A year and a half ago, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power filed two suits against Mammoth Community Water District. LADWP claimed they own the rights to Mammoth Creek water, not the Water District. In January, it looked like the two sides had reached a settlement. Then, in February something happened, and it all fell through. The details unfolded in closed meetings, and no one would comment. Now, Water District Manager Pat Hayes has confirmed that the two sides have “arrived at an agreement of principles for agreement. We are working on a formal settlement agreement,” he said.
LADWP had claimed water rights pre-existing to Mammoth’s. Mammoth Water District officials strongly denied that and pointed to permits granted by the State some sixty years ago. They headed to court but then started to negotiate a settlement. The Los Angeles Times reported in February that the two sides had moved toward a compromise that included a Mammoth payment to LA of close to $5 million which would be used to save water and increase the flow in the aqueduct. The reported settlement also would have dismissed both of LADWP’s suits and included an agreement that neither side would ever challenge the other’s water rights in the future.
That apparent settlement evaporated in late February. Negotiations resumed later and attorneys for both sides have now filed stipulations with Mono County Superior Court to extend the court schedule in the cases and set a status conference. Those documents say, “As of May 30, 2013, the parties’ respective staff and legal counsel are actively preparing a formal settlement agreement based upon principles of agreement developed by the parties’ staff and legal counsel.”
Both sides have asked the Court to extend their appearances by three weeks. The documents ask the Court to vacate the briefing schedule if they come up with a settlement agreement by June 14th. If that happens, both sides want a status conference in late July.
Asked to comment on the details of the principles the two sides have embraced, Mammoth Water District Manager Hayes said he could not.