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 dwr logodropped 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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