Water Director questions DWP’s pumping plan


Water Director Harrington says DWP's pumping plan is vague and uninformative.

Inyo County officials call the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s proposed pumping plans for this year vague, uninformative and in violation of the Long Term Water Agreement.  Inyo has asked for changes, but will LADWP ignore those requests as usual?

Inyo Water Director Bob Harrington has laid out Inyo’s problems with LADWP’s pumping proposal in written comments.  Harrington said that the Water Agreement requires a proposed plan to include projected groundwater pumping by well field monthly.  Instead, DWP has proposed a broad range of pumping rates by well field and a total pumping rate of between 61,900 acre feet and 88,000 acre feet.  Harrington said Inyo would support the 61,900 acre feet as a valley-wide pumping rate in this dry year.

Harrington also points out that monthly well field pumping rates add up to 93,000 acre feet not 88,000.  Harrington questions some of DWP’s other figures and calculations and disagrees with DWP’s complaint that it has had to use too much water on enhancement/ mitigation projects.

Harrington analyzes each well field based on the maximum DWP might pump since it’s unclear just how much LA will actually pump and manage the water.  In Laws, Harrington says DWP’s plans would cause declines in groundwater levels leaving them below baseline levels that LA was expected to reach long ago.

In Bishop, the Hillside Decree won by the Matlick family in the 30s demands that DWP not pump water for export, but DWP is complaining about water uses and losses there.

In Big Pine, water levels remain below the baseline and DWP’s maximum pumping proposal, Harrington says, would take the levels lower and well below baseline.  In nearby Taboose-Aberdeen it’s the same story – DWP pumping would take water tables lower and they remain below the baseline.  South of there at the Blackrock 94 area, further water table decline is predicted.  This area is already the subject of an in-depth evaluation for significant damage.  In the Independence area, maximum pumping would lower the water tables which are already below baseline.

Between Independence and Lone Pine, Harrington said proposed pumping would mean water table declines and the areas remain below baseline.  In Lone Pine, there are concerns about Well 416 which could impact private and tribal lands.

Parcels in most of the well-fields show a vegetation decline that has continued over the 20 years of operating the Long Term Water Agreement. Inyo and LADWP differences will be discussed at a May 9th Technical Group meeting.


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16 Responses to Water Director questions DWP’s pumping plan

  1. Trouble May 2, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

    Inyo needs to fight DWP . Our property values and way of life is on the line.

  2. Bill May 2, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

    This is ludicrous… why can’t the courts stop LADWP from destroying the valley and blatantly disregarding previous water agreements. They don’t have a right to ALL the water they want!

  3. MJA May 3, 2012 at 12:50 am #

    Why isn’t The Hillside Decree being upheld, does anyone know?


    • Benett Kessler May 3, 2012 at 9:06 am #

      The Hillside Decree is being upheld thanks to Stan Matlick of Bishop who went back to court in the 80s to once more defend the 1938 decree. His attorney was Barrett McInerney, who successfully defended the decree against an attack by LADWP. In this year’s pumping proposal, LA was complaining that the required Bishop Cone Audit does not account for Known uses and losses. Inyo’s Water Director Bob Harrington pointed out that the audit is conducted “as agreed to by the Inyo-LA Technical Group.” Harrington also stated that “In accordance with the Hillside Decree, groundwater extracted must be less than groundwater used on the Bishop Cone.” LA can not export groundwater from Bishop thanks to the decree. BK

      • MJA May 3, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

        Thanks B,

        So The Hillside Decree does not include the rest of the valley I take it?


        • Benett Kessler May 3, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

          The 1938 circumstances focused on what’s called the Bishop Cone which is a large area that goes north of Bishop, in Bishop and south nearly to Big Pine.

          • MJA May 3, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

            Perhaps then Benett if the Hilltop Decree can stop DWP from pumping Bishop ground water then the same legal arguements can be made for a new decree to stop and protect the rest of the Owens Valley. For surely the ground water being pumped outside the Bishop Cone area is the same groundwater of the Bishop Cone.
            Has an expansion of the Hilltop Decree to include the entire valley ever been tried?
            Thanks again,


          • Benett Kessler May 3, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

            As I recall the Hillside Decree is more complex than that but I can’t recall off hand. Inyo County did have a groundwater ordinance which would have protected the rest of the Valley. 78% of Inyo voters approved it. DWP sued Inyo and Inyo caved in. Benett Kessler

  4. Ex-Resident May 3, 2012 at 8:15 am #

    Who the heck does LADWP think they are anyways? Just like Caltrans, LADWP seems to just ignore their duties to the people of this state by thumbing their noses at the agreements they signed. This is what happens when you let a private entitiy take over essential needs. Greed comes into play and now we have chaos. Caltrans has thumbed their noses to the needs of the state also and just decide what roads are to be maintained and which are not. Who do these people think they are? How about we fire both entities and start over? Both have breached contracts many many times and they do not deserve to be reinstated. Come on people. Stand up for a change….

    • Wayne Deja May 5, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

      Ex-Resident..Have to mention a story that happened in Lone Pine you might find kinda funny,and concerning LADWP…and your saying “who do they think they are?” We had a fire in town a few years back,a big one,that ended up burning 2 or three homes to the ground…totally out of control for quite a while,on a windy day.Firefighters were there from Lone Pine,Independence,and Olancha,and maybe even Big Pine…and what stood out for me watching it all unfold was LADWP employees(not volunteer firefighters) were there,directing traffic, and attempting some type of control of the situation,like they were some type of “in charge” of the firefighting and safety efforts going on.And,the thing is,those that were in charge,and trained to handle the situation said or did nothing to back them off.I’m a firm believer in,if there happens to be an emergency,of anytype,when civilians try to take control,and act like “authority”..of anyone but themselves…when they are not…it can end up making a bad situation a lot worse.Some people don’t like being told what to do by “wanta-be ” authorities.

    • Big AL May 5, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

      You don’t even know what you’re talking about ex resident. How about we fire you .. we’d be better off, than to listen to your rhetoric.

      • Big AL May 5, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

        I don’t agree with what DWP is doing .. but it just irks me to read rhetoric such as what you posted, trying to bring others into your misery. Who are you going to slam next?

  5. Daris May 3, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    Any person who is good with numbers or words can make them say almost anything. LADWP has lots of sharp employees who make up these charts and graphs that at first glance look good but when it gets down to the truth most of them are just smoke screens. The Long Term Water Agreement says the vegetation in the valley will be maintained as it was in 1981-82. I know my eye sight is not what it use to be but am I the only person who can see the decline in the vegetation on Owens Valley? Who and how is vegetation be monitored? When are the people of Owens Valley elected and private citizens going to stand up and demand LADWP abide to what has already been agreed upon?

  6. JeanGenie May 3, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

    As far as I know the Inyo Water Dept, in cooperation with DWP is supposed to be monitoring vegetation. The ways and means were/are supposed to be defined by the Long Term Water Agreement and associated “Green Book”. I guess I also wonder what is going on with that these days.

    • Daris May 4, 2012 at 8:18 am #

      The Green Book is being revised for I don’t know how long before but since I started attending meeting in 2008 the status of revisions is on most agendas. I have yet to see any progress be made other than more meetings and discussions. So more of the same old smoke and mirrors by DWP to make it look like they care about the Owens Valley vegetation.

  7. Big AL May 5, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

    Water drains from the valley naturally, but with all of the water being being moved by DWP in the fashion it is moved, and with ground water pumping, of course the vegetation is declining. The ground water pumping is what we need to be worried about, not letting DWP pump ground water, it is what does the damage more than collecting surface water.


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