In a series of contradictory moves, the Department of Water and Power refused to go along with wishes of the Lone Pine school farm on water needs – that was at the Standing Committee meeting, then they unilaterally issued a lease changing the location of the long-established farm and then they switched course again. The Inyo Supervisors tried to sort it all out.
Water Director Bob Harrington explained that DWP did not want to give more water to the farm without taking water from some other enhancement/ mitigation project. Staff from the Water Department and DWP worked to come up with a plan. Harrington said it’s not the best plan, but it’s better than DWP’s first idea.
Both sides agreed to include the high school farm in the Van Norman mitigation field with lessee, Spainhower Ranch. The Ranch would give part of its water to the school farm. So, Spainhower would get less water, except for the fact that DWP has never given them the water they were supposed to. So, they will actually get more water. The school will not have to move all of its fencing and water lines.
For one more twist, Agriculture Instructor at Lone Pine, Brenda Lacey, said DWP sent her a new lease with their unilateral proposal. She’ll sign it and then they will give her another lease that goes along with what the Supervisors voted on.
Originally, more than 15 years ago, DWP agreed to provide water to the school farm. It just never happened. When the County pushed them on it, DWP didn’t want to do it unless they got more water. It was an angry conversation at the Standing Committee. Inyo called LA’s hand on the broken promises. DWP would not agree with Inyo.
Anyway, it has all come back around with a rancher getting less water, but really more water and the high school will get what it wants. If that doesn’t make sense, you are not alone. Supervisor Linda Arcularius astutely noted that DWP “did what they wanted” and then accepted that they were over-ruled by policy makers. It now goes back to the Standing Committee where Inyo Supervisors will support the final plan.