Submitted by Philip Anaya
A miracle is in the making in the Owens Valley . For the first time in 48 years the Eastern Sierra has more snowpack, more runoff, than we know what to do with . Although flooding and its effects loom large in the immediate future, the miracle of 2017 are the effects of the possible recovery of our water tables and those lands affected by drought and the export of waters.
Although the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act is in its initial formation process there is this opportunity for the Owens Valley to begin and achieve the 2042 Sustainability Requirement now in 2017 fully 22 years ahead of that schedule.
Now this may seem like a Hollywood movie but this is real and this can happen if the LADWP and Inyo County can immediately come to grips with a plan.
The Plan is not a new idea. It has in the past been proposed, considered but not implemented. Simply it could be called “The Owens Valley Water Table Baseline Management Plan” and it is a simple 2 step idea repeated over and over into the future and if implemented it might become a miracle of sustainability . So the way it works :
1. Recover the water tables in the entire Owens Valley including an emphasis on depleted well fields to a suitable baseline elevations. We will have the water this year to do this and who knows if this golden opportunity will occur ever again. This needs immediate management by Inyo County and LADWP along with the ongoing emergency flood control activities .
2. Monitor the Water Tables throughout the Valley utilizing the existing network of DWP monitoring wells. Coordinate and balance the pumping plans into the future between the projected runoff , the needs in Los Angeles and the maintenance of the Water Table with a commitment , make that a requirement, that the Water Tables in well fields if drawn down in a first and second year, elevations in the third year will be required to recover to that suitable baseline either through recharge of the water table from beneficial runoff or a restriction of the amount of pumping from the well fields .
If this Plan is initiated immediately we will not miss out on the opportunity to benefit the environment in the Owens Valley.
If this plan is initiated immediately by the 2042 there might not be any more Mitigation Projects certainly there should not be any new Mitigation Projects. This Plan in a sense might be considered a departure from the Long Term Water Agreement idea of beneficial soilwater and vegetation monitoring but it is not a departure but an arrival ahead of schedule for the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and sustainability in the Owens Basin.
Let’s hope that Inyo County and the City of Los Angeles have the foresight and the ability to begin immediate discussions for Green Book revisions of the LTWA to make this happen and let’s not get mired down in process.
The runoff is coming and then it will be gone . Along with preparations for the specter of flood lets begin a conversation for dealing with the beneficial side of our epic 2017 runoff miracle .