Inyo Supervisor Chair Linda Arcularius is right about one thing – water is scarce. The Inyo Supervisors heard much talk about this issue at their meeting on Tuesday.
Local ranchers, who sit on the Agricultural Advisory Committee, reasoned that the more water that is used to keep down Owens Lake dust, the less water DWP will give to ranch lessees.
Supervisor Bev Brown asked directly about the connection between dry lake mitigation water and ranches. If water were saved at the Dry Lake, where would it go? DWP Manager Gene Coufal said only, "We will meet all of our obligations."
Some ranchers wonder if they can expect what they have always received. This past summer, DWP ranch lessees in west Bishop believe they received far less water than they have in the past. DWP has indicated that they received their legal allowance of 5 acre feet per acre.
Inyo Water Director Bob Harrington confirmed that the Long Term Water Agreement does spell out LADWP's obligation to provide water to Los Angeles-owned lands in Inyo so that water related uses that were "made during the 1981-82 runoff year can continue to be made."
Regardless of what happens on the Owens Dry Lake, the Agreement spells out water for ranchlands. Harrington said that the Agreement also promises continuing surface water conveyances and protection of other vegetation that may survive on run-off of ranch irrigation.
Harrington called this an important part of the Agreement that needs a harder look in the future. The Water Director said that everyone recognizes that to the extent the Long Term Water Agreement is complied with, "that's what protects uses of water in the Valley." Harrington agreed that there are regional pressures on water supplies all over the state, but said, "We have the Water Agreement and we need to enforce it."