Comments on ‘Why would Los Angeles do this’?

Letter submitted by:

Daniel Pritchett

Mike Prather’s June 11, 2018, letter to Sierra Wave regarding DWP’s latest outrage
invites comment. Here are two.

Mike Prather posed the question, “Why would Los Angeles do this?” i.e. dry up 6000
irrigated acres in Mono County to send more water down the Aqueduct. The question I would pose is, “Why would anyone in the Eastern Sierra wonder why Los Angeles would do this?”

Los Angeles is a colonial power and we live in its colony. We shouldn’t be surprised
when it exploits our resources: that is one reason colonial powers maintain
colonies. The deceit and betrayal of public trust in the early 1900’s which allowed Los Angeles to attain its colonial power are well documented. DWP continually seeks to persuade people it has changed, and Mike Prather cited the Owens Lake Master Project as a positive example.

I suggest there are far more reasons to believe DWP has not changed than there are to believe it has. The Owens Lake Master Project itself can be seen as a negative example of cooptation of local environmental groups as mush as a
positive example of “collaboration”.

Mike Prather concluded his letter with another question, “When will the ‘Bad old days’
be truly over?” The answer is simple: when DWP overcomes its addiction to Eastern
Sierra water and goes home i.e. ceases being a colonial power.

It is entirely possible for Los Angeles to do this — see a recent UCLA study at

However, the status quo of colonial rule offers the path of least resistance. It will
require considerable determination and political skill to develop the consensus among LA political leaders to make the infrastructure investments for water conservation, recycling, and stormwater capture necessary to implement the UCLA proposals.

Mayor Garcetti is clearly not up to the task, notwithstanding his rhetoric about sustainability and reducing reliance on imported water.

What can we, in the Eastern Sierra do? First, don’t give up. We should not accept
colonial status, and self-determination is worth fighting for. Second, do not be fooled
by DWP and its apologists. The drying of the irrigated lands in Mono County is but the latest entry in a list of DWP abuses which continually grows longer and will not end until DWP leaves.

Finally, do what you can to educate people in Los Angeles about DWP’s unjust and environmentally devastating management. In the court of public opinion we
have very strong arguments. We need to start making them.

Daniel Pritchettt



20 Responses to Comments on ‘Why would Los Angeles do this’?

  1. Gib Corwin June 23, 2018 at 11:51 am #

    Most people are not aware of something very interesting about the Ladwp. I first read about it in Cadillac Desert. Pre Pearl harbor the Japanese sent the dwp a very direct letter asking for intimate details of the Ladwp. I found a copy of it on the internet the other day. Amazing .

  2. David Dennison June 23, 2018 at 11:32 am #

    silver spurs….My thinking is if LADWP disappeared,what would happen is the Owens Valley would soon turn into another Lancaster And Palmdale…I think we could still somehow survive,the majority of us anyway,without the DWP jobs and employees around.

    • Gene Thomas June 24, 2018 at 2:11 pm #

      David, I would have to wonder about that transition. I know that Antelope Valley area very well. Many people in Lancaster and Palmdale drive (!) into the San Fernando Valley daily to their jobs, and others ride the Metrolink daily to commute to L.A. area jobs. I couldn’t do it, but I know for a fact that many do so. Trying to do a daily work commute from the Owens Valley would be out of the question, it seems to me.

      But I think the Owens Valley would still survive, but likely the towns would be smaller and the economy would over time reinvent itself. Maybe the region would become more retiree-oriented.

  3. Flabbergasted June 23, 2018 at 8:57 am #

    Isn’t this kinda like the same mentality and colonial privilege that lets local DWP workers drive to there house everyday, sometimes multiple times a day on the government clock, keep the government car running in the street and hang out at home?

  4. BobK June 23, 2018 at 8:43 am #

    Please explain the environmental disaster that will happen. Not taking sides on this just yet, just don’t understand some of the claims. Hasn’t Friends of Inyo, the Sierra club and the Mono Lake committee been against livestock and irrigating for livestock for years. Now all of a sudden they flip 180….Please explain

    • David Dennison June 24, 2018 at 6:40 am #

      BobK….Without reading into it much,just reading the above story,my guess would be,if the Sierra Club,Friends Of inyo and the Mono Lake Committee are against it,it’s because of drying up the area by diverting the water,not so much against the livestock grazing the area..them being environmental groups,I doubt they did any “flipping” ,I doubt they ever wanted the area to be dry to chase off the cattle and ranchers.

  5. silver spurs June 21, 2018 at 7:45 am #

    If LADWP disappeared with all its jobs today then the Owens Valley would truly dry up and blow away.

