Inyo Water Commission looks at proposed new LADWP wells

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s intent to put in three new production wells and replace an 87-year old well in Laws did not go over well at Monday evening’s Inyo County Water Commission meeting.

Mike Prather

Mike Prather

The strongest reaction came from Commissioner Craig Patten. Considering the drought, “we’re playing with fire,” Patten said. “We have to be ready as a county to pull the trigger.”

Teri Red Owl also had an issue with the timing of the proposal, especially in the face of new vegetation monitoring procedures currently being developed as part of the Blackrock 94 settlement.

Two of the new wells are in Bishop, one south of Schober Lane, the other east of the Gun Club north of Bishop. The third new well is proposed for Big Pine in Bell Canyon to supply water to the Big Pine Improved Ditch System. The two Bishop wells are among 15 sites included in the 1991 Environmental Impact Report. The Big Pine well would require a California Environmental Quality Act review, according to County Water Department Director Bob Harrington.

While construction was initially slated for next month in a letter from LADWP dated in early March, Harrington said the revised construction date was moved to November.

Harrington outlined procedures and past issues relating to new production wells. The Long Term Water Agreement established the procedures, starting with a pre-construction evaluation done by the Technical Group made up of Inyo County and LADWP staff. That evaluation would cover monitoring wells and an assessment of potential environmental effects.

Previous new or replacement well constructions have unearthed disagreements between the County and the City, some of which stem from unclear language in the agreement and the Green Book, basically the users’ manual for the LTWA and a document slated for review.

One significant disagreement is LADWP’s position that the Technical Group is responsible for the pre-construction evaluation, “allowing the group any decision making authority over whether a new well can be constructed is an imposition on their water rights,” Harrington’s presentation stated. Each new well proposal and pre-construction evaluation has been worked out on a “case by case” basis, Harrington said.

While LADWP’s proposal doesn’t indicate the specific use of the wells in Bishop, Sally Manning and Daris Moxley pointed out there were no irrigation requirements close to the B-2 well, near the Gun Club and north of U.S. Hwy. 395 and the groundwater would be pumped into the C-Drain and end up in the Aqueduct.

It was also pointed out that a new well, included in the 1991 EIR and drilled in the early 2000s looked problematic for Tribal water sources after a three-week test and had not been operative since.

“This is pretty basic stuff,” said Commission Chair Mike Prather. “We want no more impacts (from groundwater pumping). We still have work to do. (This valley) is not ‘pristine’ yet.”

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4 Responses to Inyo Water Commission looks at proposed new LADWP wells

  1. Philip Anaya July 2, 2015 at 6:43 pm #

    Just in case there is a new guy or even an old guy at DWP who needs read this for the first time or even read it over again here is a reminder to the LADWP regarding new wells

    From Section II of the Inyo/LA Long Term Water Agreement, Section III Management Strategy, Paragraph G. Private Wells

    “New Wells will be sited and groundwater pumping shall be managed to avoid significant adverse effects on water quality and water levels in non-department owned wells in the Owens Valley that are attributable to groundwater pumping by the Department. Any such significant adverse effects shall be promptly mitigated by the Department.”

    I am guessing that folks in West Bishop who have lost their domestic water wells have not been promptly mitigated as of yet or compensated for the great expense of their new wells . I am guessing that this is a significant adverse effect and is attributable to the management of the aquifer, the loss of recharge through the ditch system due to the same management and the production wells that lowered the water table . Before any drilling DWP needs to promptly, as required, mitigate the significant adverse effects that have already occurred in this section of the Bishop Cone .

  2. Roger July 2, 2015 at 7:34 am #

    Ladwp should spend some effort to keep water mains in LA in good repair and they would have more water.
    Every day the news reports water main breakage due to aging infrastructure.
    It seams Ladwp has plenty of money , but is reluctant to spend it to keep the mains in shape.
    If Ladwp keeps increasing their pumping, maybe the Sierra Wave should change its name to “Sahara Wave”.

  3. MJA July 2, 2015 at 6:00 am #

    There should be no exportation of ground water from the Owens Valley especially when there is no surface water to recharge it. Hello! =

  4. Philip Anaya July 1, 2015 at 6:40 pm #

    The numerous domestic wells that have gone dry in West Bishop were caused by a lower water table. The Bishop Creek Water Association ditch system that has had limited water these past few years effected that equation as has the LADWP production wells W407 (off Barlow Lane), W408 ( below Sunrise and Longview Drives), W140 ( off the south west corner of Bishop Golf Course , and W 412 ( across 395 directly east of W140) . These four production wells effect the water table in West Bishop and they all flow into the same ditch that ends up in the Bishop Creek canal and points south of the Owens Valley . With West Bishop domestic wells being impacted by even small reductions in the water table a proposed new well B-5 is not going to protect or increase the domestic water supply in this section of the Bishop Cone Aquifer.
    From Bob Harrington, Inyo County Water Director to the Inyo BoS June 29 ,2015 , “LADWP Plans for Installation of New Production Wells.”
    “According to the 1991 EIR Well B-5 is located north of Indian Ditch and west of Sunland Drive”. “The well is planned to be 18″ inches in diameter , 650 feet deep and screened from 300 to 600 feet with a capacity of 4.0 cfs” . (4cfs equals a whopping 1,795.3 gallons per minute) That’s correct 1,795.3 gallons per minute. How does that capacity rate with any West Bishop domestic well capacity. It appears that DWP has plans for other new wells that were included in the 1991 EIR. My life and everything in existence today has updated since 1991. Why not this EIR ? The Inyo County BoS need a lot of support and encouragement to direct every effort to have a voice in this decision. We do not need any additional extraction of waters from this aquifer . It will adversely effect all of our domestic water supply.
    If DWP is so confident in their 1991 EIR findings then how about they commit to pay for each and every domestic well that will have a problem or goes dry within 3-5 miles of these proposed new wells.
    These words fail to adequately address this astonishing proposal from the LADWP . Lets hope that reason, science and careful consideration and actions by the Inyo Board of Supervisors will keep water coming out of kitchen taps in West Bishop and throughout the Owens Valley. For one, I am going to fight for every drop of my water. I can use a lot of drops but nothing close to 1,795.3 gallons a minute


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