Press release from Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
BISHOP, CA – In a Media Release dated May 3, 2016, the Inyo County Board of Supervisors asserts that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has not provided the County information on a program for reasonable reductions to irrigation and water supply on LA-owned lands and Enhancement and Mitigation projects in the Owens Valley. It is unfortunate that Inyo Supervisors put this message out to the public as LADWP has been forthcoming and communicative with the Inyo County Water Department every step of the way.
In the media release, Inyo County Board of Supervisors state, “LADWP has yet to provide the County or the community with any written proposal to evaluate.” This statement is disingenuous as the County was aware that LADWP would be providing the Inyo County Water Department (ICWD) with the written program the day after this news release was issued, and were further aware that the program would be made available for public comment on Friday, May 6 at the Inyo/LA Technical Group meeting. Perpetuating this type of misinformation is a disservice to the public.
An outline of LADWP’s communications with the County in regard to developing this program are as follows: LADWP placed an item on the Standing Committee’s February 8 agenda reading, “Direct the Technical Group to develop and present to the Standing Committee for approval and implementation at its next scheduled meeting, a program for reasonable reductions in irrigation water supply on LA-owned lands and for enhancement/mitigation projects.” This meeting did not result in a vote on the item as it was not agendized as an “Action Item.”
At the following Standing Committee meeting on March 31, LADWP placed the same item on the agenda as an Action Item and requested a vote. The item was approved by the Standing Committee at that meeting.
In response to the approval of that action item, LADWP and the ICWD scheduled a Technical Group meeting to be held Friday, May 6 in order to discuss the program’s development. The meeting date was agreed upon with the ICWD on April 13. The agenda for the meeting, including an item to develop a program for reasonable reductions, was approved by the ICWD on May 2.
Beyond these public communications on the topic, LADWP also met with the ICWD on April 28 to discuss concepts of the proposed program for reductions. During that meeting Jim Yannotta, LADWP Manager of Aqueduct, relayed to the ICWD that the program discussed at the May 6 Technical Group meeting would be agendized as an Action Item on the Standing Committee’s May 12 agenda. It was also agreed during the April 28 meeting that LADWP and ICWD would meet again on May 4 to further discuss the program for reductions and present to the ICWD plan for reasonable reductions prior to the Technical Group’s upcoming meeting.
LADWP and ICWD met on May 4 as scheduled and outlined in detail the proposed reduction program. At that meeting a copy of the proposed program was provided to the ICWD as well as a request for comments.
LADWP then proposed a fair and reasonable program for reduction on May 6 at the Technical Group meeting and accepted comments on the plan. The proposed program was developed by reviewing water indexes from multiple locations across the state to establish a baseline definition for the term “dry year.”
Utilizing this data, staff compared numbers with similar periods in the Owens Valley and developed three dry year classifications: below normal, dry and critical dry. Based on these classifications a reasonable water use reduction was proposed. For the first year of a dry period, LADWP proposed asking for no reduction in irrigation. Should a second dry year period follow, then limited but incremental reductions would ensue.
These increments were deigned to assist local agriculture to more easily absorb the reductions. Any year registering below normal or normal would also reset the time frame, allowing a two year buffer before any reduction would be implemented. During the May 6 meeting and in previous discussions, LADWP asked for suggestions and input from the ICWD about the program. ICWD didn’t offer comments specific to the program or any alternatives.
LADWP continues to be open and forthcoming in its operation planning within the Owens Valley and looks forward to a more honest and productive relationship with Inyo County officials in the future. The LADWP Draft Operations Plan is available online at: https://www.ladwp.com/cs/idcplg?IdcService=GET_FILE&dDocName=OPLADWPCCB466808&RevisionSelectionMethod=LatestReleased.