By Deb Murphy
Mark Lacey asked that area ranchers and West Bishop residents “work together and suffer together.” Steve Stevens anticipated that request and is working toward a system that would equitably distribute the reduced flows out of the Bishop Creek drainage through the irrigation season.
At issue is a 23-percent reduction in irrigation allocations to ranchers on Los Angeles Department of Water and Power leases in the drainage. With an anticipated 50 percent of normal run-off this year, there was no choice. Lacey’s point was that Bishop Creek Water Association members should also feel some of that pain.
In a phone interview Friday, association president Stevens said his board, the Bishop Paiute Tribe, Southern California Edison and LADWP are working out a plan that will spread both the water and the pain evenly among the end users. The plan is as simple as anything else in this drought-impacted conundrum. “We’ll find out what ranchers are getting irrigation water on what days and rotate water through the BCWA members accordingly,” he said.
Ranchers need to build up a head of water before spreading it on the fields. Lacey pointed out Tuesday, that if the water has been reduced to a trickle after flowing through the residential areas, there isn’t enough for irrigation purposes. The BCWA members have been on a rotation system to mete out the water evenly. This rotation plan will be synced with the rancher’s irrigation schedule so no residential users will be between the ranchers’ fields and the source point during irrigation days.
“The ranchers are the backbone of this community,” Stevens said. “We need to do what’s right.” Stevens is working to convince association members to put conservation plans in place and by-pass ponds.