Arbitration panel rejects DWP claims

blackrockSince before the Long-Term Water Agreement was signed in 1991, vegetation has died in what’s called Blackrock 94.  Inyo County has tried to get the Department of Water and Power to deal with that damage done over more than 300 acres in the Blackrock area north of Independence. There, meadows are now gone and weeds have infested the partially barren area. Inyo County went to official dispute with DWP over this issue, and now an arbitration panel has rejected some of DWP’s claims and determined that “a measurable change and decrease in vegetation in the affected area has occurred.” The panel will move on to decide if DWP pumps did the damage.

In late October, the three-member panel unanimously issued a 14-page decision that rejected LADWP’s claim that the panel itself had no jurisdiction to hear the dispute. DWP had claimed Inyo County failed to follow proper procedures. The arbitration panel rejected that claim. They also rejected DWP’s contention that the Water Agreement baseline vegetation conditions are not required to be maintained and that impacts had already been mitigated.

According to a fact sheet on this issue, the panel also found that DWP had failed to engage in the dispute resolution process as required by the Water Agreement and had failed to introduce evidence to challenge the County’s claim that the impacts at Blackrock are significant and caused by DWP activities.

The arbitration decision requires LADWP to submit a report by December 18th that addresses whether DWP pumps did significant damage to vegetation. The County will have until February 14, 2014 to respond. A decision will follow. After that, either party could take the issue to Superior Court. If the Blackrock case does not go to court, the arbitration decision is binding.

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Mongo The Idiot
Mongo The Idiot
8 years ago

How can anyone who is benefiting from any form of exploitation be expected to tell the truth?

Mongo The Idiot
Mongo The Idiot
8 years ago

If solar panels are going to obliterate large parcels of land in OV, why does it matter that Black Rock (or any) vegetation is dead? If half the valley people want DWP to do whatever they want for jobs and the other half want DWP controlled to save the environment,… Read more »

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago

Hey Mongo, We are not going let the Owens Valley be obliterated either by Industrial Scale Solar Development or excessive pumping of the Valley Floor. No one in the Valley clearly understands all of the Issues of Renewable Power Generation or the impact from excessive water mining ,pumping and export,… Read more »

Mongo The Idiot
Mongo The Idiot
8 years ago
Reply to  Philip Anaya

Mr Phillip, I spoke to a DWP employee who told me he had to take a job in Independence as an entry level position because there were no positions in LA. Were they joshing me? I met another DWPer who owns a home in CC Nevada and claims to live… Read more »

Ben Holgate
Ben Holgate
8 years ago

One thing my dad taught me was to not start a fight unless necessary and once embroiled finish it. I fully intend to.

Dear anonymous Internet poster: I can’t see you but I can smell your quivering lower lip.

Daris
Daris
8 years ago

This descision is based on claims in the Blackrock 94 area so my question is does this pretain to the rest of Inyo County? The long term water agreement said vegetation will be maintain as it was in 1981-82. What happen to the rest of the valley or does the… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago
Reply to  Daris

Daris, I believe the County has to dispute each incident or make it clear which areas they are disputing.
BK

Bob Harrington
Bob Harrington
8 years ago
Reply to  Daris

Daris, if LADWP’s groundwater pumping or changes in surface water management have a significant impact, the Water Agreement requires that the impact be mitigated. To determine if a significant impact has occurred, the Technical Group has to determine that the impact is measurable, attributable to LADWP’s water management, and significant.… Read more »

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago
Reply to  Bob Harrington

Mr. Harrington , Although there are folks in the Valley who do not always agree with what the direction ,decisions and the timelines of what the Inyo County Water has been doing, no one can dispute the openess and availability to that process in your Department. For instance things can… Read more »

MJA
MJA
8 years ago

I thought this idea is worth repeating: A ground water pumping plan based on a minimum ground water depth, a water depth that sustains or maintains the Owens Valley, is the only water agreement that will work, Much like Mono Lake and its agreement, a minimum ground water level must… Read more »

Try again
Try again
8 years ago
Reply to  MJA

Hate to break it to you, Harry, but this dispute was started a long time ago. 3 of the supervisors that initiated it are gone as of December of last year. The new guys will take the credit, though!

Ben Holgate
Ben Holgate
8 years ago

I hope the people who have been repeating the (incorrect) claim that Inyo is not allowed to sue under the LTWA are appropriately chaste. Hey, look what happens whens we work to elect responsive and responsible County Supervisors! Look what happens when they support our Water Department staff to base… Read more »

Michael Prather
Michael Prather
8 years ago

For a summary of the decision and the decision itself go to:

http://www.inyowater.org/mitigation

This decision is good news for Inyo County. More work to do, but good detailed interpretation of the Long-term Water Agreement that supports Inyo’s legal arguments.

Bob Harrington
Bob Harrington
8 years ago

Make that:

http://www.inyowater.org/projects/mitigation/

There is a narrative near the bottom of the page with links to the Water Department’s analysis of conditions in area in question, the arbitration panel’s findings and partial decision, and a summary fact sheet.

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago

This is milepost decision for the Longterm Water Agreement and the Owens Valley is wonderful news . Although it’s been a longtime coming the persistence, dedication and commitment to uphold the Water Agreement by the Inyo Board of Supervisors, the Water Dept, the County Counsel, Individuals and the Owens Valley… Read more »