
The transportation is poor; you have no basic transportation to 
the area except buses. If you expanded horizontally, you would 


use up parking space, and therefore you isolate employees who 
drive to work. There might have been a few of them who would take 
the bus, but there are only one or two buses that serve that area. 
It was impractical to try to add to the present building and to 
take care of all the personnel that are needed. The new building 
consolidates the Oakland business office, the construction group, 
and those people who were scattered around in buildings in the 

People have never taken into consideration the lost time when 
they have to travel back and forth to the cafeteria or to a 
trailer or other building. We have never counted the lost time 
for people going from one area to another to meet with their 
supervisor or go to the cafeteria. This has cost the district 
millions of dollars over the years. 

Well, it was impossible to expand at the old site, and still 
there was strong opposition to the new building. Helen Burke 
never voted for a new building; she was opposed to it, and also 
Jack Hill. Nancy Nadel was also opposed to it. 

And as far as criticism about the overruns, I don't know too 
much about what they were, but we had a competent engineer on the 
project, and I'm sure all of the overruns have been carefully 
documented and can be justified, because if they couldn't be 
justified, why, they wouldn't be paid. This is not at all 
uncommon in projects, because many times you run into unforeseen 
difficulties. Foundation conditions are one of the most prevalent 
problems when it comes to construction work. You can never 
predict what your foundation conditions are going to be. 

Lage: So then if the contractor runs into foundation trouble, he's 
justified in adding on--? 

McLean: Oh, absolutely. Justified in what we call a change order. These 
are very common. Also, who knew that we were going to run into a 
lot of hazardous material at this office building? As I 
understand it, there had been a cleaning works and perhaps a 
gasoline station there, and when they commenced excavation for the 
parking areas, they found hazardous material. All that material 
had to be cleaned up and removed, and that delayed the general 
contractor. When a contractor is delayed, particularly if he is 
held up from proceeding with his work, he has a staff on the job, 
his office, trailer expense, telephone, overhead, and all of those 
items that he has to be compensated for. This is beyond his 
control. The sooner you get it cleaned up, then he can proceed 
with his work. All of those items create extra costs. 


Sandv Skaggs as EBMUD Board President 

Lage: Let me just change gears here for a minute. Give me some idea how 
you assess the role of Sandy Skaggs and his position as president 
for so long. 

McLean: Sandy, to my estimation, was one of the outstanding board 

presidents that the district ever had. I've always had a great 
deal of admiration for Sandy. I didn't always agree with him; 1 
think there were many times when we could have gone ahead with 
something, and he felt that, to get a majority of the board, we 
had to shelve it. But 1 don't recall many such cases. Sandy did 
an outstanding job; he carried out his board position as president 
very well, and we needed him. 

Lage: How did he handle what seems like a bit of animosity and certainly 
conflict on the board? 

McLean: Well, there were some clashes. Helen Burke and Sandy clashed many 
times. That was quite common, and I think Sandy handled it very 
well. He didn't clash with any of the other members. I think he 
clashed with Jack Hill on some occasions where there was 
disagreement, but most of the disagreement was between Helen and 
Sandy, and a lot of this was over public meetings, night meetings, 
and similar issues for which she was a great advocate. 

Helen was great for bringing in the public. I don't know 
what her background was or the reason for it, but she wanted the 
public involved in practically everything. Sandy and I disagreed. 
I've always felt that the more you get the public involved, the 
more problems you have . 

Lage: How did Sandy handle moving the meetings along when they got 

McLean: He would go right ahead with them. As I said earlier, most of our 
meetings were through by four or five o'clock at the very latest. 
We'd start promptly at 1:15, and we'd move right through the items 
very quickly. Usually there wasn't too much debate on the items, 
and they would go through. 

Lage: Was there an effort made to get a consensus position, or was the 

McLean: As a general rule, we had pretty good consensus. Although there 
were controversial issues and, as I say, a lot of the controversy 
we had was between Helen Burke and Sandy. 


Lage: I noticed there were a lot of charges back and forth of conflict 
of interest. 

McLean: Yes. Helen always charged Sandy of conflict of interest because 
of his relation to the Blackhawk development. 

Lage: What was his relation? 

McLean: He had been an attorney for some of those subdivisions in the San 
Ramon Valley. Helen always used to challenge him on conflict of 
interest, and he used to challenge Helen with conflict of interest 
because she worked for EPA [Environmental Protection Agency]; so 
there was a little controversy between the two of them. 

I have a great admiration for Sandy. He did an outstanding 
job. He took us through a period in which the district came out 
very well, and I don't think there were any issues that weren't 
solved properly. We accomplished a lot during the twelve years 
that I was on the board. 

Lage: How well or how closely did he work with Jerry Gilbert? 

McLean: He worked very close with Jerry. When I was vice president, we 

always had a breakfast meeting prior to the regular board meeting, 
usually at a small restaurant in Lafayette. We would go over all 
of the items, either the same day or the day before the meeting. 

Lage: Just you and Sandy? 

McLean: Sandy, Jerry Gilbert, and I. We'd go over the entire agenda for 
the meeting. 1 thought these meetings were good. I know that 
when Mary was vice president, she also attended the meetings. Ken 
Simmons was vice president, but I don't think he ever attended any 
of those meetings with Sandy. I attended every one while I was 
vice president; I was vice president three times while I was on 
the board. We went over what the issues were, whether there would 
be any controversy, and how we would handle it. I think this was 
very helpful, to go over the meetings agenda. In general, we had 
very little public input. 

