By Deb Murphy

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Inyo Supervisors, Water Commissioners and water watchers seem to all be on the same page: spread “a substantial” amount of this year’s epic run-off on the East Side.

DWP LA Aqueduct Manager James Yannotta

In response to a query, LADWP Aqueduct Manager Jim Yannotta provided this e-mail statement:

“Due to the large amount of snowfall we are experiencing in the Eastern Sierra this winter, there will be significant runoff water for uses both in the Owens Valley and for export to Los Angeles. LADWP will be providing a substantial amount of water to maximize spreading in Long Valley and throughout the Owens Valley that will benefit vegetation and recharge the groundwater basin. All spreading locations will be utilized to the fullest extent possible. Aqueduct flows will also be maximized. After the April 1 snow survey, we will know how much water we plan on spreading in Owens and Long Valley and how much water will be exported to Los Angeles.”

One plus for the Valley: the Aqueduct capacity has a limit; the aquifers don’t, at least that we know of.

For the past five years, the department and locals have waited until the final end-of-season snow pillow survey to see how much water, or how little, would be available both for export and valley uses. The info would then be incorporated into the department’s Annual Operations Plan, issued in mid-April.

Water Commissioner Craig Patten suggested an outreach to locals for suggestions on those in-valley water uses. Commission Chair Mike Prather, speaking as an individual at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting, asked the Board to hold a workshop with the Water Department to discuss possible uses of this year’s run-off.

Thanks to the Pineapple Express, the Eastern Sierra has been gifted with storms those who remember equate to the winter of 1968-69. Mammoth Mountain Ski Area’s total snowfall was more than 32-feet as of last night and the website’s forecast is littered with little snowflakes through the week. After the January 22 storm, but before this week’s, the East Side was at 244-percent of normal; areas of the Sierra were 130-percent of end-of-the season normal.

Northern Aqueduct reservoirs and water bodies tell a similar story. Grant Lake is up 6-inches and just under 5,500 more acre feet since mid-November. Mono Lake is up nearly 6-inches. Crowley Lake’s 6-inch gain translates to a 22,000-plus acre-feet gain.

Pleasant Valley’s gain of 500 acre feet puts the reservoir at just a foot below the high water mark. Tinnemaha fell from 5,796 acre-feet in mid-November to 4,127 by February 2 but went up almost 350 acre-feet in the next five days. North and South Haiwee gained 409 and 12,252 acre-feet respectively. All of the reservoirs have been sending water downstream.

The Pineapple Express has been very good to Inyo and Mono counties.