Well 416: “Environmental Risk” for Lone Pine

Well 416 sits west of Lone Pine. DWP installed it 7 years ago. In all that time, LA and Inyo have quibbled over how to test pump the well. The hydrology of Lone Pine makes it an environmental risk, but with statewide water supplies low DWP wants to get on with pumping the well.

DWP has requested to start test-pumping Well 416 next month. Inyo Water Director Bob Harrington said his department is still reviewing DWP’s plan. Harrington explained that the Alabama Hills and the earthquake fault along Highway 395 confine the Lone Pine area and create greater risks for loss of groundwater.

The Alabama Hills to the west create a barrier for water recharge flowing down toward the town. Harrington said, “We are concerned about Lone Pine being sensitive to pumping because of the pattern of recharge.” He added that Well 416 has the potential to affect the Lone Pine Reservation, Anchor Ranch and the Town of Lone Pine.

At Monday’s Inyo-LA Technical Group meeting, former Inyo Water Department plant specialist, Sally Manning, said pumping Well 416 in Lone Pine will make the low groundwater table problem worse.

Manning said Lone Pine already shows dead trees with some removed. The plant expert said once Well 416 is on even turning it off will not preclude the water table from dropping.

Bob Harrington earlier said the key issue is how to set water level triggers in wells in the area. Earlier computer modeling tests indicated that a six month test would take years to recover. Harrington said the test showed feet of groundwater loss in the compartment between the Alabama Hills and the highway, roughly. Inches of loss were indicated further to the east.

This issue will come up at the Standing Committee meeting April 23rd.

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