If the Department of Water and Power, Southern California Edison, DWP lessees, and Inyo County can all agree, management of water in the Bishop Creek drainage this summer may take place to keep some water in the lakes, streams, private ditches, and ranch pastures. At this point, it’s all still an “if”. No meetings on the issue have yet taken place.
At the recent Inyo Water Commission meeting, movement in positions did seem to take place and show that a practical modification of the Chandler Decree, which sets out Bishop Creek flows, might happen. DWP and Edison officials did say they were willing.
Sierra Wave Media contacted Bob Prendergast for his exact position on these matters. He has attended water meetings on the Bishop Creek issues in the past couple of months. He said that he made several points at the Water Commission meeting:
1- The Chandler Decree is a federal court order that requires Edison to maintain certain flows in Bishop Creek.
2- The Chandler Decree does not provide LADWP with any authority to modify its flow requirements and modification of the Decree must be made through federal court.
3- The Inyo-LA Water Agreement is a state court order that requires LADWP to irrigate certain lands if water is available, including lands irrigated with Bishop Creek water.
4- Prendergast said it was proposed at the Water Commission meeting that during the current dry year, Edison would make the determination that it can not meet the Chandler Decree flows and based on this determination modify the flow requirements to ensure water is available throughout the season. Prendergast said he stated that since Edison expects that it will not be able to maintain Chandler Decree flows throughout the irrigation season, “I thought that seemed to be a reasonable idea and maybe this solution can be proposed by Edison.”
Prendergast said he also stated that LADWP is “willing to enter into discussions that could result in the flow requirements of the Chandler Decree being modified.” Prendergast added that if a proposed change to the Chandler Decree flows could result in a program of providing less irrigation water during low runoff years, the Inyo-LA Water Agreement requires the Inyo Supervisors to approve any program that would result in irrigation reductions.
Prendergast said LADWP would also want the agricultural lessees that might be affected to take part in the discussion of a “potential program to reduce Bishop Creek irrigation during dry years to ensure water is available to other uses throughout the year.” Again, meetings among agencies on this issue have reportedly not taken place yet.