Low Water Exports Expected This Year

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has released the annual operations plan for Eastern Sierra water. With a third year of below normal runoff and the dust control project on the Owens Lake, the plan is to send less water south than in past years.

The snow that melts and runs off into the creeks and river that supply the aqueduct is expected to come in at 71% of normal for the year. According to the operations plan, the Department on average has exported 363,000 acre feet of water from the Eastern Sierra annually since 1970. This year the plan is to send 136,213 acre feet south.

On the issue of groundwater pumping, this year is the third and final year of the agreement to limit pumping while staff with the Inyo County Water Department and DWP work to rewrite the groundwater pumping rules that both sides say dont work as a method of avoiding environmental impacts.

In the drought of the late eighties, the Department pumped close to 200,000 acre feet of groundwater for export. This year the plan is to pump 63,100 acre feet of groundwater.

This year the City expects to receive 23% of its water from the Eastern Sierra. The bulk of the water supply, 64%, will be bought from the Metropolitan water district of Southern California. Pumping in the San Fernando Valley supplies 12%, recycled water makes up 1% of the supply for the City.

At 23% DWP officials report that this is one of the lowest historic forecasts for water exports from the Eastern Sierra. The reasons for the relatively low water exports expected this year are listed as multiple years of below normal runoff, reduced groundwater pumping required under the Interim Management Plan, reduced exports from the Mono Basin, and the increase in water demand for the Owens Lake Dust Control and the Lower Owens River Project.


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