In 1940, the family of Stan Matlick of Bishop won a court decision called the Hillside Decree that limits groundwater pumping in the Bishop area to the amount used on Los Angeles-owned lands in what’s called the Bishop Cone. No groundwater is to be exported. This year, Mr. Matlick thinks the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has pumped too much water.
Matlick checks the pumps on Bishop Cone and told the Inyo Water Department, Water Commission and Sierra Wave Media that three wells were pumping steadily in the Bishop area in December and January. Matlick said he believes there weren’t enough uses on the Bishop Cone for all that water. He believes some of it went down the aqueduct where it’s not supposed to go. Matlick said he was told DWP needed to pump during winter months to feed Farmer’s Ponds and Buckley Ponds. He said the ditch to Farmers’ Pond was dry, and he didn’t think more water was going to Buckley Ponds. Matlick said in the past little pumping has gone on during the winter.
Water Director Bob Harrington said that his Department checked with DWP officials who indicated they needed the pumped water for “stock water and for Buckley Pond.” In January, Harrington said it appeared there were not enough uses going on to justify the amount DWP was pumping. Harrington said Inyo requested that they turn off some pumps. He said DWP told his Department they would shut off one or more.
DWP Public Information Officer Chris Plakos said as of December 31st, LADWP had “delivered significantly more water to LADWP lands on the Bishop Cone than had been pumped plus the amount flowing from uncapped wells.” He said that since pumping on the Cone was “well within the provisions of the Water Agreement and Hillside Decree, two of the three wells on the Cone that have been operating continue to run.” Plakos said that in a “cooperative response to comments received, the third well was turned off.”
DWP conducts an annual audit of Bishop Cone water use and pumping to comply with the long-held court decree.