MCWD Asks Regulators to Reopen the Public Review Process for Ormat’s Geothermal Expansion Project
MCWD news release
Independence, CA – Mammoth Community Water District (MCWD) Thursday urged the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District (Great Basin) to reopen the environmental public review process for Ormat’s Casa Diablo IV (CD-IV) geothermal project at Great Basin’s quarterly governing board meeting.
The initial public review conclusions were based on an incorrect assumption that the groundwater aquifer used by MCWD is physically separated from the deeper geothermal reservoir from which the CD-IV project will pump. However, since the initial review, new research and data from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) collected over the past two years has demonstrated consistent scientific evidence of a hydrologic connection between Mammoth’s groundwater aquifer and the geothermal reservoir. Data show intermixing between the groundwater aquifer and the geothermal reservoir and elevated groundwater temperatures. This disproves the environmental review assumption, making clear the threat of contamination to Mammoth’s groundwater supply.
“The data from USGS shows that the regulatory environmental review conclusion was based on a fundamentally flawed assumption,” said Patrick Hayes, General Manager of Mammoth Community Water District, during the meeting. “We support Ormat’s CD-IV project, but only if the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) heeds the expert advice of USGS and requires the presence of two deep monitoring wells. Two deep sentry monitoring wells will provide advance warning of any potential contamination and an opportunity for the regulators and the District to protect the public’s water supply before a catastrophe occurs. This is the only responsible path for BLM and Ormat to take.”
The Mammoth Lakes community depends on groundwater for drinking and daily use in its homes and businesses, meaning the threat of contamination is an existential issue—MCWD does not have an alternative water source that can reliably serve the community’s needs. In contrast, Ormat is a multinational, multibillion dollar company that can easily relocate should CD-IV fail and contaminate Mammoth’s water supply.
“The people of Mammoth Lakes come first,” said Hayes. “No matter if you’re a water district or an energy company—it’s wrong to put profits above the health, safety and wellbeing of our community.”
MCWD does not oppose the CD-IV project; it only requests that Ormat take the necessary, commonsense measures to protect Mammoth Lakes from avoidable water quality contamination.