LADWP not bailing out Indian Wells Overdraft, for now

The critical aquifer overdraft in the Indian Wells Valley has been viewed with dread at Owens Valley Groundwater Authority meetings. Between growth in Ridgecrest and the Naval Air Station at White Sands, the area’s groundwater is in overdraft. The Owens Valley basin, on the other hand, appears to be in decent shape with a yet unverified “low” priority rating.

So, why does the OVGA cringe at any mention of Indian Wells: it’s the possibility that the district will stick a big straw in the Los Angeles Aqueduct and suck out the Eastern Sierra run-off. We can all relax.

According to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, “There have been no agreements nor any proposals developed.”

That statement was somewhat verified by Donald Zdeba, general manager of the Indian Wells Groundwater Authority:

Representatives from Capitol Core Group, the water marketers hired by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority to research potential sources for imported water, Stetson Engineers (the Water Resources Manager), and myself met with LADWP earlier this year to discuss the concept of a water banking project.  LADWP has been considering a banking project going back as far as 2008. At that time, Indian Wells Valley Water District responded to an RFP from LADWP to construct and operate a water banking project.  Indian Wells Valley was the preferred site, but the project never went forward.  LADWP has since resurrected interest in a banking project along the Eastern Sierra and this meeting was to discuss the IWV as a possible location.  David Pettijohn was the primary contact with LADWP during that meeting.  There was no firm action taken as a result of the meeting.  Discussion was of a general nature.”


2 Responses to LADWP not bailing out Indian Wells Overdraft, for now

  1. Philip Anaya October 24, 2019 at 3:08 pm #

    While both the Indian Wells and the Owens Basin are endangered, there is a huge difference of the type of sustainable groundwater issues between the critically endangered Indian Wells Basin and the current medium priority Owens Basin. Indian Wells does not have a sufficient supply of groundwater water recharge and the Owens Basin while having a recharge source from the Sierra snowpack, it has the issue of LADWP exporting groundwaters and beneficial runoff recharge waters of it’s aquifers to Los Angeles. SGMA has the task and the responsibility to achieve groundwater sustainability in all of California so there are a lot of questions and answers to the solution of sustainable groundwater supplies in all of California and the Eastern Sierra . LA has the ability thanks to the California Water Project of 65% of the MWD allocation, while the Eastern Sierra including Indian Wells, the Owens Basin and the Mono Basin have no access to the waters of the California Water Project. All folks need water regardless of the location and robbing one basin to enhance another is not a solution. Adequate and proper planning and agreements from all stakeholders involved should be required before any transfers. There are no easy answers and there are going to be hard decisions to be made. 2 out of the last 3 years of monumental snowpack have given us some breathing room but years of drought that we all know of too well could be on the horizon. I hope that all stakeholders will be given an opportunity to contribute to decision’s coming and I hope that with that contribution we will find a way forward and end eternal conflicts over our waters.

  2. Inyo Citizen October 24, 2019 at 8:18 am #

    If LADWP is planning on banking water in the Indian Wells Valley then should they be moving that water out of the Owens Valley in the first place? #hmm


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