Mono County sues LA, DWP over water irrigation

Mono County news release

Mammoth Lakes, Calif. (August 17, 2018) – On Wednesday, Mono County filed litigation challenging the decision of the City of Los Angeles and its Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to dry out 6,400 acres of wetlands, meadows and pastures in Long and Little Round Valleys in order to export additional water from California’s Eastern Sierra.

Mono Supervisor Stacy Corless

The lands in question have been irrigated for more than 100 years and provide important habitat for wildlife, including the bi-state-sage grouse, a California bird species of special concern currently being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

The results of LADWP’s devastating action are visible to anyone traveling along
Highway 395 near Crowley Lake, and the scenic vistas cherished by visitors from Los
Angeles and around the world could be forever altered. Thousands of acres of wetland and meadow habitat are already brown and dry. With wildfires raging around the state, the removal of water and encroachment of highly flammable invasive plant species has state and county officials worried.

According to the Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, John Laird,
LADWP’s actions in southern Mono County “have significant consequences to wildlife by destroying wetlands and riparian areas and eliminating habitat for sensitive species such as the bi-state sage grouse” and “also significantly increase the risk of wildfires, which would threaten nearby communities.”

The county’s lawsuit alleges that LADWP failed to comply with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and seeks “a determination from the Court that LADWP’s decision/action to significantly reduce water deliveries to approximately 6,400 acres of land in the County of Mono, modify more than seventy years of land management practices on those lands and thereby increase water export from Mono County is invalid and void and fails to satisfy the requirements of CEQA and the CEQA Guidelines.”

CEQA requires public agencies, such as LADWP, to analyze and consider the potential environmental impacts of their actions prior to taking those actions.

The county’s lawsuit further alleges that “prior to approving the additional water export and changing its historic land management practices, LADWP did not conduct any environmental review under CEQA. Thus, neither the public nor decisionmakers were provided information regarding the potentially significant impacts that such action may have on biological resources such as the bi-state sage grouse, visual/aesthetic resources, wetlands, and public safety.”

At its August 7 meeting, the Mono County Board of Supervisors heard more than three and a half hours of comment from residents of the Eastern Sierra and visitors from southern California, environmental groups, state and federal regulators, and ranchers whose livelihoods are threatened, all expressing concerns about the impacts of LADWP’s water reductions.

The Mono Lake Committee, Sierra Club, Friends of the Inyo, Eastern Sierra Land Trust, and even an ex-LADWP employee cited concerns ranging from threats to the bi-state sage grouse, a California species of special concern which relies on the wet meadows for successful brood rearing, to impacts on climate change resulting from meadow and wetland loss and from the intrusion of invasive plant species to an increased risk of catastrophic wildfire.

Following the conclusion of public comment, the Supervisors voted unanimously to
initiate litigation.

“I’m disappointed in the City of Los Angeles,” explained Supervisor Fred Stump. “But our backs are against the wall, the environment is against the wall, the sage grouse is against the wall, and there’s nothing else left to do.”

Litigation was not the County’s first choice. “We are willing to compromise. We all
recognize that climate change impacts have to be mitigated. What we’re asking for is
reasonable and it’s better for the ratepayers in LA,” explained Supervisor Stacy Corless, who noted that litigation and court-ordered environmental mitigation along the Owens River watershed have cost the LA ratepayers billions of dollars over the years.

“Good policy analysis is determined by the actions taken by public agencies and not the pretty words they put on their websites or in their publications” said Mono County Board Chair Bob Gardner. “I hope that we see some corporate responsibility and good neighbor relations from the City of Los Angeles.”

“Let’s do the right thing right now,” Gardner urged.

About Mono County:

Set on the eastern slopes of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, Mono County is a rare environment of natural contrasts and open spaces with only 14,000 residents and a tourism- and agriculture-based economy.

Soaring granite peaks and spacious desert vistas, bubbling hot springs and cold
mountain streams, winter snows and sunny summer skies, rolling sagebrush hills and
vibrant wildflower meadows. “Mono” in Paiute means “beautiful,” which aptly describes this scenic wonderland that stretches 108 miles in length from the Alpine County border in the north to the Inyo County border in the south.

Originally formed on April 24, 1861, Mono County includes the Town of Mammoth Lakes, the northern area communities of Coleville, Topaz, and Walker, and the southern area communities of Crowley Lake, Benton, Chalfant, June Lake, Lee Vining, and Mono City.

More than 90% (approximately 3000 square miles) of Mono County consists of federal or state public lands visited by over 4 million people each year. The City of Los Angeles owns about 100 square miles and just 6% of the County’s total lands are in private ownership.

For more information, maps of the affected areas, comment letters on the issue and a  copy of the County’s Petition for Writ of Mandate against the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, please visit:
https://www.monocounty.ca.gov/cao/page/mono-supervisors-askladwp-do-right-thing.

 

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DESCO
DESCO
4 years ago

https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2017/09/07/why-desalination-isnt-the-answer-to-the-worlds-water-problems/#236a9ca47374

Santa Barbara just reopened thier plant thanks to a ten million grant from DWP.