Lage: Little public input on most issues? 

McLean: That's right. We had very little input on most issues. Oh, once 
in a while you would have someone appear before the board, but it 
was generally very short. Very rarely would we have any major 

Lage: So we remember the controversial things, but there was a lot that 


McLean: Yes, that's right. I thought Sandy handled meetings very well. I 
don't think we ever had any real problems as far as the meetings 
were concerned. 

The Board's Role in Labor Negotiations^/ 

McLean: Each time that labor contract negotiations were going on we met 
with the staff. We met with Jerry Gilbert and with the 
professional labor negotiators. It is my opinion that it is 
absolutely wrong for the board to become involved in labor 
negotiations . 

Lage : You mean actually the hands-on type of involvement? 
McLean: The hands-on type, which the present board did. 
Lage: They met with the--? 

McLean: Oh, absolutely. They met with the labor union, and I think that 
is absolutely wrong and should be avoided under all conditions. 
First, these negotiators are professionals; that is, the people 
representing the union, particularly the top people with the union 
who go into these negotiations, are professional people. These 
things are not new to them, where the board of directors are 
neophytes when it comes to negotiating with the professionals. 
The result was that the unions got practically everything they 
wanted. They got their 3 percent increases for the next three 
years and also benefits equal to 1.1 percent for the same period. 

Lage: I wonder why the board got involved this time? 
McLean: Because the labor unions elected these new people. 
Lage: Oh, they went out and--? 

McLean: I understand that the labor people went out and walked the 

precincts for them and contributed financially to their campaign. 

Lage : Which members were supported by labor? 

McLean: Nancy Nadel was supported by the union. Cohen, Flashman, and 
McKenney were all supported by the unions. That's absolutely 
wrong. The board is a policy-making board and should not become 
involved with union personnel; that is a staff Job. We had a 
hands -off policy. I think the board president should be censured 






for that. They should not have anything to do with the unions; 
that is not policy, that is getting down into the operations. 

In the minutes , the previous board seemed concerned with trying to 
improve relationships with employees. 

We were always concerned about improving relationships. I was 
very much in favor of that, and I think all the other board 
members felt the same. 

Was there a lot of animosity between management and labor? 

I think there was. There was some animosity between the top-level 
management and the unions . The unions made many demands . We had 
several issues that took place. One was in reference to a 
supervisor for the laboratory at the wastewater plant. They have 
three sections down there, as 1 recall, in the biology section of 
the lab. And no supervisor. Veil, there was a fellow there who 
was one of the top biologists or chemists, and Ually Bishop wanted 
to make him the supervisor over the other three units. 

The union very much opposed that arrangement, because every 
time you take a person out of the union ranks and make him a 
supervisor, then he's no longer under union control; he becomes 
the supervisor. Anytime there was any change to a supervisorial 
position, the union loses a dues-paying member. Ve had a lot of 
controversy in reference to this change. The union protested 
these promotions every time; there were lengthy discussions on it. 
However, the board went ahead with the staff recommendation, 
regardless of all the protests by the personnel of both unions. 
There was animosity between the board and the unions because of 

During the strike [May 1985], whenever we had a closed 
session on union relations it was only between the professional 
negotiator, staff, and ourselves; the board never met with the 
union negotiators, which this present board has done. I think 
it's absolutely wrong. Also, I see that the BART board is meeting 
with the unions. This is wrong. 

Now, what was Jack Hill's role? 
about Jack Hill. 

You were going to say something 

Jack Hill and Helen Burke were in sympathy with the union cause. 
Whenever we had one of these closed sessions in regard to the 
progress of contract negotiations, Jack Hill would meet with the 
presidents of the two unions and tell them everything that went on 
in the closed sessions. That violated his role as a board member. 
That was absolutely wrong. As a member of the board, I know the 


unions never approved my reelection. I appeared before them at 
each election and spoke to them, but they turned me down every 

Lage: So this was sort of routine, to go to them for an endorsement? 

McLean: Every time I was up for reelection, they requested that 1 appear 
before them for their endorsement. I answered their questions, 
but they never endorsed me. They endorsed my opponent every time, 
and they lost every time except this last one. 

The Board's Responsibility to the Public 

McLean: I have always felt that the board should never be beholden to the 
unions . A board member is there to serve the people and not the 
unions. That is the role of the board. 1 was elected by the 
people. Every one of the board members has been elected by the 
people. My duty is to the constituents of Ward 7 who elected me. 
I'm sure all of the board members felt that way. 1 can't answer 
for them all; I know Sandy and Mary Warren felt the same 
responsibility. I always believed that. I would not want to be 
beholden to the unions. 

1 felt that my role as a member of the board of directors was 
to see that the district carried out its function as a public 
agency --public water agency, public utility- -for the benefit of 
all the people within the district, to watch over the finances and 
see that rates were kept reasonable . Any money that was spent was 
well accounted for. I never at any time ever violated any travel 
regulations . 1 know that every one of the board members watched 
the expenses very carefully whenever we went to a meeting. I went 
back to Washington, D.C., once on business for the district with 
Sandy Skaggs and Mary Warren. I have gone to some of the 
waterworks meetings, but every time I went to one of these I was 
conscious of being a public servant. As such 1 watched my 
expenditures, my travel expenses. 1 can truthfully say that there 
wasn't at any time one nickel that wasn't spent on business. I 
went very few times while I was on the board. You can look at my 
expense accounts over the years, and they were the lowest of all 
the board members. 

