Mammoth Community Water District officials issued a press release this week to say that Air Pollution Control District Director Ted Schade had moved ahead to certify the EIR on Ormat Geothermal’s expansion plans in the Mammoth area. In an email to both sides, Schade explains that he tried to get the geothermal people and water district to agree on a monitoring and mitigation plan. In his email Schade also said that he will not issue additional well permits to Ormat until a monitoring plan is in place.
Schade’s email to the water district, Ormat, BLM and the Forest Service details a year-long effort to urge Ormat and water officials to reach agreement on a monitoring plan for the proposed Casa Diablo 4 geothermal plant and well field.
In his email, Schade said his hopes for a monitoring plan agreement are futile. He said, “I do not believe Ormat and MCWD are anywhere near an agreement. This is very disappointing. I had hoped that my direction to the parties and my continued delay in certifying the EIR would act as leverage to bring the parties together. It seems that my lever was far too small to move the parties toward agreement.”
Schade also said he believes BLM is the agency that should oversee development of a monitoring plan. He also made it clear that while he has issued the permit for the new plant, he will not issue additional well permits until a monitoring plan is in place.
APCD Director Schade also said he is convinced that even if a monitoring plan is developed, the EIR will be litigated. Schade said the Water District manager assured him MCWD would not litigate the issue, but there are others who could.
Citizens and officials in the Mammoth Lakes community, nationally elected officials and others fear dangerous impacts on Mammoth’s water supply if there is not a monitoring plan in place for the new geothermal wells. Although Schade has said he will not issue well permits until a monitoring plan exists.