LA Times reports that DWP will end some of its fights here

latimes2_6-13As local environmental groups stew over what some call the Department of Water and Power’s manipulative negotiations on the Owens Dry Lake and Inyo County still can’t get LA to admit that groundwater levels relate to environmental damage, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that LA, in search of peace, has resolved three other disputes – rights to Mammoth Creek water, Rush Creek water, and water for the community of 40 acres at Pine Creek.

The story says that Mammoth Community Water District will compromise with LADWP on LA’s legal attacks on Mammoth Creek water rights. The Times story says, “In return for less than $5 million, Los Angeles would drop its lawsuit and both sides would agree to never challenge each other’s water rights.”

The story says DWP would use the money for “water-saving improvements designed to increase the flow of water in the aqueduct.” So add $5 million to the Water District’s $600,000 in legal bills and the community of Mammoth ends up with more millions to pay.

In the Mono Basin, the Times says, LADWP will build a $12 million adjustable gate to help water flow down Rush Creek. In Pine Creek and the community of 40 acres, DWP has finally agreed to give the area the water it needs and more in emergencies.

The LA Times story brings up the possibility that DWP wants a shinier image as the centennial of the aqueduct approaches this November and with it lots of media attention. Asked if this were their motivation for resolution of issues in Mammoth, the Mono Basin and 40 acres, DWP General Manager Ron Nichols is quoted as saying, “It’s serendipity. The important thing is to show that the DWP will work with reasonable people to find solutions that work for both sides.”

Maybe in small situations, but so far the enormous water issues in the Owens Valley and Owens Dry Lake remain pinned under LA’s heel.


27 Responses to LA Times reports that DWP will end some of its fights here

  1. Chris February 6, 2013 at 9:50 pm #

    Beware of megagovernments bearing gifts. PR stunt.

    • Water Boy February 9, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

      This is political theater by DWP for consumption by the masses.

  2. Philip Anaya February 6, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

    Ah ,” The Truce” The link for the LA Times “all the news fit to print ”,0,7466364.story

    Sorry to post again to another Sierra Wave LADWP Article, but the link to the story in the Times is interesting and important enough to read first hand.
    The idea that LAWDP is asking $5,000,00.00 from Mammoth Lake folks for their running water in their homes and businesses does not sound like a TRUCE . Rather it sounds like mobster asking for protection money. These words engender disbelief, outrage and disgust in my mind. Mono Lake and Rush Creek. Current elevation of the Lake is about 6383′ above sea level, supposed to be 6392′ in these next upcoming years with reference to the State Resources Water Board Decision 1631. That’s a requirement not a TRUCE.
    We do need a friendlier and better Steward of the Waters and I hate to disrespect the LADWP but they should remember not to get ahead of themselves. Like my friend, the Sup used to say,” One Ah Sh_t wipes out 14 atta boys”. The DWP needs a lot of atta boys.

  3. what next February 6, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    Oh my gosh!

    There is more to this than 5 million. DWP is getting more , it may not be money it is something.

    • Water Boy February 9, 2013 at 7:52 pm #

      Al Capone would be proud of this LADWP shakedown of Mammoth!

  4. Dingo February 7, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

    Perhaps LADWP figured the citizens of the Owens Valley would just roll over and hand over our water rights. Fishy. Let’s not trust them.
    In the words of Mr. Myagi from “The Karate Kid…”Danielson, EYES…ALWAYS LOOK EYES”.

    • Cheese Wonton February 8, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

      One hundred years ago that is exactly what the residents of the Owens Valley did. Don’t kid yourself, the farmers who sold their land did so because they could not make a living farming and ranching in the harsh environment of the Owens Valley. It is high desert, not this land of milk and honey we hear in the tall tails of what the Owens Valley looked like before the DWP. It didn’t take a lot of convincing to get them to sell and plenty of them thought they had sold the new owners a pig in a poke. Ha, see if you can make a living off this desert.

      • Benett Kessler February 8, 2013 at 6:54 pm #

        Dear Cheese, Apparently you have not viewed photos of the turn of the century here, spoken to old-timers or read accounts of what happened.
        Before making snappy remarks, why not look into it a bit. Read a little book by the Parchers called “Dry Ditches” for starters. Then check
        out Bill Kahrl’s book, Water and Power. Farming was booming, water was flowing through ranch and farm lands until Los Angeles and their
        representatives started to buy up land at the top of the water chain, cutting off people below. There were other manipulations. It’s a complex
        Benett Kessler

      • Trouble February 8, 2013 at 9:43 pm #

        Cheese- so you think it is o.k. for people to come up here and buy land and water rights under false pretenses? That’s actually what DWP and the City of Los Angeles did! Please reply.

