Letter to the editor: DWP and conflict resolution

la_aqueductDear Editor
    November 5, 2013 will be the Centennial, the 100 year anniversary of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. The incredible idea and the engineering feat that has flowed mostly unabated for 99 years,  is in stark contrast to the ongoing dysfunctional conflicts that rage on and on between folks in the Owens Valley and the DWP.  We seem to know something about hydrodynamics yet hardly a whisper of humanity. 
    I had a sense to attend the Owens Valley Committee meeting Dec 12 at the White Mountain Research Station . DWP won’t talk to me so……..There was a presentation made, centered around the Long Term Water Agreement. There was a panel discussion with folks who had given a big part of themselves to have helped author and participate in the Agreement formulation process. The difficulties of achieving and the maintenance of the Agreement were addressed and later discussed with everyone in the room. The discussion was mostly about a history and prognosis of failure, of disappointment and yet there is a resolve to venture forth into the future with The DWP. The OVC is not going to disappear.
    I have had questions, reactions and thoughts of what I should do as an individual. As much as anyone, I love this place. Always happy to say I live in Bishop. I ‘d sure like to see the next 100 years here. At least I can imagine and hope how everything could be better. I want my oak tree to still be changing  colors with the seasons . I like to imagine the snow fall all around us . I’d like to think of everyone, despite being of all different types of individuals, still mostly getting  along and still being  good neighbors and friends . I’d like to think that  DWP as an institution could also become a better neighbor and friend . I might be crazy to think that this could happen but it can and it’s not a bad idea. It’s not nearly as crazy as DWP wanting every drop of water no matter what, no matter what the price.
    Everything and everyone needs water. We all can agree to that . As a starting point of renewed trust and and hope for going forward, how about continuing the list of what’s agreeable of the common ideas and ground that we share. How about growing up and being adults ,that being and having the ability to teach our children well. What about a gift to coming generations, lessons and examples of resolution of conflict, avoiding war whether it’s words ,lawyers or however it is waged .  It is time for peace in this Valley that matches the beauty and majesty all around us. As a mother gives sustenance to its young so that they grow healthy , strong and sustainable so can Mother Nature via the Aqueduct continue to give sustenance,strength and sustainability  to a city and the lives of it’s people, the key word being sustainability.   Have we not learned anything of how to address and resolve  issues in the past 99 years. What about  the next 100 years. It is time for the Technical Group to communicate in a better ways and find solutions , as well as the Standing Committee. If those individuals on those groups cannot or will not advance  the process then take a break from what is above your abilities and let someone else have a try.  There should be a unified recognition and resolution of all issues and then some kind of celebration of the Centennial of the flowing waters might be possible. Although some may disagree as to the wisdom of the initial idea of the Aqueduct, well, it’s here . Millions of people rely on the water.That however does not mean that the DWP has a million times more right to the water. Rather or in addition the DWP has a correlating million times more responsibility with Mother Nature in mind.  There is still time to achieve progress in this first century. DWP took on the responsibility of dealing with Mother Nature in the Owens Valley,  99 years ago. DWP recommitted to that responsibility when they signed the Water Agreement. They need to become steadfast in that responsibility. It should not be up to people outside the DWP to monitor dust from the Owens Lake or any other of the issues that have been raised. All these issues should have been identified by the DWP and they without prodding,without discussion and without legal redress  should have taken responsibility and found and made solutions years ago.
     Educators at Cal Poly Pomona are working on a vision for the future of the Aqueduct, www.acqueductfutures.wordpress.com  How about some of my DWP rate payer dollars supporting this work. That would be about a commitment to accept and deal responsibly with the results and recommendations of their conclusions . It seems that if DWP and the City of Los Angeles cannot do this then they’ll just continue on the path to suck the Owens Valley dry and with that horrific result, in the next hundred years, then  they will have plenty of sand in which to bury their heads.. Thank you for this opportunity to express my opinion,  Philip Anaya

40 Responses to Letter to the editor: DWP and conflict resolution

  1. Steve December 19, 2012 at 8:52 am #

    I posted the above letter form President Roosevelt to help put into prospective the mind set of the day. And to say the Federal government was the one that gave LA the rights to the water. At the time there was no way to know what the drying of Owens Lake would cause.

