LADWP goes back to Inyo Supervisors

inyo_courthouse.jpgEager to push their latest Owens Dry Lake plan, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power will send their Water Operations Director Martin Adams back to the Inyo Supervisors meeting Tuesday.

Put simply, that plan could accelerate past the Owens Dry Lake Planning Group, would seek to eliminate any more dust controls at the lake bed, and could put more water into the aqueduct. Adams presented the plan to the Supervisors on April 2nd and promised to come back in two weeks.

Adams has also promised that DWP will take steps to protect bird habitat under a Dry Lake Master Plan but only if LA can quit spending money on dust controls. Supervisors pointed out to Adams that they have no jurisdiction when it comes to dust abatement at the dry lake. They also pointed to the Owens Lake Master Plan Committee of dozens of agencies that have spent a couple of years on a plan for that area and need to be a part of the process.

Adams and DWP have not let those issues stop their new agenda. Adams planned to talk to the Inyo Board at 9:30am Tuesday about the DWP plan, even though the Supervisors do not have the power to approve it. Adams is apparently seeking political sway from the Board. Two of its members sit on the APCD Board. All of this is happening against the backdrop of a major lawsuit filed by DWP to try to eliminate their dust control responsibilities at the dry lake.

Individual supervisors have said they want some confirmation that if water is saved at the lake bed, it will stay in the Owens Valley for ranchers and other uses. Sources from within the Owens Lake Master Plan group say Adams and other DWP officials have made it clear in the past that saved water will go down the aqueduct, not stay in the Owens Valley.

Air Pollution Control District Director Ted Schade has said that whatever activity DWP engages in, they must comply with “local, state and federal air quality requirements.” After Adams had earlier revealed his new dry lake plan, Schade said, “The Master Plan process or any project does not supersede the Great Basin requirements over air pollution.”


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17 Responses to LADWP goes back to Inyo Supervisors

  1. J-Frog April 17, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    This thread is one of my all time favorites! I love the way we have the ability to network and share info on a issue a lot of us are deeply concerned about. Thanks.

  2. Trouble April 15, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    Benett, are there local organizations already formed that are trying to fight DWP on our behalf? If so, maybe we can try to help them.

    • Benett Kessler April 15, 2013 at 8:58 pm #

      The Owens Valley Committee.

      • Numbers game April 17, 2013 at 5:21 am #

        And scarier still …
        Each year, the population grows
        and grows
        and grows
        and …

  3. Philip Anaya April 15, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

    Throwing out these numbers and not being accurate does not serve anyone’s purpose or knowledge base. After speaking with Bob Muir the public information guy at MWD it seems that some of my numbers in the previous post are bit exagerated .
    LADWP has a plan for the purchase of 265,000 acre feet this coming year from the MWD, but they think at MWD, that there will be an increase in that amount. The LADWP will be making new projections in May and the MWD will have whatever amount of water that LADWP needs to purchase.
    Martin Adams is important although his water budget may not be as much as I thought. The savings figure of $11 million for the 50% “must have” reduction of water on Owens Lake however is accurate and the purpose for Mr. Adams to appear before our Board will hopefully be more than just those dollars.
    Even if unintended, this presentation of Mr. Adams’ Master Plan needs to become the beginnings of a better communication and cooperation between the DWP and Inyo County Board of Supervisors. I wouldn’t call that hope uninformed. I just keep thinking of the good management practices at so many levels within the DWP. Managing the technical challenges of providing an infrastructure to give water and power to all those people in LA takes a ton of expertise and effort. You gotta think that it’s only a matter of time before the practicle and economic benefits of becoming “Expert DWP Stewards” of natural resources of water becomes apparent. You gotta think that there is also a need for community input and relations into decisions that shape and effect this place we call home. You gotta think that the people who work for the DWP in the Valley also call this place home. That and so many more reasons for Stewardship rather than the tyrannical authoritarian perception of the management style of the LADWP. Instead of Compliance Officers in the Inyo County Water Dept to guard the Longterm Water Agreement, we need a Community Relations Officer with broad powers in the LADWP and that person should be here in the Owens Valley. This time, this opportunity presents itself once again in this second successive dry year for runoff in the Sierras.
    Maybe everyone in the Valley who have seen the vegetation losses, the lower water tables and “Owens Dry Lake Dust” in the Owens Valley as problems in themselves, could now begin to see these problems as an indicator of the inability of nature to recover and respond to human hands on the Sierra and Valley waters. Natures cryout is the mitigated and argued dust control measures for Owens Lake. Expert and good management practices would have forseen the pain and could have resolved the dust, all with out the Great Basin APCD, all with out the current required mitgation acre feet of water,all without impossible litigation activity and expense. There is a need for a deeper understanding and a more evolved management of the resources and the environment of the Deepest Valley by decision makers. Maybe Martin Adams is looking for that solution.

