Officials, citizens comment on DWP pressures to cut dust controls

DEATH VALLEYDepartment of Water and Power Water Operations Director Martin Adams tried to put a good spin on a plan to cut dust control and water use on Owens Lake as a prerequisite to a Master Plan for habitat protection at the dry lake bed. The Inyo Supervisors did make it clear that dust control is out of their hands and that the Owens Lake Master Plan committee should be where DWP needs to work on its ideas. Today, more comments from that meeting Tuesday.

Adams made his point that water for dust control means “no extra water to spread on the valley floor and a strain on water to LA.” He said DWP believes they can pump groundwater at the dry lake to control dust “without surface impacts.” Adams’ plan tries to put pressure on the Air Pollution Control Board, which LADWP has sued, to pull back on dust control requirements. APCD Director Ted Schade has repeatedly pointed out that it’s DWP’s choice to use water instead of gravel or other means.

Phillip Annaya  of Bishop said DWP’s plan “sounds like a eulogy for the burial of the Master Plan process.” Annaya said DWP should not circumvent the Master Plan group. He also questioned DWP’s wish to pump groundwater at the dry lake for dust control. Annaya said, “Look at the mismanagement and problems we have in the Owens Valley – Black Rock, Laws, and the Bishop Cone – these issues have to be addressed responsibly before there is another wellfield.” Annaya said he thinks it’s all about water down the aqueduct.

For several years, LADWP officials have told ranchers and others that they could not give them so much water as in the past because of water use on the dry lake bed. For decades, DWP has used ranch leases to pressure ranchers into supporting their views.

Rancher Scott Kemp complained about “wasted water” on the dry lake delta and in the Lower Owens River which he called a “marsh of 500 acres of tules.” Kemp said DWP is “watching stock water all over the Valley.” He called for a compromise on dust control.

So did Rancher Tom Noland who said there should be no more dust control on the dry lake bed. George Milovich said, “Sacrificing the Valley for the dry lake makes no sense.” Rancher Mark Lacey said, “Stock water is being affected by the lake.”

What the ranchers did not say, Nancy Masters did. She said, “Why is stock water being affected. The Long Term Water Agreement,” she said, “guarantees the same irrigation as the 1981-82 runoff year. Water is available. It’s in the aqueduct. We need to make sure the ranching community receives water pursuant to the Water Agreement.” Masters also said if water does not go to the dry lake, there is no guarantee the ranchers will get it.

Nina Weissman said, “I really feel that LADWP is using their unwillingness to finish dust control as the reason for no water on the fields.” Weissman cautioned the Supervisors to look deeper. “It’s a very serious issue,” she said.

Supervisor Jeff Griffiths said he sees collaborative planning as the key. He said, “We’re at the point to move past an adversarial relationship.” He said he did not see the Lower Owens River as a best use of water but said that an Owens Lake Master Plan should move forward quickly but “get there with buy-offs from stakeholders in the Owens Lake Master Plan committee.” He did point out that the Inyo Supervisors have no control over pollution issues at the dry lake.

Supervisor Rick Pucci said he wanted to see trust on both sides. Said Pucci, “We need commonality. I don’t really see that. We need to preserve our area and the uses we have. The Owens Lake,” he said, “has to be a compromise. That’s critical.”

Supervisor Mark Tillemans questioned groundwater pumping at the dry lake and said the Water Agreement governs that. He also DWP needed to consider the economic side of things and how they have hurt the growth of the Owens Valley.

Supervisor Matt Kingsley pointed to the Master Plan process and the need to deal with it. He said DWP will have to deal with the Air Pollution Control District and State Lands Commission on dust issues.

Adams connected less water for ranchers to dry lake dust control, and when it came to a guarantee that water saved at the lake would remain in the Owens Valley Adams was vague. He said, “We will see how to make more water available in the Owens Valley.” Supervisor Linda Arcularius pressed him when she said, “We need a level of certainty regarding ranch water. This would contribute to the level of trust Mr. Pucci spoke so eloquently about.””

 

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Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
9 years ago

One of the best sources of the history of the Owens Valley is a web site developed by a California State University San Diego Professor that has about 18 -19 oral history presentations by Ranchers, DWP people,Residents and Environmentalists. http://thereitistakeit.org/ That should give you some first hand information and history.… Read more »

Ted
Ted
9 years ago

Ranchers of the Owens Valley have always been used as pawns by the LADWP. If DWP wants something, they mess with the ranchers; leave them alone. They are the ones that manage the water on valley floor and make it look as good as it can; DWP should be thankful… Read more »

Waxlips
Waxlips
9 years ago
Reply to  Ted

Extortion is what I call it Ted, and that’s illegal. DWP has been doing it for over a 100 years! Yes threats to take, if you don’t do is extortion. It’s unfortunate the ranchers folded. Nancy Masters has it right. DWP must supply the ranchers sufficient water as well as… Read more »

outsider
outsider
9 years ago
Reply to  Waxlips

“Some of the folks” like who? I see this accusation all the time but no one ever backs it up. Who and what is the conflict?

