Afternoon at the museum

protestorsTo those who see the damage still done by Department of Water and Power pumps, who know of heavy-handed land dealings, not enough water for ranchers, and fear of what feels like colonial power, a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Los Angeles Aqueduct at the museum in Independence seemed in poor taste. But Inyo officials, residents, media and LA officials spent a cordial two hours in the Eastern California Museum before formal comments. Outside, some thirty protestors displayed signs that 100 years of the aqueduct was no celebration for Inyo.

Native American leader Harry Williams

Native American leader Harry Williams

Native American leader Harry Williams said, “No, it’s not a celebration for us. We are here to protest and to show the people of LA and the public that we are tired of being treated just like a water resource and having all the area destroyed because LA wants water. They put up their lawns and their trees. We’re here to show them how we feel.”

DWP General Manager Ron Nichols said, “It would be wrong not to recognize some of the controversy around such a mammoth-scale project.” He said the relationship between Los Angeles

DWP General Manager Ron Nichols

DWP General Manager Ron Nichols

and the Owens Valley has been tested “sometimes to a very thin wire.”

Nichols said he firmly believes that “We can make the best of the collective interests and uses of Owens Valley for mutual benefit and we’re working hard towards doing that, but it requires parties to come together. We’ve been doing more of that coming together of late. And, it’s in that spirit that we are standing here today to recognize this centennial.”

Nichols may have meant the recent LA Times story and the resolution of conflicts in Mammoth Lakes, the Mono Basin and 40 acres. However, the much larger matter of the Owens Valley remains mired in basic disagreements. Asked earlier in the day why LADWP won’t just admit that lowered groundwater kills plants, Manager Nichols said Inyo will not accept a

Christine Mulholland, great-grand daughter of William Mulholland, aqueduct creator.

Christine Mulholland, great-grand daughter of William Mulholland, aqueduct creator.

reasonable method of getting to that.

A kind of celebrity visitor to the aqueduct party was Christine Mulholland, great-grand daughter of William Mulholland, the famous engineer who designed and built the aqueduct. “I think it’s amazing. I’ve never been to the Owens Valley,” she said. “I’ve always heard since I was a child of the family history. When we would visit grandma and grandpa when we were little kids, when we would go by Sylmar, Daddy would say, ‘There’s grandpa’s waterfall’ when we would see the cascade.

“I’ve had all these family stories, but to actually be here – I’ve felt a little emotional at times today. There’s something of the ages up here that I feel. Going out to the intake – I just feel that I’m right in the center of history and that it’s palpable. You can reach out and touch it, see it, and imagine the incredible work.”

Mulholland said her great-grandfather was the spearhead and the visionary to be able to bring the water to what would have remained a “dusty little town south of San Francisco.”

protestsign2Does she have a view on the perpetual conflict between LADWP and people of the Owens Valley? “I’m one of these people,” said Mulholland, “who believe in let’s all get along and if we can’t settle it today, let’s come back tomorrow. I feel that way about world affairs, too. I’m sick and tired of people fighting each other. I really believe there are ways to work through issues.”

Perhaps the most significant remark came from LA City Councilman Tom LaBonge who said to the crowd, “Thank you for thedeputiesatmuseum water on behalf of the people of Los Angeles.” No one could remember a thank you from LA in all those 100 years. From the City that dominates the land and wants to “get all the water we can get,” according to their charter, gratitude has been absent in the relationship.

And a testimony to the Owens Valley resentments stood around the museum in the form of Sheriff’s deputies, prepared to protect if necessary. Officers had earlier checked out the courthouse and the museum for explosives or other dangers, but only disciplined protests marked the deep-seated clash.

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17 Responses to Afternoon at the museum

  1. Jon Klusmire February 11, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    John Walton, author of “Western Times and Water Wars,” will be the featured speaker at the Friends of the Eastern California Museum Annual Meeting on Saturday, March 9. Walton will be at the museum at 4 p.m. for a book signing, then after the potluck starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Legion Hall, Walton will speak about his book and LA’s role in Owens Valley history. You don’t need to be a member of the Friends to attend.

  2. Chip Chipperson February 10, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

    The reason LADWP wants anyone to conserve water is so more and more homes can be built….BY THE 10s of thousands..more homes equal more money for water charges. Once again Cheesy Breath….do some reading “Water Wars” is a great start.

  3. Trouble February 10, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    Wow-the great granddaughters first trip to the Owens. Really. Now she knows where her fat family trust really comes from.

    • Jeremiah's stance February 12, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

      LOL. . Ain’t that the truth.
      Good to know her first trip was met with the Native elders an youth giving their voices!!
      I know they heard us inside and out the museum, Aggressive but yet Peaceful!!!!

  4. Waxlips February 10, 2013 at 4:58 am #

    Bad taste, on DWP’s part. Bad tast on the mesume’s part.

  5. Braveheart February 10, 2013 at 2:10 am #

    This whole centennial celebration of the LA aqueduct is nothing but self-serving propaganda! Are we here in the Owens Valley really supposed to join in the festivities and celebrate 100 years of LA sucking our valley dry?! I can’t believe DWP had the nerve to bring their little party up here! I did notice in one photo that Linda Arcularius sure looked tickled pink standing next to the DWP gang, which she unfailingly supports in all her actions as an Inyo County Supervisor. Biased much? Lame!