    • Benett Kessler April 15, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

      We can’t control what DWP does, but we can control what we do. A good place to start would be the belief that we can stand up for and defend our own environment and well-being. No one else will do it.
      Benett Kessler

      • Cool Water April 16, 2013 at 10:06 am #

        The shadows sway and seem to say,
        tonight we pray for water,
        cool water
        And way up there
        He’ll hear our prayer
        and show us where there’s water,
        cool, clear, water

        Keep a-movin’ Dan
        don’t you listen to him Dan,
        He’s a devil not a man
        and he spreads the burning sand with water
        Dan can you see that big, green tree
        where the water’s running free
        and it’s waiting there for you and me
        water, cool, clear, water
        cool, clear, water

  4. April Zrelak April 15, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

    Marty Adams’ Board request is not in the BOS packet for tomorrow. Technically, anyone can request to make a “presentation” to the Board without a written form and without any documentation on the presentation. A simple phone call within 72 hours of the meeting is all that is necessary. I do not know what the BOS definition of “presentation” is. According to the County Administrator’s office, a “presentation”, therefore, does not allow for any action to be taken by the Board. At the previous meeting, Mr. Adams requested that the Board members lobby the (non-Inyo County) GBUAPCD Board members from Alpine and Mono counties to restrain the APCO, Ted Schade, in his efforts to regulate air pollution. Mr. Adams has referred to Mr. Schade as a criminal, telling the DWP Commissioners that he is “working outside the law”.
    At what point do requests for unofficial action by the Board of Supervisors trigger an agenda category requiring written request and submission of documentation prior to the meeting? Why does our BOS spend so much time on “presentations” that cannot and should not be acted upon? It is a common LADWP tactic to call their attendance a “presentation” so that they can avoid providing anyone with details of their hidden agenda until the moment of appearance. This not only tends to lengthen the meetings unfairly, it pushes back everyone’s schedule (especially those with properly requested Board time) and allows LADWP to add surprise data and information when there is not enough time to properly read and consider new documentation. I don’t know of any other body that takes such advantage of this special category as LADWP. Notice that when they have no need for a “surprise attack” they actually use the process like everyone else. We should not have to scramble to find what new trick DWP is coming up with for each and every meeting. This adds to the high level of distrust of the LADWP. Mr. Adams, you will not be respected until you decide to be open and honest with the people of Inyo County. These games just serve to further divide. We all know what your mandate is. Just state opening what you will and will not do, and work through the systems. You have the right to bring legal action. You have the right to challenge orders. You have the right to seek amendments to rights you have and don’t have. However, you do not have the right to choose the consequences of those actions. In the meantime, we have an air pollution problem that needs to be addressed.

  5. Desert Tortoise April 15, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    Part of the reason LADWP is up here lobbying is that their allocations of MWD water are in danger of being cut. On the Colorado River, fully 85% of the developed fresh water used in Southern California belongs to the Imperial Irrigation District and every bit of it comes from the Colorado River. After the river tribes, IID has senior water rights on that river. Every single other user of Colorado River water except those indian tribes will lose every single drop of their water allocation before IID loses one drop. That is the Law of the River and it has been upheld by the SCOTUS whenever it has been challenged. MWD had been poaching IID water for many years until the courts forced them to stop, cutting their allocation of water, and thus water available from MWD to LADWP.

    Northern California water supplies are jeapordized by the poor condition of the Sacramento River delta and drought. Supplies from the delta are severely restricted. Saying LA should take more water from MWD is uninformed. It is not an option to them. Those supples are being reduced, not expanded. LA is building facilities to treat sewage to a potable standard and put this water into the aquifer under the San Fernando Valley, at a cost of about $1200 per acre foot. Orange County has done this successfully for quite a few years. San Diego is planning a treatment plant of this sort too but LA’s is under construction and will be on line sooner. Do not also forget that total water use by LADWP is lower today than it was in 1980, even though LA has a million more people than it did in 1980. That is no mean feat. LA has some pretty tough water restrictions and triple digit water bills are the norm.

