Letter to the editor: How about conservative pumping?

groundwater_pump_349-2.jpgWhere are fiscal conservatives when we need them?

With recent attention in both on-line and print media to dry wells and lack of water and livestock forage, it would be easy for me to write “I told you so.” After all, I have written numerous articles and letters for at least a decade pointing out that DWP’s long term average pumping (about 90,000 acre- feet/yr) exceeds the 70,000 af/yr ceiling estimated by the USGS for maintaining groundwater shallow enough to sustain vegetation (and shallow wells). These letters have had little apparent effect on Inyo County leaders, who have yet to mount a serious challenge to DWP’s excessive pumping.

Because stating the facts has proven ineffective, I’ll try an analogy. Water tables have some similarities to bank accounts. The balance in a bank account at any time depends on how much money is being deposited and how much is being withdrawn. Based on the USGS model, we know, valley-wide, we have an enormous deficit in our water account dating back to the mid 1980’s, because withdrawals (groundwater pumping, ~90,000 af/yr) are far higher than deposits (recharge, ~ 70,000 af/yr).

Now, we are seeing consequences of the long term water deficit — drying wells and ranchers being forced to reduce their herds. However, instead of seeking to rein in excessive spending (groundwater pumping) Inyo leaders blame lack of deposits (reduced recharge due to drought). Recent comments by Inyo County Water Department Director Bob Harrington are a case in point, and his predecessors used a similar strategy.

The deficit in our water account means that spending exceeds income. The spending (pumping) can be controlled, yet our leaders mention only the reduction in income (drought), which cannot.

I’ll bet a majority of Inyo County voters consider themselves “fiscal conservatives.” Would fiscal conservatives knowingly vote for candidates whose plan to reduce deficits amounts to ignoring excessive spending (pumping) and simply calling for increased income (praying for snow)?

Daniel Pritchett Bishop, CA

26 Comments
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Buffalo Billious
Buffalo Billious
8 years ago

Nice letter Daniel, your dirt biking neighbors to the north appreciate it. There is ample proof that a dry west (and eastern sierra) is the historical norm. I am sure that DWP is aware.

JeremiahJoseph
JeremiahJoseph
8 years ago

Well done Daniel, I hear you Brother.
We have the ability, all I can think of now is coming together and making it happen in a organized fashion, but do we have the resources to carry out a long tough battle? We have rights, its just time to practice them..

Water Moccasin
Water Moccasin
8 years ago

Fighting it here could help set a new precedent for this statewide and worldwide problem of abuse. That would be poetic justice for Owens Valley.
http://www.eenews.net/stories/1059992379

Ann Martini
Ann Martini
8 years ago

The Sacramento Bee has a very interesting article in today’s paper (1-5-14) about the Owens Valley water situation and DWP. Even has an time laps video of the dust storms we get off the dry lake. Check it out!

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago
Reply to  Ann Martini

Thank you for the reference to this important story Ann. Here is the link to the Sacramento Bee story

http://www.sacbee.com/2014/01/05/6046630/outrage-in-owens-valley.html

Michael Prather
Michael Prather
8 years ago

Some recent history: Assurances were made in 2004, during the conservation easement consideration by Mayor Hahn, that the valley had been well protected by LADWP for 100 years and that it would continue to be so protected. (California Water News, July 26, 2004). In this article Councilman LaBonge stated, “…Los… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago

LA really doesn’t have to give Inyo or Mono Counties the time of day if they don’t wish to. Being a Charter City, under the California Constitution Article 11 Los Angeles is not subject to regulations that conflict with it’s charter. The charter of a charter city is in effect… Read more »

Nemo
Nemo
8 years ago

It would be helpful, Tortoise, to know whereof you speak before rendering an opinion. The City of Los Angeles is subject to state law – in this case, the California Environmental Quality Act. Thank heavens that Inyo County was smart enough to use that new law in 1972 when they… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Nemo

This is directly from Article 11 “SEC. 5. (a) It shall be competent in any city charter to provide that the city governed thereunder may make and enforce all ordinances and regulations in respect to municipal affairs, subject only to restrictions and limitations provided in their several charters and in… Read more »

Frodo
Frodo
8 years ago

Good grief Desert Tortoise! Do you even live in Inyo County? Have you ever read any of the legally binding agreements between the City of Los Angeles and Inyo County? The fact that the City of Los Angeles is a charter city does not in any way affect the requirement… Read more »

Mark
Mark
8 years ago
Reply to  Frodo

“They are not above the law!”

It appears they are from my perspective.

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Frodo

LA is bound by the courts, not by the Inyo or Mono County BoS. LA is like any litigant in a civil dispute, pushing to test the limits of a court order. If you had a business none of this would surprise you. It is common as dirt for someone… Read more »

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago

DT, Your post regarding Los Angeles and it’s Charter City designation is a vital question that needs to be addressed. I do not have the knowledge really to discuss the issue, but I have looked at this website. http://www.cacities.org/UploadedFiles/LeagueInternet/7b/7b4af40b-c2d6-4584-8fe5-ffe97f2d23ec.pdf My reading of this chart allows a Charter City to have… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Philip Anaya

The only thing that makes LA do anything is a court order with large enough fines for non-compliance. The region will only have the “rights” they are willing fo fight for in court and are able to prove with adequate data. Don’t expect anything else. As for “empires falling”, don’t… Read more »

sugar magnolia
sugar magnolia
8 years ago

enough with this dribble DT, you are misinterpreting the law, plain and simple.

sugar magnolia
sugar magnolia
8 years ago

While I agree with everything you say, I think you overestimate Inyo County’s control over the situation. I’ve been here over 20 years and I have only seen Inyo make deals with LADWP that benefit LADWP. Why? I’m not sure. My first question was why they had a guy( Greg… Read more »

Mongo The Idiot
Mongo The Idiot
8 years ago

That’s a big straw you have in my milkshake.
Keep your earthquake insurance up in case the subsidence happens all at once.
Mongo

Daris
Daris
8 years ago

Thanks Dan; Pat Mr Phillips was a man of intergrity; I have been before the Board of Supervisors, the Water Commission, the Bishop Creek Water Association, and the DWP in Technical and Standing Committe meetings to ask questions about the inforcement of the Long Term Water Agreement. The LTW A… Read more »

MJA
MJA
8 years ago

Well said David, pun intended. If I may add my 2 drops worth: Save the Owens Valley. What is needed is a new agreement based on a set ground water level that ensures the health and lives of the Owens Valley and at the same time supplies the excess water… Read more »

Patricia Rowbottom
Patricia Rowbottom
8 years ago

Daniel, I’ve commented on the same theme MANY times to LADWP Admin. Personnel. In the “career driven” corporate world of LADWP it has been a game of musical chairs. “Take as much water as you can, to produce your quotos, …until the music stops.” Hopefully, brother, you won’t come up… Read more »

Trouble
Trouble
8 years ago

Maybe all the people paying twenty plus grand for their new wells might want to ask a judge to look into this matter?

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago

I am reminded of a favorite Bumper sticker

” I can’t be overdrawn, I still have checks”

sugar magnolia
sugar magnolia
8 years ago
Reply to  Philip Anaya

That’s a good one….I like this one – ‘Who would Jesus Bomb?” Petty much says it all

Ann Martini
Ann Martini
8 years ago

You said it, brother! Could not have put it better myself.