April 1, 2022 (LOS ANGELES) – On March 18, 2022, the Kern County Superior Court ruled that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is entitled to recover $654,460.33 in costs and attorneys’ fees from its lawsuit with Inyo County to compensate LADWP for upholding the public interest. This ruling follows a 2021 Appellate Court finding that the Inyo County Board of Supervisors violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in its attempt to seize City of Los Angeles land and water rights through eminent domain without conducting any environmental review.
Historically, LADWP has leased land to Inyo County to operate three landfills – the Bishop-Sunland, Independence, and Lone Pine Landfills – all of which are unlined and pose a threat to surface and groundwater, and have received thousands of violations over the years.
In 2017, the County determined it wanted to own the land on which it operates the landfills, and with it, the associated water rights. Rather than work with LADWP to find a solution to the challenging landfills, the County hastily initiated eminent domain proceedings, which the Appellate Court confirmed neglected to follow CEQA. As required by court order, Inyo County has rescinded all three resolutions authorizing the use of eminent domain.
Anselmo Collins, LADWP Senior Assistant General Manager of Water System, provided the following statement regarding the Superior Court’s decision:
“While we were disappointed that this issue ended up in the courts after our repeated attempts to avoid unnecessary litigation and help Inyo County bring the landfills into compliance, we are pleased with the court’s finding and order to compensate LADWP and its ratepayers for the time and resources expended to prosecute this action. However, these fees only recover a portion of what LADWP was forced to spend to protect the public and environment and ultimately win this wholly avoidable case.”