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.