    • Anachronism April 15, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

      Too little – too late. The myth that we can promote growth in areas that have to put their tentacles out in order to suck water resources from other areas in not sustainable. That myth of nonstop growth is perpetuated by our politicans and, in fact, is the basis for our attempt at “economic recovery”. “Growing our economy” is synonymous with never speaking the truth about what development in these areas that are resource poor really means for the rest of us.The folly continues with Las Vegas and its attempt to secure water in northern Nevada.
      As far as L.A. and its attempt at water conservation….of course they should conserve. The residents live in an area that doesn’t have enough water to sustain their population. Nobody ever tells them that. They actually are not even paying the real cost of their water. To have that happen would, of course, impact the myth that L.A. can continue to grow. Money always speaks the loudest and the politicians, developers, planners and residents of L.A. do not want to hear that limits may be in order.

      • Desert Tortoise April 15, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

        Considering the cost of water in LA, the work to build and maintain their aquaduct and the economic prowess of the region (LA County is the 20th largest economy in the world, and among US counties derives the greatest income and enjoys the largest employment in manufacturing) LA is in no danger of losing their water rights. No court in the land would run LA out of water to satisfy a few tens of thousands of eastern Californians who’s economic impact is truly negligible. LA builds things. All the Owens Valley has is scenic appeal and some recreational opportunities. Guess which is more important in the scheme of things. Hard news but there you have it, so hate away.

        • Benett Kessler April 15, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

          Dear Desert, There is a position between taking back all of the water and giving it all up. It’s called balance and defense of our home to the best of our ability.
          The rest is just so much complaining.

          • Desert Tortoise April 16, 2013 at 5:32 am #

            Considering that LA has reduced water usage in absolute terms back to their 1979 level while growing it’s population by 1 million and it’s economy in suit, I don’t see anyone bending LA over further on water issues. What Owens Valley, based on the correspondence here, seems blithely unaware of is how much hard work LA has done down there in LA to restrain water use. In LA water is extremely costly and there are a raft of regulations regarding it’s use.
            The folks in Owens Valley also, based on comments here, do not seem to understand that deliveries to cities from both the State Water Project and from MWD are curtailed due to drought on the Colorado and a combination of drought, poor conditions in the Sacramento Delta and fighting among agriculture groups in the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys over water rights. LA does not have the option of replacing lost Owens Valley water with water from other sources as so many claim here. Those sources have reduced deliveries to LA and that is the pressure on LADWP to find ways to bring more Owens Valley water south. 85% of the developed fresh water used in So Cal is owned by the Imperial Irrigation District. It waters the low desert to grow food. They have water rights senior to all the other users of the Colorado River except two tribes and there have already been years when the MWD could not take a drop of Colorado River water because their rights are junior to IID. Every other user has to give up water so IID can take it’s full share due to the seniority of their water rights. That is the Law of the River the courts have upheld resolutely. Yet some here blithely suggest LADWP can oh so simply replace lost Owens Valley water with MWD water. Try telling that to the IID. I’ve seen their directors cuss a US Senator to her face when it was suggested cities might have a stronger claim to that water than farmers in the desert.
            Cities in So-Cal are down to purifying their waste water and pumping that back into the ground. That isn’t cheap to do, but it’s cheaper than desalinization, which runs in excess of $2000 per acre foot and requires an investment in electrical generation due to the high power requirements of all desalinization methods. There is also a waste stream of concentrated brine and pollutants removed from treated water that requires disposal.

          • Benett Kessler April 16, 2013 at 7:20 am #

            First, when you chose to build a metropolis in a desert, the cost is high. LADWP did have to implement water saving measures. Water use is the same as it was in 1988, according to figures I found. Seond, check out the Los Angeles Urban Water Management Plan and see that there is a high figure listed as supplemental or excess water supply even in years of drought.
            Benett Kessler

          • Desert Tortoise April 16, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

            LA is no desert. It is a Mediterranean climate with about 15 inches of rain annually. Deserts get 4-5 inches of rain per year. The San Fernando Valley was a grassland before becoming a farming and ranching region during Spanish and later Mexican rule. There are a series of artesian wells still used to provide municipal water located in San Fernando that were a source of agricultural water in Spanish times and are part of the reason Mission San Fernando is located where it is.

            Regarding water use, I believe your data is incorrect. This chart has the most recent data I can find.