I read in the newspaper the other day about some of the 
AC Transit board members who spent $32,000 on travel during the 
year. I just can't believe board members spending public money 
like that. I believe that a member who is elected by the people- - 
Sandy Skaggs, myself, and every other one of the board members-- 


has a duty ia to the people who elected him. I hold myself 
accountable for the expenditures of the district, and my job as a 
board member was to see that the district was run properly and not 
extravagantly and that everything was carried out in the most 
business-like manner possible. 

Lage: And you felt the board as a whole met that standard? 

McLean: Yes. 1 felt that Sandy Skaggs and Mary Varren and all of us were 
very conscious of that. What concerns me very much, though, is 
that this new board is oriented to the district's unions. 1 read 
in the board minutes where John Rohan, who's president of the 
local union, appears before the board and requests various 
concessions. This is wrong, to my estimation; these requests 
should come to the staff and not to the board. 

Lage: Veil, you had union representatives appearing before the board, 

McLean: Well, yes, but if there was a controversy with the union, that was 
immediately turned over to the staff for a report. The board 
itself never got into this. We kept our hands completely clean of 
the union, and this is the way it should be. In other words, 
these are staff problems. If it were a controversy between staff 
and the union, let them work it out. It should be worked out by 
them. The board has nothing to do with that. I see this new 
board getting into these situations, which they have no business 

lage: Running the day-to day--. 

McLean: Absolutely. And this bothers me. I have been reading the minutes 
of these meetings, and it alarms me, the issues that they're 
getting into that are staff-related. Boards are policy-making 
bodies. You have a staff to run the day-by-day operations, and 
that is their job, not the board's Job. 

Lage: Now, did Sandy Skaggs as president have to point that out? 

McLean: Absolutely. Yes, many times. He always had any issue with the 
union referred to the staff. 

Lage: It was something that the board had to be reminded of? 

McLean: Well, I don't think Sandy ever reminded us of it; I think Mary 

Warren, John Gioia, and I recognized that, and we kept a hands-off 
policy. I can't say that this was true of Helen Burke and Jack 
Hill, because they were sympathetic to the unions. 


The unions were always trying to get the board to listen to 
their problems and controversies among themselves, staff, and 
Jerry Gilbert or themselves and Wally Bishop. The union wanted to 
get the board involved, but Sandy Skaggs would not tolerate it. 
We'd listen to them, yes, and Sandy would say, "Refer it to Jerry 
Gilbert for a report." Or to Wally Bishop for a report. 

And that's the way it should be. The board should not get 
involved in those things ; because the minute you get into these 
issues, they bypass the staff, and they come to the board every 
time. The minute the board begins to take over the problems of 
the union, you're putting yourself into a staff position and not a 
board position. The board is a policy-making body, and it should 
be hands-off on any of these other issues. 

Lage: That's a good thought to end our discussion of your service on the 
board of directors. [See following pages for materials relating 
to Mr. McLean's retirement from the EBMUD Board of Directors.] 

Transcriber: Rita Bashaw 
Final Typist: Judy Smith 

, 3,18 Final Statement of the EBMUD Board 

' - f Directors 

tti January 8, 1991 when the new Board of Directors takes office, a new era 
will begin. 

67 years ago, in 1923, the first Board of Directors of this District went to 
the Mokeluime River to obtain an adequate supply of high quality water that 
would serve the East Bay communities through this century. 

They fought hard in the Courts to obtain the water rights. In 1924 the people 
voted the bonds to construct Pardee Dam, and the aqueduct to deliver this 
water to the East Bay. On June 23, 1929 the first Mokeluime water was turned 
into San Pablo Reservoir. At that time there was less than a 30-day supply 
remaining in the company's reservoirs. 

All of the subsequent Boards have carried out the policy of the "Founding 
Fathers", which was to provide a high quality, low cost water to the District 


I am happy and proud to have been both a member of the Engineering Management 
Staff for 41 yeer:- and a rember of the Board of Director? for 12 years. My 53 
year association with the District will leave e legacy of ayjeducts, daiit, 
filter plants, reservoirs, the waste water treatment plant, the interceptors 
and outfill sewer. All of these facilities will carry the District into the 
next century and I am proud to have participated in these accomplishments. 

During the 1960 's it became apparent that the water supply froru the Kokelumne 
River would not be sufficient to supply the District's needs beyond the year 
2000; a search began for a supplemental supply of water to serve the District 
well into the 21st century. As a result of this investigation, the American 
River source was selectee! as meeting the criteria of the Mokelumne. During 
this period the Bureau of Reclamation was searching for contractors to 
purchase the- water that would be impounded by the Auburn Darn to be constructed 
on the north fork of the Anerican River. Accordingly, a contract with the 
Bureau was signed in 1972 to take this water from the Folsom south canal. 

After 18 years of litigation, in April of this year A the District was finally 
granted the right to take 150,000 Ac ft, 134 MOD from the American River. I 
believe it is essential that the necessary facilities be provided to make this 
supply available to the consumers during this decade, otherwise severe water 
shortages will occur. 