      • Ken Warner February 8, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

        That’s not even close to the truth. The locals sold because they thought they were selling to a Federal Water Reclamation Development. A water management system that would provide year around water. They were sold this lie by agents of the LADWP. The Fed’s backed out of those plans because the LADWP had told them that they were going to do it and had already purchased land in Owens Valley already.

        In fact, the Owens Valley 100 years ago was a lush farm and ranch land with orchards of fruit trees and herds of live stock.

        Read: “Western Times and Water Wars” by John Walton

        It lays it all out…

      • Big AL February 8, 2013 at 10:10 pm #

        Cheesy, you are partly right .. the Owens valley was though, a good valley to make a living in, and a lot of families did. But, it was not the harshness of the high desert that forced some to sell out.

        It was the depression, anyone who knows something about history can understand .. that the depression made it hard for people to make a living and keep their farms afloat.

        Yes they did sell out, and yes they were offered good money, and a lot sold out, the money offered was better than what they were scratching from the economy, not from the ground.

        Some people saw it for what it was (The land acquisition) and tried to stop it.

        There was plenty of water to grow things but with the bad economy, they could not sell what they grew in the amount that they needed to make ends meet, on a large scale.

        There were quite a few ranches throughout the valley, big and small, a big lot to supply a copious amount of food and materials for a growing nation, which was going through a very bad growing pain at the time. Too large to afford every ranch in the valley to produce goods and send them out.

        So some sold out, and the city bought it up.

        • Benett Kessler February 8, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

          Big Al, What’s your information source?

          • Big AL February 9, 2013 at 11:34 am #

            Benett, that’s just what I have gathered from locals, and reading stories of the local families in the valley, and what I know of the depression times. Am I incorrect, or correct?

          • Benett Kessler February 9, 2013 at 11:55 am #

            The land grab happened before the depression hit.

          • Big AL February 10, 2013 at 11:39 pm #

            Benett you never answered my question .. and for the record I do not support what DWP has done or is doing to the valley.

            I firmly believe they need to be held accountable for their actions.

          • Benett Kessler February 11, 2013 at 8:38 am #

            I did answer your question. The land grab happened before the Great Depression.
            You might want to read Water and Power by Bill Kahrl.

        • Ken Warner February 9, 2013 at 2:35 am #

          Reasonable speculation. I’m sure the LADWP never turned down an opportunity to acquire more land. But the Depression was in the early 1930’s and LADWP had already acquired all the water rights they needed by then and had already shut down most of the agriculture.

          In fact, in the ‘1930’s, they were working primarily on the Mono Lake bypass that diverted water from Mono Lake and dried up Rush Creek.

          “Mono” by David Carle is a pretty good overview of those times.

        • Roger Rilling February 9, 2013 at 11:17 am #

          Big Al- I believe your timeline is mistaken. Most everything happened well before the Great Depression.

        • Desert Tortoise February 9, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

          Which depression? That aquaduct was already 16 years old by the beginning of the Great Depression.

          • Trouble February 9, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

            Hold on now, the great depression did not happen over night. There were many reasons the City of L.A. got away with what they did. Most of those reasons lead to our great depression and our great repression that we are possible still in now. I think Big Al is correct.

      • Water Boy February 9, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

        Try looking at what Israel did in the desert with a little water. This “Desert” had lots of water for farming.

        LADWP Troll.

      • Water Boy February 9, 2013 at 8:00 pm #

        When the truth and the image collide, screw the truth, right Cheese?

  5. Chip Chipperson February 8, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

    Hey Cheese breath, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about…read ‘ Water Wars’ you need some education, no a lot of education….the Owens valley was a pretty lush farming area until the DWP wells sucked it dry.
    Where do you think all the water went when the snow melted in all those mountains you drive by on the way to Mammoth? INTO THE VALLEY…its called gravity.Its called a major drainage.Why do you think William Maholland wanted to tap into into the area?Most farmers were offered cents on the dollar..water rights were taken away and they had no choice….you have soooo much to sound like quite the fool.One more thing…..why are you hiding your name?

