Dry years mean low flow in Bishop Creek

Snowfall in the Bishop Creek drainage has remained below normal in the last two years.

Snowfall in the Bishop Creek drainage has remained below normal in the last two years.


The previous two consecutive years have produced very low snowpack levels in the Bishop Creek area watershed, with about 27% of normal in 2012 and 47% of normal in 2013. As a result, Bishop Creek flows are expected to be approximately one-half of normal during the fall and winter of 2013, and Bishop Creek Water Association (BCWA) members will have less water during this period.

The BCWA Watermaster, Mr. Miles Mallet, will work hard to apportion water fairly while meeting state-mandated minimum in-stream flow requirements. Please help the Watermaster and avoid independent adjustment of BCWA ditch flows. If you believe the flows in your ditch need adjustment, please call Mr. Mallet at (760) 920-8264.

The BCWA also reminds members that it is especially important to keep ditches free of leaves, debris, and ice during this fall and winter so the limited amount of water available will flow freely.

8 Responses to Dry years mean low flow in Bishop Creek

  1. BobK October 3, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

    Thanks for the info Benett, but, this still doesn’t answer the question why DWP ignored SCE on instream flows this spring when they knew at that time that the 2 year total runoff was so low. SCE requested the variance in April or May to lower flows. DWP refused to,at first, aknowledge the written requests and then responded by demanding their normal pre drought flows, knowing that this move would drain both Sabrina and South lakes and reducing the flows at Plant 6 (lowest SCE facility) to under 30cfs way before the chandler decree(water rites for downstream users) expires for the year. They have already completly dried up the Mason ditch one time this summer killing numerous fish according to residents and the Cal. Fish and Wildlife Dept.

    • Benett Kessler October 3, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

      Will Fish and Wildlife cite DWP?

      • Philip Anaya October 3, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

        I was told last Friday that DFW will not cite the DWP nor is there a plan or permission to rescue fish

  2. Sharon October 3, 2013 at 11:46 am #

    Given that the Bishop Creek Water Association released the information, could you please provide any contact information for the board members? Our creeks and ponds are now completely dry and our fish (rainbows and browns) that have lived and reproduced in these creeks/ponds for generations have died off. I’ve spoken with numerous neighbors that have resided in the South Barlow neighborhoods for over 40 years (through many droughts) and they have consistently stated that the creeks and ponds have never dried up. I have also read through local articles that in 2013, SCE repeatedly asked DWP to slow the flow from South Lake to preserve the water and DWP said no each time. DWP insisted that the water flow continue at non-drought year levels. The article specifically mentioned that over the past 35 years when we’ve experienced drought years, that DWP has worked with SCE to slow the flow out of South Lake to preserve water for all users up and down Bishop Creek. But not this year.

    • Benett Kessler October 3, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

      The story does name the BCWA Water Master as Mr. Miles Mallet at (760) 920-8264. Give him a call. I have contacted DWP to find out more about their position.
      Benett Kessler

    • Benett Kessler October 3, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

      Here is DWP’s response to concerns about ditches and ponds running too low. Public Information Officer Chris Plakos responded:

      “As you know the winter of 2012-2013 resulted in an end-of-season (April 1) snowpack of only 47% of normal, and the winter of 2011-2012 was just 27% of normal in the Bishop area. Together that means the Bishop area received less than half the normal precipitation it should have received over the past two winters. The Eastern Sierra hasn’t seen back to back years with such low snowpack and runoff since the early 1960’s.

      BCWA diverts water through its ditches, and the LADWP makes beneficial use of the water downstream. This year LADWP has the following priorities: 1. Maintain at least 5 cubic feet per second in the north and south forks of Bishop Creek to keep fish in good condition; 2. Endeavor to ensure obligations are maintained including water to the Bishop Tribe, irrigation and stockwater supply; 3. Distribute the remaining water among the BCWA ditches, but do not shut off any ditch.”

  3. chris September 4, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

    How much impact does the draining of Lake Sabrina this year, drawing down last year of South Lake (I think) have to do with the low flow of water in Bishop Creek? Neither is mentioned in this article. Surprising, as your articles are usually thorough and of a more investigative nature.

    • Benett Kessler September 4, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

      This is a press release from Bishop Creek Water Association intended to help Bishop residents understand the low water flow. Yes, as the release says, two drought years in a row, with the very low level in the lakes of the Bishop Creek watershed, have left the creek with little water.


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