Henry J. Mills; Retired MWD General Manager

Henry J. Mills, who worked for the Metropolitan Water District for more than 40 years and was its general manager from 1967 until his retirement in 1971, has died at his home in San Jacinto. He was 87 and died Tuesday of complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Mills’ career ranged from the construction of the Colorado River aqueduct in 1929--where he was part of a survey crew--to the completion of the California Water Project in which water was shipped from Northern California to the south.

Mills graduated from USC as a civil engineer in 1927 and initially went to work for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power as a power plant builder. After joining MWD in 1930, he advanced from surveying to the selection of sites for the tunnels, conduits, roads and siphons for the pioneering Colorado River project.

After the aqueduct was completed, Mills was placed in charge of MWD’s distribution system and later advanced to construction and operations engineer when the district expanded the Colorado pipeline.


In 1962, he was promoted to assistant chief engineer and three years later to chief engineer. In that capacity, he directed the studies and design of the pipelines and tunnels that became the California Water Project.

There will be a funeral Mass at 1 p.m. Friday at St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church in San Jacinto.