Are Owens Valley concerns really heard?

inyosupervisors4-16This week, Inyo Supervisors heard more about the Department of Water and Power’s new Owens Lake Master Project and LA’s desire to cut in half water used to control dry lake dust. They all expressed concern that some of the water savings should go to the Owens Valley and its ranchers. DWP Water Operations Director Martin Adams did not fully convey that concern to his own Board of Commissioners when he talked to them about the new dry lake plan.

Adams spoke to the Inyo Board Tuesday morning about the concept of DWP’s Owens Lake Plan. In the late afternoon, he spoke before his own Board.  In the online video of the meeting, Adams said the plan has been very well received in Inyo with only a couple of disgruntled locals. He also failed to mention ranching as part of the economy until a commissioner asked him. Adams assured his Board that Owens Valley ranchers are in favor of the dry lake plan. Adams did not say that Inyo officials, ranchers and environmentalists want a share of the dust mitigation water savings.

Adams did say that the new Owens Lake project is supported by Inyo and has “opportunities” to benefit ranching.  When asked by Commissioner Christine Noonan about outreach to the Inyo community, Adams said there were 40 or 50 people in

(l-r) Bill Van Waggoner, Owens Lake Mgr. and Water Operations Director Martin Adams at Commission meeting.

(l-r) Bill Van Wagoner, Owens Lake Mgr. and Water Operations Director Martin Adams at Commission meeting.

the audience at the Inyo Supervisors meeting.  He said ranchers were there speaking about the impacts on them from Owens Lake water use.  When asked by the Board Chair about public feedback, Adams said it was “generally good.”  He said one or two people don’t like the export of water to Los Angeles, but, he said, “They have no generational ties and they don’t understand the Long Term Water Agreement.  For the most part,” said Adams, “there has been pretty positive feedback.”  He said the Inyo Supervisors want DWP to work with local groups but “move ahead with the project.  They’re excited something is going to happen,” he said.

What Adams did not tell the Commissioners was that Inyo Supervisors pointed directly to the need for more water here as well as to a need for more trust-building by LA. Supervisor Matt Kingsley told Adams that there are “mitigation projects undone. You need to resolve that before your new project.” Supervisor Mark Tillemans said it is an issue when DWP cuts back on the ranchers, and he also questioned groundwater pumping at the dry lake.

Supervisor Jeff Griffiths said there is a trust issue with LADWP. He said, “Holding the ranchers’ water over our heads is hard to take. Your overall goals are good, but we need to trust but verify.” Adams and others have repeatedly linked water for ranchers with water used on the Owens Dry Lake for dust control, as he did in front of the LA Commissioners.

Supervisor Linda Arcularius said that she hopes Adams will soon meet with the local Owens Lake Master Plan group who has “put a lot of work into this,” she said. Arcularius also said to Adams, “You mentioned a savings of water. We hope this has positive effects in the Owens Valley.” She said agricultural leases have already suffered impacts. She called for a “re-investment in the Owens Valley.”

Supervisor Rick Pucci said to Adams, “If a project like yours saves 59% of the water on the dry lake, where does the saved water go? How is it shared? We want part, or all in the Owens Valley,” he said. Pucci said, “It’s extremely important to develop this in advance.”

Adams told Sierra Wave Media that he could not commit water to the Owens Valley and that this was up to the DWP Board. However, at his own Board meeting, Adams did not tell his officials how the Inyo Supervisors feel about wanting a share of water saved on the dry lake, dismissing any problems as coming from a couple of locals who always make negative comments.  He also did not mention repeated concerns expressed by Inyo Board members about a lack of trust in LADWP.  The LA Commissioners, who did ask about Owens Valley concerns, heard essentially there were none.  They made a motion to support the Owens Lake Master Project and urged Adams to continue working through the environmental process and to make the project “shovel ready.”

You can view the DWP Commissioners meeting and item #25 on the Owens Lake Master Project here –

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37 Responses to Are Owens Valley concerns really heard?