The District has been the leader in California in pronoting the use of 
reclaimed water, private wells for landscape irrigation, drought tolerant 
plants and other innovative ideas to reduce consumption. However, regardless 
of the District's conservation efforts, the growth within the District 
boundaries will soon exceed the historical safe yield of the Mokelumne water 
rights. (21$ o 00} M.G, Q 

This is my last meeting as a Board Member and I am proud to say I have never 
missed a meeting during the 12 years I have held office. To the best of my 
ability I have carried out the Board's policy at all times to provide and 
maintain a secure, high quality water for the lowest possible cost to the 
ratepayers of this District. 

In closing i want to thank the District for a rewarding and satisfying 
lifetine career, it has been my pleasure to serve with some of the finest men 
and wcmen in public service -- the employees past and present -- of the 
District. Thank you. 

Approved as to 

Form & Legality 319 

General Counsel 



Introduced by Director Skaggs; Seconded by Director Simmons 

WHEREAS Walter R. McLean has reached a unique milestone as the person with the longest 
cumulative service to EBMUD S3 years; and 

WHEREAS during more than 40 years as an EBMUD civil engineer, Mr. McLean served this 
District with dedication in a career spanning the period in which most of the foundation facilities of 
the District were created. He returned to serve another 12 years as a member of the Board of 
Directors in times when remarkable innovations were achieved in both water and wastewater; and 

WHEREAS among the cornerstone facilities bearing his personal engineering contribution are Pardee 
Dam; the first and third Mokelumne Aqueducts; Upper San Leandro Dam, Reservoir and Filter Plant; 
Briones Dam, and the Lafayette Tunnel and Lafayette Aqueduct; and 

WHEREAS during his Board service, Camanche Power Plant and Pardee Power Plant #3 were 
designed and completed; many improvements in storage, pumping and distribution capacity were 
carried out to enhance water pressure and firefighting reserves district-wide; ozonation and other 
technological improvements to water treatment were implemented to reduce the amount and cost of 
chemicals needed and improve the quality of water served; the OP/NET (Operations Network) system 
was implemented; and 

WHEREAS the Water Supply Management Program was adopted by the Board, leading to the on 
going Water Supply Improvement Projects, helping to assure a healthful and reliable water supply for 
the future; the American River supply lawsuit was at last resolved in EBMUD's favor; a Computer- 
Aided Mapping program was put into operation; and a New Administration Building was planned, 
constructed and soon will be occupied; and 

WHEREAS at Wastewater, commercial success continues with the CompGro soil amendment 
produced from recycled sludge; a cogeneration facility supplies half the energy needs of the 
Wastewater Treatment Plant; an Infiltration/Inflow program is eliminating stormwater overflows 
through renovation of storm and sanitary sewers in seven communities; the new Oakport Wet Weather 
Treatment Plant is in operation, new stormwater storage facilities are under construction at the main 
treatment plant, and recycled wastewater is in use at Galbraith Golf Course in Oakland and at 
Richmond Golf and Country Club, reflecting the support and continued interest of Mr. McLean in 
technical innovation; and 

WHEREAS Mr. McLean, in bis professional career at EBMUD, as an engineering consultant, and 
with his Board leadership, including three terms as Vice President, has earned the esteem of his peers 
in the American Society of Civil Engineers, American Public Works Association, East Bay Engineers 
Club, and his associates and fellow board members, and was awarded lifetime membership in the 
American Water Works Association; 

- 1 - 


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Directors of the EAST BAY 
MUNICIPAL UTILITY DISTRICT hereby expresses its deep gratitude to Mr. McLean for his 
unprecedented years of outstanding service to the District, and wishes him well. 

Unanimously ADOPTED this llth day of December, 1990. 

AYES: Directors Burke, Gioia, McLean, Nadel, Simmons, Warren and President Skaggs, 


NOES: None. 
ABSENT: None. 


Sanford M. Skaggs 


Paula E. Mai com 


A98C.11 -2- 


Volume 20. Number 25 

Public Information Office 

December 14, 1990 

This LOG honors the contributions and aspirations 
of our four departing directors, in thanks for their 
guidance and dedication to EBMUD. 

Walter R. McLean 

Walt McLean has reached a milestone that perhaps 
no one will achieve ever again~53 years of service 
to EBMUD and its customers-first for more than 
40 years as a civil engineer, then for an additional 
12 years on the Board of Directors. His goal, as 
an employee and later as a board member, was "to 
assure a high-quality water supply into the next 
century. That's why we went to the Sierra for the 
Mokelumne River water, why we went to the 
American River." One of the greatest District 
accomplishments, he feels, was "the conclusion of 
the American River lawsuit (the decision) that the 
contract with the Bureau of Reclamation is valid. 
We're going to need that water before the end of 
this decade." 

He has great affection for EBMUD. "I don't know 
of any place...with such a fine group of people." 
His satisfaction with his professional life shows as 
he lists projects he helped to build. "My name is 
on nearly everything, starting with the first aque 
duct, Orinda Filter Plant, the third aqueduct and the 

wastewater plant I worked on Pardee Dam. lam 
very proud that I was able to play such a role." 

There were disappointments, of course. "We had 
studied a new dam at Middle Bar (on the Mokel 
umne River a few miles above Pardee Dam). The 
Board turned that down because of pending law 
suits from Amador County. That was one of the 
biggest disappointments I ever had." Nevertheless, 
"relations with the mountain counties are better 
now. One thing that improved relations was the 
recreation area at Pardee. Now, they're willing to 
join (with EBMUD) on groundwater studies." 

