A new Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Aqueduct Manager will take over the Eastern Sierra headquarters soon. DWP confirmed the report that James G. Yannotta, Assistant Director of Water Resources in Los Angeles, will come up to the Bishop office in early April to start the transition. He will take over July 1.
Current and long time Aqueduct Manager Gene Coufal will retire sometime after that date. DWP Public Information Officer Chris Plakos is familiar with Yannotta, who he says has climbed Mt. Whitney five times, enjoys mountain biking and hiking.
Yannotta has been described as a people person. In Los Angeles, he has handled recycled water programs and conservation efforts. In his role as Aqueduct Manager here, Yannotta will take over the task of extracting as much water as possible from the underground while continuing to divert all surface water.
The Inyo-Los Angeles Long Term Water Agreement only deals with groundwater. DWP sets a yearly pumping plan and Inyo County agrees or not. In 2011, Inyo did not agree, but the Inyo Supervisors declined to carry out a full dispute over the pumping amount.
Most expect dispute is likely this year in the face of what appears to be a drought. LADWP likes to raise the pumping rate in dry years to make up for what they don’t get from snow melt.