Inyo County argues DWP’s operations plan

By Deb Murphy

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power came out with its 2018-19 operations plan late last month. Inyo County came back April 30 with its own recommendation, below the low end of LADWP’s proposed range.

LADWP’s range started at 77,990 acre-feet, topping out at 96,230. The high number, according to Inyo’s response, is the highest volume since the “environmentally damaging amounts” in the late 1980s. Based on well fields that remained below the mid-1980s baseline even after last year’s epic run-off, Inyo’s preference was 74,450 acre-feet.

The County presented its arguments at last week’s Technical Group meeting. The crux of that argument: the lower number “allows the multiple goals of the Long Term Water Agreement to be met with a more responsible and sustainable approach.”

The County recommended 6,300 a-f from Laws, a drop from LADWP’s minimum 9,400 a-f. The water table had improved but the vegetation had not according to Water Department staffer Keith Rainville.

Paul Huerte from Big Pine Paiute Tribe of the Owens Valley objected to the 20,550 a-f minimum for the Big Pine well fields, noting the water was used at the fish hatchery but flowed on to the Aqueduct.

The County wants to hold pumping at Independence-Oak to 5,990, almost half of LADWP’s minimum. The water table remains from 2- to 6-feet below baseline. The same ratio of the County’s recommendation to the department’s minimum was in place at Bairs George to keep Well 812T within a foot of baseline.

The Standing Committee will weigh the recommendations at its May 31 meeting.

Update on Five Bridges and Well 385

In the face of 18 motions corresponding to Inyo County’s questions on Well 385 and the Five Bridges mitigation, last week’s Technical Group lumped those questions into one motion. That motion didn’t resolve any of the issues; it simply passed the questions onto the Standing Committee meeting.

Both the Tech Group and Standing Committee require unanimous agreement to pass any motion. The Standing Committee meets in Los Angeles but will be broadcast at the department’s Mandich Street office.

 

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3 Responses to Inyo County argues DWP’s operations plan

  1. Philip Anaya May 16, 2018 at 10:55 am #

    Good progress is being made at the Owens Valley Groundwater Authority with respect to the development of the Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP). Along with the advancing the process of becoming the single Groundwater Sustainability Agency for the non adjudicated portion of the Basin, the work in developing the GSP has been outlined and approved in the “Request for Statement of Qualifications” at the last meeting of the Authority . Destination 2042 ,Sustainability in the non adjudicated portion of the basin is on it’s way.

    For the adjudicated portion of the Basin (LA City lands) the LTWA is the proxy process for Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in the Owens Valley. Inyo and LADWP are required to file an Annual Report with California Department of Water Resources (DWR). Since the report is required by SGMA to filed with the DWR, it is safe to say the State is monitoring the sustainability in the Adjudicated portion of the Basin.
    Neither the LADWP nor Inyo County in response to this requirement of SGMA, address or even include the word sustainability in the latest DWP Operation Plan discussion and documents. SGMA in it’s BMP#6 “Sustainability Criteria” lays out a process for Baseline Water Table Management . This includes establishing a baseline water table elevation for all areas, monitoring and a multi year cycle of extraction and recharge to maintain the baseline water table. This is sort of like the balancing of a checkbook account. A favorite life lesson bumper sticker has always been, “I can’t be overdrawn, I still have checks”. Cash rich with ratepayer dollars, DWP, has not seemingly had that life lesson and they have and are spending millions correcting the damage and the mismanagement that they are so well known for. Meanwhile, Inyo County at the last Inyo County Water Commission presented a plan for Baseline Groundwater Management for the Owens Valley that DWP needs to become aware of. There is nothing sustainable with a plan to extract 96,230 acre feet in a year that is below mean average normal snowpack. There is nothing sustainable with lowering water tables this year with no plan in place and no certainty of the snowpack next year to recharge the aquifer. It is time for the DWP to awaken from it’s dreams of an over abundance of water resource and to begin sustainable management practices in the Owens Valley.

     
  2. Philip Anaya May 18, 2018 at 3:56 pm #

    The DWR today released it’s Draft 2018 Basin Reprioritization plan:

    https://www.water.ca.gov/Programs/Groundwater-Management/Basin-Prioritization

    The Owens Basin has been bumped up from a Medium Priority Basin to a High Priority Basin.
    Speculation of why DWR has modified the Owens Basin just might be a realization at DWR of importance of a Basin supplying a domestic water supply to millions needs to be managed sustainably to adequately address the environmental and hydrologic health in the Owens Basin that provides that domestic water supply. The DWP is in for a awakening from its slumber dreams of bygone practices.

     
  3. Philip Anaya May 19, 2018 at 6:06 pm #

    Here is a link to additional information from DWR regarding the 2018 Reprioritization.

    https://www.water.ca.gov/-/media/DWR-Website/Web-Pages/Programs/Groundwater-Management/Basin-Prioritization/Files/2018-SGMA-Basin-Prioritization-Process-and-Results-Document.pdf?la=en&hash=ECF36B2D7A806112FDF1BB0B622691982B69520D

    This 50 page plus document contains the info in appendix 3 and 4, that the non-adjudicated portion of the Owens Basin extracts 24,228 AF annually . We know that the Adjudicated portion extracts lets say a round number of 80,000 AF .The Non adjudicated is 429,659 acres 65.01% of the basin . The adjudicated is 231,276 acres 34.99% of the basin . It is easy to see that adjudicated portion of the Basin is extracting 3 times the amount of the non adjudicated portion about 1/3 of the Basin . That is a good indication of where the word “sustainable” needs to be addressed in the Owens Basin.

     

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