Several months ago, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power filed legal actions against Mammoth Community Water District to claim that LA owns all the water rights in Mammoth Creek. More recently, LADWP sent a letter to the Forest Service objecting to the issuance of a new permit that covers all Water District facilities on Forest land. This includes water storage, water and sewer lines and pump stations. DWP now says they are concerned about their water rights in this matter in place for decades. The Forest Service says they do not intend to take any action on DWP’s comment and that there are no new uses by Mammoth Water District.
Water District Manager Greg Norby called DWP’s latest objections “petty harassment.” We asked DWP Public Relations Director Joe Ramallo for DWP’s response to that. Ramallo did respond that the Forest Service asked for public comments on the new Forest Service master permit with the Water District. He said LADWP provided comments requesting more information to “better understand how the master permit could affect its operations.”
Ramallo said, “Any actions that the Water District takes in the way of new facilities for diversion, treatment, or discharge could affect LADWP’s water rights and absent a description of the facilities and operations, LADWP has no basis to know if it is affected.”
Forest Public Information Officer Nancy Upham said DWP’s comment was the only letter received on what amounts to an administrative move to consolidate Mammoth Water District’s permits into one master permit. Upham said, “There is nothing new here. The Water District facilities have been in place for decades.”
DWP Information man Ramallo said LADWP’s comment letter to the Forest Service “simply seeks the appropriate disclosure of public information.”
DWP asked the Forest Service to issue a supplemental notice and decision memorandum describing changes by the Water District with an extended public review and comment period. Upham said that Mammoth Ranger District Jon Regelbrugge believes there is no reason to do that.
Upham said it’s “an administrative type action placing all the permits into one. There is nothing new happening on the ground,” she said, “and no impact on water rights.” Upham said the same conveyance and water storage facilities are there and “do not affect water rights at all. There’s nothing new here.” Upham said for the sake of efficiency, creating one master permit “makes good administrative sense.”