A way to drought compromise, but no resolution yet

soforkbishopcrkIf the Department of Water and Power, Southern California Edison, DWP lessees, and Inyo County can all agree, management of water in the Bishop Creek drainage this summer may take place to keep some water in the lakes, streams, private ditches, and ranch pastures. At this point, it’s all still an “if”. No meetings on the issue have yet taken place.

At the recent Inyo Water Commission meeting, movement in positions did seem to take place and show that a practical modification of the Chandler Decree, which sets out Bishop Creek flows, might happen. DWP and Edison officials did say they were willing.

Sierra Wave Media contacted Bob Prendergast for his exact position on these matters. He has attended water meetings on the Bishop Creek issues in the past couple of months. He said that he made several points at the Water Commission meeting:

1- The Chandler Decree is a federal court order that requires Edison to maintain certain flows in Bishop Creek.

2- The Chandler Decree does not provide LADWP with any authority to modify its flow requirements and modification of the Decree must be made through federal court.

3- The Inyo-LA Water Agreement is a state court order that requires LADWP to irrigate certain lands if water is available, including lands irrigated with Bishop Creek water.

4- Prendergast said it was proposed at the Water Commission meeting that during the current dry year, Edison would make the determination that it can not meet the Chandler Decree flows and based on this determination modify the flow requirements to ensure water is available throughout the season. Prendergast said he stated that since Edison expects that it will not be able to maintain Chandler Decree flows throughout the irrigation season, “I thought that seemed to be a reasonable idea and maybe this solution can be proposed by Edison.”

Prendergast said he also stated that LADWP is “willing to enter into discussions that could result in the flow requirements of the Chandler Decree being modified.” Prendergast added that if a proposed change to the Chandler Decree flows could result in a program of providing less irrigation water during low runoff years, the Inyo-LA Water Agreement requires the Inyo Supervisors to approve any program that would result in irrigation reductions.

Prendergast said LADWP would also want the agricultural lessees that might be affected to take part in the discussion of a “potential program to reduce Bishop Creek irrigation during dry years to ensure water is available to other uses throughout the year.” Again, meetings among agencies on this issue have reportedly not taken place yet.


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6 Responses to A way to drought compromise, but no resolution yet

  1. johneliot April 23, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

    Is Edison saying that from the head waters at Bishop Creek, this year there is not enough water to meet the Chandler Degree flows?

    • Benett Kessler April 23, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

      That’s what Bob Prendergast of DWP is saying. Edison has not yet responded to me on this question.

      • Betty Simpson April 25, 2014 at 9:02 am #

        I think Edison is saying they can’t meet the Chandler Decree flow schedule. There is a difference between the “Chandler Decree” and “flow schedule”. If natural flows on Bishop Creek are less than the flow schedule then that is what will be released. They are saying that in dry years like this natural inflows are typically less than the flow schedule in most months?

        • Benett Kessler April 25, 2014 at 10:21 am #

          I don’t know. Neither Edison or DWP has stated that. There is a flow schedule in the Chandler Decree. I believe there is a question as to whether Edison can meet that flow schedule in this dry year. BK

  2. Philip Anaya April 24, 2014 at 7:42 pm #

    Trouble shooting a solution to Bishop Creek, to the Inyo, in this 3rd year drought is a challenge to everyone.
    Most impacted are the folks in West Bishop who have had dry wells. There is a need to assist these folks and what and where has the DWP, Inyo County, State of Calif and the Feds done anything to help them with water in the kitchen sink.
    The next impact, more dry wells is hopefully being mitigated . There is currently water in the ditches of West Bishop .
    The idea of a solution for an agreement betwen SCE and DWP for an “adapted management of this years Bishop Creek runoff ” call it whatever, being necessary to keep water in the ditches and into the water table for the domestic wells came from the Water Commission Meeting and Bob Harrington’s report of the Chandler Decree Sections and Mark Bagley’s idea that if there is not enough water for the Chandler Decree Requirements then SCE and DWP can agree to a management of whatever water is there.
    Lets encourage that agreement post haste .
    There is too much history of distrust and contention with the Valley and the DWP . That history can only be changed with cooperative efforts . Nature has provided a 3rd year drought almost as a challenge to us humans, the way I see it, to deal with each other and our earth responsibly. We are all looking for wisdom and cooperative efforts from the DWP and SCE to deal with the challenges of this drought and the issues of the Bishop Creek Drainage Basin and we will all be rewarded by the success of any and all of efforts of the DWP and SCE in this regard .

  3. MajorTom April 25, 2014 at 8:19 am #

    Wouldn’t the best help for the people of west Bishop be to help them to lower their wells to a secure water supply, one that does not depend on surface water maintaining a high water table? Using large amounts of surface water for landscaping seems wasteful. Perhaps the neighborhoods could form water districts to more efficiently access water and begin construction of distribution infrastructure so individuals could do away with their own wells. Seems like drought conditions could go on for a long time and reoccur often.


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