West Bishop once more dry

soforkbishopcrkLandscape season has mostly faded away, and the mood of homeowners in West Bishop has mostly faded too along with the water that flows down Bishop Creek from the upper lakes.

Empty ponds in front yards, as one man put it, are ugly and the state of water flow is depressing. Rocky Baker, board member of the Bishop Creek Water Association, said that practically everybody in the association has gone dry. Baker said it’s hard to get consistent flows to people when the strength of the flows is all over the place.

Baker said right now there is no immediate impact, and a lot of people are “resigned to the small amount of water available.” Baker said that right now the natural flow in Bishop Creek is 7 to 10 cubic feet per second, supplementing 10 to 12 cfs out of Lake Sabrina. That all adds up to 20 cfs at Plant 6. Baker said this is 15 to 20 cfs less than all had hoped for in terms of winter flows.

Baker described the situation as “frustrating”. He said when he and others ask people about the water, they are told, “This has never happened before.” Baker said it’s hard to get consistent flows to people when no one knows how much water will actually flow down.

Although some have engaged in finger-pointing, most realize it is the third year of drought with no real storage plan. Said Baker, “We’re trying to spread water the best we can.”

More is expected on the whole situation at a meeting of the Bishop Creek Water Association Board Tuesday November 4th at the Bishop High School Library at 7pm. Steve Stevens, President of the Water Board said that Debbie Hess and Dan Golden of Southern California Edison are expected to be available at the meeting.

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Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
6 years ago

Today October 30 ,2014: There is again no flow in any ditches in West Bishop. Also today there was the Technical Group Meeting of the LADWP and the Inyo County Water Department in Bishop. There is a public comment allowed at the beginning of every meeting,yes I did. “Runoff and Operations update” was item 2 . Did some data crunching and calculated that there was a total of 91,065,660 cubic feet of water release below Bishop Plant 6 in October 2014. That works out to 2,090 Acre Feet . For September a total of 121,824,000 cubic feet that being 2,796 Acre Feet . This is quite some water and most, at least 2/3 of the total amount from Bishop Creek below plant 6, (supported by the data in DWP’s own Daily Reports) flowed into the LA Aqueduct. It just seems that DWP could convey some of these Acre Feet through the West Bishop ditch system as it’s on it’s way to Los Angeles helping the water table which is charged and infiltrated by the ditch system. Domestic wells benefit or they die based on this recharge as we learned last year . Recharge of our Aquifer that would come from a more sustainable type of water management is now not occurring. The dry ditches mean that folks are irrigating from their wells, which adds to the problem and DWP’s W 407 and W 408 production wells which are currrently reported today to be in a “off status” also can effect the water table. Dr Bob Harrington of the Inyo water Department provided information in a graph “Depth to water from land surface” that being monitoring well T389 off Barlow Lane below Highland has dropped so far this year from a high level of 2 feet to 10 feet, a drop of 8 feet so far this year. As a contrast, last year when the domestic wells had been running dry on Highland and Sunset the water level at this monitoring well the level had been down to a low of 17.5 feet . Bob Harrington also stated that the Water Department will be monitoring and is concerned once again the West Bishop water issues .
What can be done? Everyone needs to keep the faith that we receive some percipitation, some snowpack because between the drought and the DWP we stand little hope that DWP will ever consider the Owens Valley, unless forced to do so by law or by a judgement of a litigated process, an extremely hard pill to swallow.

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
6 years ago

Gratified to see some flow today in some West Bishop ditches hopefully intended for stockwater . Daris is correct about the need to double check every day.

BC @plant 6 Flows Oct 23 36cfs, Oct22 32cfs, Oct 21 33cfs

6 years ago

Everyone one in the Owens Valley should be worried about water. If you think you have a water right check it out it may not be what you think it is. I have been having to check my stock water twice a day because ditches that have never been dry in the last 50 years or more are drying up. DWP is a big problem but so are the people who are at the head of a ditch and pump water from that ditch/pond to another area. Most water rights say that water can not be changed from the original ditch. Both DWP and private individuals are guilty of moving or blocking streams.

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
7 years ago

From the DWP website , the “LAA Northern District Daily Reports” in the “North Owens Section” is the data for [email protected] 6. That would be Bishop [email protected] 6

The Flows as follows:

Oct 20 32cfs Oct 19 33cfs Oct 18 30cfs Oct 17 28cfs Oct 16 31cfs

Oct 15 30cfs Oct 14 30cfs Oct 13 30cfs Oct 12 30cfs Oct 11 29cfs

Oct 10 31cfs Oct 9 31cfs Oct 8 39cfs Oct 7 47cfs Oct 6 40cfs

The rest of October was 42,39,45,48,49 cfs (cubic feet per second)
September Data was from a high of 51cfs to a low of 44 cfs, daily average 46.9cfs

On Oct 6 when I left Town, there were dry ditches but there was water in some of the ditches like South Indian Ditch that was conveying water to the Ranchers for their stockwater. Getting back toTown this past Sat Oct 18, there is no water in any ditch in West Bishop which means that the Ranchers are not getting their stockwater. There is more to this story than dry ditches in West Bishop. There is a huge problem currently occuring with Ranchers Leases and hate to think yet may well be that the required stockwater just might be, being withheld. Last year with flows from Plant 6 in the mid 20cfs range resulted in a minimal flow through West Bishop in some of these ditches but now these same ditches are dry . I am worried for the Ranchers and their animals. Is it possible, I am wondering. Is LADWP circumventing the Ranchers and flowing the current 30-32 cfs into canals into the Aqueduct for export to Los Angeles? The Bishop Creek Water Association can only spread the waters that DWP puts into the Ditch system . It doesn’t appear that the Ranchers and the BCWA are getting any water to work with .
Even with the knowledge and lessons acquired from last year’s changes in Bishop Creek management practices and efforts from many to request of DWP and SCE a moderation of the Chandler Decree flows, those efforts went almost totally unanswered. By the time the Chandler flows were finally reduced maybe the end of July , not certain of the date, the waters that could have been saved in Sabrina were already on there way to a thirsty Los Angeles. With historic management practices requested all this past year the ditches today could still have water , there would have been water for the Ranchers and DWP would still have the flow through for the Aqueduct . Why did they need to again take it early and now have little left. I know, I know ,this is the 3rd year of Drought but then this is also the 101st year of the DWP effect . Like I tell everyone. Yes there is this here 3rd year drought and little water, but in the Owens Valley there is also the DWP and they will be telling us at the November 4th BCWA meeting the same thing they told us last year . “There just isn’t any more water “.
So this is the first salvo ,the first notice, the first request to SCE, but mostly to the DWP for this next year, 2015. Please consider a plan that will allow the South and Sabrina Lakes to store whatever the snow pack will provide . Please consider a management plan that has a storage componet and maintains a balanced minimal flow in the ditches throughout the year. Work on that promised moderation of the Chandler Decree , DWP, and lets get the leases for the Ranchers in the Owens Valley signed and secured in conformance with the provisions of the Long Term Water Agreement . Figure out with Great Basin APCD how else to mitigate the Owens Dry Lake Dust, maybe you can save some water there . Stop being the Imperial Power and become a benefical partner and neighbor here in the Eastern Sierra . It’s a tough job but eventually someone in the DWP will get it done. “A New Century of Service” . Sure would like to see that logo some day on every DWP truck here in the Owens Valley