The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power continues to attack community water rights in Mammoth Lakes. LADWP filed two lawsuits that claim Mammoth Creek water belongs to Los Angeles, not to Mammoth. LADWP now wants their lawsuits transferred to Fresno County Court. Mammoth Community Water District Manager Greg Norby said, “LA’s attorneys believe the Fresno area courts will be more sympathetic to their water grab.”
In a statement to Mammoth Lakes and Owens Valley Community Leaders, Norby said that the District considers DWP’s lawsuits to be “without merit and is taking aggressive actions to defend the community’s water rights.” Norby said these rights to Mammoth Creek water were properly issued to Mammoth Lakes by the State of California nearly 50 years ago and have been “put to beneficial and well-managed use by the community.”
Norby said that the consequences of LA prevailing in these lawsuits would be “severe and long lasting for our community.” Depending on the availability of groundwater, Mammoth Creek flows supply half or more of the Town of Mammoth’s supply.
Manager Norby also reported that LADWP has recently filed a number of court motions related to the two lawsuits filed against Mammoth’s water district. He said one of the motions seeks to change the court venue from Mono County to Fresno County. Norby responded that “The District strongly believes that Mono County water issues should be adjudicated in Mono County where the fullest appreciation of the impacts of any legal decisions can be expected.”
The change of venue hearing will will take place Thursday, April 12, at 9:30am at the courts building in Mammoth Lakes. Norby has urged residents to attend the hearing and ask friends and neighbors to join, as he said, “to demonstrate to the presiding judge and Judicial Council that this case is of critical importance to the citizens of Mammoth Lakes and the larger Mono County community and should rightfully be heard in the local courts.”
LADWP filed two lawsuits against Mammoth Community Water District. The first attacks the Environmental Impact Report on Mammoth Creek fish flows on the grounds that Mammoth allegedly has no water rights in Mammoth Creek to regulate. The second suit attacks the validity of Mammoth’s Urban Water Management Plan based on the same allegation.
In earlier press releases, LADWP officials claim LA’s water rights to Mammoth Creek waters supersede Mammoth’s. Check out a history of this issue and water rights documents on Mammoth Community Water District’s website – http://www.mcwd.dst.ca.us/CityofLALawsuits.htm.