  1. Anachronism April 22, 2013 at 8:55 am #

    One of the troubling aspects of the Inyo/LADWP relationship is the unwillingness of the media to report the truth. Kudos to Sierra Wave for doing so. Our hometown newspaper’s headline this week-end was “Supes supportive of DWP’s Owens Lake goal”. Say what? Was the reporter even at the same meeting? Also, the PR campaign by DWP is in full force. It is the tactic that if you say something enough, people will believe it is true. The DWP’s next stop is going to be the State Lands Commission. The pressure is on to loosen the requirements and implement some sort of “adaptive management” plan, so the City can basically do what it wants on the lake, (e.g. pumping the lake), and, oops…if it causes the seeps and springs to dry up, deal with that later. We’ve seen in our valley how that works. The LA Daily News has promulgated the press releases from DWP all over the State touting their great Owens Lake Project and the support they have from all kinds of groups in the Owens Valley. Yes, environmental groups, you have been used.

    • Daris April 22, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

      I also was wondering what meeting the reporter was reporting. It did not sound like it was the same 4/16 Supervisor’s meeting I was at. Their were lots of concerns and problems with DWP and the use of water in the Owens Valley. DWP is painting a glowing picture with all the good publicity about its (court ordered) work on Owens Lake and not a word about the vegitation conditions or the depth of the ground water in the rest of the valley. Attend the Water Commission meeting 4/25 and see just how much DWP wants to pump from the Valley this the 2nd drought year in a row.

      • Philip Anaya April 22, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

        “but local leaders said this week they are behind the department ” I never heard that either and I was in the third row. “is a great-looking plan” maybe but only in the context that the document had some well done ilustrations and was DWP professionally prepared. “Thirsty LA” is the intended recipient and the reason for any water saved from the DWP Owens Lake Project. The Supervisiors got it right on Tuesday . Our hometown publication has reported their response embarrassingly wrong.

  2. Trouble April 22, 2013 at 5:41 am #

    I say put the signs in L.A.. Really.

    • tim April 22, 2013 at 10:03 am #

      I say do both; signs in LA and signs along 395.

  3. Tim April 21, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    A serious comment for you Philip Anaya.
    I don’t know a single person in Los Angeles who HAS NOT heard about Save Mono Lake yet I continually meet people who are unaware that Owens Lake was full prior to the aqueduct. Education and political pressure are the only things that are going to change the situation in a meaningful way that will influence LADWP. It is up to US as the public to become pro-active; government is by and for the people yet it appears government now operates independently of US.
    Over 2,000,000 people travel 395 every year, educate them.

    • Cool, clear, water April 22, 2013 at 6:39 am #

      People never planned here for water.

    • Philip Anaya April 22, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

      Seems like this might be a good year to teach our children, to have some curriculum in our local schools regarding the History of the Aqueduct and it’s not to late as we approach the 100 year anniversery in November, 2013. The current issues of this second year of drought and how the Adults are dealing and trying to find serious solutions for water, water for Los Angeles and water for the Valley, is a opportunity to not only teach kids some dates and events, but it is also an opportunity to change and motivate lives. Hopefully there could be some kids who might find an interest, who might discover a career path and if one or two get rolling then soon you might have a bunch of up and coming Hydrologists or Botanists, kids in the sciences , kids into natural history, kids into areas of public and private administration, all motivated and empowered by not only by what they might learn but to be given opportunities like Field trips to the historical sites, to the DWP operation sites like the Aqueduct , like LORP and how about some well fields, to the Paya Ditch Irrigation System, to the Eastern Sierra Museum, to the Technical group, to the Standing Committee , to a Board Meeting at one of the High Schools. That would be Education. Thanks for that great post, Tim . For the highway nothing was ever better than the view out the window aside from the Burma Shave lessons. The History of the Valley includes many strong shoulders that we stand upon today. If we are going to lift our kids higher, make a better world, a better Valley, our shoulders have to be at least as good and as strong as those folks before us.