Some projects give special satisfaction. One is the 
new centralized administration building. "I wish I 
could say how much it has cost over the years for 
our offices to be scattered about," he muses. 
"When I worked on SD- 1 the man in charge was on 
16th street (the original downtown offices), the 
design office was near the Paramount Theatre, and 
I was above the old meter shop where the cafeteria 
is now! You can imagine the hours.. .wasted." 
Describing the more recent scattering from the 
Adeline Street offices, he says "It's been enor 
mously inefficient We should have had (the new 
building) 15 years ago!" 

McLean, who at 87 is still active as an engineering 
consultant, has earned the esteem of his peers in the 
American Society of Civil Engineers, American 
Public Works Association, East Bay Engineers 
Club, and his associates and fellow board members 
at EBMUD, and was awarded lifetime membership 
in the American Water Works Association. 

Like the projects that remain as his true monument, 
Walt McLean is long-lasting, and one of a kind. 


TAPE GUIDE- -Walter McLean 

side a 

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Interview 1: March 26, 1991 
tape 1, 
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tape 2, 
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tape 3, 
tape 3, side b not recorded 

Interview 2: April 3, 1991 
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tape 4, side b 
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Interview 3: April 17, 1991 

tape 6 
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tape 8, 

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tape 8, side b not recorded 

Interview 4: April 25, 1991 

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tape 4, side a insert 

tape 9, side a resumes 

tape 9, side b 

tape 10, side a 

tape 10, side b 






tape 11 
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: May 8 
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tape 15, 
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, 1991 

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tape 13, side b not recorded 

Interview 6: May 21, 1991 
tape 14, side b 
insert, tape 16, side a 
tape 14", side b resumes 




tape 15, side a 
tape 15, side b 

Interview 7: June 5, 1991 

tape 17, 
tape 17, 
tape 18, 
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tape 19 

side a 
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Interview 8: August 5, 1991 
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tape 20, side b 
tape 21, side a 
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Interview 9: August 12, 1991 

tape 22 
tape 22 
tape 23 
tape 23 
tape 24, 

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Interview 10: August 20, 1991 
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INDEX- -Walter R. McLean 

Aiken, Ralph, 176, 178 
Alameda County Central Labor 

Council, 228 
Amador County, California, 247- 

248, 281, 290 
American River, 282 

as a potential water supply, 
235, 240, 246-247, 253, 276- 
American Water Works Association, 


Ames, Art, 225 
Anton, Walt, 240 
Armour Company, 212-213, 216-217. 

See also Greyhound Corp. 
Artukovitch, John, 184-185 
Atkinson, Lynn, 72, 79-80 
Atkinson Construction Company 

(Atconco)r 72, 78-80, 86 ' 
Atkinson, Guy F. , 72, 79, 80 
Auburn Dam (proposed), 196, 255, 


Bailey, Paul, 61 

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), 

Bechtel Corporation, 80, 86, 136, 

151-153, 155, 161-162 
Berkeley Steel Tank and Pipe 

Company, 69-70 
Bethel Island, California, 208- 

Bidwell Bar Reservoir (proposed) , 

61-62, 64 
Bishop, Wally, 4, 239, 253, 314, 


Bjornson, Blair, 106, 108, 111 
Black and Veatch Company, 127, 


Blanchard, Francis, 149, 191 
Blueprint Company (Sacramento) , 


Bonneville Dam, 86 
Boulder Dam, 79-80, 84, 101 

construction of, 84-85, 92 

Brentwood, California 

water pollution in, 270 
Breuner, Louis, 195, 225, 244, 

Briones Dam, EBMUD, 135-136, 165, 


storm damage to (October, 1962), 

166, 168-169 
Briones Reservoir, EBMUD, 2, 4, 

Broderick, California 

descriptions of, 13, 17, 25 
Broughton, Jack, 82 
Buckhorn Dam, EBMUD (proposed), 

5, 7, 9-10, 227, 235, 246, 255, 

276, 282-283 

opposition to, 299-301 
Burke, Helen, 227-228, 232, 239- 

241, 258, 260-261, 266, 268-271, 

292-293, 301, 309-312, 314, 316 
Burns, Bill, 163 
Byllesby, H.M. Company, 38, 44, 

61, 63, 67-68, 177. See also 

Pacific Gas and Electric 

Company . 

Calaveras County, California, 

248, 290 

Caldecott Tunnel, 296 
California, future water 

requirements of, 252-257 
California and Oregon Power 

Company, 46 
California Public Utilities 

Commission, 152 
California State Department of 

Water Quality Control, 130 
California State Division of Dam 

Inspection, 168-169 
California State Division of Fish 

and Game, 42-43, 252 
California State Division of Water 

Resources, 4, 61, 94, 101, 197, 

California State Highway 

Commission, 28-35, 69 


California State Industrial 

Accident Commission, 82, 84 
California State Water Resources 

Board, 242 
California State Water Project, 

61-68, 178, 193, 196-197 

California aqueduct, 61 

origins, 61 

Oroville Dam, 61-62 

Shasta Dam, 61, 85-86, 92 

survey parties, 63-68 
California Water Service Company, 

Camanche Dam, EBMUD, 136, 165 

construction of, 153-156 

danger of dam failure, 154, 
156-157, 159, 160-161 

geological problems, 153-155 

proposal and planning, 153 
Camanche Reservoir, EBMUD, 148- 

149, 282, 290-291 
Caples Lake "(Twin Lakes) Dam, 37, 

48-60, 61 

Carnes, Keith, 253 
Carrasco, Jorge, 252 
Carrington, Bert, 194, 225, 226, 

239, 240 
Castro Valley, California, early 

history of, 233 
Cen-Vi-Ro Corporation, 205-206 
Central Valley Project, 177, 196 
Chabot, Anthony, 7 
Chabot Reservoir, EBMUD, 7-10, 