    • Big AL February 11, 2013 at 12:05 am #

      I stand by what I said in regard to the depression. I am not defending them, but merely pointing out the fact that people didn’t sell out because there was no water here, we all know there was plenty.

      A comment was made that the high desert couldn’t support the agriculture here, that is pure folly. Even now, with the limited amount of water available, there is a certain measure of agriculture that is flourishing, it may only be raising alfalfa and oat hay.

      There is some vegetable production as well, mostly on small on a small scale. I think, that if it was more profitable, there could be a lot of food crops.

      With recent legislation in California, it might very well be that this sort of home garden food crops could flourish once again.

      I don’t think we will see reductions in water exportation anytime soon, there is always hope, but …. we can possibly win in the area of holding them accountable for their actions.

      But in order to increase food crop production we need to avail more water to the production. That means they lose in water exports, they won’t like it but they may well have to accept it at some point in the future.

      As for the depression, it was something that didn’t happen over night or in a few years. People seem to always think of the era as a certain decade or set of years that it took place, but the truth is .. it set in with the end of the First World War, it might not have hit us as hard as it did some of the European countries, but it was gaining momentum. It was pretty subtle in gaining that momentum until all of a sudden everyone was like … what happened, when the stock market crashed. That! … is what people seem to think when the depression happened.

      • erik simpson February 11, 2013 at 11:04 am #

        Big Al, your ideas about the great depression sound plausible, but they’re inaccurate, at least as regards farm prices. They didn’t begin seriously declining in the US until a few months into 1930.

        Just what led to the great depression (multiple causes) and when they started will be probably be argued over by historians forever, but the economic daily effects of it were for most people sudden. In any event, as already pointed out, the aqueduct and water rights acquisition were faits accomplies by then anyway.

    • Tony February 11, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

      Hey Chip,

      You might want to check your own facts and educate yourself before you claim somebody is uneducated.

      Your “cents on the dollar” statement is completely false. In fact, it’s the opposite. In most instances, LA paid extremely high prices for the land they bought in the OV, way more than the land was actually worth at the time. So much so that, on average, the OV landowners made more money from the sale of their land then they would have if they’d stayed in Agriculture.

      If you wish to educate yourself, a credible source on this particular topic is an article called Chinatown: Owens Valley and Western Water Reallocation written by a PhD at UCSB named Gary Libecap. The article I’m referring to is an extremely credible academic article with an unbiased perspective that is peer reviewed and published in the Texas Law Review. In it is an analysis of US Census data which effectively disproves the exact argument you’re making regarding the land sales.

      You’ll also learn that while crop production was a large part of agriculture in the valley, long term profitability was in raising livestock rather than growing crops. A very good comparison to this fact would be the growth of Lassen County’s agriculture. Lassen County was a very similar region to the OV and had similar agriculture at the time, very similar to what OV could have been without LAs impact. As history shows, that region saw a larger movement toward livestock. Following this pattern, it is extremely likely that crops in the OV would not have been able to compete economically as the State of California grew; livestock ranches would have been the lifeblood.

      Don’t take my word for it, though. Read it for yourself. Again, I am not siding with DWP nor am I excusing their shady and stubborn dealings the last 100 years. I just found this article to be extremely informative, unbiased, and supported directly by data. It’s hard to find unbiased and credible sources on this polarizing subject.

      A copy of the article can be found on this site:

  6. Daris February 11, 2013 at 10:09 am #

    What happened in the early 1900’s has happened and we can do nothing about it so get over how, why and for what reason Los Angeles got the land and large water rights to the Owens Valley.

    What we need to be fighting about is the Long Term Water Agreement that was made and signed by both Inyo County and Los Angeles and is not being obeyed. Under the LTWA the Department shall continue to provide water for Los Angeles-Owned land in Inyo County in an amount sufficient so that the water related uses of such lands that were made during the 1981-82 runoff year can continue to be made. The Department shall continure to provide water to Los Angeles-owned lands in the Olancha/Cartago area such that the lands that have received water in the past will continue to receive water. Additionally The Department shall provide water to any enhancement/mitigation project added since 1981-1982, unless the Inyo County Board of Supervisors and the Department agree to reduce or eliminaate such water supply”.

    It is the duty of the Inyo County Board of Supervisors to abide by this signed agreement and to make sure that the Department of Water and Power abides by it also.


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