  4. Philip Anaya April 20, 2013 at 8:10 pm #

    A cynical approach to the perception of the water issues of Los Angeles and the Owens Valley can be entertaining, truthful and exceedingly intelligent. However, if we can apply also wisdom and solutions to difficult problems and the future, maybe there will be water for all of the people in a 100 years, or the painful truth, only water for the few.

    ” A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity,stability and beauty of the Biotic Community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise”
    Aldo Leopold

  5. Tim April 20, 2013 at 10:28 am #

    Over 2,000,000 people travel 395 every year, many from LA.
    Whatever you do, DO NOT PUT UP A SAVE OWENS LAKE or RESTORE OWENS VALLEY billboard that directs travelers to a blog and website.
    People will see it and that would be bad.

  6. Elson T. April 20, 2013 at 2:46 am #

    Desert Tortoise: I’m an Angeleno who actually has an attachment to the OV. You’re right, for most of us city folk, the water comes from some ambiguous, unknown place. When I visited the OV last December, everything regarding the Water Wars was suddenly real for me. I read this site from time to time and have an affinity for the place.

    My suggestion to you is, because of the 250-mile distance to the city, it’s not entirely feasible for Eastern Sierra folks to make the trek all time time. I would recommend building a group of allies here in the city, who can easily make the drive (or subway ride, in my case) to City Hall and assist with the lobbying. I’m sure through awareness and outreach – especially in this centennial year of the Aqueduct (which seems to be way more recognized up there than here in the city), you can build that capacity. You already have at least one ally here.

    Yes, I do use your water, but I really do want my city to be more responsible!

    Ex-LA: I’m already voting for Garcetti. He’s currently my councilman and also a friend. There was never really any other choice for me. Plus, Greuel’s unnecessarily negative campaign tactics have been a total turn-off, which many people know will be her greatest detriment.

    • Tim April 20, 2013 at 10:09 am #

      I live in LA and my water comes from a tube thing with funny handles on either side. Yesterday I saw a lake at the end of my driveway when grandpa was watering the driveway; is that Owens Lake? Sometimes I make a tiny pee-pee in a big bowl of water, pull a lever, and watch it swirl away, I think it goes to El Segundo to feed the fish but I am not sure.
      Have you guys seen the new iphone? Really kool.
      Snirk, Gafaw, pffft. burp 😉

      • Trouble April 20, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

        Tim- the next time I go tubing in the Owens ,usually around the 4th of July, I’ll think of you when I decide if I should get out to go. Be careful thou, I love to fish year round. Drink up.

        • Tim April 20, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

          Trouble is… we L-aliens drink your jenkem, go nuts, and then wonder why we are nuts. Oh well, nuthin’ I can do about it, I’ll just pour a Scotch and Trouble Tonic. (and put some damn booze in it this time!)
          It will be OK, in the morning I’ll follow up with a trouble bubble bath and a Double Trouble Latte to sober up.
          Mmmmm, mmmm.

          • Trouble April 21, 2013 at 8:48 am #

            Tim- I think your more troubled than I.

        • Mark April 21, 2013 at 11:30 am #

          I don’t conserve water but I don’t have any problem peeing in the river and give a little back.

          It’s looking like this will be one of the dryiest summers we’ve seen in some time. It will also be interesting to see how much Crowley rises from it’s current level.

