LADWP responds to Friends of the Inyo on Mono ranch water practices

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power released letter to Friends of the Inyo Executive Director Wendy Schneider.

View the letter by clicking this link:

[pdf-embedder url=”” title=”Friends of Inyo”]


Following is a story published July 9th after the Friends of the Inyo letter to LADWP

By Deb Murphy

Friends of the Inyo is the latest entity to come out in support of ranchers with grazing leases in Long Valley, leases receiving a fraction of previous irrigation water allocations this year and possibly no water following an environmental analysis by land owner, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Initially, LADWP leases indicated no water for this year. In early May, Mayor Eric Garcetti indicated by letter ranchers would receive “an amount of water…. similar to 2016, which was also based on snowpack conditions.” Snowpack this year came in at 82-percent of normal, compared to 71-percent in 2016. The total water for Mono County leases this year amounts to 18-percent of historical allocations.

Bishop-based Friends of the Inyo’s June 29 letter to Garcetti notes the 2012 Bi-State Action Plan that kept the sage grouse off the Endangered Species list. “The Plan clearly states that irrigated meadows are crucial for successful brood rearing habitat.”

A new wrinkle introduced by the correspondence: “Prior to the development of Crowley Lake Reservoir, the lower part of Long Valley contained several thousand acres of wetland habitat.” In essence, the 6,200 acres of irrigated leases helped maintain those wetlands. LADWP had indicated its no-water policy would improve the ecosystem by returning the land to pre-irrigation conditions. However, it’s doubtful the department intends to fill in Lake Crowley.

In conclusion, the Friends ask for the development of a management plan addressing timing and allocation of water resources to the leases, a plan developed through collaboration of local stakeholders.

The Audubon California and Eastern Sierra Audubon Society’s May 31 letter to Garcetti strongly supported both the sage grouse and ranching lessees. While “the sage grouse adults “subsist on sagebrush leaves during the winter, the baby birds need the insects found amongst the forbs and grasses in wet meadows and irrigated pastures …in the spring and summer…on Los Angeles lands,” the letter states.

The Sierra Club Range of Light group, Assemblyman Frank Bigelow and California Senator Tom Berryhill have also weighed in on the issue.

Perhaps the letter with the most clout came from the California Natural Resources Agency, the umbrella agency for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Agency Secretary John Laird asked for an “immediate commitment to provide a water allocation this year for these ranchlands commensurate with current snowpack and water conditions.”

In response to Mono County’s request to maintain irrigation, Garcetti had noted successes on Owens Lake, a settlement reached through litigation. Laird noted that achievement but reminded the department it had missed the January 2018 deadline to complete facility upgrades in the Owens River Gorge, also a settlement agreement.

Laird asked the department to “immediately commit to an appropriate water allocation this year” and to begin discussions with Mono County and the Department of Fish and Wildlife for continued irrigation for both the benefit of the ranchers and the protection of wetlands, species and their habitat.

, , ,

11 Responses to LADWP responds to Friends of the Inyo on Mono ranch water practices

  1. Philip Anaya July 20, 2018 at 3:02 pm #

    more @ Pedro

    It is always good to be called out . Looking for more info to educate myself, had a try at hydrology in the Long Valley Caldera on Google . There is a lot of studies and information regarding hydro thermal issues like this one

    Maybe some important questions ;

    Is a change of water spreading anticipated when DWP pulls the plug, a loss of 85 to 90% of 30,000 AF recharge to the Caldera aquifer, going to affect the current hydro thermal conditions in the Long Valley Basin? Is that going to affect the Ormat operation and the issues with the Town of Mammoth water supply ? Is it going to rekindle and affect seismic events in Long Valley? And just a personal question, will they ever reopen Hot Creek to swimming in my lifetime

  2. Philip Anaya July 19, 2018 at 6:01 pm #

    DWP says that the cost of replacing 30,000 AF is $18million. There is a 10-15% loss to transpiration and evaporation. The rest goes back into the Aquifer eventually underlying Crowley Lake . If that groundwater does not underly Crowley because it was not spread, then Crowley will lose water into the aquifer as the earth below Crowley has a saturation point that it needs to support the Lake level . LADWP is not going to save more than the 10-15% evap transpiration loss, 3,000 to 4500 AF or $1.8-2.7 million bucks. They are so mercenary and will end up paying millions more for dust mitigation or for some other mismanaged decision.

    • Pedro July 19, 2018 at 9:24 pm #


      Got some sources for that 10-15% ?

      If only 15% of the irrigation supports the crop, maybe we shouldn’t be growing that crop and leave the water where it is.

      Bet you a doughnut that water can grow more food in Mono or Crowley. Just guessing though.

      • Philip Anaya July 20, 2018 at 2:15 pm #

        @ Pedro

        There is a loss, transpiration of water from plants and evaporation from the water itself when water is spread . 85-90 % of the water spread makes it way into the ground . Not aware of Ranchers cultivating in Mono County .

