Rose Valley pumping disputed

Little Lake Ranch appealed Coso's pumping.

Little Lake Ranch appealed Coso’s pumping.

At the end of August, Inyo County Water Director Bob Harrington sent a letter to the manager of Coso Geothermal to say that the company could continue groundwater pumping in Rose Valley as part of the energy operations. Little Lake Ranch has appealed that decision, and Tuesday Harrington had planned a workshop with the Inyo Supervisors on the Rose Valley operations, but the item was pulled from the agenda.

In his letter to Coso, Bob Harrington had said that the Water Department’s consultant assessed the Rose Valley groundwater system with respect to groundwater pumping and Coso’s Conditional Use Permit. The consultant found that Coso pumped almost 1800 acre feet per year less than permitted. The consultant also implemented updated monitoring methods. The Water Department determined that fluctuations in the level of Little Lake were not caused by groundwater pumping. The Department approved Coso continuing to pump at the current rate of 3,040 acre feet per year.

Little Lake Ranch filed an appeal of approval of the continued pumping. The appeal focuses on plans of the Los Angeles Department of Water and power to sink a well in Rose Valley for purposes of pumping more water into the aqueduct. Little Lake says Inyo allowed Coso to keep pumping without considering the further impacts from a new DWP well. Little Lake’s attorney Gary Arnold also claims that underground water levels have already exceeded trigger levels in monitoring wells. Arnold says the Water Department failed to allow public comment on Coso’s continued pumping.

On a related note, the Inyo Supervisors objected to DWP’s new well in Rose Valley on grounds that it does not comply with the Water Agreement and has the potential to have a significant impact. At last word, DWP had not responded to the County’s letter.

The workshop on Coso’s pumping project was scheduled for 11am. In a late addendum, officials pulled this item from the agenda.

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18 Responses to Rose Valley pumping disputed

  1. andy September 18, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

    Water is becoming a major issue every where in Southern Inyo, I have heard that the water table has dropped 22ft in the last four months in and around olancha, most of the water in being used to irrigate the fields on the East of Olancha across from the Ranch House Cafe. Between the Crystal Geyser bottling plant and DWP we are being sucked dry.

    • Desert Tortoise September 19, 2013 at 8:08 am #

      You need to document that claim.

      • Benett Kessler September 19, 2013 at 8:10 am #

        Google it or call Inyo’s Assessor. I already have over the years and he maintains Coso is in Inyo.

      • Benett Kessler September 19, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

        I am informed of this: The Inyo County Assessor’s ‘s jurisdiction to assess property taxes on the Coso folks is/was discussed and confirmed in Coso Energy Developers, et al v. County of Inyo (2004) 122 Cal. App. 4th 1512, 19 Cal Rptr 3d 669.


  2. salblaster September 17, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

    I remember a few years back the geothermal company got so mad at Inyo co. assessers highballing the property value ( in their oppinion ) that they revoked their security pass to travel on navy property, and would’nt let them on the plant site. Seems silly when professionals act like children, ( well then you’re not coming over to my house to play anymore ). Guess there’s still a little bit of childish pride in all of us.

    • Desert Tortoise September 19, 2013 at 7:53 am #

      The geothermal operation is not on private property the county can tax. It is on US Navy property. The geothermal operation does not own that land. The county has no authority over that land and has no authority to tax any of it. The Navy aided the development of that geothermal field for the Navy’s power needs (and there is some talk of developing another geothermal resource in the southeastern part of their huge test range, over towards Ft. Irwin). Taxing that land is like the county trying to extract property taxes from the Navy. The Navy can tell Inyo County to take a hike. The geothermal plant ought to tell Inyo County to do the same. Inyo County is out of line on this matter.

      • Benett Kessler September 19, 2013 at 7:57 am #

        According to Inyo County officials and numerous sites on the internet, Coso Geothermal is located in Inyo County. The County has taxed
        them from the start and Coso has paid. The company sometimes disputes the valuation but not the fact that they owe Inyo their tax dollars.
        Benett Kessler

      • RandyK September 19, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

        A county cannot tax the federal government, but a county can tax a private entity’s property that is located on federal land. Unless the federal government has taken exclusive jurisdiction over land (as in most federal parks), which usually involves the consent of the state, the county has taxing jurisdiction on non-federal property on federal land. It also has law enforcement jurisdiction on federal land. It is true that a county cannot levy a property tax on the land itself, since the feds aren’t subject to state taxation, which is one reason why Inyo County has such a lack of resources.

        Coso actually sued Inyo County in the early oughts on a theory that the county lacked the ability to tax Coso’s plant. They lost big time.

  3. Desert Tortoise September 17, 2013 at 8:11 am #

    I know the Indian Wells Water District has been eyeing water in Rose Valley as well as two wells they have in the Owens Valley with no appropriative rights on a ranch they own. The aquifer in the Indian Wells Valley is badly over drawn so they are sniffing around for other water sources.

