Controvesry Over Coso Pump Plan Returns

The attorney representing the Little Lake Ranch has issued a new complaint regarding the Coso Geothermal plan to pump groundwater to boost power production.

little_lakeThe Little Lake Ranch had sued the power company over concerns that the plan to pump water from the Hay Ranch up to the Coso plant would lead to environmental impacts at Little Lake. Inyo County had approved the pump plan with monitoring requirements that could shut down the project if the pumping impacts the Little Lake Ranch. Little Lake had appealed the county decision allow the pumping, but agreed to terms with the Coso plant in August.

Pumping at the Hay Ranch started on Christmas day. Soon afterwards, the Lawyer representing the Little Lake Ranch, Gary Arnold, issued new objections. In a letter to the Inyo County Water Department, Arnold says that the baselines for the monitoring wells are set at the lowest possible levels, which in turn allows Coso to pump more water before the water levels reach the point that pumping has to be reduced or stopped.

Arnold also accuses Inyo County of prioritizing the economy over the environment saying, Unfortunately, it appears that the baselines are being established to allow continued pumping for Cosos and the Countys economic reasons only Arnold asks the county to raise the water level baselines that trigger the environmental constraints on the pumping.

When asked if Inyo County had considered the profits of the Coso plant when the Water Department set the baselines, Water Director Bob Harrington explained that the baselines were set on pre-project water levels and that the baselines, had nothing to do with profitability and the countys tax base.

In response to the accusation that the county set the baseline triggers at the lowest possible point, Harrington disagreed and explained that the Inyo Water Department had chosen levels that were not the highest, but not the lowest either to account for fluctuations in the groundwater level.

It may be months or years before it is known whether or not there are going to be any impacts at Little Lake. In the meantime, the pumping has started and the legal wrangling continues.

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