West Bishop wells run dry

wellrigReports are now out that a number of private wells in West Bishop neighborhoods have dried up. Residents, alarmed at these developments, are questioning why after 50 years, in some cases, are their wells suddenly dry?

At Tuesday’s Inyo Supervisors meeting, Water Director Bob Harrington told Board members, some of whom knew about the dry wells, what he knew of the situation. He said that one of the Department of Water and Power’s wells, number 407 in West Bishop, had been running longer than usual to supply stock water. Could that groundwater pump have drawn down the private wells? Harrington said he contacted DWP and plans developed to turn off the well to see if any groundwater recovery occurred in a nearby monitoring well, one thousand feet away.

Harrington said it appeared the well shut-off made no difference in the groundwater table. He concluded that a lack of water re-charge may have affected the water table and the wells, many of which only went down some 30 feet. Trouble is, the wells had never gone dry before. Why now?

Harrington and others have pointed to the fact that many water ditches and ponds in West Bishop had dried up this past summer. Now, wells are drying up. Maybe a lack of re-charge led to the problems.

One resident of Highland Dr. in West Bishop, Denise Morrill, said she had noticed four or five wells that have gone dry on her street and that well rigs have been visible in other areas around Barlow Lane. Morrill pointed out that wells were drilled in the 60s and now have problems. She wants to know what happened to the groundwater levels, and it’s an expensive fix – up to $20,000 for a new well.

Morrill, like other residents, wonders why this is happening. We have contacted DWP for a response to their part in the management of Bishop Creek drainage water this past summer.

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mongo the idiot
mongo the idiot
8 years ago

Mr. Yannotta , Isn’t it true that when you over pump ground water that the land settles and cant be recharged. Didn’t this happen in the San Joaquin? Here is a link with proof; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundwater-related_subsidence Why would you do this to The Owens? You are going to kill the ecosystem… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago

Agriculture uses about 80% of the developed fresh water in California. A 10% reduction in agricultural use would increase water to cities by 33%. The amount of water used to irrigate alfalfa for pet horses in California is equal to the amount of water used by municipal water districts state… Read more »

altostratus
altostratus
8 years ago

The current extreme dry spell in California is pretty incredible, and there are going to be some major water supply problems in the near future. Worse, prospects for meaningful rain/snow over the next couple of months are pretty slim. There’s a long discussion on the California Weather Blog at http://www.weatherwest.com… Read more »

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago
Reply to  altostratus

Thank you for the link . It’s now in my favorites list but it is not what anyone wants to read. I hope that nature does the unforseen uturn and that we have at the very least a normal average year of percipitation and snowpack . Meanwhile we should contribute… Read more »

Yaney LA MacIver
Yaney LA MacIver
8 years ago

And why is there no recharge? Shouldn’t LADWP take less from other sources to allow recharge? How is LA weaning itself from the Owens Valley?

Jim Yannotta
Jim Yannotta
8 years ago

The following information is being provided in response to the December 17, 2013 story that appeared in the Sierra Wave news, “West Bishop Wells Run Dry:” LADWP had been running one well, W407 in the West Bishop area to provide stock water to a number of its lessees on the… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago
Reply to  Jim Yannotta

Thank you, Mr. Yannotta. Does DWP have plans to deny variance requests from Edison as you did last summer, to be able to more carefully manage water levels in South Lake and Lake Sabrina and in water ditches and ponds below in West Bishop? Some believe the fact that DWP… Read more »

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago
Reply to  Jim Yannotta

Mr. Yannotta , The reason why private wells are having problems is that the water table is being depleted by extraction activities including the DWP and not being recharged this past uear with normal historic consistant flows through the ditch systems . Much of the water resource in Bishop Creek… Read more »

Waxlips
Waxlips
8 years ago
Reply to  Jim Yannotta

It takes longer than a few weeks to recharge an aquifer, but you knew that, right?

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  Waxlips

I’ve read but can’t prove that once an aquifer is depleted, the matrix that allows water to flow and circulate — the matrix collapses and the aquifer is permanently damaged and takes a long time — decades or centuries — of lots of water to reestablish the matrix. Put simply,… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

If true, then how do water banks manage to function? Hundreds of thousands of acre feet of water move in and out of water banks as a matter of course. There are several such operations in the San Joaquin Valley and at Willow Springs in operation, some for many years.… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago

Just guessing but don’t those water banks use the same pumps to put the water back as they used to take out the water? The thought about recharging the Owens Valley aquifer is to do it from the top down. Which I don’t think will work because the top of… Read more »

andy
andy
8 years ago

Most likely over pumping that area by Water and Power, could be the new norm.

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago

Emptied lakes, emptied ditches and of course the 2 year drought have wrought environmental and economic impacts that are not addressed in the management of the Bishop Creek Drainage Basin. In her Register story, http://www.inyoregister.com/print/4943 dated Aug 2, 2013, Deb Murphy describes the dynamics of that management. Edison who operates… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  Philip Anaya

The drought in the West is not going away. And it’s likely to get worse.

http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/RegionalDroughtMonitor.aspx?west