  4. Desert Tortoise September 17, 2013 at 8:09 am #

    Just curious how much tax revenue the Coso geothermal plant can actually generate for the county. It is located on Navy property at NAWC China Lake, so there would be no property tax revenues from it. Any tax revenues on the sale of electricity would go to the state or Federal governments exclusively.

    • Benett Kessler September 17, 2013 at 8:36 am #

      In 2010, Coso’s holdings located in Inyo County were valued at $713 million. The Assessor said they are supposed to pay 1% of assessed value. Frequently Coso appeals Inyo’s valuation.
      Benett Kessler

      • Desert Tortoise September 17, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

        The geothermal field and associated generating plants are on US Navy owned land. No county has the authority to charge property taxes on it. They can try, but legally they have no right to collect one cent. County and local government have no authority on Federal land. That plant is sponsored by the Navy and is supposed to help make the base less dependent on power from the grid.

        This little detail is a big bone of contention down in Ridgecrest where their buget is the smallest of any city of comparable size in the state, a situation generally attributed to the fact that the Navy has no obligation to pay any property taxes on the land they own (nor do they produce anything that generates sale tax revenues for the community). The Navy throws some money at the Sierra Sands Unified School Distrct for the extra children the uniformed members send to their schools and will send their fire department to help the county fire department if a fire is big enough, but otherwise does not aid the local community

        • Benett Kessler September 17, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

          The fact is Coso geothermal facilities are on Inyo County land. Inyo has been assessing and taxing them from the start.
          They appeal evaluations but pay the taxes.
          Benett Kessler

  5. JeremiahJoseph September 17, 2013 at 7:58 am #

    Thank You Benett for the platform to give my two cents…
    What the heck Inyo County!! Seriously? Okay let me further explain my frustration. This area is extremely culturally significant, a point was found (arrowhead) that dates all the way back to a time where they have reason to believe the bow and arrow may have been introduced in the north america’s here in this valley, I also have to mention how the Coso area is one of the most spiritual and culturally significant area’s on this planet!

    Come on Inyo County, didn’t they have monitoring well triggers out there that hit the level of exceedance to where the aquifers weren’t agreed to go beyond? Was that a “Just Kidding” level and we can take it down further?? Just because we can’t see the effect that is being done on a mass scale or because the plants and animals don’t speak a language we can understand and quite frankly some of us don’t want to listen what they have to say anyway..

    To leaders the of Inyo County,
    I understand the American culture is all about money and circled around money and always has been, at least consider the Indigenous culture that still holds relevance and ties to the current time. Why does it seem residents of Inyo don’t have a choice? why do does it seem we continue to submit over and over? and watch the land deteriorate slowly, we know the thirst for water isn’t going to recede anytime soon, and the tax dollars we get isn’t nearly what we would have in return if we controlled our land and resources! If your not willing to fight for our land and resources, why are you leader of a county where it’s beauty and ability to replenish life is at stake??

    • JeremiahJoseph September 18, 2013 at 9:07 am #

      I must add something to this,
      I intend in no way to take shots at any of our elected officials on the local level. I have been fortunate enough to meet with Matt K. and Mark T. on separate occasions, and the time we had I felt they are genuine about listening to ALL their constituents and taking what they say into account, which is music to my ears to hear a elected offical reach out and be receptive to their constituents.
      I just heard on the radio how Tim Alpers has a website to which he can connect with his constituents, I love that idea… My kind of leaders.. With all the problems we face today if we want to get out of this together, we need to be receptive to one-another and work towards the common goals that reach out to the majority..
      ..and we must get money out of politics on a national level..

  6. Cliff Hanger September 16, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

    Will be interesting if DWP prevails in pumping, putting existing wetlands and a established hunting club in jeopardy, as well as existing power plant that pays millions in taxes. All at the same time DWP wants to build a solar power plant. Pretty sweet for DWP if they get the water and the plant.

    Will the County make DWP give up the well in exchange for supporting solar plant? Will they fight both? Will they sell out Little Lake and let both DWP and Coso pump? Will DWP become partners with Coso to add to their renewable energy portfolio?

    Will Little Lake, stuck between a rock and two hard places, manage to keep DWP, Coso, and County at bay. That would be a story along the lines of David and Goliath. Go Little Lake!

    Stay tuned! Playing behind closed doors in your town soon.

  7. Big Rick OBrien September 16, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

    It’s not enough that the LADWP wants all the surface water in the Owens Valley…now they want what’s underground TOO ? UN-FREAKIN’-BELIEVABLE !

    • Benett Kessler September 16, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

      They’ve been pumping the underground all over the Owens Valley since the 70s and maybe earlier than that.


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