LADWP wants Mammoth’s water

mammothcreek

Without Mammoth Creek water, there is no Mammoth Lakes.

Officials of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power denied last year that their philosophy is to get all the water they can get.  The Owens Valley knew that was a thin denial.  Now, so does Mammoth Lakes.  LADWP filed a suit that claims Mammoth Lakes has no water rights to Mammoth Creek, the major town water supply.  The City says it’s all their water.

In a three-page press release DWP claims Mammoth’s water rights are temporary and subordinate to water rights held by the City of Los Angeles.  Mammoth Community Water District Manager Greg Norby disagrees.  He said Mammoth established water rights from Mammoth Creek starting in 1947 through the present.  Norby said the California Water Code does not address “temporary water rights” that LA has used to describe Mammoth’s rights.

LADWP’s attack on Mammoth’s water stems from the completion of a 15-year environmental review of Mammoth Creek flows to protect the downstream fishery.  Mammoth Community Water District worked with Fish and Game and Caltrout to establish flows.  The water board certified the Environmental Impact Report on this issue in early December.  The first week of January, LADWP filed their legal challenge.  Manager Norby said DWP claimed Mammoth has no rights to Mammoth Creek and so can’t determine fishery flows.

Norby said there are state-issued documents that specify Mammoth’s water permits and licenses.  He said DWP’s position is that no rights to surface water in Mammoth Creek should have been granted to Mammoth since LA already had them.  “It’s a little late,” said Norby, “to take that position on our rights developed over 50 years.”

LADWP’s press release says that LA has senior water rights based on the City’s 1905 Owens River water rights filing and the LADWP’s 1967 purchase of Chance Ranch south of Mammoth.  The press release says LADWP is also concerned about Mammoth’s recently-adopted Urban Water Management Plan, which anticipates a 50% growth in water usage in Mammoth Lakes by 2030. If Mammoth grows, LA loses.

Marty Adams, DWP Director of Water Operations, is quoted as saying that taking water for Mammoth deprives LA citizens of their water and causes them to pay higher water rates.

After all of the threats, LA does say they welcome continued discussions with Mammoth Community Water District. Talks over water issues had gone on between Mammoth and LADWP in the past year.  Norby said Mammoth is very much interested in a “non-adversarial resolution.”  He said Mammoth’s Water District tried for over a year and weren’t able to reach agreement with DWP.

Hypothetically, if DWP got all of Mammoth Creek, what would it mean to Mammoth Lakes?  Norby said it would be extremely negative and would take away the town’s only reliable water supply.

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daniel
daniel
10 years ago

No one in LA drinks tap water anyways. We always buy our water from the grocery store. Only fools drink tap water in LA…. We all know how horrible it tastes. The ironic thing is Crystal Geyser / or Arrowhead mountain spring water is the only water we drink, and… Read more »

daniel
daniel
10 years ago

LADWP are a bunch of crooks.

Gene
Gene
10 years ago

Speaking of money: Let’s take a look at the property taxes LADWP pays on their Owens Valley holdings and see if the rates are contemporary.

Greg Newbry
Greg Newbry
10 years ago

I think we should dress as actors, drive to LA; pay off legistlaters to buy LA land for $2 an acre, pretend we’re there to act; buy, steal, and burn down those that won’t sell us their water rights for almost nothing, then we’ll build a big… pipe and pump… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
10 years ago

The lie told at the time was that L.A. would soon run out of water. L.A. at the time had natural, local sources both above and below ground that would have supported well over the 100,000 people that lived in the L.A. area at the time of the construction of… Read more »

johnjcampnfish
johnjcampnfish
10 years ago

Forget it, Jake – It’s Chinatown.

JJ
JJ
10 years ago

Surprise,surprise! Here the thieves go again. Just because the courts might call it alright, doesn’t make it right.

Jeff B.
Jeff B.
10 years ago

LADWP is truly evil. Bad for the environment, bad for customers, and agressively over reaching. They will do anything to serve the interests of commercial interests in LA. There’s a reason they are ranked the 13th most hated company in America above even much-loathed BofA (source: Business Insider).

STEVEN
STEVEN
10 years ago

LA! Try adopting a population control policy! It is you who are too big! Mammoth Creek is Mammoth! LA! You are not even in our region! Drink sea water! And for Christ sakes, get your population under control!

Rob
Rob
10 years ago

This issue isn’t about water as much is it is about money. L.A. will always go after the cheapest source first, and that cheap sourse is the Eastern Sierra.

That will never change.

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
10 years ago
Reply to  Rob

I don’t think it’s about money or water. I think it’s about the LADWP wanting to maintain it’s water hegemony. They simply want to control all the water — or at least appear to control all the water to deter legal challenges. The water equivalent of Mammoth Creek could be… Read more »

Big Rick O'Brien
Big Rick O'Brien
10 years ago

What are they gonna do…build ANOTHER aqueduct like they did in 1912 to suck Owens Valley dry ?. If the LADWP would build a desalinization plant & use the never-ending supply of sea water from the Pacific Ocean, they wouldn’t NEED to take water from the eastern sierra, namely Mammoth… Read more »

Reality Bites
Reality Bites
10 years ago

Big Rick, Converting the never ending ocean water to fresh water requires a never ending supply oh energy that does not exist.

LA will do whatever it takes to get cheap water for their non sustainable city in the desert.

Roy
Roy
10 years ago

I will say again what I have said for many years,,, LA you can drink the water in the ocean. For all the money you have spent over the years in various lawsuits, you maybe could have built plants to utilize the oceans water at your doorstep.

kaat
kaat
10 years ago

Perhaps Mammoth should have been content not to grow and/or have such grand dreams and plans for growth! I think that is what many who live here have been saying for a long time….don’t grow….and pay attention to how little water we have…we don’t have enough water to support a… Read more »