So. Inyo to Mammoth -it’s a water dance

aqueductindyDrought makes all water uses shaky. For those locked in a reluctant relationship with the Department of Water and Power, it’s worse. Officials in our two counties have begun the dance to secure water.

Inyo Supervisors wrote down their views on the Owens Dry Lake. They will likely pass a drought proclamation on Tuesday, and today expected to visit with LA’s Mayor in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Southern California Edison has started talks with the Department of Water and Power on solutions to management of Bishop Creek drainage water and Mammoth officials say they will keep a sharp eye on their water supplies. MCWD Manager Pat Hayes said the water board is “looking at a range of scenarios.”

With another record dry January on hand, the heat went up under all the water interests. A grim image of summer looms large as many fear more dried up wells in West Bishop, dry lakes and streams. Inyo fears that LADWP might claim municipal emergency and take more water than ever.

In response to the Governor’s Drought Proclamation, Inyo Supervisors wrote a letter to LA to say they would support DWP demands on the Owens Dry Lake but want one-third of water saved from dust control to stay in the Owens Valley. Local reactions were mixed. April Zrelack, Air Quality Coordinator for the Lone Pine Tribe, said the Inyo Board’s willingness to relax dust controls will impact communities around the dry lake. She said, “LA created a dust bowl and must take the responsibility until it is remedied.”

County Administrator Kevin Carunchio said the reason for bringing up the dry lake issues now is the drought. He said, “We have to be aware that LA may take advantage of the drought. We want it on the record,” he said, “that we want one-third of any water savings at the dry lake to be left in the Owens Valley instead of all going down the aqueduct.” And, the CAO said, Inyo has its own drought concerns.

They turned up early as dry wells in West Bishop. In a closely guarded statement, Edison Public Relations man Bill DeLain told Sierra Wave Media that Edison is working “collaboratively with LADWP to find solutions on water management in the Bishop Creek area.” He said talks are underway now. DeLain said the ultimate goal of talks will be to achieve a solution of effective management of available water. DeLain refused to comment on Edison’s responsibilities in the drainage or anything else except that Edison and DWP are talking.

Inyo Supervisors Rick Pucci and Linda Arcularius planned to be talking with LA Mayor Eric Garcetti or someone from his office today (Monday) in Los Angeles. Officials called it a relationship building trip to put faces to names and also to bring up drought concerns and transitions at DWP. Selection of a new General Manager is pending.

Tuesday, the Inyo Board will consider a three-page drought proclamation which touches on all water situations and Inyo’s need for protection.

Meanwhile, Mammoth Community Water District maintains Level 1 Water Restrictions in town. Manager Hayes said that for now the District asks customers to conserve 10% over last year, and they will track the weather and adjust courses of action.

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Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
7 years ago

The proposed Drought Resolution that the Inyo Board of Supervisors will consider tomorrow is available on pages 44-47 in item #13 on this agenda packet link

It is good to see the concerns and the efforts of the Inyo County Board. It is good to hear that LADWP and Edison are talking about the management of the Bishop Creek Drainage Basin Resource. I hope that the Inyo County Water Dept/Water Commission , the Bishop Tribe, the DFW, Inyo National Forest, The City of Bishop, The Bishop Chamber will be invited to become involved in those discussions.

Prayers, pots and pans banging, empty buckets left outside to catch rain or snow, Conferences , Meetings , Water/Drought Summits, ideas, cooperation, solutions ,inclusion of everyone in this 3rd year Drought to have a renewed conscienceness of how important and how valuable the gift of water is to us all,it is all needed. Whether it’s just watching and conserving water use or participating or staying informed of our water issues, the collective synergy just has to bring some rain, some snowpack, some inertia of some novel management ideas that can benefit all. The squeaky wheel gets the grease and every effort has it’s rewards.

7 years ago

There was a time when there were two options, stop the dust coming off Owens Lake by implementing dust controls in a micro management of the lake surface or refill the lake back to historic levels of 3600 feet in elevation.

LADWP said at the time the refilling of the lake would take 14 years and be a big waste of water. They instead went with the micro management of the dry lake bed itself.

Fast forward 16 years DWP still has not finished the work of stopping the dust blowing off the lake has spent more than 1.3 Billion dollars building this micro managed lake surface.

So in retrospect would it have better to just refill the lake. I think so.

Mongo The Idiot
Mongo The Idiot
7 years ago
Reply to  Steve

Fill the lake, I don’t care if it takes 140 years.
You can’t alter the earth’s surface in such a way and not expect consequences.
The consequences of emptying the lake has at the very least been the extinction of all surplus surface ground water.
The possibilities of the removal effecting the sustainability of the water resource are endless.
As has been said before on this blog with citation; surface water cools the earths surface which in turn may preserve snow pack levels.