Submitted by Randy Keller
I sat through (most) of the Inyo Supes water conservation meeting on Tuesday. It is great to see the Board bringing parties together to try to work out a fair resolution to the obvious effects of the drought. It was discouraging to witness a certain lack of transparency from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
To be fair, DWP has shown some real restraint in its proposed exports from our area. In times past, a drought meant DWP increased its pumping to keep the aqueduct full despite reduced runoff, at great cost to the valley. However, DWP is its same opaque self when it comes to discussing how its large reservoirs of water could be use to help irrigation in the valley.
We hear about L.A.’s marvelous record of conserving water in the city, and we hear about the obvious lack of runoff from the mountains. But the only explanation for why ten thousand acre feet of water from Crowley could not be used to help the situation downstream is that DWP must protect fishing access in the lake and preserve an emergency supply of water for Los Angeles.
At the same time, water in the Haiwee reservoir is so abundant that DWP will be able to export water from it during irrigation season and beyond. Haiwee is downstream of where it could be helpful in the valley. But the fact that water in Haiwee is abundant while water in Crowley is scarce reflects a choice by DWP to store water in Haiwee rather than in Crowley (or Pleasant Valley). If DWP had stored the water in Crowley it would be available for irrigation or for export, leaving our options open.
DWP avoided discussion of how much water could be repatriated from Crowley to aid those in need downstream. There was no discussion of whether the water in Haiwee could be preserved as an emergency water supply for Los Angeles and thus free up water from Crowley or Pleasant Valley for irrigation in the current emergency. I agree that all users of water will have to take a hit because of the drought. But it would be nice to see DWP put all of its card on the table for the best solution.