Judge Lee Cooper has
denied LADWP's request to declare the Lower Owens River project
complete and to lift his sanctions against the City. Judge Cooper found
that LA failed to comply with requirements to install 17 monitoring
stations along the river. Last August, the Judge ruled that until LA
completed the river project, they could not use the second LA aqueduct
and would have to pay daily fines of $5,000.
The Judge, who earlier issued sharp statements about DWP's failure to
complete the river project, was more conciliatory this time. His
decision says that "DWP has proceeded with commendable diligence since
the orders in question were made." The Judge goes on to say that
"Regrettably, however, given the history of the LORP, a certain level
of skepticism by the other parties about DWP's representations is
understandable, particularly when required monitoring stations have not
been provided and the additional flow data that would have been
generated is not available."
The Judge's decision says that DWP must comply with requirements
before he lifts any sanctions. The Judge does urge the two sides to
meet and confer to resolve their issues informally. He also says that
DWP should "install flow monitoring equipment at the pump back station
ASAP." That's the pump at the southern end of the river that returns
water to the LA Aqueduct.
Don Mooney, attorney for the Owens Valley Committee, said that DWP
redefined the project, unilaterally without the approval of the Court
or the MOU parties or modification of the EIR. Mooney said the Judge’s
August order required 17 measuring stations before river waters flowed.
He said DWP only put in 9.
David Nahai, Chairman of the Water and Power Commission, said that
the Judge gave DWP a clear message and commended them for their diligence
but points to skepticism and the need to resolve the issues. Nahai said
that DWP will meet and confer with the MOU parties and work on a
communication of trust, which has been lacking in this relationship.