By Deb Murphy
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power came out with its 2018-19 operations plan late last month. Inyo County came back April 30 with its own recommendation, below the low end of LADWP’s proposed range.
LADWP’s range started at 77,990 acre-feet, topping out at 96,230. The high number, according to Inyo’s response, is the highest volume since the “environmentally damaging amounts” in the late 1980s. Based on well fields that remained below the mid-1980s baseline even after last year’s epic run-off, Inyo’s preference was 74,450 acre-feet.
The County presented its arguments at last week’s Technical Group meeting. The crux of that argument: the lower number “allows the multiple goals of the Long Term Water Agreement to be met with a more responsible and sustainable approach.”
The County recommended 6,300 a-f from Laws, a drop from LADWP’s minimum 9,400 a-f. The water table had improved but the vegetation had not according to Water Department staffer Keith Rainville.
Paul Huerte from Big Pine Paiute Tribe of the Owens Valley objected to the 20,550 a-f minimum for the Big Pine well fields, noting the water was used at the fish hatchery but flowed on to the Aqueduct.
The County wants to hold pumping at Independence-Oak to 5,990, almost half of LADWP’s minimum. The water table remains from 2- to 6-feet below baseline. The same ratio of the County’s recommendation to the department’s minimum was in place at Bairs George to keep Well 812T within a foot of baseline.
The Standing Committee will weigh the recommendations at its May 31 meeting.
Update on Five Bridges and Well 385
In the face of 18 motions corresponding to Inyo County’s questions on Well 385 and the Five Bridges mitigation, last week’s Technical Group lumped those questions into one motion. That motion didn’t resolve any of the issues; it simply passed the questions onto the Standing Committee meeting.
Both the Tech Group and Standing Committee require unanimous agreement to pass any motion. The Standing Committee meets in Los Angeles but will be broadcast at the department’s Mandich Street office.