Some who attended Wednesday’s Standing Committee meeting of Inyo and Los Angeles officials concluded that the two parties really have very little agreement on water, groundwater pumping and the environment.
After nearly five hours of meeting and talking, news emerged that the Standing Committee did not agree to reduce the water supply to McNally Ponds and pasture Enhancement/ Mitigation Project in Laws. Earlier this month, LADWP had announced they did not want to give the ponds water and finally sent something in writing to the Inyo Water Department last Thursday. DWP also wanted to use groundwater pumps, not river water, to supply the McNally project. The Long Term Water Agreement says the Inyo Supervisors, DWP and the Standing Committee must weigh in on changes to mitigation projects.
At their meeting Tuesday, the Inyo Board decided that the issue of reduced water supply to McNally had to go to the Technical Group of Inyo-LA for evaluation before any decision could be made. They repeated that at the Standing Committee, which did not agree to reduce the water supply.
Another issue, long under debate, is the area called Black Rock 94. The Inyo Water Department had determined some time ago that DWP pumps have done serious damage in that area near the Black Rock Fish Hatchery. Inyo has repeatedly asked DWP to respond to this and provided LA with reports more than a year and a half ago. Inyo Water Director Bob Harrington had said in May that the vegetation conditions at Black Rock have been below baseline most years. He had said that over time the type of vegetation has changed from grass to shrubs. This pattern violates the Water Agreement.
Back in May, Harrington had said Black Rock and Laws, site of the McNally project, are “two particularly damaged spots.” Will Inyo County go to dispute resolution with DWP over Black Rock? Water Director Harrington commented this week that the issue could go to the dispute resolution process. He said the Water Agreement says within 21 days of issuing reports on issues, either side can initiate the dispute mediation process.
One more issue of disagreement. LADWP wanted to change how they provide water to many mitigation projects – switching to pumped water from surface water. Inyo officials said that this question must go to the Technical Group for review. It can not be a unilateral decision.
And so goes the relationship between Inyo and LADWP.