More of the same from Los Angeles

ladwpAs expected, the Los Angeles City Council approved a resolution Wednesday to support the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power lawsuit against the EPA, California Air Resources Board, BLM, State Lands Commission, and GBUAPCD.  An official press release continues with statements refuted by APCD Director Ted Schade and others.  LADWP insists it has been forced to use water to keep down Owens Dry Lake dust.  Schade made it clear that there are three approved clean-up methods – gravel, vegetation and water.  It’s DWP’s choice.  While the press release says LA remains committed to ongoing dust control, they are not committed to cleaning up dust in the latest order and instead say they are not responsible.  The LADWP lawsuit asks a federal court to change air quality laws for them and dismiss the agreements they signed to clean up the lake dust.  Following is the LA press release:
“The Los Angeles City Council yesterday unanimously approved a resolution supporting the Los Angeles Department of Power’s lawsuit seeking to halt what LADWP alleges are excessive and unlawful regulations and costs being imposed on Los Angeles water consumers by the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District (Great Basin) in the Owens Valley area of California.
According to the LADWP lawsuit, Great Basin continues to issue orders to LADWP to further expand the area of dust control beyond that which LADWP is responsible and continues to seek to fund its own operations at the expense of Los Angeles water ratepayers.
“The City Council today stood up for Los Angeles customers, who are being unlawfully obligated to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to mitigate dust beyond that for which Los Angeles is responsible. In addition, fresh water is being wasted to reduce dust when other low-water or waterless options exist,” said LADWP General Manager Ron Nichols. “While DWP continues to honor our obligations to protect the environment by controlling dust for which we are responsible, we simply will not stand idly by as billions of gallons of LA water are wasted at a cost of hundreds  of millions of dollars to our customers.”
The proposed City Council resolution states that “the City has spent more than $1.2 billion toward constructing and operating 42 square miles of dust controls and has committed to an additional 3 square miles, resulting in 45 square miles. …(At) the completion of 45 square miles of dust controls the City will have fulfilled its mitigation obligations and illustrated LADWP’s willing interest in addressing the air quality impacts of its water gathering actitivies on and around Owens Lake.”
The LADWP remains committed to ongoing dust control on the 45 square miles, and seeks to use other proven means to control dust other than by wasting scarce drinking water. LADWP has objected to orders by Great Basin to once again, expand the dust control area further, at a cost of $400 million to LADWP water customers.
“Already, nearly $10 from every $100 of the average LA resident’s water bill goes towards the work we perform at Owens Lake. This money goes to pay for the 95,000 acre feet of water per year that is poured on the lake bed – more than what is used by the entire city of San Francisco annually – there comes a time when you mast (sic) say enough is enough,” said LA City Councilmember Tony Cardenas. “Expanding this project again is an abuse of the residents of Los Angeles, especially when we consider how far they have strayed from the original agreement reached between the city and the Great Basin.”
The City Council resolution also describes various objectionable and unlawful actions by Great Basin, including “continu(ing) to issue orders to the City to control dust arising from Owens lake in excess of the city’s agreement, cauasation, and legal obligation” and “unreasonably charg(ing) the City for the general costs of government and excessive costs of outside attorneys.”
The unanimous adoption of the resolution signifies that the City Council “affirms, supports and endorses the legal position and the filing of a lawsuit by the LADWP acting on behalf of water ratepayers.”
More information on this issue can be found at”

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8 Responses to More of the same from Los Angeles

  1. .. November 2, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

    Maybe they can also hold Schade personally responsible for going beyond his authority. One interesting note in this case. What would have happened if the Owens Valley was never purchased by DWP, and all of the land was used for Agriculture and Housing and as a result no water reached Owens Dry Lake?

    • JeanGenie November 5, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

      no name, exactly isgree but the clicker doesn’t work!

    • erik simpson November 6, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

      In your hypothetical situation, I imagine the Owens Valley would eventually evolve along the line leading to something like the San Fernando or Simi Valleys. In which case Owens Lake would be OK, since the runoff in the gutters from incessant car washing might one day fill it up…

  2. Mike Prather, Lone Pine November 2, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    Ted Schade is a public servant committed to his job of seeing that the public breathes clean air as mandated by the Clean Air Act. He is expected to do his job no matter who the polluter is – and he does. The cost of cleanup has been a fraction of the cost elsewhere in CA in terms of money spent per ton of pollutant. Owens Lake was the LARGEST PM-10 dust source in the ENTIRE United States. Today it is 80-90% controlled. Yet instead of finishing the job the Los Angeles City Council and the LADWP Board of Commissioner have voted to support and allow the continued breathing of hazardous dust by the residents of the Owens Valley.

    This unacceptable bullying by Los Angeles is not over money. Just this year LADWP gifted the City Council $258,000,000 and still raised rates on their customers that they profess to care so much about. This bullying is not about water because efforts by stakeholders including LADWP have tentatively agreed recently, while creating a draft Owens Lake Master Plan, to saving up to 50,000 acre-feet (~50% of current usage) per year. No, this egregious behavior is a reversion to the historic steam rolling of rural counties and communities by Los Angeles. However, this time Los Angeles has included the State of California and the United States Federal Government.

    Ted Schade our local Air Pollution Officer and those of us living here will not fight Los Angeles alone in this struggle for environmental justice and public health. We will be represented by the CA State Attorney General and the U. S. Department of Justice as well as consul for the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution District. We will see Los Angeles in court.

  3. Jon November 2, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

    Good luck, the private attorneys hired by dwp are much smarter than those of the government.

    • john Delgado November 4, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

      reminds me of tha “Lincoln Lawyer 🙂

    • Dusty November 4, 2012 at 10:58 pm #

      I don’t think so. Because DWP sued the state and feds, the U.S. Department of Justice and the California Attorney General will be helping Great Basin. The DWP attorneys don’t stand a chance.

  4. Pepe November 3, 2012 at 6:01 am #

    While it may drag out for awhile, IMHO, LADWP will win their case. And what the public fails to realize is that the basis of their argument will not only limit dust control on additional areas on Owens Lake, but will most likely reduce the footprint they are currently controlling dust emissions on. In addition, gravel is an approved dust control method, and more gravel means less water.

    The smart play is to get public and private investment to utilize the water on Owens Lake. Once millions of dollars have been invested into utilizing this water, there will be investors interested in keeping the water on Owens Lake.

    LADWP issued a public Request For Information several months ago regarding biomass conversion and algae production on Owens Lake. Since algae production is inherently dependent water, this would appear to be an ideal opportunity to get public and private investment to utilize the water on Owens Lake. Since LADWP proposed it, why not try and get them to do it? IMHO, this strategy has far more potential at keeping water on Owens Lake than relying only on the courts and evironmentalists to do it.


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