LADWP wants to cut irrigation

lawsfieldIn it’s official runoff forecast, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power figures the Owens Valley at 54% of normal and the Mono Basin at 66% of normal. Before issuance of those figures, DWP sent the Inyo Water Department a letter to say they propose a 20% reduction in groundwater pumping for irrigation needs in Laws and Independence plus a 10% reduction in irrigation in other areas of Inyo County.

That letter is a request for the Inyo-LA Technical Group to evaluate conditions for DWP’s irrigation reduction request which must go to the Inyo-LA Standing Committee. The letter to Water Director Bob Harrington speaks about the less than normal runoff as the reason for irrigation reduction.

The letter points to the Long Term Water Agreement which allows consideration of reductions in irrigation water for leases and for enhancement/mitigation projects in dry years.

Water Director Harrington said that the letter does not provide details of the acreage impacted by DWP’s requests. He said the requested water reductions could impact ranch leases in Laws and Independence as well as mitigation projects. Besides Laws and Independence, DWP wants to cut irrigation by 10% on leases and mitigation projects in other areas of the County.

The letter does not say if the pumped water will go down the aqueduct instead of on ranch lands and mitigation measures. That is the presumption. More information is expected at a Technical Group meeting which has not yet been scheduled.

Meanwhile, LADWP is expected to issue its annual pumping plan by the end of the week.


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15 Responses to LADWP wants to cut irrigation

  1. MJA April 15, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

    Surely the water being pumped and taken to LA must be reduced then as well.
    Does anyone know: What is the current level of ground water in the Inyo Valley, and is there a level agreed upon that must be maintained for the health of the valley, of us all?
    From the looks of the dead plants and the dust I would say they have gone to far.
    And how deep is the aquifer, how deep are the DWP wells?


    • Benett Kessler April 15, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

      There is no bottom line depth at which pumping must stop. That’s what the two sides are arguing over now. The Long Term Water Agreement contained mechanisms to control pumps according to soil moisture and plant condition. Both sides admit that method failed. LA will still not accept that the depth to groundwater is the telling element. If water goes below the rooting zones of plants (which it did way before the water agreement in many places) they die.

      Benett Kessler

      • MJA April 15, 2013 at 8:18 pm #

        That is the flaw in the agreement Benett!
        There must be a sustainable monitored level of ground water for the valley to sustain itself or survive. Without a healthy level of ground water the Inyo as it is will continue to die.
        Any agreement must include a healthy level and the pumping of water to LA or their irrigation plans must be adjusted so.


  2. Philip Anaya April 15, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

    The DWP is very selective about which parts of the Longterm Water Agreement they will honor and adhere to. Our Board of Supervisiors needs to approve of any reductions proposed by DWP. If DWP had been in compliance these past years, with all the elements of the Water Agreement with respect to this Type E Vegetation Section then the well sites in Laws, Independence and the Ranchers in the entire entire Valley would not be in such diffculities now. I would ask DWP to quantify the reductions in acre feet so that we would know how much value in dollars and cents these reductions would mean. The Ranchers and the enhancement/mitigation projects need their water now more than ever and water lost into export to Los Angeles can be replaced from the MWD at a rate of $600 an acre foot less the expense of LA Aqueduct water at $300 an acre foot for a net increased expense to the ratepayers of $300 an acre foot. The Valley needs every drop . We can’t get it from the MWD at any price . I hope our Board agrees.

  3. MJA April 15, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

    Does anyone know the current average ground water depth of the Inyo Valley?
    And at what level must it be maintained to secure the healthy vegetation of the Valley?


    • J-Frog April 16, 2013 at 10:24 am #

      Due to the impervious material it varies within the valley, around Independence it is around 40 feet below the surface, and in between 35-40 in certain areas of LP. Of course these levels will fluctuate in regards to pumping activity, recharge, precipitation, and of course snowfall and runoff. I would say we have past the safe and secure level to sustain plant life, and we wonder why we have dust not only coming from the dry lake now, I mean there once was so much more riparian areas and vegetation. Now we don’t have half of veg, and in a drought season or seasons has left the top layer loose enough for the wind to have its way with.

  4. Desert Tortoise April 16, 2013 at 5:17 am #

    MWD charges upwards of $1000 per acre foot, and adds a charge to that to store water in one of their reservoirs. San Diego has to pay MWD around $1200 per acre foot for water from the MWD aquaduct.

    • Philip Anaya April 16, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

      Here’s the link for MWD

      LADWP is the largest purchaser of MWD water of the 26 members who make up the District . I think I read that LA is entitled to an allotment of 20.9% of the total available water from the MWD.

      • Desert Tortoise April 16, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

        The chart is not truthful. Each member agency pays a different rate depending on distance through the system water has to flow, how much water MWD has to store for the member agencies in MWD storage reservoirs and the lenght of time the water is stored. San Diego County Water Authority.pays much more per acre foot for it’s water than any other MWD member.

        San Diego County Water Authority is also the largest single user of MWD water by a large margin.

        Look at slide 12 to see how much MWD water each member agency uses. Slide 21 shows what untreated water from MWD is going to cost in San Diego, upwards of $1000 per acre foot. That number, not MWDs, captures all the various wheeling and storage charges. Slide 23 shows the cost per acre foot of the next least costly options for water supplies down there.