  7. Tim April 19, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

    When I hear the suggestions regarding the Owens Valley It sounds like an anti-environment campaign. You know, sort of the opposite of save the whales, or yes on clean air. I think they may as well be running a campaign complete with billboards, etc that promotes the complete destruction of the Owens Valley.
    Try this; Permanently Kill Owens Lake! Fill it with gravel topped with solar panels! Widen the road unless it leads to wilderness! Eliminate old buildings especially the barbershop! Drain the aquifer so slurry can intrude! Sink Holes, the ultimate in open space conservation! Remove the dead trees and burn them in efficient stoves, hide the evidence. Don’t pick up old cans, stay indoors and don’t let anyone in! Let’s eliminate this region all together so the hyper ruthless, competitive anti-social community of LA can continue our devolution! Heck, lets make the people of Owens Valley just like the people of LA; screw you, don’t talk to me, get out of my way, unless you have something I want.
    snirk, snirk, snirk, pfffrt 😉

  8. andrew R April 18, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    It goes in one ear and out he other, most likely they just want to let the citizens of the v alley know they are concerned. It is nmostly a formanlity in my opition.

    • Desert Tortoise April 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

      Yes, but the fact that no one from Owens Valley shows up at LADWP board meetings or LA City Council meetings broadcasts to the leadership that the Owens Valley is happy with how things are. You mock the DWP for coming up here but at least they make the effort. People up here grouse and complain, but can’t seem to muster enough energy to back away from the discussion board to drive south and call LADWP on their mispresentations. Don’t blame LA for ignoring you if you don’t have the energy to be noticed.

      • Benett Kessler April 18, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

        Suggestion – people up here need to get their own officials to notice so those officials can go to LA and make a case.

        • Thank You April 18, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

          Thank you for bringing this story to the public Benett. I hope the County Supervisors are reading!

          • Desert Tortoise April 19, 2013 at 9:56 am #

            They read this stuff. They will never admit it, but they do. I heard a city council member in community I won’t name call it “the network of useless information”, but believe me they read it. They live to know what people are thinking …… of them.

  9. Steve April 18, 2013 at 8:29 am #

    I say no new pumps, no new wells. In fact all pumps should be shut off unless the water is used for in valley uses. DWP is not doing whats best for the water shed of the Eastern Sierra when they destroy the environment by drying it up.
    DWP was given a chance to do the right thing but continue to show they don’t know how.

    The water of the Eastern Sierra needs new better management and DWP is not it. LA can still get some of their water needs from the Sierras. But they should get it from a group that is not in any way controlled by DWP. Just like the MWD sells LA water. LA should have to buy Sierra water at market value. The money made could then pay for the environmental restoration of the Eastern Sierra.

  10. drymeup April 18, 2013 at 7:49 am #

    @ Andrew K-

    But laws can easily be changed; and LADWP and the City of Los Angeles have and use highly-paid lobbyists in Sacramento.

    Unfortunately, however, in the Long Term Water Agreement the Inyo County Board of Superviors agreed to never seek state legislation affecting LADWP’s water rights or its use of water in the Owens Valley.

    In that regard, I think the Board sold us down the river.


    • Ex LA April 19, 2013 at 7:31 am #

      That’s what I’ve been saying all along. I know before the last board election there was one member that leased land and recived irrigation water from DWP. This is a conflict if interest. I’m not sure how it is today however, if anyone on on any committee that is intended to procet the Owens Valley from DWP or any Inyo County board member has any obligations to DWP should not be a board member nor should thay be on any committee that has anything to do with protecting our valley from DWP. They can’t be trusted to look out for the best interest of our Valley.

      • Mike April 22, 2013 at 7:01 am #

        @ Ex LA

        “I know before the last board election there was one member that leased land and recived irrigation water from DWP. This is a conflict if interest.”

        Please provide evidence. Evidence or lack of it helps the public understand the issues and the participants.

    • Durrell Coleman April 22, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

      You are correct that the Water Agreement is nearly unenforceable. However, federal law very clearly and strongly enforces the Ambient Air Quality Standards. The polluters are welcome to take their best shot at convincing the EPA to relax the Clean Air Act.

  11. Ex LA April 18, 2013 at 5:55 am #

    How hard is it to say NO? The tone of this article sounds like the board of supervisors are starting to cave.

