In order to bring in state grant money for water issues, this week the Inyo Supervisors voted to get started on the creation of an Integrated Regional Water Management Plan.
According to Inyo Water Director Tom Brooks, the State is encouraging areas to set up these management plans to help resolve local water conflicts as well as to combine local resources to manage water. In order to get people to make nice on water issues, it appears that the State is using money for leverage.
Voter approved propositions 50 and 84 set aside about nine billion dollars to fund water projects in California. In order to cash in, local governments, agencies, and private groups of stakeholders have to create integrated water management plans.
After DWP sanctions and deals, the county could still be short 2.2 million dollars to pay for the cost of the upkeep on the Lower Owens River Project. Brooks also explained that the Water Department itself may run short of cash in the next few years as payroll costs rise.
With this water management plan in place, money for other water projects, like flood planning, protection of ranches and farms, and town water systems could become available.
With any big water management plan in the Eastern Sierra, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power needs to be a willing partner or in all likelihood nothing will happen.
It's not yet known if LA is interested, but DWP is already a stake holder in one of these Regional Water Management Plans in the Los Angeles Basin. The Supervisors voted to approach DWP with this idea for a regional water management plan.
Whether this over-arching water management can keep water issues out of court is yet to be seen. As for the money, Brooks thought that it could be up to three years before the plan is complete and the state money starts to roll in.