LA exacts more water and fails to honor agreement

DWP has its own plan.

DWP has its own plan. (Photos by Russ Monroe)

To cover Department of Water and Power and Inyo County meetings is painful. LA takes on the role of Colonial overlord and Inyo usually asks for crumbs in one way or another.

Inyo officials stand up for original farm project promise.

Inyo officials stand up for original farm project promise.asks for crumbs in one way or another.

This time, at the Inyo-LA Standing Committee meeting on Friday in Independence, Inyo officials did stand up against DWP’s years-long broken promises, but not before City Councilman Tom LaBonge bragged about LA’s creation of a wetlands in the center of Los Angeles, likely using Owens Valley water. This comment was like a slap in the face to a County where DWP has mercilessly dried up all the wetlands and left them dry. LaBonge, oblivious to the truth, went on to tell how the City transformed its center as a wetland and taught young people. Then, on to a project for Inyo’s young people that DWP promised more than 20 years ago and never made it happen.

Instead of responding to Inyo officials’ wishes, DWP Water Manager Marty Adams launched into LA’s preemptive strike with a plan to jerry rig the Lone Pine School farm project and squeeze more water out of Inyo in the process. Instead of finally turning on the tap for 30 acre feet of water for the school like DWP promised, they wanted to move the whole project – fences, water distribution system and all over to lessee Tom Noland’s acres and use water there while at the same time installing bubblers in the Independence tree lot to reduce water there – a kind of unholy balancing of water droplets.

Brenda Lacey asks LA to keep promise.

Brenda Lacey asks LA to keep promise.

Brenda Lacey, agricultural instructor at the school, argued that the more permanent, easier, and less expensive plan to just turn water on to the existing farm was far better and more permanent than the expense of moving everything over next door to Tom Noland’s lease. Adams said, “We have to be smart about water.” He made it clear less water for the tree lot was a requirement to give water to the school. This scheme surfaced in the Friday meeting after 25 years of promises to the contrary.

The quid pro quo is worse than that. Water Director Bob Harrington reminded DWP that they came to Inyo and asked for a reduction in water for the McNally ponds and Van Norman mitigation measures. Inyo had agreed but only on the condition of extra water elsewhere, including the water for the school farm. DWP conveniently forgot about that agreement.

CAO Kevin Carunchio

CAO Kevin Carunchio

County Administrator Kevin Carunchio reminded them about the deal and the fact that the County had forged ahead with an environmental document on the farm project only to be derailed when LA decided they wanted to do the environmental review. Trouble is they never did it.

Carunchio said it was nice DWP and their lessee came up with a short-term plan even though everyone was calling for the promised, long-term solution. He said DWP saved quite a bit of water from the reduction at the McNally ponds. Carunchio said, “We had an agreement a year ago and it was not done. This is a matter of faith and trust.”

Supervisor Linda Arcularius followed that up with a motion that LA give the farm its water and finish their environmental document in time

Supervisor Linda Arcularius stood up for the Lone Pine school farm.

Supervisor Linda Arcularius stood up for the Lone Pine school farm.

for the growing season. She said, “This was intended over 20 years ago.”

LA officials wanted to caucus. They came back and voted no on the Arcularius motion. Inyo voted yes. With the dysfunctional Standing Committee rules, that was the end of that. Then LA swooped in to push their own short-term and more expensive plan to move the farm onto the adjoining lease and then move it back later after taking water away from Independence. It left people feeling uneasy.

Agriculture instructor Lacey said to DWP, “Just give us the water. It’s ludicrous to move and re-fence everything.” Several people, including Linda Arcularius, Bob Harrington, Scott Kemp, Brenda Lacey, Daris Moxley, Greg James and Kevin Carunchio, tried to reason with DWP, who would have none of it.

Supervisor Rick Pucci maintained original farm project agreement.

Supervisor Rick Pucci maintained original farm project agreement.

Nancy Masters of Independence pointed out that the Long Term Water Agreement promised 5 acre feet of water for the tree lot. Now, DWP wanted to take part of it away. We need that water, she said, for our environment. Masters pointed to all the mitigation measures never done by DWP and the water they owe Inyo. Said Masters, “Does Inyo owe DWP 30 acre feet for the farm project? No.”

DWP’s Marty Adams leaned on an old excuse when he said, “LA has no right to give away our water rights.” Councilman LaBonge escalated the word games when he went back 100 years and said the President agreed to give them the water. He didn’t seem to know that the Long Term Water Agreement gave some of it back. Linda Arcularius made it clear that they could complete the project as a public benefit not as a gift of water. She said, “Leave this malarkey somewhere else.”

Then two of the LA officials announced their helicopter was waiting to take them back and they had to go. Supervisor Rick Pucci said, “I’m a little upset. We didn’t know the meeting was going to end. As a courtesy, you should have told me.” Pucci continued the meeting anyway. Brenda Lacey finally gave in to DWP’s only offer of a plan for the school. And, so, LA had its way one more time.

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22 Responses to LA exacts more water and fails to honor agreement

  1. Badfinger February 12, 2014 at 9:07 am #

    The odd thing is that the INYO County – Owens Valley Economy cannot survive without LADWP, unfortunately is a necessary evil 🙂

  2. Desert Tortoise February 11, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

    The water in the LA River that the LA Mayor brags will become a wetland is primarily treated sewage from the Tillman Treatment Plant in Sepulveda Basin. A very small proportion is street run off.