  12. Desert Tortoise April 17, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

    So why were there no Inyo County representatives, like a Supervisor or two, present at the LADWP Board meeting to keep Mr. Adams honest and challenge him on his mis-statements, if that is indeed what they were? Mr. Adams came all the way to Inyo County to make his sales pitch. Now, if Inyo and Mono Counties want accountability, why are they not sending their representatives south to LA to challenge these perceived misrepresentations directly and in person at meetings of LADWP, LA City Council and even the MWD? LADWP makes the trip to the north and Inyo and Mono Counties can’t do the same? If you want something bad enough you have to work for it. LADWP is.

    • Philip Anaya April 18, 2013 at 10:23 am #

      Why should anyone have to keep Martin Adams honest and challenge him on mis-statements and mis-representations indeed. It is unbelievable that the DWP management would allow this to occur but seemingly it has. James B. McDaniel the Senior Assistant General Manager and Martin Adam’s boss needs to take responsibility, needs to be held accountable for all the information given to the LADWP Board Of Commissioners and should insure that Mr. Adams is doing his proper job.
      Maybe, however, Mr. Adams is merely following instructions to allegedly misrepresent facts and information and paint a beautiful picture of the work and efforts of DWP Management with regards to their failings in the Owens Lake Dust Mitigation process to his Board of Commissioners. Maybe those instructions are even coming from a higher authority in the hierarchy of the City. The DWP should be making amends and apologies to the Inyo Board of Supervisors and all the other people affected by the inadequacies of Martin Adams with respect to this entire Owens Lake project purposal but don’t bet the ranch on that. Our Board has been spoken of reestablishing trust in the Owens Valley with the DWP and this isunfortunately, their answer. I think that everyone could agree that 100 years is enough time to demonstrate a pattern of trust and after Nov 6, 2013 the centennial of the flow of the Aqueduct to Los Angeles, it’s time to take the gloves off and use every tool in the shed to protect our Valley, to fortify our rights and our dignity and not allow LADWP to continue to take more than just water from this place.
      There is currently an election going on for Mayor in LA. When the cat’s away and in the midst of that confusion, there’s been a lot of cat cunning going on in the DWP. Who is really running things in LA.
      These are just some of on going and difficult issues for our Board of Supervisors and for the Great Basin APCD and we all need to stay aware of these issues. We need to support and contribute ideas and our opinions to our Board. It’s up to each one of us not to allow anyone to sell us down the river, especially the DWP. We can speak louder if we speak with one voice. We will be heard. In this day of social media, emails, telecom communication whatever, The LADWP Board of Commissioners is going to hear from us.

      • Desert Tortoise April 18, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

        Needs to take responsibility, needs to be held accountable, bla, bla, bla. If people in Owens Valley are too lazy or disconnected to point out errors in public statements, do you think anyone in LA gives a rip? I have news for you dude, LA residents aren’t looking to make amends to anyone. I grew up down there and moved to these parts fairly recently. People in LA don’t for the most part, really know where their water comes from. They have far more immediate concerns like keeping their jobs and their mortgages. If Owens Valley leaders do not have the energy to go south to LA and make the appropriate level of noise in LA with the LA press present, no one down there is going to care. It is not a grand conspiracy, and any lack of accountability is the fault of the leaders of Owens Valley.

        As for the idea that any direction comes from anything beyond LA, the notion is laughable. There are lots of water agencies that would dearly love to stake a claim to LAs water rights in the Owens Valley. The whole reason LA dropped a second pipe was to protect their water rights. You need to start reading up on Western Water Law. Claiming rights to water is meaningless unless you can put that water to “continuous beneficial use” If you do not use the water you claim a right to, under Western Water Law that is called “abandonment” and abandoned water rights leave those rights open for another entity to claim.

        That is the reason for the second pipe. Water agencies were looking at LAs use of Owens Valley water and claiming that since LA didn’t use all the water they claimed rights to they had abandoned those rights. Several agencies were making a play for LAs water rights, so LA headed that court fight off by adding a pipe and taking all the water they claimed. Not so good for Mono Lake, and the courts eventually forced LA take less water, but it prevented a successful claim of abandonment.

