LADWP to maximize water spreading in Owens Valley

LADWP press release

LOS ANGELES – During the Inyo County/Los Angeles Standing Committee Wednesday, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) announced plans to maximize the spread of water in the Owens Valley this year to levels not seen since the wettest year on record, 1983-84.

The above average snowpack levels, registering north of 200 percent of normal to date, are expected to provide ample water supply for both the Eastern Sierra region and the LA Aqueduct. Runoff calculations from the Eastern Sierra are anticipated to be in the range of 900 to 1 million acre feet (AF) of water.

Due to the ample water supply, LADWP will be able to meet all water needs throughout Long Valley and Inyo County. The spread of this water is expected to improve local vegetation and groundwater levels, representing a significant recharge of the Owens Valley aquifer. Given the abundance of water, LADWP will conduct no discretionary pumping in the region – only necessary pumping for town water systems and Enhancement and Mitigation projects which always operate using groundwater, such as fish hatcheries and pasture irrigation.

“To date this winter we’ve spread 8,000 acre feet of water in the Owens Valley and we expect to spread a lot more,” James Yannotta, Manager of the Los Angeles Aqueduct for LADWP said. “We anticipate matching if not exceeding the amount spread during our wettest recorded winter.”

The wet winter is also expected to assist ranch lessees who will receive at least a full allotment of water this year, a much welcome reprieve from the past five consecutive years of drought.

In all, the Department expects to release water to Long Valley and throughout the Owens Valley in Laws, Bishop, Big Pine, Independence and areas further south.

“In terms of water supply, this winter is good news for everyone – both the Owens Valley and Los Angeles,” Richard Harasick, Senior Assistant General Manager of Water System for LADWP, added. “There is ample water to go toward both our environmental commitments in the Eastern Sierra and supplying our ratepayers in Los Angeles.”

Also in the Standing Committee Meeting, the parties from both Inyo County and Los Angeles agreed to formally adopt revisions to the vegetation monitoring protocols outlined in the Green Book. The adoption of these revisions represents the end of a monitoring discrepancy that has been in place since 2005.

The new method strengthens existing practices by developing a more consistent sampling program. The new protocols allow Inyo County and LADWP staff to divide pre-determined monitoring parcels rather than separately monitoring the same areas, reducing overlap and streamlining the process.

Vegetation monitoring in Inyo County is required by the Inyo-LA Long Term Water Agreement and must be able to compare vegetation cover and composition to the vegetation cover and composition obtained during the initial vegetation inventory which occurred between 1984 and 1987.

The Technical Group approved the new monitoring program at its meeting of February 9, 2017. Today’s approval by the Standing Committee makes the new protocols official.

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3 Responses to LADWP to maximize water spreading in Owens Valley

  1. Richard bruinsma March 22, 2017 at 5:59 pm #

    If Owens valley want to maximize recharge of the aquifer, spreading needs to take place at the base of the mountains through recharge canals along the sierras. Spreading on the valley floor is like putting water on concrete. Most is lost through evaporation

  2. Micheal Prather February 26, 2017 at 8:52 am #

    After 5 years of drought, the water levels in most well fields has held up fairly well, especially when compared with all other basins in CA that have declined significantly. Many wells have be turned off for some time in order to protect groundwater dependent vegetation. Water levels should rise significantly this year with snow melt and percolation into aquifers flowing below the alluvial fans and under the valley. Pumping will be reduced coupled with the Black Rock settlement where the pumping at the hatchery that was reduced permanently by 1/3 – 4.000 acre-feet per year. DWP spreading and running ditches in the Big Pine area and Laws (McNally ditch) is most welcome. However, always remember that this is just one lucky year out of many years of uncertainty to come. We lost many trees in the drought not from lowered groundwater, but from people not maintaining their drip lines and watering lawns that keep those trees alive.

  3. Pedro February 25, 2017 at 8:08 pm #

    I’m guessing, “…representing a significant recharge of the Owens Valley aquifer.”, translates to: “less decline than usual”. One wet year makes an ancient aquifer not.


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