  6. Ben Holgate February 9, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

    It is time for the mayor and the city council to declare a permanent moratorium on the further acquisition of private property and water rights in the Owens Valley.

    Enough is enough!

  7. Water Boy February 9, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    Nothing has changed since Mulholland said, “There it is, take it!” , when talking about the eastern Sierra’s water. Do not listen to what Los Angeles officals say. Look at what they do and what they have done. That is where the truth is.

    Filing Law Suits against everyone, then agreeing to settle out of court where they lose nothing, and the other side pays like in the Mammoth Case, is political theater for the masses. They are very cunning, selfish and totally morally and ethically corrupt.

    • Cheese Wonton February 9, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

      The rate payers of LA paid for land, water rights and the construction and operation of that aquaduct. It might surprise you that they do not share your opinion of it or how it was obtained. Why would any half way intelligent person expect the city of LA to give up it’s water rights without a hard fight? LA uses far less water per household than any county east of the Sierra Nevada. The city’s total water consumption is lower than it was in 1979, even though the population grew by over 1 million residents during that time, thanks to strenuous and not always popular conservation measures. LA is tired of the constant whining from the Owens Valley, especially when so many of the residents moved their after that aquaduct was built, and many come from the LA area served by that water.

      • Benett Kessler February 10, 2013 at 10:49 am #

        Officials in our area seem to just want LA to live up to its own signed agreements and protections for the environment we
        have left. That’s not whining. Additionally, thoughtful and responsible people understand the importance of honoring their
        Benett Kessler

      • Water Boy February 10, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

        Hey Cheesey, how about citing some actual studies (not produced by LADWP) on you water use figures. Golf Courses, Freeway landscape irrigation and washing down of sidewalks, is not figured into your numbers I am betting. Nice try Troll.

        • Benett Kessler February 10, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

          I will also note that even if LA has saved water, this does not cancel out the responsibility to treat the Eastern Sierra ethically,
          with respect and sincere concern for the environment. Water conservation is important and so is the necessity of LA to hasten toward
          admission of a quick and sensible way to determine when they have lowered the groundwater to the point that it kills our plants.
          Benett Kessler

      • Big AL February 10, 2013 at 11:36 pm #

        Cheesy that was pretty lame.

      • Mike Prather, Lone Pine February 11, 2013 at 10:39 am #

        LA has a truly remarkable record of conserving water and it is naive to think that it would give up water without a fight or something in return. It nevertheless bothers me that around 50% of the LA Aqueduct water that the City desperately needs is used outside for landscaping etc and not inside for families, businesses and commerce. Owens Valley families are not whining; they are wheezing from the hazardous dust from Owens Lake that the city of Los Angeles is refusing to finish controlling.

    • Philip Anaya February 10, 2013 at 11:09 am #

      I am thankful to the 30 people, including Harry Williams, for standing together to demonstrate opposition to the past, present and supposed future of the LADWP Aqueduct. I offer my apologies for not being there, for not standing with them. Many in the Owens Valley are already committed to this shared opposition and all the rest of us must and can do something into the next 100 years of the Aqueduct.
      The knowledge, recognition and an “accurate history” of the Aqueduct is one but not the only place to start.
      Support of the “Paya Project”, the Cal Poly Pomona “Aqueduct Futures”, the work of the Owens Valley Committee, the Bristlecone Native Plant Society, Friends of the Inyo, Mono Lake Committee, additional groups and individuals that could be named, the Inyo County Supervisors, the Water Commission, the Inyo Water Dept.,the Owens Lake Master Plan stakeholders, the Standing Committee of the Water Agreement and of course the LADWP itself, all need to share and support this “accurate history” as a basis to go into the next 100 years.
      The youth in our schools should have the opportunity to share that “history”. This local history should become part of the curriculium in our schools. Are we smarter than our 5th graders? This education could become the basis for improved social interaction between students. The awareness and respect of shared interests, challenges, accomplishments and the example of the adults in their lives doing this difficult work and achieving success can prove to be a solid foundation of children learning to become adults. An old friend used to tell me that we don’t raise children, we raise adults.
      This is the time to think about the next 100 years. This is the time to imagine the future of the Aqueduct. If we harbor resentments and stew in anger at the DWP we are victims. If we share a vision, chart and demand a new direction, we will find ourselves liberated from the abuses of the past and we will reside from that point on in “the Land of the Free.”
      While others supped and took pleasure in the afternoon warmth of a cozy gathering, I will remember about 30 people who stood together in the wind outside in the cold, outside the current decision making process and the public relation mythology of the LADWP powers that be. It is now time for a change, time for LADWP to truly become the leaders, the stewards of the waters we need into the next 100 years . It seems like a pipe dream, so to speak, but if it can be imagined, it can become reality.

      • Leslie February 14, 2013 at 10:24 am #

        There is absolutley no working with LADWP. I was born in Bishop, my father has lived there almost 80 years, my mother 60 years and I was there 35 and never has LADWP ever cared for the people of the Owen Valley. They would rather run everyone out and have the place to them selves. You cannot deal with the water mafia unless you decide to sell your soul to them. You folks need to do your homework on the valley and never become compliant. Good luck to all who stand against those thieves.

  8. familygal February 9, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

    “Daddy would say, ‘There’s grandpa’s waterfall’”……..oh, brother, really?

    That comment so sad on so many levels given what the people of the Owens valley continue to suffer with as a consequence of “granpa’s waterfall”.


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