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 Comments
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Badfinger
Badfinger
8 years ago

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

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago

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
Benett Kessler
8 years ago

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

chris
chris
8 years ago

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
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  chris

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… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

The Mono Lake Committee does.
BK

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

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… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Because the Mono Lake Committee only deals with Mono Lake.
BK

John Barton
John Barton
8 years ago
Reply to  chris

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
chris
8 years ago
Reply to  John Barton

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.

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago

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… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago

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.… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

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

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago

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… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

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

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

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
Benett Kessler
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

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… Read more »

andrew
andrew
8 years ago

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.

Waxlips
Waxlips
8 years ago

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
Waxlips
8 years ago
Reply to  Waxlips

TypeO Presedent CAN stop it.

old mmth
old mmth
8 years ago
Reply to  Waxlips

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

enoughalready
enoughalready
8 years ago
Reply to  old mmth

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%.