        That is also the reason LA is fighting over the water taken from Mammoth Creek. If LA looked away and did nothing, then under Western Water Law LA would have abandoned it’s water rights on the creek and the rights would belong to the current user. LA won’t let that happen. LA is looking after number one (which is what you expect your local leaders to do, is that a surprise?). No one is egging them on to take Owens Valley water. Some of the other agencies would swoop on the Owens Valley if LA didn’t take all the water they were legally allowed (abandonment) and maybe a little more.

        If people in the Owens Valley do not like the conduct of the City of LA, the place to make the case is in LA. You can have the world’s best reportage up here and it would not matter because nobody in LA is reading this discussion. You have to get your case in front of the people of LA and you have to be willing to publicly and loudly contradict their officials. They cannot stand there and lie unless people up here are too lazy to go down there and call them on their lies.

        • Philip Anaya April 18, 2013 at 10:45 pm #

          Sometimes DT you seem to touch nearly all the bases with your Home Runs. There absolutly needs to be a presence of Owens Valley concerns at each DWP Commission Meeting. I’m thinking though, there should be someone from the Owens Valley on that Commission .
          If you could follow Marty Adams last Tuesday and you can as of today on the internet. (look for April’s post in another story for the link) If you have a problem with anything he reported to the Commission about his presentation to the Supervisors that morning, any characterization that he gave regarding support in the Owens Valley for the DWP Owens Lake Project or any other important thing that he left out of his report like “Tim Schade addressed the Board and he said”, then you might exercise your skills ,your right and obligation to the truth you know bla bla bla about the place you call home and write an email to the Commissioners to the care of [email protected] with your concerns. The vast majority of people in LA only care about their bill and uninterupted service when it comes to the DWP. We in the Owens Valley have those concerns and more. When our wells and ditches go dry, when the vegetation is impacted and the dust blows ,when the snow pack is 54% of normal, a second year of drought ,then we all
          know that we are all in this together. We better keep an eye on the water.

          • Daris April 19, 2013 at 7:40 am #

            I tryed to get into the web site that April has posted and keep getting the message access denied. Would someone please post the address again as I may be doing something wrong. Thanks

          • Benett Kessler April 19, 2013 at 7:51 am #

            Go to the bottom of our story, “Are Owens Valley concerns really heard?” and click on the website link that is the last thing in the story. That takes you to the site of the Water and Power Commission meeting. Then click on item # 25.

          • Philip Anaya April 19, 2013 at 8:19 am #

            I just received an email from the LADWP Commission Secretary Barbara Moschos with corrected email address for the Commission . It is
            [email protected]
            She did say that if requested the letters would be given to each of the Commissioners. Sorry for the mistaken email address. Contact information to DWP Management and the Commission is not readily available as it could be. If there was a Communty Relations Division in the DWP to address issues of access to these public officials, maybe they could have a positive effect in other areas of the Department, dollars well invested and spent

      • Ex LA April 19, 2013 at 8:15 am #

        Speaking of LA electing a new mayor, look who DWP is backing.

        Department of Water and Power, which has provided more than $1 million to a separate campaign promoting Greuel. Although Greuel had $500,000 less on hand for her own campaign, the union provided $500,000 this week to the other Greuel committee.

        Greuel’s new money included $1,300 from Raman Raj, a former DWP executive who was closely aligned with the utility’s union; $1,300 from DWP board member Jonathan Parfrey; and $1,300 from homemaker Denise Modrzejewski, wife of DWP union lobbyist Chris Modrzejewski.

        DWP buying-off LA’s candidate for mayor. This came from the LA Times.

  13. Andrew Kirk April 17, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    Don’t forget that the GBAPCD will act to enforce California law, God bless them. LADWP may have a “plan”, but our State has laws.


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