            LAs water use from all sources is below that of 1980, with a million more residents. Water rationing remains in effect for LA, meaning severe restrictions on watering and car washing.

            That graph also vividly illustrates how little water LA now draws from the Owens Valley.

          • Benett Kessler April 16, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

            The fact remains that Los Angeles did not have enough water in its territory to support the development of a City. They got it here.
            My figures on water use were from the LA Times. Water restrictions are appropriate. In all the years that we have called the Los Angeles
            Planning Department, they have never had a growth plan based on resources available. It is doubtful the DWP has ever said no to a
            developer when it comes to water. I’m not sure what your point is. My point is that LA needs others’ water and should certainly
            conserve and respect the impacts they create.
            Benett Kessler

  6. Philip Anaya April 14, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

    Martin Adams is responsible for nearly a $500 million dollar water budget for about 1 million acre feet of water that he needs to supply to the users and rate payers of the LADWP. These numbers are based upon a very loose average interpretation of an ever changing supply, demand, and cost from the Eastern Sierra runoff which includes both the Owens Valley and Mono Basin and water from the MWD. LADWP gets about 28% of it’s water from the LA Aqueduct, less than 280,000 acre feet @ $300 an acre foot expense about $84 million. 61% comes from the MWD 610,000 acre feet @ about $600 an acre foot . That’s about $366 million . 11% comes from the groundwater in the LA Basin, thinkin about 110,000 acre feet at the $300 an acre foot $33 million. I don’t want to drink that water. These numbers are a fair estimate that qualifies Mr Adams as a very important responsible person who is probably has a compensation package at somewhere in the $1500 to $2500 dollars a day. He came to the last Board Meeting by heliocopter, they had a warning light ,they landed and transfered to a replacement heilo, only 40 minutes late and I’m guessing more than several thousand dollars in flight expense each way.
    The “must haves” for Mr. Adam’s DWP Master Plan for Owens Lake includes a 50% reduction of water on the Lake for required dust mitigation. Reportly, there are about 73,000 acre feet of water currently being used. They are asking for 36,500 acre feet for export which at $300.00 an acre foot represents a $11 million dollar savings for water not purchased from The MWD (Metropolitan Water District/ Ca Water Project)
    Mr Adams and the DWP are oh so very smart. They have all these numbers and all these reponsibilities whirling around in their heads. They know everything about their business and they know that the Inyo County Board of Supervisiors can not approve and cannot provide them with the 36,500 acre feet of water from the Owens Lake Dust Mitigation Project. That’s up to the Great Basin APCD and the laws that they enforce. So why is he coming back to Indy to the Inyo County Board of Supervisiors with a new and better Owens Lake Master “name that plan”. Is he beginning a new relationship of improved community development and sustainable stewardship with the Owens Valley and Inyo County. Are we going to see ” my word is my bond” kind of communication and cooperation that is the historic and honorable way of agreements between folks, that which would herald a new beginning for the next 100 years of the Aqueduct.
    We are in the second succesive year of drought ,with runoffs projected at less than
    50% of normal . LADWP, this last month, has asked Inyo County for their agreement for reductions in pumping (20%) and usage supply (10%) per Section II article 4 paragraph 3 of the Water Agreement. If the DWP is serious about improved community relations and sustainable stewardship of the watershed then, less water in the Aqueduct and no reductions to the Ranchers or the enhancement /mitigation projects should be considered. The Valley needs the water. The City needs to conserve and buy more water from the MWD. If they had not already depleted the groundwater here in the Valley, enhancement /mitgation projects would be not be needed and the Ranchers might not need as much water but now it’s been heard that they are already restricting water to the ranchers who are suffering and the DWP is in violation of the Longterm Water Agreement with respect to that.
    If anyone in the Valley has something to say to LADWP and to The Board then Tuesday is the day. There are not many opportunities to address and inform the top Management of the DWP of our concerns here in the Owens Valley. Have to say at the last meeting, Mr. Adams took copious notes and heard every word from every speaker as of course did our Supervisiors . Whatever the presentation,whatever the obvious or the hidden agenda of Mr. Adams and the LADWP, Tuesday (9:30 am) is the day ,the opportunity to be heard.
    The Inyo is a special place in the world. The Inyo is a special place in America. In the Inyo all voices can be heard. In the Inyo it’s a beautiful drive to Independence. Hope to see everyone there


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