This year’s Department of Water and Power Pumping Plan will take 8400 acre feet more than the Inyo Supervisors wanted. At one point the Board asked DWP to reduce its 91,000 acre foot pumping plan by 8400 acre feet in the Thibaut and Aberdeen wellfields. DWP said fine but they would add that same amount to pumping in Laws and Independence – two areas damaged considerably by pumping over the years. Inyo Supervisors have decided not to dispute this even though officials said it would do damage.
Some think if the drought continues, DWP will try to do a lot more damage next year with a big pumping plan. Disputes may lie ahead.
Meanwhile, another dispute is in progress. DWP officials think they can pump groundwater to mitigate Owens Dry Lake dust without obeying the Inyo-LA Water Agreement. That document excluded any project implemented under the California Health and Safety Code from local regulation. That issue is now in the dispute phase.
Staff members of Inyo and DWP planned to talk about this latest dispute at a Technical Group meeting Friday. Inyo Water Director Bob Harrington said it was unclear what officials had in mind when they wrote the water agreement section that DWP has raised. Harrington said Inyo thinks that the Health and Safety code does not deal with LA’s water gathering so any well used for dust mitigation should fall under the water agreement.
This issue came up as officials work on an Owens Dry Lake Master Plan. Inyo officials get nervous when DWP wants to pump without regulation. DWP has proposed that they drill groundwater wells on the dry lake for mitigation. It’s unknown if they will try to wiggle out of regulation on wells placed elsewhere.