Trouble
Trouble
4 years ago
Reply to  DESCO

Desco, your article leaves out the fact that many places our running their plants off of solar power. Which DWP is more then happy to resell for us at a profit.

David Dennison
David Dennison
4 years ago

Trouble,I think your getting the “trump syndrome”…to where EVERYTHING is a lawsuit….the land and water is owned by LADWP….not to mention LADWP, a multi-multi billion dollar enterprise…anytype of County lawsuit will only cost US,the County residents, for something they/us wouldn’t be able to win….IMO….

Trouble
Trouble
4 years ago
Reply to  David Dennison

I’m not a fan of law suits , but if you two think it’s a bad idea, I’m probably right. P.S. you really shouldn’t blame a Californian for Trump.

David Dennison
David Dennison
4 years ago
Reply to  Trouble

Besides L.A. County and up by Frisco,it seems there ARE a lot of trump worshipers in California,at least here in the Owens Valley…actually,a couple of them are good friends of mine…but then,a few of them not so much….them ones, the usual big mouth,a couple in town that nobody likes or… Read more »

Trouble
Trouble
4 years ago

Every time I read about LADWP stunts it amazes me and makes me wonder, why doesn’t Inyo and Mono county sue Los Angels to force them to build Desalination Plaints? That’s the real answer to me.

Tom Tuttle
Tom Tuttle
4 years ago
Reply to  Trouble

Trouble: Probably because it would be a frivolous law suit. No court can make LADWP build Desalination plant just because you think that is “the answer”. Just like nobody can force you do build anything on your legally owned property. If anything, Inyo county and the city in the county… Read more »

Tom Tuttle
Tom Tuttle
4 years ago

“Thousands of acres of wetland and meadow habitat are already brown and dry”

I wonder if the county will go after and harass all other property owners because their lawns and land are “brown and dry”?

David Dennison
David Dennison
4 years ago

Mono Person…what do you suggest for the THOUSANDS of homeless in L.A….along with and including the drug and/or alcohol problem that usually goes along with it ?…and it’s not just in L.A,it’s nationwide in the big cities and the not so big cities…it’s just ANOTHER big problem in America now… Read more »

Tinner
Tinner
4 years ago
Reply to  David Dennison

David Dennison aka Low-Inyo, are you aware how much drugs enter the U.S. through the Mexican border? While building a wall won’t eliminate all drugs entering the US from Mexico it will cause the Mexican cartels to change their method of getting their drugs into our country. Trump 2020, baby.… Read more »

David Dennison
David Dennison
4 years ago
Reply to  Tinner

Tinner…..and how is that “wall” going…you know,the one Mexico is going to pay for ?…the only thing trump is doing,as far as the illegal immigration issue goes,he’s “ordering ” his hench-men to send a message to those trying to cross the border,if they do and get caught,they get their children… Read more »

Tinner
Tinner
4 years ago
Reply to  David Dennison

Low-Inyo, if you thought paying for the wall meant Mexico handing the US a check you and SO MANY others are thinking and living in a box, a box of hate for some. And until you can see outside that box there is nothing that can be said to convince… Read more »

David Dennison
David Dennison
4 years ago
Reply to  Tinner

Tinner….as you wrote your comment there,and as I’m writing mine and you reading it,there were probably 10-20 people,maybe more murdered across the United States….killed by white,legal citizens…and as far as who’s paying for trump’s invisible “wall”,you and all the trump worshipers know when he was screaming “and who’s going to… Read more »

Sir Walter Really
Sir Walter Really
4 years ago
Reply to  Tinner

Tinner – And a native-born “citizen” in Colorado just strangled his wife, unborn baby, and his two children. Citizens commit way more crimes per capita than the undocumented. Including hiring the undocumented – such as the suspect in Ms. Tibbett’s tragic death – in violation of federal law. You can… Read more »

Tinner
Tinner
4 years ago
Reply to  Tinner

SWR, so.
I guess 35,000 illegals, which is how many DHS reported being incarcerated, isn’t that bad, right?
We have enough criminals, why should we accept more?
SMH.

Charles O. Jones
Charles O. Jones
4 years ago
Reply to  Tinner

Question Tinner, If you were born into a country with very little gainful employment opportunities, severe gang violence, government corruption, a pitiful education system, etc. and no prospects for a better future, what would you do? Would you just stay there? Personally I’d take the risks for a better life… Read more »

David Dennison
David Dennison
4 years ago
Reply to  Tinner

Tinner….Since election day,I’m betting there are WELL over 35,000 trump worshipers sitting in jail or prison right now….and more to come, right out of his own sleazy,lying administration of “only the good people” he hired back in 2016.