        If you go down to 5/5 of this pdf you will see a slide titled “Recycled Water Program Costs”. On this slide you see LADWP pays MWD $1230 – $1366 per acre foot. I believe that number includes treatment at the Joseph Jensen Filtration Plant for delivery to the big LADWP reservoir in Sylmar.

        • Philip Anaya April 16, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

          San Diego is engaged in litigation with the MWD regarding water costs

          The website in the previous post seems to be the PR part of that campaign. The DWP website also seems to be a bit promotional. I don’t know how they’ll ever get people drinking recycled water. I suggest that you give Mr. Adams at the DWP a call and ask him how much the DWP pays the MWD for an acre foot of water.

          The 1960 Bond Measure approved by California Voters, split the vote north and south and funded the California State Water Project. I wonder how the Owens Valley felt about an alternative water supply for the DWP back in the day. Today, the Owens Valley does not get a drop of this water at any price even though people here helped pay for the project. We need to supply our Ranchers and our enhancement/mitigation projects 100% with water per the Longterm Water Agreement. There is language permitting a reduction of this water with the approval of the County of Inyo but we should NOT agree to this reduction as the Ranchers and Projects are already under diminished supply and LADWP does indeed have sufficent water allotments and supply from the MWD. I as a rate payer will have to live with this expense all for the privilege to live and earn my daily bread in that fair city

          • Desert Tortoise April 17, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

            Using recycled water like that is a non-problem. Orange County has had such a system in place for many years pumping recycled water back into the aquifer as LA proposes to do.

            San Diego has had water rights claims to the Colorado River as far back as the 1920’s but never was willing to spend the money to build a pipe over the mountains to bring it west from the All American Canal as originally envisioned. San Diego’s suit goes back to a program in the 1990’s where San Diego CWA agreed to pay the cost of lining the All American Canal with concrete in exchange for the water saved. The original canal was dirt lined and suffered significant loss to seepage. San Diego further proposed to pay Imperial Valley farmers to fallow fields and sell San Diego CWA their water allottment from the IID.

            Since San Diego CWA still does not have a pipe of it’s own the proposal was that water saved by lining the All American Canal would be conveyed to San Diego via the MWD aquaduct. The reasoning was that since it was ultimately water from the Colorado River, where it was drawn from made no difference.

            When the proposal was made to MWD, they insisted on charging SDCWA full price for the water they moved, regardless of what San Diego paid to line the All American Canal. San Diego was willing to pay MWD the wheeling charges, the cost of moving an acre foot of water from Lake Havisu to San Vicente Reservoir through the MWD aquaduct, but MWD wants SDCWA to pay full pop for the water. There is the genesis of your lawsuit.

            Btw, having water rights is meaningless if you do not use them. A major reason LADWP dropped a second pipe south to LA was to use all the water in the Owens Valley it claimed rights to. Other water agencies saw that LA was not then using all of the water it claimed rights to in the Owens Valley and were threatening to sue in the Federal courts to gain access to whataver water LA was not using. Under Western Water Law, rights to water can be lost if the claimant does not put that water to continuous “beneficial use”. If the claimant does not use the water, under law, they are said to have “abandoned” their rights and the rights to that water are then open for some other party to claim. The second aquaduct pipe permitted LA to fully use it’s water rights and stave off attempts by other water agencies to stake a claim to Owens Valley water. This is also the reason LA is suing over water taken from Mammoth Creek. If Mammoth is permitted to use that water indefinitely with no payment to LA, would be viewed as having abandoned it’s water rights there.

  5. G. Milotta April 16, 2013 at 7:30 am #

    A couple of times a week I drive up Rudolph Rd. near Laws, and frequently see water running down the road from a LADWP pump site issue. They work on it, but it is never repaired correctly. Go look for yourself. How dare DWP put restrictions on us when they allow water go willy-nilly down the road! They may as well let people in LA to wash down their driveways daily. (as if they don’t already).

  6. OV5G April 16, 2013 at 8:27 am #

    Seems to me that the amount of water exported to Los Angeles should be decreased by the amount below normal snowpack (46% for the exports from the Owens Valley and 34% for the exports from the Mono Basin) and that water should be utilized to enhance the health of the headwaters environments where the water is meant to be. Would you rather drink water that originates from a healthy headwaters ecosystem or a dry, eroding headwaters ecosystem? Seems like a no-brainer, but I guess money and greed often leaves behind reason…

    • Desert Tortoise April 16, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

      I guess I have to challenge the claim that it is greed. There is a city of 4 million people using that water, that is the second largest city in the US, and if you ever lived down there you would know how hard people work to make a living. The reason LA is big and seems so wealthy is because people bust their tookis and make things. It is a highly productive place. The county is the manufacturing center of the US. I reckon you would prefer to do without the things LA produces and starve them of water for what reason exactly? Lets have a little proportion in the arguements here. LA uses less water per capita than this region, less than half as much per person. If any region is making good use of scarce water it is LA.

      • Ex LA April 17, 2013 at 6:45 am #

        Let LA get their water from some were else. DWP has over stept their boundaries.


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