In Mammoth Lakes, water district officials now deal with Department of Water and Power lawsuits aimed at all of Mammoth Creek water. LADWP says it’s their water, not Mammoth’s. On Tuesday, February 21, LADWP staff and attorneys met with Mammoth Community Water District Manager Greg Norby and legal counsel in Sacramento for a settlement conference. LADWP’s hardball approach offered no help.
Manager Norby said that LADWP would not agree to put their two lawsuits and public record requests on hold to negotiate a settlement. So, the clock is ticking on the suits and requests. Norby did say that both sides have agreed to meet again March 28th in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, Norby said Mammoth Community Water District will draft an updated set of principles for a potential settlement agreement. He said this document would build from ideas originally proposed by MCWD last April. Back then, LADWP had complained to MCWD but had not yet sued.
During Tuesday’s settlement conference, Norby said LADWP refused to support what’s called a tolling agreement – a voluntary agreement to put the lawsuits on hold. MCWD’s attorney said that agreement to stop the clock on lawsuits is common for settlement talks and a “basic courtesy in most similar proceedings.” Manager Norby said, “We consider DWP’s refusal a calculated action taken to keep pressure on, rather than fostering productive efforts at resolution.”
The tactics in the fight against MCWD resembles LADWP’s combative approach to the Owens Dry Lake issues – picking on small districts with modest budgets who then have to lawyer up. Officials say Inyo County may be next in line for a fight with DWP over more water.