    • Benett Kessler February 11, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

      That’s a different project from the one touted by City Councilman LaBonge. Also, I spoke with the City of LA River project and they said some Owens Valley water would be used in the river project. They did not know how much.
      Benett Kessler

  3. chris February 10, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

    Take the issue to court! Take each and every mitigation point upon which DWP has stalled, balked, made a u–turn, or ignored, to court. If Mayor Garcetti is asking for the truth, this is it!

    • Ken Warner February 11, 2014 at 10:35 am #

      That’s absolutely the right thing to do, Except, who’s going to pay for it? Lawyers and trials take big money. LADWP knows that. That’s why they keep flipping the bird at Inyo and Mono counties. LADWP know Inyo and Mono don’t have the money for legal action of the kind that would really nail LADWP to the wall.

      • Benett Kessler February 11, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

        The Mono Lake Committee does.

        • Ken Warner February 11, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

          How many millions of dollars does the MLC have for law suits? Where do they get that kind of money? Which law firm have they retained for litigation? Why haven’t they entered into ongoing litigation about the undone mitigation and the depletion of the Bishop Cone or the lack of progress on the Owens Lake restoration?

          Can you be more informative than, “The Mono Lake Committee does.”?

          • Benett Kessler February 11, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

            Because the Mono Lake Committee only deals with Mono Lake.

    • John Barton February 11, 2014 at 11:51 am #

      Chris- Since Inyo County has failed to take many issues involving DWP’s failure to comply with the Long Term Water Agreement to court, it has been left to organizations like the Owens Valley Committee to get things done. Please make a donation to them because litigation is not free!

      • chris February 11, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

        John Barton – have been and will continue to do so. Although it’s late to be taking action, better now than procrastinate. Was pleased to see at least one Supe speak up in support of the citizens and cause.

  4. Philip Anaya February 10, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    The inexplicable decision made by this current top management of the Department of Water and Power to not provide resource, what was last agreed to last year at a Tech Group meeting to the FFA Farm in Lone Pine is worse than disturbing.

    At the same time Mayor Garcetti is asking folks to sign up for “Reform the DWP ,Support the new DWP Manager Marcie Edwards”, James McDaniel, current interim General Manager of the DWP and the probable future head of the Water Division, after Ms.Edward’s confirmation, being at this meeting having the power to direct his Operations to provide what DWP had already agreed to, instead, participated and probably directed in some folk’s opinion, the attempted coercion, extortion of Inyo County and the Long Term Water Agreement.

    Well our Supes didn’t blink, didn’t cave and thanks to Tom Noland and the tireless efforts of Ms. Lacey, the response of Inyo County and a united community there is hope for the FAA farm to have some temporary solution for this years activities.

    So where do we go from here? We have the process of the Long Term Water Agreement , We have the Courts, We have a limited political clout maybe none at all. We have a common and renewed consciousness of a malady on our doorsteps that exists, effects and threatens all living things everywhere we look. The 3rd year drought is not that malady. The scourge is the mindless, heartless Operations and Management of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Time to find some solutions, time to find and direct some resources, time to support our Inyo County Supervisors. Time to shine the light of truth and gather resolve for a continued and persistent demand for justice, for 30 AF and for our future and for the Future Farmers of America program in Lone Pine.

  5. Ken Warner February 10, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    The history of the rape of the Owens Valley is more complicated than, “…the President did it…” And now, with so much of the Owens Valley land and water legally owned by LADWP, it would be a major problem for Congress and/or the President to seize that land and water. The Right Wingnuts would get apoplectic. Fox News would melt TV’s all over the World. I don’t know how the “Right Thing” could be done.

    Here’s a pretty good summary:

    • Desert Tortoise February 12, 2014 at 9:17 am #

      How would Congress have any legal input into what is purely an internal state matter?

      • Ken Warner February 12, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

        I don’t think either Congress or the President can affect change on LADWP. That’s the point I was trying to make. Whether or not the rights to Owens Valley water were acquired fairly or not, they have it and they will keep it. And the only way to get fair treatment for both Inyo and Mono Counties is through the courts and that isn’t being done.

        • Benett Kessler February 12, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

          Also, if the LA Times were willing to report on the whole truth, that would help.

          • Ken Warner February 12, 2014 at 6:41 pm #

            It would help us feel better. But most people in L.A. would just turn to the entertainment news.

            They haven’t cared for 100 years. Why would they care now? It’s not as if people in L.A. have a conscience. If they did, they wouldn’t have to be told.

          • Benett Kessler February 12, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

            I know what you mean about turning to entertainment news, but sometimes people do have to be made aware since they otherwise just want what many want – to live their lives, feed their families, find some enjoyment. There are likely those who do have a conscience but just don’t get the depth of patronizing, intimidation, disrespect, dishonesty, and terrible environmental damage that DWP engages in with the Eastern Sierra. BK

  6. andrew February 10, 2014 at 8:29 am #

    Sad situation, you should know by now DWP is dishonest, they want all the water in the Owens Valley, I do commend the Owens Valley for standing up for our rights, The less snowfall in the Sierras, the bigger the problem will get.

  7. Waxlips February 10, 2014 at 8:00 am #

    The president of United States started this, the president of United States can’t stop it. Maybe that’s where we need to go.

    • Waxlips February 10, 2014 at 8:03 am #

      TypeO Presedent CAN stop it.

    • old mmth February 10, 2014 at 9:56 am #

      good luck waxlips. the president of the united states hasent done a damn thing sense 2008.

      • enoughalready February 10, 2014 at 11:52 am #

        Gee old mmth – I wonder why? It is sure not for the lack of trying. Maybe, Mitt will run again and make everything better for everybody! I mean everybody that is in the 1%.


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