Director of Water Operations for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Martin Adams, had hit the public relations trail recently to sell LA’s latest plan for the Owens Dry Lake. The bottom line – DWP will spend the money to protect bird habitat there if they can quit cleaning up dust on the Owens Dry Lake. He pitched the Supervisors with LA’s wishes. DWP’s plans continued with an historic trend – to pit environmental interests against one another in the hallmark divide and conquer tactic. He said if more water is used on the dry lake, there will be less water for ranchers and others.
It was Inyo Supervisor Rick Pucci who hit on the underlying point when he said there must be “trust on both sides.” He said to Adams, “I trust you, but I don’t know that I trust DWP.” Pucci said, “There has to be a certain truth level.” He said there must also be compromises made to reach commonality.
Supervisor Chair Linda Arcularius told Adams that there has to be a “level of certainty regarding water for ranchers.” She said this would contribute to the level of trust Mr. Pucci spoke about.
Ranchers Scott Kemp, Tom Noland and Mark Lacey did point to the lack of water spread on the Valley floor. They think it’s because LA has to put more water on the dry lake to control dust. What no one said is that the use of water is LADWP’s choice. State and federal law and signed agreements have forced LA to clean up the massive dry lake dust. They choose the method. Water is cheapest.
Nancy Masters of the Owens Valley Committee pointed to the Long Term Water Agreement which says LADWP must continue the water to ranchers as it was in the 1981-82 runoff year. Said Masters, “Why is stock water being affected. We need to make sure the ranching community is receiving water pursuant to the Water Agreement.” In fact, the Supervisors have failed to address that issue. Masters also said that even if LADWP saves water at the Dry Lake, there is no assurance they will leave that water in the Owens Valley for ranchers.
Supervisor Jeff Griffiths pointed out that the Supervisors have no control over the Air Pollution Control District, the State or the courts which have jurisdiction over dust control. Supervisor Mark Tillemans pointed to LA’s land ownership that has fatally damaged the Owens Valley from economic development. Supervisor Matt Kingsley pointed to LADWP possibly side-stepping the Owens Lake Master Plan committee.
Adams promised no economic development. He did say that what will happen to water savings “will be addressed.” Adams will apparently return with a more complete plan in a couple of weeks. We will have more on comments at Tuesday’s meeting on later broadcasts.