    But here we are today with stage 2 alerts for PM10 dust blowing into Keeler. LA took what was given to them by the feds maybe the feds gave an inch and LA took a mile. But it was the feds that made it okay and it should be the feds that make it right. The feds should be helping to fix the dust they caused by giving the water to LA. Not LA left to hold the bag. This would make a big change in how the lake is fixed by not having DWP rate payers footing the whole bill. The Owens lake could be a super fund type of site with fed moneys.

    So please LADWP spend your money on getting the feds to take irresponsibility for what they help cause, it would be money better spent than spending your money trying to not fix to fix the dust.

    • Desert Tortoise December 19, 2012 at 9:15 am #

      Why should tax payers in another state foot the bill? That is the implication of dumping the problem on the Federal Government. Where is all this money coming from?

      Imagine you are a taxpayer in, oh, lets say Virginia, or maybe Wisconsin and you have two small counties in California crying for Federal funds to solve a local problem. I have some news for you. California is not well thought of in the rest of the US. Their representatives would scoff at throwing their money at our problems.

      • Steve December 19, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

        I believe in a responsible government that if they make a mistake they fix it. In the case of Owens Lake the fed made it possible for LA to take the water. That makes it their responsibility in some part to help with the fix.

        • Jeremiah's Alter Ego December 19, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

          Accountability?? With the Feds?? Seldom Seen!!
          I like where you are heading but Again Accountability with our current Government is seldom seen.

  2. Marco (Pepe) December 18, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

    “It is time for the Technical Group to communicate in a better ways and find solutions , as well as the Standing Committee.”

    I agree which is why I have repeatedly advocated for taking up DWP on their offer to build a biomass conversion and algae production operation on Owens Lake. This “could” reduce greenhouse gases, reduce arsenic build up on the lake, produce ag products from salty water instead of fresh water, make natural fertilizers, biofuels, biodegradable plastics, and provide local jobs, which I need. Surely these are good things “if” done correctly.

  3. Philip Anaya December 18, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    No matter who I am or what I do, I have reponsibilities and expectations with all these issues. If I am a resident,a DWP employee or rate payer, an official or elected representative, an advocate,whatever, I am a stakeholder and I am affected by the DWP. I think intervention is one of the responsibilities that I have now with the DWP in mind. I want and demand the competence, professional behavior and action that is lacking from the DWP
    Even though DWP does not verbalize it, their actions and deeds are not unlike an ALCHOLIC who will do or say anything for a drink. This is not and never will be a sustainable type of behavior for someone nor an entity that has responsibilities. “Water Seeking to the last drop Syndrome” has been the current and historic pattern of behavior for the DWP . The list of offenses is long in length and in years. Peoples lives have been altered dramatically and needlessly in the wake of DWP. In March of 1928 over 400 souls were lost to the Saint Francis Dam Tragedy behind “There it is ,Take it” . It is not over dramatic or unfair to remind the DWP of what history of The Aqueduct records show, especially when they seem to be making bad choices currently again and again.
    DWP could begin a dialog with it’s stakeholders or simply even recognize that there are stakeholders . If they could say publicly and come correct about what they have been doing wrong , what they could be doing better in just this past year ,then the next 100 years begins to look like they will be up to the difficulties and challenges of this uncertain and ever changing future. The path into the future for the DWP begins each and every day. How many more days will it take them to get started. The path into the future? DWP has a vital role to lead the way here in the Owens Valley.

  4. Desert Tortoise December 18, 2012 at 8:06 am #

    Desalinization costs in excess of $2000 per acre foot. Desalinization also requires huge amounts of electrical energy and creates a waste stream of concentrated brine mixed with all the pollutants removed from the water that is highly toxic to marine life and must be disposed of in some way.
    Water from the California aquaduct costs around $1000-$1200 per acre foot. Purifying waste water to a potable standard costs about $1200 per acre foot. Enthusiasts of desalinization are not informed by knowledge. It borders on a fetish. From a cost standpoint alone, purifying waste water is the most economical way to increase water supplies. This also has the lowest environmental impact.
    Btw, over 80% of the developed fresh water in California is used for agriculture. Fully 80% of the developed fresh water in Souther California is owned by the Imperial irrigation District, used to irrigate desert to grow crops. They also have water rights on the Colorado River senior to every other user except for the Colorado River Tribes. Everyone else will lose their entire allocation of Colorado River water before IID and the CRT lose one drop of their allocation. Federal courts have repeatedly upheld these water rights. That is a reality California has to live with.

