So mystified by what some have called the “bizarre attack” by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power on Mammoth’s water rights, officials have begun to organize an appeal to LA’s mayor and other officials to seek a peaceful resolution and forget the lawsuits.
When Mammoth Community Water District Manager Greg Norby spoke to the Mammoth Town Council last week, he laid out the legal attacks by the LADWP to take all of Mammoth’s water rights in Mammoth Creek. He said, “The City of Los Angeles has put up its whole weight and resources to invalidate Mammoth’s water rights.” Norby told the Council that the amount of water involved, roughly 2600 acre feet per year, is “less than half of 1% of the basin export from the Eastern Sierra.” He said compared to LA’s overall water supply, the amount is “immeasurably small.” To Mammoth, it’s a very big deal. For more than 50 years, Mammoth Creek has consistently supplied the town with more than half of its water.
Norby said LA’s real motivation in this fight is “a matter of speculation.” LADWP and Mammoth are so far apart in their negotiations that an outreach has begun to Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa, the LA City Council, and DWP Water and Power Commissioners to express Mammoth’s opposition to the lawsuits and support for a negotiated resolution which would avoid “a decades-long water rights battle.”
The Mammoth Town Council agreed to send such a letter, and the Water District has asked the Mono Supervisors to draft a similar letter. Norby planned to speak to the Mono Board on Tuesday about this issue. The Supervisors were expected to endorse a letter.
Meanwhile, Water District lawyers get ready for a Change of Venue hearing in Mammoth Court Thursday morning at 9:30am. LADWP wants its lawsuits against Mammoth’s water transferred to Fresno County Court. Norby has asked community leaders and citizens to attend the hearing to show the judge how important it is to have the cases tried in Mono County.