Photo by Deb Murphy

With a legal settlement on the horizon, the Los Angeles Department of Water and
Power is set to turn on Well 385, in the Five Bridges area, for a two-month test.
On the surface, this seems like no big deal. But, the dispute of pumping a well that was
permanently shut down more than 30 years ago because of negative impacts to vegetation
started nearly four years ago. A lawsuit between Owens Valley Committee and the Sierra Club
versus LADWP and the County has been on-going since.
The Inyo County Water Department and LADWP explained the parameters of the test at
last week’s meeting of the Technical Group. Well 385 will be screened to pump at 2.8 cfs only
from the deep aquifer. The purpose, according to Aqueduct Manager Clarence Martin, is to test
impacts before putting the well into the Department’s pumping rotation. LADWP’s hydrologist
Saeed Jorat said Well 385 will be considered “new” because it is functionally different.
The logic of running the two-month test during winter months: there will be time for the
water level to recover before the end of the official rainy season. Jorat added the test will give
the Department the opportunity to update groundwater models.
Since the legal matters have yet to be finalized, the Tech Group will set another meeting
to set trigger points for the pump test.
Twenty-nine wells will be monitored during the test, according to Inyo Water
Department Director Aaron Steinwand. Six of those will have trigger water levels that, if
reached, would stop the test.
Jorat explained if the pumping reaches those trigger points, the pumping will stop.

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