Mike
Mike
9 years ago
Reply to  Waxlips

Please state who are the ‘some of the folks’ are. This makes for a more open and thorough discussion. Don’t attack anyone, but put your ideas out there for thorough discussion. Thanks.

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
9 years ago

Matt Kingsley commented to a small group of people before the meeting ” The most important people here are sitting at the back of the room” referring to folks who had come to the meeting. I think that the consensus of opinon was that the most important people were sitting… Read more »

outsider
outsider
9 years ago
Reply to  Philip Anaya

I want what you’re smokin’! These are the same people who sold out to BrightSource. or tried to!

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
9 years ago
Reply to  outsider

Maybe you’re right about Bright Source. I know that I might be on the wrong side of a limb with a saw in my hand but these folks are on the front line with the DWP and I have great hopes for unified , considered and best possible decisions from… Read more »

sierragrl
sierragrl
9 years ago

How about the water needed for dust control comes out of the share going to LA? They’ve never even implemented water conservation there…I spent my youth with severe water restrictions in the bay area, while we would visit family in LA who were hosing down their driveways! and guess what???… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
9 years ago
Reply to  sierragrl

Not true. LA County has the seventh lowest water consumption per capita in California at 185 gallons per person per day. Inyo County, by comparison, has the highest per capita water consumption of any county in California at over 471 gallons per person per day. That is strictly domestic water… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
9 years ago

How do you know the figures here do not include the hatcheries and irrigation. As I posted earlier, figures
in the 80s did include that water.
Benett

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
9 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

Read the DWRs pdf (linked on the last thread where I brought this up) that explains how they calculate water use per capita. For starters, it only examines water use from what they call urban water suppliers, so agricultural uses and rural well users are excluded, but industrial uses would… Read more »

sierragrl
sierragrl
9 years ago

I call foul. There is NO WAY that domestic water use is the highest in Mono County. Nobody even has lawns, what would they be using the water for? Heck in Mammoth, most people don’t even own hoses or have outside hose bibs! I would expect Mammoth to be similar… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
9 years ago
Reply to  sierragrl

With a big Mastercool evaporative cooler and a small yard to water it is quite easy for a couple to use in excess of 400 gallons per day in the desert during the summer. Even one person living alone in a house can use that much water. In fact is… Read more »

sierragrl
sierragrl
9 years ago

You must not have noticed that I said Mono County, not Inyo. People do not have evaporative coolers in Mono County (or at least very few, maybe in Bridgeport or Walker). Want to try again? Your previous note might be the answer….the numbers include Industrial uses….so a large industrial use… Read more »

MJA
MJA
9 years ago

The reason Inyo County usage is so high is to counter balance the removal of the ground and surface water by the DWP. Without this high usage by Inyo Co residence, their once naturally green farms and gardens and yards would be dust bowls too. People of Inyo should use… Read more »

Mike
Mike
9 years ago
Reply to  sierragrl

Los Angeles leads the nation in water conservation. The City uses roughly the same amount of water that it did 30 or more years ago and has 1M more people. LA can do more, of course, For example it does not reuse water at as high of a level as… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
9 years ago
Reply to  Mike

What you say about L. A is good news. But holding Bishop up to comparison to L. A. is not useful. There’s 9 million people in L.A. County. There’s about 18,000 in Inyo County. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06/06027.html The problem is that L.A. takes too much water from the Owens Valley.to sustain it’s… Read more »

Mike
Mike
9 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Ken – Remember that the OV water only goes to the City of Los Angeles and to no one else. LA’s population is around 4M.

Daris
Daris
9 years ago

I have been trying to press the same point that Nancy Master stated the Long Term Water Agreement say that Department SHALL continue to provide water for Los Angeles-owned lands in Inyo County in an amount sufficient so that the water-related uses of such lands that were made during the… Read more »

Mike
Mike
9 years ago
Reply to  Daris

Darus, If I remember correctly, LADWP grazing leases say that stockwater will be provided to lessees. It doesn’t say how the water will be provided or how much will be provided. A legal challenge by Inyo is always possible, but is probably considered chancy in terms of prevailing or the… Read more »

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
9 years ago
Reply to  Mike

In the Long Term Water Agreement, Section II Article IV “Vegetation Management Goals and Principals ,Type E Vegetation” described in the Section II Article II as: “this classificationis comprised of areas where water is provided to City-owned Lands for alfalfa production,pasture,recreatin use ,wildlife habitats,livestock and enhancement projects” The section for… Read more »