Water management of Lower Owens River under scrutiny

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The OVC was instrumental in the re-watering of the Lower Owens River.

Consultants hired by Inyo and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power say flows down the Lower Owens River need some changes to keep water quality good and fish alive.

The County and LADWP issued their annual report on the Lower Owens River, and with that report the consultants, ESI, Inc. have made recommendations for changes. They call it adaptive management actions. According to Larry Freilich, Inyo County Mitigation Manager for the LORP, the idea is to vary the water flows with the intent to clean out the river at specific times of the year.

Freilich said that if too much organic material accumulates in the river and the once a year flushing flows stir it all up, that can take the oxygen out of the water and kill fish. So, the consultants, headed by Mark Hill, recommended the release of more water from the Alabama Spill Gates or a greater release from the top of the river intake. Both plans would be designed to wash out some of the organic materials.

The question in front of the agencies – what flow regime will move the organic materials out of the river system? Once the annual flushing flow gets toward the south end of the river, the water volume has dropped, creating the danger of a fish kill.

Inyo County supports a different flow regime. Los Angeles, against use of more water, is still looking at the recommendations. The Lower Owens River Annual Report is currently open for public comment. They are due in by January 18th. Send comments to Inyo County Water Department, P.O. Box 337, Independence or LADWP, 300 Mandich St., Bishop. Check out this link to the LADWP website to read the report –

Consultants hired by Inyo and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power say flows down the Lower Owens River need some changes to keep water quality good and fish alive.

The County and LADWP issued their annual report on the Lower Owens River, and with that report the consultants, ESI, Inc. have made recommendations for changes. They call it adaptive management actions. According to Larry Freilich, Inyo County Mitigation Manager for the LORP, the idea is to vary the water flows with the intent to clean out the river at specific times of the year.

Freilich said that if too much organic material accumulates in the river and the once a year flushing flows stir it all up, that can take the oxygen out of the water and kill fish. So, the consultants, headed by Mark Hill, recommended the release of more water from the Alabama Spill Gates or a greater release from the top of the river intake. Both plans would be designed to wash out some of the organic materials.

The question in front of the agencies – what flow regime will move the organic materials out of the river system? Once the annual flushing flow gets toward the south end of the river, the water volume has dropped, creating the danger of a fish kill.

Inyo County supports a different flow regime. Los Angeles, against use of more water, is still looking at the recommendations. The Lower Owens River Annual Report is currently open for public comment. They are due in by January 18th. Send comments to Inyo County Water Department, P.O. Box 337, Independence or LADWP, 300 Mandich St., Bishop. Check out this link to the LADWP website to read the report – http://www.ladwp.com/LORP.

The Inyo-LA Technical Group will hold a meeting to vote on the plan in late January or February.

 

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One Response to Water management of Lower Owens River under scrutiny

  1. Philip Anaya January 7, 2013 at 8:00 pm #

    The Lower Owens River Project is alive and well . That’s my take from the presentation and discussion of the 2012 draft annual report meeting that was held this past week in Bishop at the DWP meeting room. It’s a nice warm room. Hope that the DWP can begin to accommadate community groups here once again, sooner than later. The draft report is a huge work reflecting the huge efforts of the restoration and management of the lower Owens River. The project is now more than 5 years from it’s inception and there was much to hear about what it takes and what the future will bring for this eco system, that man is trying to recreate. What a wonderful job it must be to be able to work on this project. Despite the sorted history of the Aqueduct , despite the difficulties to implement this idea of the Owens River flowing again, despite the problems encountered such as the need and recommendation to adjust the flows , the elimination of invasive plants and the recruitment and development of needed woody species that would support animals and birds, there are the people.The DWP, Inyo County Water, the Consultants, and the Advocats talking and finding solutions. Without Mark Bagley and the OVC and this 2x printed story and many others from Sierra Wave this partnership would have been impossible. The LORP is as important to the fauna of the Owens Valley and to other areas of the Western United States, as it is to relationship that is needed between the DWP and the people that dwell here. Hetch Hetchy in the Yosemite and other reclamations may one day occur and the needed careful restoration of the lands and lessons learned in the LORP will be invaluable. The application of common sense, of common goals and tasks may not ever be “Paradise” but with effort, a lot of effort, there will be trees growing ,fish swimming and the birds and animals abounding.
    There were discussions regarding redelegated flows and pump back capacities to benefit the River and it’s environ. 2013 is the 100 year anniversery of the Aqueduct. Along with the resolution of LORP issues, are there other accomplishments possible this year before Nov 6, 2013, Plants that survive , a Owens Valley a bit greener and institutions becoming ever more responsible and human. No one can argue that that would be good .

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