Tinner
Tinner
4 years ago
Reply to  Tinner

COJ, my family was born in a country like that, they immigrated to America legally. I fully understand why people who were born and living in that environment would want a better life. But the first thing I would do is start the lengthy process to enter the America legally… Read more »

Clawed Rains
Clawed Rains
4 years ago
Reply to  Tinner

Tinner – The sanctimonious hypocrisy of Trump and his fans reminds me of Captain Louis Renault in the film Casablanca. Nearly all sectors of the American economy – agriculture, manufacturing, construction, guest services, etc. – have for decades benefitted handsomely from exploiting the labor and often back-breaking toil of the… Read more »

Charles O. Jones
Charles O. Jones
4 years ago
Reply to  Tinner

My family legally immigrated here too. Although there were no limits on immigration at the time, so that’s a bit irrelevant. That aside, I think we might agree, to a point at least. I agree we have an immigration problem. But like our president, the majority in congress and most… Read more »

philip anaya
philip anaya
4 years ago
Reply to  David Dennison

DD. I just returned from 10 days in Holland . I saw a lot of bicycles. did not see a single homeless person in Leiden where is spent most of my time There are solutions if there is a will to make the world a better place for all

David Dennison
David Dennison
4 years ago
Reply to  philip anaya

philip….With the so-called reality show “president” we have now,do you really think he gives a rat’s ass about the homeless….or those addicted to drugs and alcohol more or less keeping them homeless in most cases?..he and his worshipers see the homeless as nothing but more than “burdens” to society.He sees… Read more »

Mono Person
Mono Person
4 years ago

If you watched the news report, tonight, on the homeless problem in LA, Mayor Garcetti can’t mange his way out of a rat hole…and he wants to run for president?!? Frying pan into the fire….

Gene
Gene
4 years ago

Los Angeles keeps approving more huge apartment building projects, thereby increasing density and adding to demands for water service. The City in doing so is augmenting the water allocation problem. At the same time, the City’s policies encourage more and more people with social needs to move into the city,… Read more »

Jom Toad
Jom Toad
4 years ago
Reply to  Gene

You’re blaming the homeless for the cattle rancher’s water woes?

Sick.

Maybe we should just exterminate the homeless, so they don’t use massive amounts of “OUR” water.

Which is better spent on cows.

Gene
Gene
4 years ago
Reply to  Jom Toad

No, Toad, you are confused. I don’t blame the homeless at all, I sympathize with them and wish I could help more. I blame our Los Angeles city leaders for pushing for more and more urban density when we lack the water and the social services to support all those… Read more »

Jom Toad
Jom Toad
4 years ago
Reply to  Gene

How dare the City of Los Angeles act humanely and build apartments to care for homeless! Leave them on the streets, where those “losers” belong! It is easy to pontificate and arm-chair quarterback when you aren’t the elected official with the burden of trying to deal with one of AMERICA’S… Read more »

Tinner
Tinner
4 years ago
Reply to  Jom Toad

Jom Toad, is that how you interpret Gene’s comment?
Sad.

Tom Tuttle
Tom Tuttle
4 years ago
Reply to  Tinner

Gene: LADWP may be “sucking more water” out of the Owens Valley, but it is their water on their land that they are “sucking out”.

Gene
Gene
4 years ago
Reply to  Tom Tuttle

Tom Tuttle: The City DWP is a municipal agency, and their “ownership” is unlike that of an individual person’s absolute and unbounded ownership, because a municipality holds its assets–including land and water–essentially in a fiduciary capacity for its cestui que trust, in this case, their rate-payers-residents. Consequently, their duty should… Read more »

philip anaya
philip anaya
4 years ago

And with over 100 years of perpetual mismanagement motion, LADWP continues seeking roaring 20’s justice and adjudication to resolutions and results born to their rate payers . Will they ever wake up ??

Tom Tuttle
Tom Tuttle
4 years ago
Reply to  philip anaya

philip anaya: When will you “ever wake up” and realize and accept the fact that they legally own the land and the water rights? Just like you and other property owners, they can do what ever they want as long as it is legal.There are no laws being broken at… Read more »

Charles O. Jones
Charles O. Jones
4 years ago
Reply to  Tom Tuttle

@TT,
I remember hearing similar opinions regarding Mono Lake way back in the 80’s. The courts ultimately disagreed with those opinions. Things aren’t as black and white as you make them sound.

Pam Vaughan
Pam Vaughan
4 years ago
Reply to  Tom Tuttle

If you look at the history of the water situation on the East Side in more recent years, you can see that if LA gets one victory, they keep working relentlessly to get as much more as possible. No, we cannot turn a blind eye on that entity. And no… Read more »

philip anaya
philip anaya
4 years ago
Reply to  Tom Tuttle

TT , First off Bennet’s web site, and it still is her’s, is for an exchange of ideas. When the word “you” is inserted into a comment you are making things personal which is also unacceptable . The lands owned in the Eastern Sierra by the DWP are not private… Read more »

Rest of the Story
Rest of the Story
4 years ago

LA needs the extra water for all the 100 year old Water main breaks and New Houses.

Tom Tuttle
Tom Tuttle
4 years ago

Rest of the Story: Of course they need the water. This is why they legally bought the land and the water rights over a 100 years ago. Just like any other city, they were thinking ahead in regards to the growth of the city. As with most city’s, L.A. is… Read more »