Dry Lake hearing revealed hostile LADWP

dry lake

On the attack – that’s the way observers described Los Angeles Department of Water and Power attorney, Stuart Somach as he battled through a hearing before the California Air Resources Board in Sacramento against local air pollution control orders in Inyo County.

APCD Director Ted Schade had analyzed the Owens Dry Lake pollution, as required by a signed agreement and by law.  He found the need for DWP to clean up 2.9 square miles more to meet federal air quality standards.  LADWP exploded and refused.

At Friday’s Sacramento hearing, Somach was described as very confrontive.  He told the hearing officer that the issue has been in dispute a long time with no satisfactory conclusion.  “We are done,” pronounced Somach. “We are not going to continue to argue.”

At one point, Somach said the State Lands Commission is responsible for the dust clean-up, even though LADWP signed agreements saying they were.  Somach called the relationship between State Lands and the APCD “Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.”

LA and APCD each had 2 hours to make their cases.  Somach and LA experts argued that the lake level was lower when DWP started diverting water.  They attacked the APCD computer models and then claimed that archaeological artifacts in the lake bed can not now be disturbed. Then they turned to the expense of water for dust mitigation and what a waste it is.  DWP’s lawyer did not say that LA was never required to use water to mitigate the dust.  They can use gravel.

APCD’s layer, Peter Hsiao pointed to the legal air quality requirements.  LADWP is bound by signed agreements from 1997 forward and by local, state and federal air quality laws. The Air Resources staff had analyzed everything for 10 months and found in favor of APCD on every point.

Director Schade said he has been willing to work with LADWP on their concerns, but he said, “They can’t say they’re done until they’re done meeting legal requirements.”

Executive Hearing officer, James Goldstene, asked both sides to draft proposed orders.  He will then come up with the final order in 30 days.


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31 Responses to Dry Lake hearing revealed hostile LADWP

  1. Not Scared to say it June 18, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

    ok y’all pro LADWP individuals. LADWP dosent care that you live here too. It doesnt bother them that you have to see our valley deteriorate, avoid going outside when pm 10 and pm 2.5 levels are too high, or having to deal with invasive species in areas they have aquaduct runoff.

    Its not in my caliber to harm any child, only he might understand that we need somebody to uphold some responsibility to the causes of the water going south bound!!

    • Big AL June 18, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

      Not afraid to say this either .. but first, I am not pro DWP. their arguement, as I have said … that lake levels were not as low as the findings claim, that is true to a certain extent.
      As I have said, and before people get all bent by what I am saying here lend an ear to this … there was some lake level drop before they took over diverting water. Due to water practices in the valley through farmers and ranchers. It can’t be denied, but that does not let DWP off for their part in it.
      They know this and so does the APCD. They both know where water levels were and who is responsible from one elevation to the next. DWP and their lawyers are using this fine point of truth and exploiting it in hopes that some one will sympathize wit them and rule against having to further mitigate their efforts to eliminate the dust problem.
      Grabbing at a straw, and it might just well be a good one for them. .. but people who can use this against them, should use it wisely, and I think it will back fire on them.
      A little give and take could be a good thing for the case against DWP, it will give more credibility the citizen’s case, and give stronger credence to making them fulfill their responsibilities.
      Not scared, I think .. having them and their kids (while it seems it might work) come up here to spend some time on a windy day is sort of a good idea .. Really .. too bad someone with the ability to film some dust storms, film baseball and soccer games and picnics and such, in a documentary setting and put it on NATGEO, some sort of venue like that.
      Get the word out like the green people do about things, such as what was done for Mono Lake. Bring it to all of the people .. end users of Owens water and California citizens at large, heck … put it out all over the world on the net .. on the tube, youtube, you name it. Supporters will come out of the wood work to hop on the band wagon, just to ride it and bring pressure to bear on LADWP.

      • Not Scared to say it June 19, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

        I like it Big Al. Thanks for the superb Ideas!

        And yeah I do see the fact that the level was dropping due to rancher diversions, but at least that diverted water was still recharging our aquifers. Another issue I am passionately concerened about (our Groundwater). On that note do you think it is possible that in the future we can have massive sink holes in the valley where the water table has dropped???

        • Big AL June 20, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

          You’re right Not scared .. the early water usage did help recharge ground water. I do not see the any huge sink holes happening, the pumping is not usually localized I don’t think. But the ground water tables will definitely drop, unless pumping is drastically increased, in which case there could be some settlement, but not sink holes, most likely.

      • sammy July 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

        Having not lived in the owens valley, but traveled through it over the last 40 years, why was there water visiable off hwy 395 in the 60’s and 70’s? Sure it maynot of been very deep, but there was water. Stop the DWP from perpatrating this 1929 lie, that the lake was drained then. I remember seeing the lake waters across the lakebed under water. Little lake’s motel had springs right up to and next to the hwy.
        Seems to me this lie continues to spread.
        As far as DWP not puting any fresh water into the lakebed, if they drained it, they should replace and repair it, at least for the migratory birds, if nothing else.

