Water Master explains ditches and duties

wellrigResidents of West Bishop now keep a wary eye on their groundwater levels and their private wells. Some property owners have reportedly started to meet to share their fears. Seven or so domestic wells have dried up. Many question why the groundwater dropped – forcing homeowners to drill much deeper wells.

Some attention has focused on the Department of Water and Power’s pumping over the years. Inyo’s Water Director said preliminary investigation pointed to a lack of recharge due to dry years. Most of the ditches that flow through yards in West Bishop dried up some months ago. Sierra Wave Media checked with the Water Master of the Bishop Creek Water Association for another view.

Miles Maillet has worked as Water Master for two years. He described his main job as evenly dividing the main Indian ditch that flows from Bishop Creek below Edison’s Plant 6 into three ditches which flow downhill through residential areas and ultimately to DWP lessees off Barlow Lane and to Reservation areas.

Maillet said, “The amount of water in the main Indian ditch is 3.5 cubic feet per second. I spread that as equally as possible into three lower ditches.” Those three ditches are the Hall Ditch, the South Indian Ditch and the North Indian Ditch. They flow into West Bishop.

Some residents of the area said they thought Underwood and Glennbrook got more ditch flow than Highland and Sunset. Maillet said that’s not the case. He said that the Hall Ditch comes out on the corner in front of two houses on Underwood but then immediately goes to leases with livestock. Maillet said a community well also serves Underwood, Glennbrook and Sierra Vista.

Other properties have individual wells or community wells. Maillet said Highland Drive was the first to experience dry ditches, but he said that is not because their water was cut off by head gates. He said it’s because of the lack of water in Bishop Creek.

North Bishop Creek runs through the McLaren area where water still serves ditches. Overall, Maillet said most residential areas in West Bishop do not have water in their yard ditches. Last winter, according to Maillet, Bishop Creek registered a flow of 45 cfs. This year, the flow is down to 20 cfs or more. Said Maillet, “I can’t give them what I don’t have.”

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BobK
BobK
8 years ago

Excuse me, My last comment was directed to Major Tom, not Philip, I believe that he knows that already. Also, most, if not all of the ponds use the water from the ditches fed by Bishop Cr. not from the groundwater. Bob

MajorTom
MajorTom
8 years ago
Reply to  BobK

Yea, I got that. Surface water feeds the ditches which keeps the groundwater table high so shallow wells are effective. When the ditches aren’t running, the wells don’t work. It seems like an inefficient system, as opposed to deepening wells to take advantage of reliable groundwater supplies, and using less… Read more »

BobK
BobK
8 years ago

Phillip: I don’t know about all well owners, but the ones where I live in West Bishop use there wells for all of their domestic water. We receive nothing from outside water systems. No well, no water.

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago

There was twice as much water in Bishop Creek last winter because there was a cooperative plan that saved water in South and Sabrina Lakes as in most years since the 70’s. This past year however, there was the new LADWP management that denied the historic cooperative management with Edison… Read more »

MajorTom
MajorTom
8 years ago
Reply to  Philip Anaya

Phillip, Not that I have any particular love for DWP, but judging from the fact that only very shallow wells seem to be affected and they only worked because of all the water used for landscaping in the area, you seem to be arguing that we all should protect a… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago
Reply to  MajorTom

Those who have looked for evidence, like the late Stan Matlick, believed molecules of pumped water were mixed with others and leaving the Cone. Hard to prove. Doesn’t the County take DWP’s figures for Cone activity?
Benett Kessler

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago
Reply to  MajorTom

Major Tom , I think that water tables are a lot like bank accounts. The amounts in each have to do with how much you deposit and how much you withdraw. Dr. Harrington in his preliminary assesment of the West Bishop Water Table Issues provides a graph of a monitoring… Read more »

BobK
BobK
8 years ago

Geez, Mr. Lips, Ya think that it might have something to do with the drought?

Waxlips
Waxlips
8 years ago

Okay next question, why isn’t there enough water to go around?

bishop93514
bishop93514
8 years ago
Reply to  Waxlips

Probably has something to do with a statewide drought.