Inyo Takes Issue With DWP Water Plan

Inyo County Officials take issue with portions of the proposed LADWP operations plan for the coming year.

At the Inyo Supervisors meeting Tuesday, Water Department Director Bob Harrington laid out the Countys response to the plan. As part of the Long Term Water Agreement, LADWP is required to provide the operations plan to the County on April 20th each year so that the county can comment on the departments plans for groundwater pumping and water exports in the coming year.

With a third year of below normal runoff, and the dust control project on the Owens Lake, the plan is to send a relatively low 136,213 acre feet south this year. This year is also the final year of an interim agreement that limits groundwater pumping while Inyo and LA work out new pumping rules.

While the County did not lay out any beef with the overall amount of water set for export, there were other issues.

Harrington explained to the board that the operations plan this year came with a statement that said only Inyo Water Department staff was authorized to read the plan. According to LAs view, I shouldnt be providing you with this, Harrignton said, something he disagreed with. He explained that the operations plan is a public document which is essential, to provide to the public.

The second official comment from Inyo County was less contentious. LA plans to pump 63,100 acre feet of groundwater this year. Harrington said that this number is consistent with the amount allowed under the interim pumping plan.

Harrington reports that last year LADWP pumped 1349 acre feet over what the department had planned, measurably lowering the water table. He explained that the county could simply subtract that amount from what DWP plans to pump this year, but since most of the pumping proposed this year is for in-valley, uses, that course of action might lead LA staff to reduce irrigation water for lessees in the Owens Valley.

Another method to make up the water, according to Harrington, is to disallow LA to reduce irrigation water, or water used for environmental projects due to the dry year expected, up to the amount overdrawn last year.

From here the comments go back to the Department of Water and Power. Next, staff from Inyo and DWP will try to work out the differences at the technical group.

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