LADWP PR video compared to dustcam

LADWP video of Owens Dry Lake.

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power General Manager Ron Nichols made a big fuss over Mammoth’s Water

Scene from “Greatest Hits of Dust” video.

District hiring a public relations firm to get their water rights’ story out. Now, DWP, which has used PR firms for years, just put out a new, slick publicity video on the Owens Dry Lake. The DWP Public Affairs Director says they paid for it in-house

The some seven-minute video stars LADWP workers and a couple of citizens. Asked about the cost of the video, DWP PR Director Joe Ramallo said, “We have not separately tracked the internal costs for this.” The message of the video is LA does not want to use good water on the Owens Dry Lake dust. DWP currently has an appeal pending before the State Air Resources Board on orders to clean up 2.9 square miles more on the lake bed. According to signed agreements and laws, the Great Basin Air Pollution Control District must assess any additionally needed mitigation according to state and federal air quality standards. LA still violates air standards in some places on the lake, according to APCD.

The publicity video gives DWP credit for mitigation projects in the Owens Valley and the re-watering of the Lower Owens River. The video fails to say that lawsuits by Inyo County and its citizens led to those water projects. DWP’s video claims that the Owens Valley “looks like it did 100 years ago.”  What the video does not say is that 100 years ago, the Owens Valley was lined with farmlands, orchards and crops.  Today, it is lined with desert scrub.

LA’s video also says there are many sources of dust other than that generated by DWP water exports. APCD Director Ted Schade stated that the additional 2.9 square miles of dust is “absolutely, 100% from DWP” activities. Schade repeated that LA has permission to use water, gravel and vegetation. It’s up to DWP, he said, to chose the method.

In response to LA’s slick video, Ted Schade shared dustcam and youtube videos that appear far less attractive than LADWP’s shots of the Owens Dry Lake. As Schade said, the “greatest hits of dust video” can be found on Great Basin’s website.


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9 Responses to LADWP PR video compared to dustcam

  1. Big Rick O'Brien July 17, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

    Famous last words, “There it is…take it”. And they’ve been taking and taking ever since.

  2. Mike July 18, 2012 at 6:58 am #

    That dust could be from anywhere. Nice try schade.

    • Benett Kessler July 18, 2012 at 9:28 am #


      How do you know the dust “could be from anywhere”?
      Benett Kessler

    • Jeremiah July 18, 2012 at 9:37 am #

      Yeah it could be coming form anywhere in the valley now, Thanks to the water being diverted south, enclosed to pipes, concrete canals, and not to mention groundwater pumping has all added to the issue (A Lower Water Table). The issue of the whole valley south of Big Pine is a dust bowl and a rediculous fire hazard.

    • Ted Schade July 18, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

      No, the dust can’t be from anywhere. If you look at the videos closely, it is obvious the dust is coming off the (dried) lake bed.
      But, we rely on a technique more sophisticated than just watching the video. Our cameras are mounted very rigidly and we have mapped the location of each lake bed pixel in the video frame. We then extract the video frames that clearly show the point of dust lofting and use a computer mapping technique to locate the points of dust emission to within a few hundred feet. The technique is known as “Terrestrial Image Geo-referencing” or “TIG” (see info at: ).
      The vast majority of the dust shown in the videos originates from the lake bed.

  3. Jeremiah July 18, 2012 at 9:18 am #

    How’s it go “The greatest good for the greatest number of people”, That sounds like it should be the Republican party’s slogan, referring to the 2% that they repersent.
    “The greatest good for the greatest number of people” Yeah so the snobs in LA can feel entitled to be able to waste the water that takes the life away from our valley!
    The pro LADWP pic in this story cracks me up, not as much as them stating that it is the same way it was 100 years ago, haha who the hell believes that. I am sure some people out there are eating that up, like the ones under payroll!!

  4. Ed Fleming July 19, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    This is a great discussion. Both videos are remarkable but each video tells only half the story. Assigning appropriate weight to the two halves is the dilemma.

    LA is a benefactor in numerous ways. The City of Los Angeles is one of the largest landowners, presumably the largest employer, and certainly the largest taxpayer in Inyo County, accounting for 48% of Inyo’s secured property tax roll. Inyo and Mono are benefactors by supplying a majority of LA’s water–cool, high-quality snowmelt–without the use of pumps.

    Wherever you look in California or beyond, economies and ecosystems are often at odds. Whether you are a region that exports petroleum, automobiles, steel, electricity, rubber, wood, food, fiber, lobster, or water–each industry leaves some effect upon the local air, water, soil, and living things–including people. In return, these exports bring some positive economic benefit to the local community. With that income, local consumers are able to purchase necessary goods (automobiles, gasoline, lumber) which were produced elsewhere and which caused their environmental impact elsewhere.

    We are all consumers and our individual consumption impacts the environment, both locally and globally, on this little planet. Weighing both halves of the environmental/economic balance and finding ways to reduce consumption is difficult but necessary.

    • Jeremiah July 19, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

      Very necessary, we cant keep drawing the life out of other places only to keep the current lifestyle of having everything so convenient for the rich and most fortunate. That I think is the biggest issue today (our consumption and waste rate).
      The way we reduce consumption is stop the idea of being able to get anything you want without having to give any effort.
      We need to not feel so entitled to Earths natural resources to the point we are being selfish to those that will roam this earth after us.
      Like I have stated before we do have the opportunity to make the adaquate sacrifice that will make the difference only if we act upon it soon and not kick the can down the road cause we dont feel obligated to step out of our comfert zone.
      That is only possible if the corporate mainstream establishment allows us too.
      Too bad right now it seems money and greed will forever be the deciding factor.

  5. Durrell Coleman July 25, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    You don’t have to be a DWP manager with a mid-six figure salary to see where the major sources of dust are. If the City is really committed to cleaning up their mess, they need to complete the system of dust control. Particulate levels from Owens Lake are still 10 times the National Ambient Air Quality Standard.
    LADWP has fought every effort they so proudly proclaim in their promo video. Only after losing time and again in court have they stepped up to the plate. A master plan is a great idea that should have been started 20 years ago. Nothing stops the City from refining and improving their methods after they comply with the law.


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