Owens Valley Committee Sues DFG Over Groundwater Pumping

The Owens Valley Committee has filed a lawsuit against Fish and Game over the issue of groundwater pumping at the Black Rock Fish Hatchery north of Independence.

Both the Black Rock and Fish Springs Hatcheries used to be filled by large natural springs, but groundwater pumping by the Los Angeles Deprtment of Water and Power dried up the natural springs in the 1970s. The pumps have supplied the water for trout rearing ever since. In a press release from the OVC, Mark Bagley is quoted as saying, “Our concern is with the overpumping to supply the Black Rock and Fish Springs facilities.” The OVC alleges that annual average pumping since4 1972 to supply the facilities has “exceeded the prior natural spring flows by more than 6,000 acre-feet year year at each facility.”

Bagley is also quoted as saying that OVC does not want to shut down hatcheries. “They play an important role in the local economy and in DFG’s statewide hatchery program.” Bagley said that OVC believes that pumping to supply the two hatchery facilities can be reduced to the levels the natural spring flows used to provide “without much effect on hatchery operations and with the effect of mitigating the impacts that excessive pumping has had and continues to have.”

Fish and Game has been at work to run the entire state hatchery program through the California and National environmental processes as the result of a separate lawsuit filed by Stanford law students and the Center for Biological Diversity.

An earlier draft of the environmental impact report explained that the groundwater pumping at the Black Rock Hatchery could be reduced from 12,000 acre feet to 8,000 acre feet per year. The pumped water, which flows through the facility and into the LA aqueduct, was said to be impacting the environment around the hatchery.

The Owens Valley Committee lawsuit contends that the plans to reduce the pumping were taken out of the recently published Final Draft of the EIR. As stated in a press release, the OVC position is that Fish and Game is looking at environmental impacts from 2004-2008, and ignores decades of impacts that occurred in the years since the California Environmental Quality Act became law in 1970. The OVC also contends that the EIR does not provide an adequate analysis of the pumping impacts in this area.

Fish and Game Officials had not returned our call at last word.





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