Owens Lake Master Project EIR update

The first step toward the Environmental Impact Report on the Owens Lake Master Project was taken Wednesday afternoon in Bishop.


The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power held a scoping meeting outlining the project elements and potential impacts of dust mitigation and habitat development on the 110-square mile dry lake. The second meeting will be held from 6-8 p.m. next Wednesday, July 22 at Statham Hall in Lone Pine.

The approximately 20 community members were acutely familiar with the 10-year project with the primary goal of reducing the amount of water required to control dust by 50 percent. Advisory groups have worked with LADWP to assure habitat values, public access and recreational opportunities are incorporated into the project.
LADWP’s Julie Wagner provided an overview of the project, including approved dust control measures and those currently being tested.

Department biologist Jeff Nordin reviewed habitat requirements for alkali meadow species and the diverse bird populations, many of which use the Owens Lake as a stop-over between South America and as far north as the Arctic, explaining what measures will be taken to meet those avian and species needs.

In addition to dust mitigation measures, the EIR will address proposed groundwater pumping from five aquifers under the lake bed to supply water for dust mitigation and habitat protection. “The work groups are developing protocols to avoid possible impacts,” said Wagner.

Comments following the presentation were brief. Bruce Warden, environmental scientist for the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Lahontan Region, asked for involvement with the project. Warden noted the existence of arsenic in groundwater. “My goal would be to bring water that wildlife comes in contact with up to standards,” he said.

The deadline for comments is Aug. 7; the EIR is scheduled for completion by next summer with the findings published during the winter of 2016. The presentation material is available on the Inyo County website at http://www.inyocounty.us/EnvironmentalDocuments/Documents/15-021.pdf

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2 Responses to Owens Lake Master Project EIR update

  1. Philip Anaya July 21, 2015 at 6:16 am #

    It is not difficult to envision a water table supporting the surface of Owens Lake. Totally agree that we can not allow this mistake, a horrid result of subsidence to occur . New wells are subject to the LTWA and we can educate and support the Inyo County Board of Supervisors with that policy as a first step to restrict new wells on the lake. There should be a CEQA process for each and every well proposed and there should not be any blanket review and assessment as each new well would be changing the equation.

  2. Steve July 20, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

    It would be a big mistake to let DWP pump the water under Owens lake. Their own consultant said it would cause up to 20 feet of subsidence on the lake bed, destroy all the work that has been done to level and shallow flood the lake.

    The water under the lake is contaminated with all the same minerals the cause the dust to be so bad for us. By pumping the trapped ground water to the surface these same minerals will be released to the air the first time it is left to dry and be blown up into the wind.

    I for one do not want DWP to experiment with my life and the lives of my loved ones just so they can continue to destroy what it left of the Owens Valley.


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