According to Mammoth Community Water District Manager Greg Norby, Mammoth and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power have reached an agreement to ask for a delay in legal proceedings while they negotiate. Meanwhile, more news reports point to LA’s insistent attack on Mammoth’s small amount of water use.
Settlement talks will address LADWP’s legal challenge of the Water District’s rights to Mammoth Creek. LA claims Mammoth has no such rights. The Water District strongly disagrees and hired a high-powered Los Angeles public relations firm, Cerrell Associates, to get the word out about the David and Goliath fight.
Manager Norby said that Judge James Garbolino has the final word on whether or not the court will allow the postponement of the case. Norby said this kind of request for a stay in legal cases is not uncommon. He said there are settlement meetings scheduled for October 9th and October 17th. Norby said the meetings will likely take place in Los Angeles.
He said participants will include DWP General Manager Ron Nichols and attorney Stuart Somach. For the Water District, participants will include attorney Steve Kronick, two board members and Norby. After the settlement sessions, both sides will confer with the Judge on October 18th. Norby said this appearance will “determine if sufficient progress has been made in settlement discussions to warrant continuing the stay on the court proceedings.”
On a different but related note, Manager Norby tried to put Mammoth’s small amount of water use in perspective. He pointed to the recent news that Crystal Geyser plans to expand its water bottling plant in the Olancha area to use roughly 360 acre feet more per year. Norby said Mammoth’s average consumptive use of Mammoth Creek over the past five years has been about 390 acre feet.
Meanwhile, at the end of August, the LA Weekly publication offered a story on LA’s move to get Mammoth Creek water. DWP Water Chief Marty Adams is quoted as saying DWP is willing to negotiate for Mammoth to pay DWP for Mammoth Creek water. Manager Norby said that would cost more than $2 million a year. The article says at stake in this fight is “an astonishingly small amount of water.” The LA Weekly article says the amount of water at stake is used by Los Angeles DWP customers in one day.
The article also quotes Adams making one of the usual LA arguments. He claims the LA City Charter demands that DWP go after “every drop of water.” This, after two years ago Adams denied that this was LADWP’s policy.
The LA Weekly article points to another interesting water factoid. The article says, “The agency loses tens of thousands of acre feet of water each year to preventable leaks and bursting water mains.” The article quotes an estimated 31,680 acre feet of leaks annually.