Inyo Supervisors draw the line on LADWP wells

By Deb Murphy

The Inyo County Board of Supervisors has challenged the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to conduct an environmental study on the impact of two new wells in the West Bishop area or face legal action.

The decision was announced to an empty board room following the Supervisors’ closed session meeting Tuesday. As of Thursday afternoon, there was no response from LADWP.

The basis for the request was the changing conditions in the impacted area since the original California Environmental Quality Act studies were done in 1991. LADWP has maintained that study covered the two new wells identified in the Long Term Water Agreement and no review was necessary.

The extent of those changed conditions was the streak of dried up older shallow residential wells in 2013 followed by rising ground water levels flooding basements and running out of lawns and down streets.

Another element of the changing conditions since 1991 is development in the area. In a review of County building permits for new residents in West Bishop and the Meadow Creek area, Sierra Wave turned up 36 permits for single family residents pulled since 1991 in West Bishop, the impact area for the proposed well B-5 and 47 in the Meadow Creek development, in the impact area of B-2. In addition 44 private wells were drilled between 2013 and 2016 in West Bishop as the older, shallow wells ran dry in the second drought year.

The County and specifically the Water Department had taken significant heat from the public for a consenting vote on the department’s pre-construction evaluation report during a Technical Group meeting in early February.

Timing was important,” said Supervisor Matt Kingsley in a phone interview, noting that LADWP had applied for a permit on the new wells. “We had to make sure we had the best chance of winning.”

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2 Responses to Inyo Supervisors draw the line on LADWP wells

  1. Philip Anaya March 12, 2017 at 8:57 pm #

    Thumbs up to Inyo County for this action in upholding the California Environmental Quality Act and doing the correct thing in it’s demands for further assessment of this proposed new well project . The proposed new wells are intended to provide irrigation water to leases that are already and historically served with surface flow waters from Bishop Creek . Events have caused the disruptions and the lowering of the water table and resulting private wells gone dry in West Bishop and those events should never be allowed to be repeated . A combination of dry BCWA ditches and production well output from LADWP wells W407, W408, W140 are responsible for the lowered water tables and the collateral effects. With an increase of annual output of mean annual average of 3000AF for the existing three wells to 4400 AF with the proposed new well B-5 it is a great idea for Inyo County to offer to the LADWP the idea of a having a current EIR for the project. LADWP should be grateful to Inyo County for this opportunity to fully comply with laws and it’s agreements.
    In addition, the Owens Basin is in process of a establishing the GSA (Groundwater Sustainability Agency) in the non adjudicated portions of the Basin and a GSP (Groundwater Sustainability Policy) that will regulated this very real example of the needed management and coordination of groundwater extraction between the domestic user non adjudicated West Bishop and the adjacent LADWP lands which are in the adjudicated portions of the Owens Basin where these new wells are proposed to be located.

  2. Trouble March 11, 2017 at 3:49 am #

    I’m kind of glad to read this. But in my personal opinion, DWP will just find another way to screw use out of the water that is rightfully ours.
    Basically, their just rerouting and plugging up their canals to make sure the water doesn’t get into our ground. If you want proof, walk the canal and look at where their putting stones in all over the place. It’s not a buetification project.


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