  2. Chris June 18, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

    What? LADWP hearing hostile?? Pssshhhhaaawww! How could that be? Seriously, I hope that Executive Hearing Officer Goldstene studies the comments and the case thoroughly while each side is drafting its proposal. When LADWP drags its feet and either shows up without a proposal or asks for an (or several extensions), in its typical fashion) I also pray that Officer Goldstene imposes the harshest fine or whatever punishment possible upon them AND admonishes LADWP about their arrogance toward the law. We, in the Owens Valley, expect LADSP’s nasty attitude. It’s time someone with teeth pulls them close and tells them how it truly is.

  3. Alexander June 19, 2012 at 7:18 am #

    WOW LADWP you pay for a overpriced attorney and he comes up with “Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.”

    LADWP you are not in “Wonder land” and we all know this is not a dream.

    And a big thank you to APCD Director Ted Schade for not flinching when the old dog shows it’s yellow teeth.

  4. Rob June 19, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    “archaeological artifacts in the lake bed can not now be disturbed”

    They only play that hand when it suites their goals, the fact is they all ready prooved they have no problem tearing down historic buildings, now they’re worried about archaeological artifacts?

    I call BS.

    • Big AL June 19, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

      You’re right Rob, artifacts is always a big trump card. I think .. they should send down the archeologists to scour and sift the lake shore to get all of the artifacts picked up and cataloged. Of course DWP will have to pay for that too, a little added cost in that can of worms they opened up. hmmmm.

      • Not Scared to say it June 20, 2012 at 8:35 am #

        Touchy subject Big Al. Cataloged and then what? let scientist have there way with some of our ancestors remains and put them on display? or have them in small little packages and boxs for years and years.
        What about the ceremony that takes place when one dies and is buried, and the purpose of letting there spirit take that journey.
        I feel they should always be put back in ground immediately!

        • Big AL June 20, 2012 at 11:30 pm #

          Remains .. yes that is more than a touchy subject, I think they shouldn’t even be unearthed myself. I hadn’t thought about the remains of persons deceased, I was referring to the lithnic scatter from the people who lived here before us.

          God forbid they find remains on DWP’s behalf, that would really cause them grief.

          I was being a little sarcastic in my response to Rob, but it is true. I would say it is something DWP does not want to hear.

  5. JeanGenie June 19, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    We no longer have “common dust storms”. In fact, several recent (last 6 months) PM10 alerts or violations were not caused by Owens Lake. Of, course, Shady (oops Schade) and crew don’t want that to get out! They want people to think every time its dusty its from the Dry Lake, it fits into their plan of empire building. If they had to admit the Air Quality was getting better, they might have to lay off some of those highly paid, entitled government drones.
    Owen’s Valley air quality is very good, whether you folks want to believe it or not. If all the dust is caused by DWP, why are there duststorms in Eureka, Panamint, Saline, and Death Valley, and out in Tonopah? Think maybe cause we live in a DESERT? How do you folks explain the sand dunes in these places? The work of Ancient astronauts? Sort of like crop circles?

    • Benett Kessler June 19, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

      Sour grapes must not taste very good. Why don’t we stick to the science.
      Benett Kessler

      • JeanGenie June 19, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

        Ok Benett,
        Although I assure you that the grapes are sweet.

        Great Basin tested dust control methods on DWP’s dime for at least 15 years, they did not force DWP to use water based control measures, but they tested little else, and in fact the methods that measure “compliance” are based on the amount of water cover or plant cover, not actual dust generation. Unfortunately (for them)(and stupidly or lazily in my book) DWP didn’t do enough of their own research and used Great Basin’s flawed and poorly coordinated studies as a guide for the dust controls.

        The water based methods have improved the habitat for birds, including the snowy plover, which was endangered. So would you all rather have gravel?

        The Lone Pine tribe was complaining about artifacts being disturbed, I suppose with good reason, so why is that DWP’s fault for responding to them?

        How about the Keeler residents that say they would rather have the dust back then deal with the bugs and the smell that now comes off the Lake? Some people just like to complain, and when they got the big bad City of LA to complain about, it makes them feel all warm and fuzzy.

        • Benett Kessler June 19, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

          You are certainly right that some people just like to complain.

          • Social phenomenon June 20, 2012 at 7:39 am #

            We live in times where mere complaining with no solutions whatsoever are offered is fashionable. Today’s GOP-laden US Congress has the distinction of the fewest laws passed in 70 years.
            Then, whatever is offered gets the ol’ “thumbs-down” as being “too liberal” all the while believing this is the truest American Way.

          • Not Scared to say it June 20, 2012 at 8:51 am #

            When it comes to artifacts, its not complaining.
            its being upset in a rational fashion knowing your ancestors life and death isnt being respected in the way you would like your own to be!!!!!!

    • Rob June 19, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

      I just drove by the lake bed this afternoon. I’d say they have plenty of work left to do.

      I’m curious where they think the dust in the Owen’s Valley comes from if it doesn’t come from the lake bed.

      • Big AL June 20, 2012 at 11:38 pm #

        Rob, i have to say .. there is a considerable amount of dust right now throughout the valley, being the area is so dry from lack of moisture.

        If the north winds are blowing hard, at this time there is a lof of dust blowing from where the wind finds it, so we are not getting the lake dust.