  6. Stacy Corless June 21, 2018 at 6:36 am #

    This isn’t a conservative or liberal issue. And it’s not about cows. It’s about stopping another environmental disaster, another large-scale de-watering, that will cost LADWP ratepayers even more than the billions they’ve already paid out due to mismanagement of the watershed the city relies on. We’re not giving up, and we’re not giving into the cynical view that a treasured landscape can simply disappear without consequence.

    • David Dennison June 21, 2018 at 11:37 am #

      Stacy,if it involves the environment in any way,it IS a conservative and/or a Liberal issue…one on each side of the spectrum nowdays….one side doesn’t care about anything, if it means possibly more money going into their own pockets..the other side,trying to protect and keep what we have,especially living in California,and especially where we live,when it comes to anytype of Federal funding, environmental protection,endangered species,public land possibly being put up for sale to the highest bidder,National Parks,anything environment or wildlife…

  7. Mono Person June 20, 2018 at 4:45 pm #

    I’m not a big Trumper, but why does every darn thing gets turned into it’s Trump’s fault (and his followers)? It is so easy pickings, start thinking of the actual issue on the table…

    • Charles O. Jones June 21, 2018 at 2:50 pm #

      Probably for the same reasons Trump and many of his followers keep blaming Obama and HRC for everything from A to Z. It’s just easier to look for someone to blame rather than accept the reality that answers are far more complicated.

  8. Tom Tuttle June 19, 2018 at 10:48 am #

    Tofu Boy: I agree with you. For a bunch of Conservatives living in Inyo county, they sound more like a bunch of Liberal’s who act and feel they are entitled to everything at no cost.

    • Tofu Boy June 19, 2018 at 12:22 pm #

      Exactly my point Tom, thank you.

    • David Dennison June 20, 2018 at 8:22 am #

      Tom,what I see of the conservatives,not only many living here in the Owens Valley,but Nationwide,is many of them unable to make their own decisions about much of anything,unable to put one foot in front of the other unless trump and his worshipers are telling them how,when and where to do it.With little regard for anything but $$$ and themselves and the hell with the land and wildlife many of us came here to enjoy.

    • Charles O. Jones June 20, 2018 at 9:40 am #

      Maybe conservatives and liberals have far more in common than they like to admit. Maybe we’re all just people and not robots condemned to a life between the lines drawn by politicians and cable news channels.

  9. Tofu Boy June 18, 2018 at 1:48 pm #

    It seems to me LADWP is simply doing the same sort of thing that President Trump is doing for the USA – concerning itself exclusively with the interests of its constituents/ratepayers, as required by the LA City Charter.

    Just as it is not the United States’ obligation to subsidize the defense of other NATO nations, it is not LADWP’s obligation to subsidize the commercial interests of a small group of cattle ranchers.

    If those cattle ranchers – who have been feeding for free at the teat of LADWP for lo these many years – don’t like it, well…tough cow pies.

    • Buzz Killington June 20, 2018 at 12:33 am #

      Nothing more entaining than reading, liberal logic

    • James O'Neill June 20, 2018 at 2:39 pm #

      On the flip side of your characterization, just as bad trade deals have allowed others to grow at the United States’ expense, so too has the political wrangling that allowed LADWP to amass its deals in the Owens Valley and Long Valley in the first place been (inarguably) a detriment to the Eastern Sierra. Who subsidizes who under such a characterization?

      The ranchers don’t feed for free at the teat of LADWP so much as they are permitted to exist at LADWP’s whim after having their water stolen from them (prior appropriation rights in action). Many of these ranching families have been here longer than LADWP in generational terms, and in fact are worse off as far as their carrying capacity has markedly decreased due to the fact they lost their ability to claim water for themselves.

      From a pure legal standpoint, yes LADWP owns the water, and it seems that the cattle are merely “subsidized.” In practical reality, however, a complex machination of private ranch land and LADWP water rights is in play – LADWP, being a utility, is a quasi-governmental organization, and not permitted the same latitude to make decisions as a private individual would. The LADWP already nearly destroyed an entire agricultural economy (which, need I remind you, provides a livelihood for many local families even beyond the ranchers itself) for its own benefit. Your ambivalence toward it finally thrusting the last fork into a body left on life support for 100 years betrays the very callousness that lies at he heart of nearly all liberal suppositions; unless a particular, fashionable interest group (i.e. one that has brown skin, is gender confused, or wants to get an abortion) is protected, damn the rest of humanity; in this case, the longstanding families who rely on ranching and its associated economic impact to be able to have a livelihood at all in this beautiful landscape.

      • Tofu Boy June 22, 2018 at 6:31 am #

        People with brown skin are a mere “fashionable interest group”? Racist much James?

  10. JaneE June 18, 2018 at 8:36 am #

    Anyone who wonders why we distrust DWPLA should read “Water and Power” by William Kahrl.
    Just the fact that the state changed its laws should tell anyone that something very wrong was done in and to the Owens Valley.


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