Letter submitted by:
Mike Prather’s June 11, 2018, letter to Sierra Wave regarding DWP’s latest outrage
invites comment. Here are two.
Mike Prather posed the question, “Why would Los Angeles do this?” i.e. dry up 6000
irrigated acres in Mono County to send more water down the Aqueduct. The question I would pose is, “Why would anyone in the Eastern Sierra wonder why Los Angeles would do this?”
Los Angeles is a colonial power and we live in its colony. We shouldn’t be surprised
when it exploits our resources: that is one reason colonial powers maintain
colonies. The deceit and betrayal of public trust in the early 1900’s which allowed Los Angeles to attain its colonial power are well documented. DWP continually seeks to persuade people it has changed, and Mike Prather cited the Owens Lake Master Project as a positive example.
I suggest there are far more reasons to believe DWP has not changed than there are to believe it has. The Owens Lake Master Project itself can be seen as a negative example of cooptation of local environmental groups as mush as a
positive example of “collaboration”.
Mike Prather concluded his letter with another question, “When will the ‘Bad old days’
be truly over?” The answer is simple: when DWP overcomes its addiction to Eastern
Sierra water and goes home i.e. ceases being a colonial power.
It is entirely possible for Los Angeles to do this — see a recent UCLA study at
However, the status quo of colonial rule offers the path of least resistance. It will
require considerable determination and political skill to develop the consensus among LA political leaders to make the infrastructure investments for water conservation, recycling, and stormwater capture necessary to implement the UCLA proposals.
Mayor Garcetti is clearly not up to the task, notwithstanding his rhetoric about sustainability and reducing reliance on imported water.
What can we, in the Eastern Sierra do? First, don’t give up. We should not accept
colonial status, and self-determination is worth fighting for. Second, do not be fooled
by DWP and its apologists. The drying of the irrigated lands in Mono County is but the latest entry in a list of DWP abuses which continually grows longer and will not end until DWP leaves.
Finally, do what you can to educate people in Los Angeles about DWP’s unjust and environmentally devastating management. In the court of public opinion we
have very strong arguments. We need to start making them.