Supervisors disturbed by DWP water policies but take no bold steps on pumping

inyosupervisors4-16When the Inyo Supervisors sat down to talk about the Department of Water and Power’s proposed groundwater pumping plan for this runoff year, Supervisor Rick Pucci, clearly disturbed, brought up the privately discussed issue of the Bishop and Lone Pine golf courses pushed by DWP to pay for their water. He pointed to the Bishop Saddle Club apparently losing its DWP water. Pucci said, “DWP needs to be more cooperative”.

As he and three other board members faced the DWP pumping plan, Supervisor Pucci said, “The golf courses are the entrances to our communities. They are in every brochure DWP puts out. The Chamber of Commerce uses them.” Pucci said he has received calls from entities, presumably the golf course, which, he said, report that they will have to close down if DWP pushes its water charges.

Golf Course officials admit DWP said they may look at charging for water in the current negotiations on new leases. Water for both golf courses has always been included in their leases. The golf courses have lost members in the past few years and maintain marginal finances.

With all of that in mind, Supervisors heard from former Inyo Water Department plant expert and current Big Pine Tribal Environmental Director Sally Manning. She said DWP is ignoring the water tables and vegetation goals. Manning said DWP has “systematically cut connections in valley water uses.” She said DWP has replaced stream water for Valley uses with pumped water. Manning said, “The pumping is happening faster than the Valley is being recharged.” She said the Owens Valley “has not recovered from the heavy DWP pumping of the mid-80s.” The current discussions also do not consider the heavy pumping in the 70s. Manning said ranching and other areas are “eroding before our eyes. It’s time to listen to the people. I’m calling on the County’s leadership.”

Rancher Daris Moxley said DWP has cut half her water and told her she still has to irrigate all 99 acres. She pointed to a DWP letter which says they will cut 20% of the irrigation in Laws and Independence and 10% elsewhere.

Supervisor Jeff Griffiths said, “Where will it be unacceptable for the water table to go down? Some of these drops (predicted in the pumping plan) are alarming. Plants will not recover.” He said he has concerns about the former Drought Recovery Policy that DWP unilaterally ended. He pointed to the need for a recovered and stable water table. Griffiths said, “Where’s the point when we say don’t pump any more?” Water Director Bob Harrington said Dispute Resolution is always on the table every year. Griffiths pushed for and got the County to go for a much lower pumping rate in the heavily impacted Big Pine well fields.

Supervisor Linda Arcularius said Supervisor Pucci’s comments about needing cooperation on things like water for golf courses were “extremely important.” She supported language in the County’s letter to DWP on the pumping plan that points to cooperation and mutual concerns for the community.”

In the official response to DWP’s pumping plans, Water Director Harrington recommended a range of 46,825 to 49,585 acre feet for April through September. Because it’s a second drought year, the next six months’ pumping will be determined later. DWP’s pumping range is higher at 47,370 to 54,660 acre feet. Harrington said the whole year is expected to be in the low to high 70,000 acre feet range.

The Supervisors will discuss the separate DWP letter to cut irrigation even more at a meeting before the May 20th Standing Committee meeting. It is unclear to officials what DWP means by cuts in irrigation – is it ranches? golf courses? saddle club? parks? No one in Inyo County seems to know.

 

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amazed
amazed
9 years ago

Dee, there are elections every few years. Maybe you and Jeff should run as a team.. Is it easier to just throw rocks at those who run and really try to make a difference.for Inyo

You think you've got trouble
You think you've got trouble
9 years ago
Reply to  amazed

Please correct me if I’m wrong but at least in Inyo County your elected officals ran an actual campaign and became elected to their positions. Unlike Mammoth Lakes, where two councilmen ran unopposed (Bacon and Raimondo) Then you have two others who have been around for so long, it’s difficult… Read more »

Andrew Kirk
Andrew Kirk
9 years ago

Great story, Benett. Thanks.

