LADWP calls off testing of W385R

DWP Press release

OWENS VALLEY, CA— Los Angeles Department of Water and Power water managers have elected to call off testing of well W385R due to the alarming lack of snowpack and possibility that the eastern Sierra may be slipping back into drought conditions.  LADWP had planned to conduct the two-month-long test now through February, but will hold off until conditions hopefully improve next year.

“Right now, we are looking at about a 50 percent of normal snowpack, which is causing us to reduce flows out of Lake Crowley and start refilling important storage there,” said Richard Harasick, Senior Assistant General Manager for the Water System.  “One of the critical control variables for the well test is to maintain a constant flow in the Owens River, which we just cannot afford to do without jeopardizing this year’s aqueduct operations.”

The California Department of Water Resources is forecasting below normal snowpack for the year, and calls for water conservation are already ramping up throughout the state.

In 2014, LADWP made significant changes to its old well W385 located in the Five Bridges area of the Owens Valley.  The new version, called well W385R, is distinctly different from its predecessor and will draw from deep areas of the aquifer that are hydrologically separate from water that is needed to protect plant growth on the valley floor.  Following a shorter pump test in 2014, LADWP set up this winter’s test to further evaluate the operating characteristics of the well and improve the accuracy of groundwater modeling in the region.

This time of year is typically ideal for gathering good test data, when water flow conditions can be kept fairly constant and robust safeguards can put in place to make to ensure that the environment is completely protected.  “While we are eager to get this testing underway, we are more committed to getting good, reliable test results and protecting the local environment. Confirming that this well can be operated without adverse impacts is core to what this testing is about,” said Harasick.

The potential operation of well W385R has raised concerns in the Owens Valley, and during the testing delay, LADWP will continue to work with Inyo County and local stakeholders through the processes agreed to in the Long Term Water Agreement.

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One Response to LADWP calls off testing of W385R

  1. Philip Anaya January 4, 2018 at 11:18 am #

    Despite the good “News” from DWP that the Well 385 test has been canceled for the reasons offered , there are those who are aware of the persistent and good works of folks “local stakeholders”, Inyo County and the MOU parties that contributed to the decision . The solidarity of the parties in opposition to the test, of finding common goals and purpose and taking appropriate actions has once again emanated in a positive result for the Owens Valley.
    While the test of W385 has been canceled we all know that this and many other issues remain to be resolved. While certain individuals are to be credited for their part, all of the groups coming together, displaying a united front to the LADWP seems to have been a positive dynamic, a powerful force and what is needed into the future for the Owens Valley and the City of Los Angeles.
    By the way, at full capacity, Crowley (Long Valley Reservoir) has a high water (HW) elevation of 6781.5 feet . According to the LADWP “Northern District Daily Reports, Crowley was at 6768.5′ on Dec 1, 6767.6′ on the 15th and 6767.1′ on the 28th. While management of their operations is what LADWP does, that goes along with public relations that frankly, do not hold water . With Crowley at near capacity in the beginning of January and the lower Owens River currently running just above 300 cfs, that does not mean we have sufficient water for this year. LADWP would be wise to not only make decisions based on “protecting the local environment” but also to begin to think in strict business terms that sustainable groundwater management and Best Groundwater Management Practices are the way to insure that there is a sufficient sustainable water table available into the future no matter the snowpack both for the Owens Valley and the thirsty millions in Los Angeles .
    The Long Term Water Agreement provides a proxy process for the California Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in the Adjudicated portions of the Owens Basin. The hydrologically linked Non Adjudicated portions of the Basin have a GSA / GSP process that is currently in the formation stage and the Non adjudicated portions of the Basin are required to meet the 2042 Sustainable Requirement . The Adjudicated portion of the Basin is not subject to that requirement but that can and must change for the Basin to become sustainable . LADWP and Inyo County as the cosigners of the LTWA need to initiate a dialog regarding a voluntary 2042 Sustainable Requirement for the Adjudicated Portions of the Basin . The dialog needs to begin with a discussion of of a coordinated management of the Adjudicated / Non Adjudicated boundary. LADWP needs to acknowledge and agree that their production pumping in the Adjudicated portion will not draw down the water table in the Non Adjudicated portion of the Basin. As DWP is a recipient of those groundwaters and surface flow waters that convey through and over the Non Adjudicated ( they might be called the Owens Valley Authority) portions of the basin, the OVA will have to likewise agree not to diminish those flows or the water tables in the LTWA portion. DWP’s Richard Harasick’s in his statement in the News Release might consider that working with Inyo County and local stakeholders needs to go on forever and not merely during the testing delay and he might consider that local stakeholders will always have concerns as long as there is a DWP in the Owens Valley.

    “The potential operation of well W385R has raised concerns in the Owens Valley, and during the testing delay, LADWP will continue to work with Inyo County and local stakeholders through the processes agreed to in the Long Term Water Agreement.”

    If the City of Los Angeles considers it’s future important then the future of the Owens Valley is part of that consideration and now is the time to begin that consideration.


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