        You’re right, there is a lot of work left to do .. it just seems that now DWP wants to quit.

        • Benett Kessler June 21, 2012 at 9:44 am #

          Just a side note – the toxic dust from Owens Lake has been blowing for decades. There is nothing that
          confines that dust to the lake bed once it blows around. Same dust settles on many other parts of
          the Valley (even down to Ridgecrest) and blows up with the next strong wind. Benett Kessler

          • Big AL June 21, 2012 at 6:47 pm #

            Yes Benett … coming back from Death Valley today, btw . the wind was blowing out there, like a blast furnace, not a lot of dust blowing around out there.

            But, as soon as I got to Dolomite Loop Rd. I could see the dust being carried from the lake north. The South wind was taking it north for a change. Funny how that happens too .. blows it north as well as south .. hehe.

            I was coming back up 395 a couple months ago on the stretch of 395 from China Lake BLVD north to Inyokern. The North wind was blowing pretty good, you couldn’t even see more than a couple miles in any direction.

    • Not Scared to say it June 19, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

      I do know the air has been clearing up, but I still am not convinced a lot of it isn’t coming of the lake. I mean I live right next to it. And can see with my own eyes where it is originating from.

      They seem pretty common to me.

      And yes we do live in a desert even more so now.

      I love this place to much to stay quite.

      Yeah I am going with ancient astronaut Idea.

    • Big AL June 19, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

      You’re right on some points Jean G .. First, the air quality is good at vertain times, when the wind doesn’t blow, you’re right, but …. when the wind blows, the air quality blows too.

      And yes .. not all of it is caused from the lake, a lot of times north winds kick up dust and carry it south or visa versa.

      Air quality has not improved in regard to what comes off of the lake, I have seen the clouds of dust the wind picks up off of the lake, that happens with every wind event. The dust from winds in other areas is not in any way hiding the fact that the Owens lake chemicals are still being blown by the winds, that, is what DWP has to mitigate.

      Nice try though … that argument might hold water with those that do not know better. And people are not as simple as you try to make them feel.

      Also, you can not compare Death Valley, Tonopah, Eureka dunes, Panamint, Saline Valley, with the Owens Valley, in your grasp to smoke screen DWP’s responsibility for controlling the Owens Lake dust problem.

      Those areas all do not have a surface water source, other than the occasional rain showers. They are dry desert areas, which usually all are at lower altitude.

      Yes the Owens Valley is desert, but it is high desert for one, but with it’s proximity to the two mountain ranges on either side, it receives abundant water from those mountain ranges, and consequently, it is much greener and wetter.

      Prior to modern man’s water works, the Owens lake was evaporating on its own at its natural rate. Between early settlers and :LADWP, they have sucked it dry.

      • Not Scared to say it June 20, 2012 at 8:46 am #

        Nice One!!

    • Reality Bites June 19, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

      DWP Troll.

  6. Alexander June 20, 2012 at 8:34 am #

    The story here is not who is responsible, all of that was settled years ago. The story is the new play book that DWP is now using to once again try and bully it’s way out of a signed agreement. That agreement has been working for cleaning up the dust with over 90% containment to date.

    The latest LADWP Manager Ron Nichols has changed the direction to play hard ball. Start by suing GBUAPCD, CARB and Mammoth water. Get the LP Tribes divided the ranchers divided the people of Owens Valley divided. Then the whole process stops with the exception of the water heading South.

    Remember it is far more cost effective to litigate and pay for more study than to pay for construction and further mitigation.

    This same tactic was used to stall the Owens river restoration. Until court ordered fines of 5,000 dollars a day and the big thing of stopping the 2nd aqueduct until the river had a flow of 40 cubic feet per second. Then DWP could not get the river done fast enough.

  7. Jeremiah June 20, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    I am done with these fake names unlike some of you who dont want to let everybody know who is really behind the childish behavior you show. I am not speaking of everybody that blogs on this website, I dont need to name any names cause deep down they know who they are.

    So on the artifact issue I will always feel they should be out of the ground no longer then how long it takes to figure out what it is!

    It should be returned to the local tribes, so they can return it there way. Rather then having people take it home without understanding what they have.

    Most People now and days are so selfish and self serving that it is cheating out generations to come.

    • Benett Kessler June 20, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

      Please refrain from all of the self-righteous jabs. Have some thoughtful ideas to share? Go for it.
      Blogs can state ideas without anger.
      Benett Kessler

    • Big AL June 20, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

      I hear ya Jeremiah.

    • Alexander June 21, 2012 at 8:15 am #

      Jeremiah on all the Owens Lake projects it is mandatory that both archaeologists and tribe members are on site at all times during any excavation. All artifacts that are found get recorded and then put back where they were.

      Also not all of the artifacts are from prehistory (before Europeans) there is allot of artifacts from mining soda ash and boat docks used for the two steam ships that transported silver from Keeler to Cartago. Over all history of what was a 110 square mile lake.

      At some point I hope it all makes it to print because it is a fascinating story.

  8. Jeremiah June 21, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    I understand Alex. And I agree the Native American culture is very fascinating.


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