The Owens Valley Groundwater Authority board will need a much smaller table to seat the six remaining members when it meets this afternoon in the Bishop City Council chambers. But, that number could change with the addition of organizations that have been eager for a place at the table.

Tri-Valley Groundwater Management District and Wheeler Crest Community Service District were the latest to drop out of the Authority. The districts won’t participate in the OVGA, but will still have to comply with the sustainability plan.

The exodus started when the dropped the groundwater basin to a low priority, an evaluation that does not require a Groundwater Sustainability Plan. Since the DWR provided grant funding to the Authority, the decision had been made to proceed with a plan that would be in place should the basin be re-prioritized in the future.

The structure of the OVGA was established three years ago, allowing for the addition of tribes, mutual water companies, associate and interested parties. The board grappled with those additions for much of the first year with resistance coming primarily from Mono County representatives and the City of Bishop. The Owens Valley Committee’s Mary Roper has been a regular at the Authority’s meetings, waiting for that decision.

The resistance is still there. Bishop’s rep, Chris Costello, told the Council at Monday’s meeting “the OVC has another agenda. They would just muddy the waters. They think the OVGA can impact the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s pumping.”

The City Council opted to not provide additional funding to compensate for the loss of members.

LADWP’s portion of the basin is treated as an adjudicated area, not impacted by the final plan.

Mono County’s rep, Supervisor Fred Stump, told his Board there is no collaboration between the two counties on the Authority. “The OVGA was developed by Inyo County, it’s messy. We (Mono County) are protecting our agricultural activity in the Tri-Valley.”

Stump pushed to allow him to buy the voting power of the two Mono entities that have left, Tri-Valley and Wheeler Crest. The final Board decision: Mono County would authorize Stump to buy the voting power of one.

Inyo’s Board of Supervisors had the same discussion, led by OVGA rep Dan Totheroh. The Board’s decision: the same as Mono’s, contribute additional funding and keep moving toward a sustainability plan to protect the groundwater basin.

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  1. Inyo Citizen March 16, 2020 at 11:36 am #

    So Mono is “protecting our agricultural activity in the Tri-Valley”? Is that what the groundwater law is intended to do? Is that what the OVGA should be doing? Does Mono have any concern over their domestic well owners in Chalfant? Or the ecology in Fish Slough?

    • Philip Anaya March 16, 2020 at 7:21 pm #

      As the only Agriculture Interest on the OVGA it was sad to see Tri Valley leave the OVGA Board. With the creation of singular State creation of singular State funded grant GSP, Tri Valley would have had the ability to create their own Management Area with it’s own mini sustainability plan. It’s adoption by the rest of the OVGA Board, very much assured, would then empower the Tri Valley management area plan to be accepted the DWR
      The makeup of the OVGA Board was in part required by SGMA. The members were GSA eligible and were mostly made up of entities who are Community Service Districts . During the formative period of the OVGA the GSA eligible entities decided to join together through a Joint Powers of Agreement and create a singular GSA and author a singular GSP to submit to the DWR
      As far as the inclusion of Associate and Interested Parties the JPA has an entire section (#5) for their inclusion. All of the OVGA entities have read ,agreed and signed the JPA so any reluctance to include the parties has been a struggle and it is appreciated by many in attendance at the meeting that it had finally occurred. Unfortunately Bishop did not support the inclusion of the Owens Valley Committee.
      Bishop’s Chris Costello, told the Council at Monday’s meeting “the OVC has another agenda. They would just muddy the waters. They think the OVGA can impact the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s pumping.” Actually there is the other opinion that each member of the OVGA has Basin wide responsibilities to create a Basin Wide GSP . A significant hurdle to the Groundwater Sustainability Plan will be the management of common aquifers across the boundary of the Adjudicated (DWP) portion of the Basin and the Non Adjudicated Portion that is the OVGA domain.
      Tony Morgan, the OVGA Consultant gave a report during this meeting outlining the process of establishing the criteria for sustainability . Some of these logical steps are in the current LTWA that Inyo County and DWP utilize to regulate DWP management and operations in the adjudicated portion of the Basin.
      What if from that presentation comes an idea from an individual in the room that maybe DWP and Inyo County might voluntarily create a Groundwater Sustainability Plan for the adjudicated portion of the Basin and that idea is presented to the County and DWP and that idea leads to a GSP and even better a coordinated cooperative plan to manage the Adjudicated Non-Adjudicate boundary and that work leads to a sustainable Basin into the future . Well that idea isn’t going to happen without everyone’s concerns addressed .
      Mr. Costello just might be missing out on this idea and more if he can not find a way to work with the OVC and every other constituent who has environmental concerns and we will miss out what Mr. Costello might have to contribute if he cannot fully open his heart and mind to Payahuunadu.


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