Dee
Dee
9 years ago

Time to elect a new board of supervisors and perhaps reelect Griffiths, the only one that seems to be doing anything regarding this matter. It’s pretty obvious the current group (minus Griffiths) has a warped interest on this matter. What a joke these folks are, they should look for a… Read more »

Outsider
Outsider
9 years ago
Reply to  Dee

I’m sure they’re at least smart enough to see through the pressure/insults from Jeff’s campaign bulldog, Dee. Your boy only gets one vote out of five.

Dee
Dee
9 years ago
Reply to  Outsider

I’m not much of a Jeff Griffiths fan and didn’t vote for him, not my boy to say the least.
But he clearly has spoken out on the side of sanity on this subject.

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
9 years ago
Reply to  Dee

First off, not only do I not play golf, but I consider myself to be a non-golfer. My opinion of golf matchs that of Mark Twain. Having said that, it seems that all over the western world and even some developed Asian nations, the presence of an acceptable golf course… Read more »

Jeff Griffiths
Jeff Griffiths
9 years ago
Reply to  Dee

I can assure you that every member of the Inyo County Board of Supervisors is working diligently to find solutions and chart the best course through a difficult and complicated issue. We all work together to do whats best for Inyo County, its residents, and our valley. This is a… Read more »

John Barton
John Barton
9 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Griffiths

@ Jeff- The County Board has a long history of doing nothing about DWP. I think it’s mostly fear and self-preservation/interests. Many supervisors including at least one on the current board have leased land from DWP to raise cattle or buildings for a business. Conflict of interest? Yes! Looking out… Read more »

Dee
Dee
9 years ago
Reply to  John Barton

Thanks for pointing out the well known conflict of interest.

Seems like Rick Pucci and Griffiths are the only ones speaking out forcefully on this issue. Kudos to both!

outsider
outsider
9 years ago
Reply to  Dee

Who has a well-known conflict and what is it? No one ever seems to want to say. Is it Voldemort!?

Trouble
Trouble
9 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Griffiths

Jeff Griffiths-Thanks for responding. It’s good to know someone in high places is following our concerns. Thou you should probably take my comments with a grain of salt. Thanks.

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
9 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Griffiths

The Board needs to send representatives to Los Angeles, get on the agendas of the LA City Council and DWP Board and challenge directly and in person the tactics and policies of the DWP. Make sure the press in LA knows you will there. LADWP sends it’s people up here… Read more »

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
9 years ago

” It is recognized that successive dry years could result in insufficent water to meet all needs. During periods of dry year water shortages , the Technical Group will evaluate existing conditions. A program providing for reasonable reductions in irrigation water supply for Los Angeles-owned lands in the Owens Valley… Read more »

salblaster
salblaster
9 years ago

there’s some pretty good information on what water pumping is doing to the valley if you google. effects of groundwater pumping in the owens valley. then click on owens valley,california,plant ecology. by david groeneveld. it has a lot of data and information collected by the usgs, inyo co. and dwp.… Read more »

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
9 years ago
Reply to  salblaster

“The Key to realizing the Agreement goal for protection of the vegetation is an aggressive monitoring program” . I did not find a date on this Paper from David Groeneveld but it seems to be from the 1990’s. Here’s the link http://www.wmrs.edu/resources/reference%20documents/History%20of%20Water/wmrs4%204-5.pdf When asked what endangered pup fish were good… Read more »

Daris
Daris
9 years ago

Maybe I was not clear when I said we were only getting 50% of the water. I meant that the irrigation ditches only had about 50% of the water they had last year.

Please direct your energy here, Tim
Please direct your energy here, Tim
9 years ago

The City Council sent the utility a neutered version of the lawn ordinance that would allow watering an extra day a week. Last week, browbeaten Department of Water and Power commissioners quietly rubber-stamped it. What is being passed off as a tweak looks more like a death knell for one… Read more »