Drought makes all water uses shaky. For those locked in a reluctant relationship with the Department of Water and Power, it’s worse. Officials in our two counties have begun the dance to secure water.
Inyo Supervisors wrote down their views on the Owens Dry Lake. They will likely pass a drought proclamation on Tuesday, and today expected to visit with LA’s Mayor in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Southern California Edison has started talks with the Department of Water and Power on solutions to management of Bishop Creek drainage water and Mammoth officials say they will keep a sharp eye on their water supplies. MCWD Manager Pat Hayes said the water board is “looking at a range of scenarios.”
With another record dry January on hand, the heat went up under all the water interests. A grim image of summer looms large as many fear more dried up wells in West Bishop, dry lakes and streams. Inyo fears that LADWP might claim municipal emergency and take more water than ever.
In response to the Governor’s Drought Proclamation, Inyo Supervisors wrote a letter to LA to say they would support DWP demands on the Owens Dry Lake but want one-third of water saved from dust control to stay in the Owens Valley. Local reactions were mixed. April Zrelack, Air Quality Coordinator for the Lone Pine Tribe, said the Inyo Board’s willingness to relax dust controls will impact communities around the dry lake. She said, “LA created a dust bowl and must take the responsibility until it is remedied.”
County Administrator Kevin Carunchio said the reason for bringing up the dry lake issues now is the drought. He said, “We have to be aware that LA may take advantage of the drought. We want it on the record,” he said, “that we want one-third of any water savings at the dry lake to be left in the Owens Valley instead of all going down the aqueduct.” And, the CAO said, Inyo has its own drought concerns.
They turned up early as dry wells in West Bishop. In a closely guarded statement, Edison Public Relations man Bill DeLain told Sierra Wave Media that Edison is working “collaboratively with LADWP to find solutions on water management in the Bishop Creek area.” He said talks are underway now. DeLain said the ultimate goal of talks will be to achieve a solution of effective management of available water. DeLain refused to comment on Edison’s responsibilities in the drainage or anything else except that Edison and DWP are talking.
Inyo Supervisors Rick Pucci and Linda Arcularius planned to be talking with LA Mayor Eric Garcetti or someone from his office today (Monday) in Los Angeles. Officials called it a relationship building trip to put faces to names and also to bring up drought concerns and transitions at DWP. Selection of a new General Manager is pending.
Tuesday, the Inyo Board will consider a three-page drought proclamation which touches on all water situations and Inyo’s need for protection.
Meanwhile, Mammoth Community Water District maintains Level 1 Water Restrictions in town. Manager Hayes said that for now the District asks customers to conserve 10% over last year, and they will track the weather and adjust courses of action.