By Deb Murphy
In mid-April, Mono County asked for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s help to ensure adequate irrigation water for grazing leases in Southern Mono.
Garcetti, basically, blew the Board of Supervisors off, referring them, in the future, to the LADWP Board of Commissioners’ head Mel Levine. Mono Supervisor Fred Stump called the response “condescending.”
LADWP’s decision to not irrigate 6,000 acres of grazing leases has been postponed until the department goes through an environmental review. But, the water that will be supplied, according to Garcetti’s letter, is less than minimal.
The letter states: “Staff has indicated that the amount of water provided will likely be similar to 2016, which was also based on snowpack conditions.” Mono ranchers got 4,600 acre feet in 2016, the year before the epic snowfall/runoff. Mono County snowpack was at 71-percent of normal with an anticipated runoff of 73,000 acre feet. According to this year’s department operations plan, runoff is at 82-percent of normal with run-off anticipated to be 82,700 acre feet.
In prior years, ranchers received five acre-feet per acre for a total of 30,000 acre feet on the Long, Little Round and Round valley leases.
Mono County’s response to the May 1 Garcetti letter points out the flawed math. The water delivered amounted to 18-percent of what ranchers had received, not proportional to the actual percentage of normal runoff. According to Mono’s math, proportional water deliveries would total 23,900 acre-feet this year.
Garcetti made the mistake of referencing “returning flows to the Owens Gorge.”
Mono’s letter, signed by CAO Leslie Chapman, states “We regret to inform you that despite having three years to implement the settlement agreement, LADWP has made little progress in completing the facility improvements necessary to implement the flow regimes…. Even more frustrating, in recent discussions with plaintiffs…., LADWP has taken the position the three-year deadline is subject to interpretation and it need not comply with it.”
The County’s letter did cover Levine, as well as 33 other interested parties.