Letter to the editor: Bending to DWP ultimatum

dustdrylakeThe ongoing effort to develop a Master Plan for Owens Lake is one of the most important, but least-reported, news stories in Inyo County. Unfortunately, negotiations are not going well. Several local environmental groups seem to have decided to accept whatever terms DWP dictates in order to get an agreement to protect bird habitat at the lake. As a result, the draft Master Plan released last year would protect birds and put more water down the aqueduct, but wouldn’t protect ranchers and the environment in the rest of the valley. Previous Inyo County leaders weren’t effective advocates for the entire valley against this unlikely DWP-environmental group alliance.

The Owens Lake Planning Committee met recently (Jan. 28) and I attended as an observer. At this meeting DWP distributed an ultimatum: a list of seven “objectives and components” that DWP “must have” in the Master Plan. The list includes at least a 47,500 acre feet/year increase in water exports to Los Angeles, new groundwater pumping, and a “Lawfully established limit of 45 square miles of dust controls that Los Angeles is responsible to construct and maintain.” This is a back door way of forcing Planning Committee members to accept DWP’s legal position in its outrageous lawsuit against Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District (GBUAPCD) and Ted Schade.

Given GBUAPCD’s effectiveness in protecting Owens Valley residents and their environment, one might have expected environmental groups and the county to reject this ultimatum outright. They didn’t. The Eastern  Sierra Audubon Society representative actually accepted the 45 square mile limit without hesitation, as did Supervisor Linda Arcularius (though she stated that she spoke for herself).

Former Agricultural Commissioner George Milovich took the ecologically informed position that the plan should consider the lake in the context of the entire valley, and that the rest of the valley shouldn’t be sacrificed for the lake. He cited ranchers being dried up by DWP to supply water to the lake, and he could have also cited over-pumped wellfields. Environmental groups maintained their alliance with DWP and ignored his comments.

The ES Audubon Society representative asserted that DWP’s ultimatum couldn’t be treated as an ultimatum even as he acquiesced to it. I suggest Inyo County do the opposite. Inyo should recognize DWP’s ultimatum as the ultimatum it clearly is, and reject it. This would effectively extricate the county from these counterproductive negotiations, which could possibly end current negotiations entirely. Let’s hope our new Board of Supervisors will have the backbone to do this (and not be unduly swayed by Supervisor Arcularius’s personal acquiescence to DWP).    When DWP’s lawsuit against GBUAPCD is concluded negotiations can start over under our new county leadership and, I hope, new leadership of environmental groups.

Daniel Pritchett Bishop, CA

, , , ,

16 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Trouble
Trouble
9 years ago

No sports stories even on Super Bowl Sunday?

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
9 years ago

I want to thank the Author and the Sierra Wave for the continuing education of the water issues of the Eastern Sierra. Not that I have my head in the sand, but I was unaware of the Owens Lake Master Plan process.The web site containing a library full of information… Read more »

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
9 years ago

I want to thank the Author and the Sierra Wave for the continuing education of the water issues of the Eastern Sierra. Not that I have my head in the sand, but I was unaware of the Owens Lake Master Plan process.The web site containing a library full of information… Read more »

Felipe
Felipe
9 years ago

re: #4 What environmental group is the author a leader of? He does not have to be a leader to share his opinion…SierraWave chose to publish it. Says right in the letter he “…attended as an observer”. The letter is his summary of what he observed…not a complete collection of… Read more »

Pat Rowbottom
Pat Rowbottom
9 years ago

“Groundwater, groundwater, groundwater.” Inyo County preserve it! THAT is what the best interest for Inyo County AND…LADWP for the long run…not for the short run of LADWP, Supervisor, Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District, environmental group personalities’ issues. It is OBVIOUS drought is the creeping enemy within the ecosystem.… Read more »

NewDay
NewDay
9 years ago
Reply to  Pat Rowbottom

Wow! That’s so simple! Why hasn’t anyone thought of that before now???

Mike Prather, Lone Pine
Mike Prather, Lone Pine
9 years ago

Response comments to Daniel Pritchett letter of Feb 2, 2013: 1.) “Several local environmental groups seem to have decided to accept whatever terms DWP dictates in order to get an agreement to protect bird habitat at the lake.” RESPONSE – Completely untrue and with not even an attempt at support… Read more »

BishopBeans
BishopBeans
9 years ago

“The chance to protect and enhance more than 20 square miles of historic shoreline and waterfowl habitat…” There are about 40 square miles of newly created habitat on the Owens Lakebed right now. How does it benefit the valley to reduce the habitat and applied water by half? What’s in… Read more »

Eileen Burger
Eileen Burger
9 years ago

I am curious. The article (written by Bennet Kessler or Daniel Pritchett, but I’m not sure which) mentions environmental groups (plural) several times, yet only one is named. There are a number of environmental groups in the Owens Valley besides the Eastern Sierra Audubon Society, and I am curious if… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
9 years ago
Reply to  Eileen Burger

Eileen, My name should not be on the letter submitted by Daniel Pritchett. I posted it.
Benett Kessler

MJA
MJA
9 years ago

DWP’s focus on the watering and dust control of the dry lake is only a planned diversion of our attentions whilst they dry up all the rest. =

Trouble
Trouble
9 years ago

I hope our new county supervisor reads your article. I know Jeff’s wife is a fine doctor and puts the peoples health first. I hope he puts our health and welfare first. Also, I would like to hear more about where this bird preserve is being proposed and what effect… Read more »

Big AL
Big AL
9 years ago
Reply to  Trouble

I think the way of life Trouble refers to is in reference to hunting opportunities. If we turn the lake into a bird sanctuary then people will not be able to hunt water foul there. Water foul populations have withered since DWP has diverted the water from the valley’s water… Read more »

Kristan Walden
Kristan Walden
9 years ago
Reply to  Big AL

Big Al, there was much more feed available to migratory birds, in years gone by. Along with the water disappearing, as you alluded to, you see very little migratory bird action. I even notice it in the smaller birds that used to frequent the trees and the grass on my… Read more »

Trouble
Trouble
9 years ago
Reply to  Big AL

Big Al, I don’t really like the idea of DWP getting more ground water for any reason. If the bird folks really create a new preserve that doesn’t take away more access to our back yard, all the power to them. But not in exchange for more pumping.

NewDay
NewDay
9 years ago
Reply to  Trouble

Hopefully, Jeff will appoint Daniel and/or Sally Manning to the water commission. That will give them a better opportunity to influence policy.