Due to the high runoff conditions prevailing in the Eastern Sierra, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is currently releasing over 200 cubic feet per second of water into the Lower Owens River from the Los Angeles Aqueduct Intake. These high flows have created conditions that result in fish mortality in the river south of the Aqueduct Intake.
According to the Inyo County Water Department, above-average flows elevate the amount of organic material in the water column, which reduces the amount of dissolved oxygen. This problem is exacerbated by high temperatures, which the Eastern Sierra has been experiencing.
“County staff has been monitoring conditions on the river, and we are observing low levels of dissolved oxygen in the river, as well as a distinctive hydrogen sulfide (“rotten egg”) odor, which is indicative of anaerobic (no oxygen) conditions,” Water Director Dr. Bob Harrington said. “Fish stress and fish mortality has been observed and is likely to worsen as high flows continue.”
With high flows persisting in the Lower Owens River and other Eastern Sierra waterways, the public is advised to take these precautions when near the Lower Owens River:
Avoid the River if strong hydrogen sulfide odors are noticeable.
High flows in the River will contribute to off-channel standing water – ideal mosquito breeding habitat – and the public is advised to use insect repellant and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and avoid the river in the early-morning and at dusk when mosquitos are most active.
Do not swim or float in the Owens River. Even though the Lower Owens River appears slow and calm, there are debris blockages such as downed trees and roots hidden below the surface that can entrap anyone in the River. Choose flat water instead such as Diaz Lake, Klondike Lake or Millpond.
High runoff conditions require maintenance crews to constantly monitor and repair roads and water management infrastructure. Be on the lookout for truck and heavy equipment traffic on Owens Valley backroads. Avoid low-lying routes where road beds may be saturated and soft or dangerously eroded.
More information on Owens River flow rates can be found at www.ladwp.com, and additional water safety tips are available at http://www.inyosheriff.org/preparedness-updates/.
Runoff from the historic snowpack in the Sierra has closed several Inyo County roads. Residents and visitors are reminded that some roads are equipped with gates that physically block vehicle access; other roads rely on signage to inform the public. A road closure is meant to block all vehicular traffic; this includes motorized vehicles (ATVs,
Emergency response personnel are often asked: Can I walk, ride a bike, or ski past a road closure?
If there is road construction or a road clearing operation there may be an additional sign posted stating “No Pedestrian Traffic”; If you see this sign you may not enter on foot, skis, or bicycle. If you do not see this sign you may walk, ski, or ride a bicycle at your own risk.
What could happen if I ignore a road closure?
Ignoring a posted sign is an infraction and you may be cited under CA Vehicle Code 21461(a).
CURRENT ROAD CLOSURES: These are subject to change
• Lower Rock Creek Road, from Pine Creek to Birchim Lane, CLOSED due to flooding. Alternate route for the community of 40 Acres is via Gorge Road. Date closed: 6/20/17
• Pine Creek Road, west of Rovana, CLOSED due to potential for flooding. Date closed: 6/20/17
• North Round Valley Road, north of Pine Creek Road, CLOSED due to flooding (bridge damage). Date closed: 6/20/17
• Newman Street, about 1 mile north of Stewart Ranch Road near Big Pine. CLOSED due to potential for flooding. Date closed: 6/20/17
• Tinemaha Road (dirt road), from Fuller Road to Taboose Creek Road, CLOSED due to flooding. Date closed 6/20/17
• Goodale Creek Road , from Aberdeen Resort to the Goodale Creek Campground, CLOSED due to flooding. Date closed: 6/21/17
• Onion Valley Road, above Seven Pines, CLOSED – due to potential for flooding. Date closed: 6/20/17
• Seven Pines cabin community, west of Independence, road CLOSED due to runoff crossing the bridge. Date closed: 6/20/17
• North Lake Road, CLOSED due to runoff related road damage. Date closed: 6/17/17
• Brockman Lane, between 395 and Dixon Lane, CLOSED due to flooding (runoff crossing road). Date closed 6/2/17
• FLOODED / USE CAUTION: South Round Valley Road is flooded – not currently closed – anyone requiring access
to this area is advised to use extreme caution.