The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power will apparently clean up 98% of the toxic Owens Lake dust, but they don’t want to go the whole 100%. In a lengthy press release from DWP Senior Assistant General Manager for Water, James McDaniel, the news came out that DWP has appealed the latest dust control requirement by the Great Basin Air Pollution Control District.
The release goes to great lengths to tell about how much money DWP has spent on the dry lake – a billions dollars – and how they really don’t want to spend much more. The Owens Dry Lake dust has been described as the worst pollution source of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. The California Air Resources Control Board had supported orders for DWP to clean it up. So did a court.
Under specifics spelled out in the clean-up orders, the local Air Pollution Control District must assess whether further measures are required, according to air quality at the lake bed. Ted Schade, Director of APCD, had earlier issued an order for DWP to clean up additional areas. DWP claims they are being asked to clean up dust not created by their water diversions but by something else – maybe nature, they say.
DWP also complains that the State Lands Commission, which owns the lake bed, won’t let them use methods other than water or gravel to control the dust. So, LADWP and APCD entered mediation. It didn’t work. DWP appealed the local order to the State. Mr. McDaniel wants the public to know that DWP fears forever being saddled with dust control and that DWP customers will have to pay for it.
The news release claims that DWP’s “commitment to the Owens Valley environment has been demonstrated time and again by our implementation of Owens Lake dust control measures and dozens of enhancement projects in the Valley.” What the release doesn’t say is that DWP has failed to carry out many projects in the Owens Valley ordered 15 years ago. Currently, DWP has sued to get all of Mammoth’s water and continues to fight with Inyo County over groundwater pumping.
The DWP press release does say they hope to reach an agreement with APCD.