OVC report on LORP Summit


Boating through the tules.  Photo by Frank Colver

Boating through the tules. Photo by Frank Colver


Four Owens Valley Committee (OVC) Representatives were granted entry to the first all day “Lower Owens River Project (LORP) Summit” meeting on Tuesday, July 29th.  Participants included: Los Angeles Department of Water and Power staff and attorney; Inyo County staff, Water Commissioners and attorneys; Sierra Club representatives, consultants, and an attorney; California Department of Fish and Wildlife staff; consultants Ecosystem Scientists; and three lessees.  Neither media nor interested members of the public were permitted entry, despite OVC’s requests that the meeting be open for observation.

The LORP is compensatory mitigation for over 20 years of DWP water gathering activities in the Owens Valley, and re-watering began in December 2006.  The purpose of the summit was to share information and perspectives on LORP conditions, and presentations were provided by consultants and DWP and Inyo County Water Department personnel. The group heard about water flows, fish, wildlife, and plants.  Rancher Scott Kemp also provided information about the condition of his lease that covers a portion of the LORP.

The presentations revealed positive trends resulting from over seven years of re-watering.  The fishery is improving every year, birds are more abundant, and cattle are well-managed.  Concern about the amount of tules was discussed at length, and their presence is positive or negative depending on their location and density.  The consultants explained that tules, which are tall reeds that thrive in saturated conditions, help purify water of poor quality that comes into the LORP from Tinnemaha Reservoir, but they also degrade water quality as they seasonally decompose and rob the water of oxygen.  It was also learned that below Mazourka Canyon Road, according to scientists and rancher Scott Kemp, the river is obstructed in several places.  There may be several causes for these obstructions including beaver dams, overgrowth of tules and the condition of the river bed before commencement of the LORP.

The first day ended with a proposal by DWP to modify flow regimes, and their proposal included increasing not only the amount of water released to the LORP but also the amount pumped back to their aqueduct so that water does not spill onto Owens Lake.  A lively discussion ensued, and time ran out before any conclusions were drawn.

The field trip is Wednesday, July 30th, with the conclusion of the LORP Summit on Thursday, July 31st.



5 Responses to OVC report on LORP Summit

  1. Yeah, Beavers! July 30, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    Insofar as the obstructions increase saturation of the river bed, they must be excellent in terms of restoring ecosystems. There is no danger of flooding on the lorp, the City must maintain a flow of 40 cubic feet per second along the full length of the channel anyway, so what does it matter? They want to unilaterally increase flow, no strings attached, that is great!

    Has LADWP used the full capacity of its pumpback station on the lake at any point in the last 7 years? If not, they don’t need increased capacity for any reason.

    This is a zero sum game. At the end of the day all that matters is the amount of water LADWP is extracting from the Owens aquifer. This year the City is pumping somewhat less than the previous two years, though I think in the context of a three year drought LADWP activity continues to do permanent damage to vegetation and ecosystems Big Pine and South.

    County leadership should be used to directing staff to repeat the word “no” to the City as long as they are not in compliance with the water agreement. LADWP is in violation of the agreement currently as serious impacts are visible in Southern Inyo and their current actions toward lessees are arbitrary and capricious. If Mr.Kemp’s lease is compromised the City needs to make it right, but the LORP is not a bargaining chip.

  2. Anita July 30, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

    First paragraph says meeting was on January 29; is that correct?

  3. Philip Anaya July 30, 2014 at 5:21 pm #

    This report which is of interest to the Valley and this reader is substantive, is informative and comes from the Owens Valley Committee. This report is not from the ICWD or the DWP or anyone else. Thank You OVC for again and again watching the waters and sharing facts and up to date information to the Wave and thus to all of us. I hope to see further updates , I hope to see solutions to the LORP for this important work for the Owens River for the Owens Valley.

  4. Mike Prather July 31, 2014 at 6:16 am #

    Valuable field trip yesterday. It even rained! Any change in pump back station flows or size to meet the LORP goal requires unanimous consent of the MOU parties. Any MOU party can prevent those changes from happening. Once again there were excellent presentations by science staff and consultants on fisheries, tules, habitat, grazing, recreation, T&E species, new woody species like willows. Good exchanges between the parties. Questions asked, suggestions made. Today the parties meet to debrief and look ahead to the future.

    There is much to do on the LOR and having the parties together has immeasurable value and opportunity.

    May river run through it, and not a canal 🙂


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