  5. salblaster December 17, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

    I was wondering how much water is being exported vs how much falls as precipitation in the eastern sierra watershed and could’nt find the numbers. so I got out a inyo forrest map with square mile grid and started calculating area. for the eastern sierra watershed I counted square miles in an area from olancha in the south, to june lake in the north, and the sierra crest to the west, to the inyo national forrest boundary to the east. than converted square miles to acres and came up with 700,000 acres. I than did the same with the owens valley and came up with400,000 acres. next I looked up the usgs precipitation map and found an average of 20 to 30 inchs of precipitation per year. mammoth has just under 24 inchs of precip a year, so I used 24 inchs of precip for entire eastern sierra watershed. with a little math i came up with a figure of 1,400,000 acre feet of rain and snow melt fall in the eastern sierra watershed per year. I did the same with the owens valley at 6 inchs average rainfall per year and got 200,000 acre feet of water falls on the owens valley per year with a grand total 1.6 million acre feet of water. the figure I found for water being exported by dwp was 356,000 acre feet per year. thats 22.3% of total precipitation. for every 4 gallons of water that falls LA gets one. these facts and figures are loose estimates, but probably in the ballpark.

    • Big AL December 19, 2012 at 11:58 pm #

      I would say that is about right salblaster,

  6. Reality Check December 17, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

    You are right. That may happen in the next 500,000 years. But in the short term….

  7. Mike Prather, Lone Pine December 17, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

    Everyone in this thread does realize that the “LADWP” person is not really LADWP?

    • Jeremiah's Alter Ego December 19, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

      Yeah and DWP would probably appreciate that the individual that thinks it is funny to get away from the computer.

  8. Desert Tortoise December 17, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

    The vocano at Long Valley Caldera will soon enough, well maybe not soon enough for some, make short work of LA’s aquaduct. When Lake Crowley is buried in lava and Long Valley Dam swept before it LA won’t have an appetite for the sulfurous waters of the Owens River.

    • Waxlips December 18, 2012 at 2:22 am #

      I’d like to see an earthquake take out the Jawbone Siphon.

      • MARK December 18, 2012 at 9:35 am #

        With the owens river being the cheapest water source DWP would fix the siphon asap.

        The only thing that will slow the flow of water south is if owens river water becomes more expensive then their next cheapest source.

  9. Steve December 17, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    I found this copy of the letter by President Theodore Roosevelt attached to the bill giving the Owens valley water to Los Angeles. Since this was done by the federal government. Should’t it be the federal government that fixes the damage done by their law?