102-104, 148, 264 
civil engineering 

concrete technology, 77, 84-87, 

design, sewer interceptors, 278 

electrical protection against 
corrosion, 222-223 

filtering devices, 7-8, 108-109 

hydraulic technology, in 
aquaculture, 212-217 

pipeline construction 

techniques, Africa, 219-220 

sewage collection systems, 209- 

slide rules, 143-145 

surveying techniques (1920s), 

tunnel construction, 179-181, 

use of models in planning, 271- 

video cameras, use in surveying, 

wastewater treatment plants, 

water well backf low devices , 

see also East Bay Municipal 

District Utility 
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) , 

Claremont Tunnel, EBMUD, 105, 

107, 110 

Clean Water Act, 279 
Coast Counties Gas and Electric 

Company, 67 
Cobb, Paul, 298 
concrete technology, 77, 84-87, 

Consolidated Western Steel 

Company, 174-175 
construction camps, 1920s 

conditions in, 54-60, 83, 90- 
92, 97-99 

descriptions of, 30-35, 74, 83 
Contra Costa County Water District 

proposed merger with EBMUD, 

275-277, 309 
Contra Costa Sanitary District, 


Coolidge Dam, 79, 82, 90 
Crevelling, Harry, 18-19 
Crevelling, May, 18 
Crockett Pipeline, EBMUD, 111- 

112, 138, 244 

Crockett Reservoir, EBMUD, 112 
Crowe, Frank, 101 
Cutler, Sam, 71, 74, 100, 102 


construction of, 48-53, 72, 75- 

87, 153-156, 158-162, 283, 

failures of, 167-168, 284 


Danville Pumping Plant, EBMUD, 

136, 140 
Davis, Arthur P., 73, 87-89, 186- 

187, 191, 243-246, 249, 251 
Davis Reservoir, 67 
Dawson, Artis, 294 
DeCosta, Joe, 146-147, 155-156, 

172, 181, 240, 245, 251 
Diablo Dam, 79 
Diemer, Dennis, 239 
Dingee Reservoir, 102 
Driggs, Ed, 87 
Driggs, Denny, 111 
Duart Castle (Scotland) , 11-12 

Early, Fred Jr. , Construction 

Company, 179 

East Bay Water Company, 105-107, 
110, 244, 302-303. See also 
East Bay Municipal Utility 

East Bay Municipal Utility 
District (EBMUD) 
Adeline Street maintenance yard, 

administration building, 306- 


annexations, 244, 266-268 
Board of Directors, 194-196, 

225-316 passim 

operations of, 238-240 

public relations, 315-317 

staff relations, 311-313 
bond issues (1958), 146 
and California's water supply, 

196-198, 227 

construction bond practices, 80 
contractors, damage assessments, 

contractors, efficiency of, 

contractors, relations with, 

121-122, 293, 295-296 
environmental issues, 197-198, 

expansion of, 138-143, 187-188, 

fishing and recreation, 289-291 

labor unions, 230-232, 313-315 
Lafayette maintenance yard, 


lawsuits, 175-179 
management changes, 187-192 
organization of, 93-94 
personnel, 87-90, 94-96 

affirmative action, 292-295 

comparable worth, 297 

contractor bids, 297-299 
population growth, projected, 


rangers, arming of, 286-288 
rate structure, 236-237, 258- 


recreation areas, 146-147 
sewage systems, 123-126, 187- 

189, 278-279 
Special District One, 123-134, 

187-188, 305 

construction projects, 130- 
133, 305 

formation of, 123-126 

personnel, 126-128 

planning and design, 128-134 
survey operations, 62-67 
tunnel construction, 5, 179-185 
water policies, suburban growth, 

268-271, 273-275 
water recycling efforts, 262- 

water services outside district, 


water treatment plants, 1-3, 5 
See also individual projects: . 

Briones Dam and Reservoir; 

Buckhorn Dam (proposed) ; 

Camanche Dam and Reservoir; 

Chabot Reservoir; Claremont 

Tunnel; Crockett Pipeline and 

Reservoir; Danville Pumping 

Plant; Lafayette Aqueduct, 

Dam, Filter Plant, and 

Reservoir; Middle Bar Dam 

(proposed) ; Orinda Filter 

Plant; Pardee Dam and 

Reservoir; Pardee Tunnel; 

Railroad Flats Project 

(proposed); San Pablo Dam, 


East Bay Municipal Utility 
District (cont.) 
Reservoir, and Tunnel; Sobrante 
Filter Plant; Temescal 
Reservoir; Third Mokelumne 
Aqueduct; Ultimate Mokelumne 
River Project (proposed); Upper 
San Leandro Dam, Reservoir, and 
Tunnel; Walnut Creek Filter 
Plant and Tunnel; Wildcat 

in World War II, 115-118, 120- 

East Bay Regional Parks District, 
148, 238, 265, 286, 288 

Eastman, Hart, 183-189 

Echo Lake Dam, 38-41 

Edmonston, A.D. ("Bob"), 36-37, 
48, 54, 61, 94, 96, 101, 177-178 

El Dorado Canal, 39, 47, 61 

El Dorado Hydroelectric Project, 
36-37, 44-47, 57 

Environmental Defense Fund, 246, 
271, 273 

environmental impact reports 
costs of, 305-306 
value of, 299-301, 303-305 

Feather River, 61-67 
Ferris, Tully, 189, 192 
filtering devices 

Hyatt-type filter, 7-8 

osmosis plant, 109 

rapid-sand filters, 108-109 
fluoridation, see water, 

fluoridation of 
Folsom South Canal, 2 
Foster, Ruth, 294 
Fulton, R.F. Company, 200 

