May 16, 2022 – CORRECTION BY AUTHOR: The approval vote was only for the water cut back to the ranch leases. No other vote was taken at the meeting regarding the plan.
The Inyo County/Los Angeles Standing Committee unanimously approved the Department of Water and Power’s 2022-23 operations/pumping plan which included a proposed increase in
groundwater pumping and water cut-backs to ranch leases at its Thursday meeting. Considering a heated run-up to the meeting from locals, the action was less of a bang and more of a whimper.
To continue with clichés, Inyo was between a rock and a hard place. The basis for approval was “reasonable cut-backs.” In the face of continued drought and anticipated run-off at record- breaking lows, reasonable cut-backs to irrigation were considered appropriate. Irrigation allotments were cut from five acre-feet to four with dire warnings that stream-fed irrigation systems would deliver less water this year. No cut-backs were considered to the three-acre-feet allowance for alfalfa fields.
The issue during public comment was LADWP’s proposed pumping from 67,210 to 86,300 a-f.
Inyo County’s Water Department came back with a recommendation of 59,540 a-f for in-valley
uses only based on dismal run-off predictions and the impact to groundwater levels.
Generally, area cattlemen cut back on their herd size in relationship to capacity on their grazing
leases, both in the valley and from federal agencies.
At its regular Tuesday meeting, the Inyo Board’s stance was a cut-back to irrigation could be
considered if Los Angeles restricted water use, specifically lawn watering. That same day,
Mayor Eric Garcetti did just that, adding two-day a week watering restriction to a long list of
other water-saving measures.