McNally Pond water issue goes to Inyo Supervisors

The Long Term Water Agreement requires LADWP to provide water to the ponds and other areas of Laws to mitigate widespread damage from groundwater pumping.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power does not want to cut water for the McNally Ponds in Laws this year. They claim it’s because it was a dry year. Tuesday, the Inyo Supervisors face a decision on this DWP request. The issue will go on to the Standing Committee meeting Wednesday in Bishop.

The LADWP agreed to give water to the pond and other areas nearby as an Enhancement/ Mitigation project to make up for widespread groundwater pumping damage. This is spelled out in the Inyo-Los Angeles Long Term Water Agreement. That agreement does say that the Inyo Supervisors and LADWP, along with the Standing Committee must agree to modifications of mitigation projects before they can take place.

When they met earlier this month, the Inyo Water Commission recommended that the ponds be supplied with river water this year and that LADWP compensate Inyo County for past years when DWP did not supply the ponds with water and failed to get permission.

A report to the Water Commission says that LADWP’s annual Owens Valley report for three run-off years between 2007 and 2010 reveals that LA did not supply water to the McNally Ponds. The report also says, “It is probable that LADWP violated the Water Agreement in these years and perhaps others by decreasing the water supplied to the project without the agreement of the Board of Supervisors.”

DWP has discussed using wells to supply the McNally Ponds instead of the river. An Inyo Water Department report says that “vegetation and water table conditions in the area are in poor shape and additional pumping would exacerbate these conditions.”

Tuesday at 2:30pm, the Supervisors were scheduled to direct their Standing Committee representatives on the McNally Pond issue. The Inyo-LA Standing Committee will meet Wednesday at 1pm at the Tri-County Fairgrounds Home Economics Building in Bishop. They have scheduled the McNally Ponds question at the near-end of their agenda. It is item number 11 before public comment and adjournment.

In a response to our earlier story on the McNally Ponds, LADWP posted a comment on our website and on its own website. They claim they want to cut water for the McNallys “due to the low Eastern Sierra snowpack and runoff during the 2012-2013 runoff year which was forecast to be approximately 65% of normal.” DWP also wants an evaluation of switching the water supply for the McNally Ponds from river water to groundwater pumps. Of course, it was aggressive pumping that did the damage in Laws in the first place.

On a related note, LA’s own Urban Water Management Plan shows that the City has a surplus of thousands of acre feet even on dry years. This information came out when LADWP attacked Mammoth Community Water District’s water rights for Mammoth Creek.


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One Response to McNally Pond water issue goes to Inyo Supervisors

  1. Ken Warner September 25, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    Here’s a graphic showing ground water depletion in the U.S. You can read the article to understand the data that it represents. Notice, in the bottom picture, the big dark rectangle about where the Owen’s Valley is.


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