Gilbert, Jerry, 234, 236, 238, 
240-246, 248-251, 261, 264, 294, 
312-313, 317 

Gioia, John, 293, 316 

Goethals, George W. , 89 

Gordon, Berney, 162 

Grand Coulee Dam, 86, 92 

Greeley and Hanson Company, 127 

Greeley, Sam, 127. See also 
Greeley and Hanson Company. 

Green, Art, 108, 112 

Greyhound Corporation, 216, 217. 
See also Armour Company. 

Grizzly Valley, 67 

Grunsky, C.E., 93-94, 97 

Hague, Thaddeus, 87, 107, 147, 


Hamman, Leroy, 244 
Hanna, Frank W. , 87-88, 186-187, 

191, 243-244 
Hanson, Hugo, 177 
Harder, Orin, 149, 156, 163, 191, 


Harlow, Frank, 74 
Harnett, JohnS., 192, 240-241, 

244-245, 250-251 
Hayward fault, 5, 8 
Hercules Powder Company, 112-113 
Hill, Jackson, 236, 241, 260, 

266, 268, 292-293, 309-322, 314, 


Hilliard, Jeff, 294 
Hitchcock, Ted, 225-226, 240 
Hodgkins, Whitey, 106, 111 
Honduras, social conditions of, 

215, 218 

Hoskins, Fred, 36, 61 
Hunter, George, 105-106, 108 
hydraulic mining, 63, 72 
hydroelectric dams, operation of, 

44-47, 65, 149-150 

Jackson, Don, 294 
Jenno, Joe, 177 
Johnson, Ham, 74 

Kaiser Construction Company, 80, 

86-87, 136, 296 

Kaiser Steel Corporation, 200-201 
Kennedy, Robert C., 87, 126, 187, 

190, 245-246 

Kettlewell, Bill, 79-80 
Kinyon, Carl, 29, 33 
Kofman, Kenneth, 241, 293 


Lafayette Aqueduct, EBMUD, 100- 

101, 136, 165 
Lafayette Dam, EBMUD, 100-101, 

Lafayette Filter Plant, EBMUD, 2, 

3, 109, 136, 277 
Lafayette Reservoir, EBMUD, 8-10, 

148, 289, 304 
Lafayette Tunnel, EBMUD, 105, 

107, 135-136, 164-165 
Lappin, Jim, 69, 71 
Larkin, Don, 240-241 
Lassen County, California 

description of (1920s), 29-35 
Laverty, Gordon, 241 
Local Agency Formation Commission 

(LAFCO), 267-268 
Longwell, John S., 69, 71, 73, 

87-88, 93-96, 99, 101-102, 111, 

117, 149, 177-178, 186-191, 195, 

243-246, 249, 251 
Los Angeles "Aqueduct, 89, 172 
Los Vaqueros Reservoir (proposed) , 


Loughland, George, 37, 48 
Luthin, John, 106 

Macdonald, E.L., 71-72, 74, 88, 

93-97, 164-165 

MacLean, Lady Elizabeth, 12 
MacLean, Lord Charles, 11-12 
MacLean, Sir Lacland, 11-12 
Madow, Bob, 298 
McFarland, John, 181-182, 187- 

192, 240, 243-246, 250-251 
McLean, Edward, 13-15 
McLean, Edward Theodore, 16, 17 
McLean, Sarah Jane Patterson, 17- 


death, 22 

illness, 18-19, 21 

marriage and early life, 17 

travel to Philippine Islands, 

work as housekeeper, 20, 27 
McNevin, Bill, 194, 224 
Middle Bar Project, EBMUD 

(proposed), 148-153, 195-196, 

247-249, 255, 276, 281-283 

Miller and Lux Land Corporation, 


Miller, Mike, 86, 101 
Mokelumne Project, EBMUD, 244 
Mokelumne River, 1-4, 104-105, 

107, 135, 140, 142, 197, 282, 

Morrison and Knudson Company, 

163, 170 

Moses, William P., 239-240 
Mulholland, William, 89, 167 
Municipal Utilities District Act, 


Munn, James, 87-88, 186 
Murdoch, Bob, 132 

Nadel, Nancy, 232, 253, 260, 266, 

268, 270, 280, 301, 303, 309- 

310, 313 

Netland, Lars, 71 
Newport News Shipbuilding Company, 


North Reservoir, 114 
North Marin Water District, 242- 


O'Shaughnessey, Michael, 89 
Orinda Filter Plant, EBMUD, 2-3, 
102, 104, 138, 277 
construction of, 104-111 

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, 
4, 39. 41, 47, 67-68, 149-152, 
197, 282. See also H.M. 
Byllesby Company, Coast Counties 
Gas and Electric Company, 
Western States Gas and Electric 

