Inyo/LA Standing Committee Water Updates

The Inyo/Los Angeles Standing Committee met in Bishop on Thursday. Members of the Inyo Supervisors and the Inyo Water Commission met with a DWP Commissioner, local manager, and DWP General Manager David Nahai to follow up on issues agreed to a decade ago when both sides signed the Long Term Water Agreement.

With the Lower Owens River Project now flowing, and work continuing on new groundwater pumping rules, the meeting was more of a progress report than a meeting to decide on issues.

The ongoing quest to change the groundwater pumping rules known as the Green Book is behind schedule. Inyo Supervisor Linda Arcularius expressed concern that the interim groundwater plan that currently limits the amount of DWP pumping expires in the spring.

Ditching the original plans spelled out in the Long Term Water Agreement, these new rules, when finished are expected to use the depth to the water table to determine when to turn the pumps off rather then the moisture of the soil around a pump.

It appears that with a year and a half of water flowing through the river, plus a simulated spring flood, there are still some areas that may need slight changes. An area near the Alabama Gates has not set a stream channel, leaving a large shallow flooded area that has now filled with tules. Shifting the river to a different old channel was discussed, but a decision awaits further study.

DWP is considering hiring consultants to study a plan to pump groundwater from the deep aquifer underneath the Owens Lake to use for dust control. Local DWP manager Gene Coufal explained that the study will look at the potential pumping effects on the wildlife, the springs around the lake, and possible subsidence of the lake bed.

In a room full of decision makers, very few decisions were made, but perhaps sensitive to this fact, at the end of the meeting DWP General Manager David Nahai stressed the importance of these now regular Standing Committee meetings which had not been held for many years. Nahai said he felt the meetings were important because they give the public an opportunity to bring issues to the attention of the decisionmakers.

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