    The President’s letter is as follows:
    Washington, June 25, 1906
    ” Messrs. Walcott, (Director of the Geological Survey)
    and Pinchot, (Chief of the Forestry Service) state that
    there is no objection to permitting Los Angeles
    to use the water for irrigating purposes
    so far as there is a surplus after the City’s
    drinking. washing, fire and other needs have
    been met. They feel that no monopoly in an
    offensive sense is created by municipal ownership
    of the water as obtained under this bill,
    and that as a matter of fact, to attempt to
    deprive the City of Los Angeles of the right
    to use the water for irrigation would mean
    that for many years no use whatever could be
    made by it of the surplus water beyond that
    required for drinking and similar purposes.
    “I am impressed by the fact that the chief
    opposition to this Bill, aside from the opposition
    of the few settlers in Owens Valley
    (whose interest is genuine, but whose interest
    must unfortunately be disregarded in view of
    the infinitely greater interest to be served by
    putting the water in Los Angeles), comes from
    certain private power companies whose object
    evidently is for their own pecuniary interest
    to prevent the municipality from furnishing its own water.
    The people at the head of these
    power companies are doubtless respectable citizens,
    and if there is no law they have the
    right to seek their own pecuniary advantage
    in securing the control of this necessity of life
    for the City. Nevertheless, their opposition
    seems to me to afford one of the strongest
    arguments for passing the law, inasmuch as it
    ought not to be within the power of private
    individuals to control such a necessity of life
    as against the municipality itself.
    “Under the circumstances, I decide, in accordance
    with the recommendations of the
    Director of the Geological Survey and the
    Chief of the Forestry Service, that the bill be
    approved, with the prohibition against the use
    of the water by municipality. for irrigation
    struck out. I request, however, that there be
    put in the bill a prohibition against the City
    of Los Angeles ever selling or letting to any
    corporation or individual except a municipality,
    the right for that corporation or the individual
    itself to sell or sublet the water given
    to it or him by the City for irrigation purposes.
    “Sincerely yours,
    “P. S.-Having read the above aloud . I now
    find that everybody agrees to it,-you, .Mr.
    Secretary, as well as Senator Flint. Director
    Walcott and Mr. Pinchot, and therefore I submit
    it with a far more satisfied heart than
    when I started to dictate this letter.”

    • MJA December 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

      Thanks for sharing this letter.
      In response I would disagree with the President and argue the “infinite greater interest” is not in the people of LA or for that matter those of the Owens Valley, but rather and most simply in the Nature of One or All. Destroying Nature destroys ourselves whereas conserving Nature conserves ourselves.
      The solution to these inequitable and destructive acts of greed is the lesson or teaching of our true Oneness, our All. Teach our children the truth of equality and perhaps our future as well as our Nature and our hills and valleys will be conserved as well.

      Be One


      • Desert Tortoise December 18, 2012 at 8:20 am #

        Los Angeles County has the most jobs and the greatest income derived from manufacturing of any county in the US. In terms of GDP, it would be the 20th largest economy in the world were LA County an independent country. The twin ports of LA and Long Beach rank 6th in size internationally and first in the US, In fact the container traffic in LA and Long Beach is almost double the total container traffic for Mexico and Canada combined.

        Now ask yourself which county is more important to the nation as a whole, LA County or Inyo and Mono Counties? I think if you keep ego out of if you will admit that LA County is vastly more important to the US than the counties along the Eastern Sierra.

        Btw, I live in Kern County so I don’t have a dog in this fight one way or the other.

        • Benett Kessler December 18, 2012 at 9:06 am #

          The point is not who is more important than the other. We accept that Los Angeles has an aqueduct and has built a very large city with
          Eastern Sierra water. The issue is ethical treatment of the Inyo-Mono environment and its people, minus greed and hate.
          Benett Kessler

          • Desert Tortoise December 18, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

            Under western water law, “first in time implies first in right” and water rights remain invoilable under continuous beneficial use. LA unarguably has these rights. Regardless of one’s sentimentality, courts have steadfastly upheld seniority or water rights over all other claims.

          • Big AL December 19, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

            I see the Tortoise’ statement, is is true, but as Benett says, it is respect that should be shown along with accountability, not so much to Inyo and Mono county or it’s people, but mainly, to the environment foremost!

            The idea of the importance of Los Angeles is a big sway point for LADWP to get away with things that they do along with their arrogance.

            Plain and simple is .. they just don’t want to pay for their mess and are trying to wiggle out of it. They are, though , having a hard time of it in the courts so far as seen with this last round.

            But how long will it hold out before they find a court to back them up?

            What is needed is to get the green movement behind it, and that better be done quickly, with the way the economy is going .. the green movement might not be able to hold their own as well, when it gets to the point that everything is over regulated to the max, more than it is now. The choke hold will cause the economy to fight back big time.

            Manifest destiny takes a back seat to the eco movement LADWP. Don’t kid yourself, unless it benefits the UN’s agenda.

        • LADWP December 18, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

          Ah yes, Manifest Destiny is alive an well. It did not work out so well for the natives.

    • Waxlips December 18, 2012 at 2:18 am #

      The mind-set of the day. Little did they know.