Paff, Don, 177, 241 

Painter, Ben, 61, 64, 66, 177 

Par dee Dam, EBMUD, 69, 71, 244, 
construction of, 57, 60, 74-90, 

problems with, 283-284 

Pardee Recreation Area, EBMUD, 
145-146, 191 

Pardee Reservoir, EBMUD, 2, 9, 
29, 149-150, 277, 281, 291 


Pardee Tunnel, EBMUD, 69-71, 99 

Pardee, George C. , 88, 194 

Patterson, Alex, 19-20, 22 

Patterson, George, 22 

Paul, Roy, 112 

Peripheral Canal (proposed) , 196 , 


Peterson, Ed, 220 
Phelps , Timothy J . , 15 
Philippine Islands, 18-19 
Pinole Reservoir (proposed) , 276 
Pleasant Hill Reservoir, 114-115, 

prostitution, 56-60 

Railroad Flat Project, EBMUD 

(proposed) , 281 

Raines, Harold, 181-182, 249-250 
Randall, Craig, 275 
Reynolds, Jon Q. , 239-240, 242 
Robinson, Howard, 225 
Rohan, John? 316 
Roosevelt Dam (Arizona) , 87 
Root, Darrell, 126, 189-190 
Rutledge, Phil, 166 

Sacramento, California, 1900- 

1920s, 17, 19-28, 35 
San Joaquin County, California, 

248, 290 

San Pablo Filter Plant, 105 
San Pablo Reservoir, EBMUD, 1-4, 

7, 9-10, 102, 289 

collapse of tunnel (1931) , 5-6 
Selby Smelting Company, 112 
Shasta Dam, 61, 85-86, 92. See 

also California, State Water 


Sherman, Roy, 36 
Sherman, Margaret 
Sierra Club, 228 
S imraons , Kenne th , 

295, 307, 312 
Skaggs, Sanford, 229, 231, 239, 

241, 248-249, 269, 275, 293, 

307, 311-313, 315-316 
Smith, Bruce, 268 
Smith, Cliff, 111 

24, 35 

271, 273-274 
239, 241, 292- 

Sobrante Filter Plant, EBMUD, 9, 


Sons in Retirement (Sirs), 236 
Spink, Charles, 177 
Standard Oil Company, 111 
Stanford, Leland, 15 
Steel, Clive, 68 
Stephens, William J. , 189 
Stokes, Ernie, 83 
Stolte Construction Company, 179 
surveying practices, 29-31 
Swasey, Charles, 15 

Taylor, Ed, 106, 108 

Tecopa Irrigation District (Kern 

County, California), 253 
Temescal Reservoir, 7-8 
Third Molelumne Aqueduct, EBMUD, 


construction of, 174-175 

cost -saving innovations in, 


Tibbets, Healy, 133 
Trahern, Bill, 71, 74, 100, 106- 

107, 115, 147, 171-173, 189 
Tri-Valley Sewer Connection, 

lawsuit in, 271-274 
Tronough, Ted, 111 
tunnels, construction, drilling 

technologies in, 179-181 
turbidity, water, 2, 3 
Tuthill, Louis, 85, 87 
Twin Lakes Dam. See Caples Lake 

Twohy Brothers and J.F. Shea 

Company, 69 

Ultimate Mokelumne River Project, 

EBMUD, 141 

Union Oil Company, 112 
United States Army Corps of 

Engineers, 115, 130, 222 
United States Bureau of 

Reclamation, 85, 87, 141, 231, 

United States Environmental 

Protection Agency, 232, 312 
United States Federal Power 

Commission, 37, 195 


Upper San Leandro Reservoir, Zeno, James V., Sr. f 225-227 

EBMUD, 1-3, 7, 9-10, 102, 104, 

264-265, 288, 300 
Upper San Leandro Filter Plant, 

EBMUD, 105 

Veatch, Tom, 127. See also Black 

and Veatch Co . 
Viviani, Ren<, 4, 264 

Wagner, Allan J., 29, 35 
Walnut Creek Aqueduct, EBMUD, 

135, 165 
Walnut Creek Filter Plant, EBMUD, 

2-3, 5, 109, 136, 277 
Warren, Mary, 229, 231, 261, 269, 

280, 293, 307, 312, 315-316 
water, fluoridation of, 285-286 
water conservation 

and EBMUD water rate structure, 

and publie relations, 261 

and residential development, 
257-258, 262 

and residential use, 259-261 

in agriculture, 253-255, 260 

in industry, 256 
Way, Ted, 239 

Western Pacific Railroad, 63 
Western States Gas and Electric 

Company, 36, 38-39, 41, 44, 54, 

67. See also Pacific Gas and 

Electric Company] 
Whipple, Ed, 82 
Wilbur, Lyman, 87 
Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, 256 
Wildcat Aqueduct, EBMUD, 104 
Wittschen, Ted, 249 
Woodbridge Irrigation District, 

135, 142, 291 
Woodruff, Bob, 163 
workers, construction projects 

background of, 59-60, 82-84, 

WPA, 113-115 
work place safety, 81-84 
Works Progress Administration 

(WPA), 113-115, 188, 267 
Wright, Charles J., 224-226 


B.A., University of California, Berkeley, with major 
in history, 1963 

M.A., University of California, Berkeley, history, 1965 

Post-graduate studies, University of California, Berkeley, 
1965-66, American history and education; Junior 
College teaching credential, State of California 

Chairman, Sierra Club History Committee, 1978-1986; oral 
history coordinator, 1974-present 

Interviewer/Editor, Regional Oral History Office, in the 
fields of conservation and natural resources, 
land use, university history, California political 
history, 1976-present. 

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