  3. Philip Anaya July 19, 2018 at 1:17 pm #

    Wondering if the Long Valley Basin SGMA prioritization could be upgraded to at least a Medium Priority as DWP does transfer more than 9600 AF from the Basin to Los Angeles. Maybe this is a stretch but this upgrade would require that Mono create a GSA and a GSP that could enforce regulations to manage SGMA required surface flow for recharge, that could be spread to recharge the aquifer . Also wondering why the town of Mammoth Lakes and surrounding areas is not within the Long Valley Basin. It is certainly hydrologically linked. Time is of the essence for both Basin Boundary revisions and SGMA Basin reprioritization.

  4. Stacy Corless July 19, 2018 at 7:21 am #

    Does any reasonable person really believe that the water needed for the environment is truly “separate” and “unrelated” from irrigation water when it comes to these wetlands?
    What’s next, will this agency suggest that sage grouse need to pay their fair share? That deer that drink at the springs at Laurel Meadows are freeloaders? And why is there no recognition that water on the landscape here goes back into the watershed?
    And as for environmentally sustainable practices, actions speak louder than words. The de-watering is happening right now.
    All Mono County has asked was for the agency to compromise and to work with the ranchers to provide a reasonable amount of water commensurate to snowpack/runoff (which was not the case in 2016) to maintain environmental conditions while environmental review is completed.
    The DWP response, to me (writing as an individual), is gaslighting at its finest–you’ve got it wrong, you don’t understand, it’s not that bad at all…
    The Eastern Sierra must stand strong against this.There is a reason that so many individuals, agencies and organizations have voiced their concerns, and I hope they will continue to do so. The Mono County Board of Supervisors is planning to have an update on the de-watering of Long Valley at its August 7 regular meeting. More information to follow. I hope concerned citizens will attend.

  5. Michael Prather July 18, 2018 at 12:14 pm #

    Here is a letter from LADWP Water and Power Board Chair Mel Levine regarding the cutting off of irrigation water around Crowley Lake. It is a cold treatment of ranchers, local communities and wildlife. It contains truths, partial truths and careless assumptions. But it is clear that if you are not a rate paying resident of Los Angeles you are out in the cold. Their environmental and moral standards stop at the LA city limits.

    The EIR being done by DWP on their actions will be a public process and its adequacy can be legally challenged. Courtrooms provide a level playing field. In the 1960’s when LADWP dried up over 8,000 acres around our towns in the Owens Valley they said the same things they are saying today. Inyo County sued LADWP/Los Angeles in 1972 over harmful impacts of that action and, after two failed EIR’s, in 1991 settled on a Long-term Water Agreement with Los Angeles that, among other things, prohibits such arbitrary and capricious acts. That agreement also contains much more and that is where Los Angeles puts their ratepayers at risk. A higher cost in the future due to LADWP poor decisions today does nothing to protect their ratepayers. This scenario has repeated itself here in the Eastern Sierra.

    Some of us worked for years on compromise at Owens Lake that led to dust control, habitat protection and water saving for Los Angeles. There was a willingness to work together for good outcomes. The amount of water savings, around 30,000 area-feet, equals the amount being cut off by LADWP in Mono County. Los Angeles can’t bring itself to offset water use in Mono with water saved at Owens Lake? Or will the well be poisoned by Los Angeles and make future cooperative work much more difficult due to a lack of any level of trust. I firmly believe in building trust in order to have a more fruitful future.

  6. David Dennison July 18, 2018 at 10:26 am #

    …Tom sounds like a true trump worshiper, speaking and talking about “free stuff ” and “entitlements”,with little regard for the plants,animals and wildlife… worried about who and what people are getting “for free”,or trying to spin-it to where they’re paying for others “welfare” and “food stamps”,their only thinking,if not for that,it would mean more money in their OWN pockets or,as in this case,probably thinking THEIR own water bills will be lower…lol… I’ve read the LADWP letter above,so it looks to me the post above, nothing other than MORE complaining from a right-wing enthusiast,so worried about others. LADWP stating they have no intention to stop water-flows into and onto the ranches,wetlands and grazing fields…

  7. Tom Tuttle July 18, 2018 at 6:51 am #

    So basically the for-profit Ranchers are complaining that the FREE water they are receiving is not enough and the want even more at no cost. They sound like a bunch of unemployed welfare and food stamp recipients who feel they are entitled to everything for free.

    Sorry Ranchers, but it looks like the free ride is over for now. As the letter states, if you need more water, buy the water you need and/oror go elsewhere. They own the land and the water rights, they are not legally obligated to provide you free water. figure that out and just accept it.

    • Bishop local July 18, 2018 at 2:11 pm #

      I don’t think buying the water is actually an option that’s available – that’s sort’ve the problem with LADWP. Just FYI Tom, LADWP also owns a lot of other stuff they don’t need and won’t sell in the area that business are paying for currently and would happily buy. But you probably know more than we do about it…

    • Informed local July 20, 2018 at 9:45 pm #

      Tom, you are falling for the DWP’s simple-minded trap. They are pitting the ranchers against the environment. Do ranchers make a living while maintaining the environment, yes. Do they care for the environment based on generations of stewardahip, yes. Is the water they spread free like the DWP leads readers to believe? NO! Rancher’s leases are at the same rate as fully irrigated leases in Inyo County. Please check your facts before you are so quick to pass judgement and enjoy the view of dead brown grass while driving 395.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.