      • Big AL December 19, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

        Mind set of today … “Little do they know” even now. This is why so many regulations and rights get taken away …. “Little do they know!”

    • Tourbillon December 18, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

      Thanks for sharing. TR was our first progressive President who believed in the supervisory role of government to ensure that the needs of the many, which outweigh the needs of a few, are enforced by a muscular but wise federal government. This letter is a perfect example of it – note the obligatory reference to a few farmers in the Owens Valley, and how TR disposes of them.

  10. Desco December 17, 2012 at 7:31 am #


    Read it and weep. Desal costs way too much.
    S B is a small town and one of the wealthiest. And it still cost too much to operate.
    It costs the city a fortune every year just to maintain.

  11. Trouble December 16, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

    Big Rick- It’s called long term greed on DWP’s part. Sorry, it’s also the politicians in L.A. that are just as greedy. They could give a s***t about Owens Valley.

  12. Big Rick OBrien December 16, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    If a small town like Santa Barbara (compared to L.A.) can build their own desalinazation plant, to feed off of the infinite water supply of the Pacific Ocean, WHY in the hell can’t the” City of Angels” do the same ???IF they did, they wouldn’t need one drop of Owens Valley water.
    I would imagine that all of the millions and millions of dollars that the LADWP has already spent ( and are spending ,still), addressing the Owens Lake dust situation, could have put a nice dent in the cost of building a fresh-water conversion plant . IT WOULD MAKE PERFECT SENSE, WOULDN’T IT ? I would like to see Mayor Anthony Villaregosa assemble all the FAT-CATS from the LADWP on the pier in Santa Monica, point his hand out to the open sea and say…”There it is…TAKE IT”!!!

    • Tim December 16, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

      Do you mean the desalination plant that is sitting idle, not having been used in ten years and is not in condition to fire back up unless they put about a million bucks into it?

    • Reality Check December 16, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

      The infinite Pacific Ocean as a source of fresh water has a big problem. There is not an infinite source of cheap fossil fuel energy to power a desalinazation plant.

      • Mike Prather, Lone Pine December 17, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

        or to pump the water up hill into the land areas.

        • Reality Check December 17, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

          Good Point Mark, but just in case some don’ get it, everyone should know that the 1938 radio broadcast “War of the Worlds” was a hoax also. There was no Martian invasion.

    • MARK December 17, 2012 at 11:09 am #

      Big Rick OBrien – The problem with Santa Barbara’s desal plant is they don’t use it. The reason they don’t use it is the bottom line isn’t about water conservation it’s ABOUT MONEY. Santa Barbara will continue to purchase water from other sources and not use their desal plant as long as those other sources are cheaper.

      Same would apply to a DWP desal plant. The Owen’s Valley is a cheaper sourse so you can bet they’ll tap Owen’s Valley dry given the oppertunity.

      • Desert Tortoise December 18, 2012 at 8:25 am #

        And if you were an LA rate payer, how would you feel if your DWP decided to build a desal plant and make fresh water at $2000 an acre foot when Owens Valley water is available for less than half that cost? If LA DWP tried to do that their management would be skinned alive by the rate payers.

  13. LADWP December 16, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

    We have the money, we have the power and we have the water.

    Now go away.

    • Waxlips December 17, 2012 at 8:23 am #

      Your’s is a typical DWP response. Answer me this, how do you suggest we go away? What makes the people of LA more Important or better than the people of the Owens Valley? If you can answer that, please enlighten us. Are you suggesting this is a human rights issue?

      • LADWP December 17, 2012 at 11:40 am #

        Might makes right. You cannot fight us and win. You will soon tire of the fight and move on with your lives.

        • Waxlips December 18, 2012 at 2:01 am #

          Might: superior power or strength; force: the theory that might makes right.

          LADWP has the power yes, however, it doesn’t mean they are right.

          Just because you believe your theory to be true, doesn’t mean that it is.

          Mother Nature always prevails. LADWP will loose in the end.

          • LADWP December 18, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

            RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!!!!

    • Jeremiah's Alter Ego December 17, 2012 at 11:24 am #

      OK I agree you have the supply and demand, But you do not have the sustainability for the consumption rate!
      So which plush valley is next??


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