Even the LA Times has taken an interest in the lawsuits between the Mammoth Community Water District and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, dubbing the disagreement a “water war” in an article that ran on June 29; a term those that know the history between the water goliath and the Eastern Sierra don’t take lightly.
In the article, MCWD General Manager Greg Norby quoted as saying that fort a county with a 12.1% unemployment rate and a city [Mammoth] whose bad economy and debts have it on the verge of bankruptcy, the DWP lawsuits could be the last straw. Since the article ran, the Town of Mammoth Lakes has indeed approved filing a petition for bankruptcy.
“It would bring a huge return on their investment in attorneys’ fees,” Norby said in the article. “Mammoth Lakes would cease to exist.”
Norby told The Sheet that his organization has been reaching out to California Senate and Assembly members for support and has been successful thus far. State Senator Alex Padilla has already issued a letter to LA officials opposing the lawsuits as the means to resolve LA’s concerns with MCWD’s water rights.
In the letter, Padilla stated, “Rather than act in a hostile manner towards Mammoth Lakes, we should seek to partner with this popular, picturesque and tightknit mountain community to develop mutually beneficial solutions. Instead, with these lawsuits, you are opening old wounds in the Owens River Valley and risk exacerbating the historic distrust of the City of Los Angeles and LADWP well beyond the Eastern Sierra.”
Letters continue to go back and forth between the two agencies as well, with the most recent coming from MCWD Board of Directors President Tom Smith to LADWP General Manager Ron Nichols (click here to read the letter).
In the last six months, LADWP has filed two lawsuits against MCWD. The first lawsuit is to determine the adequacy of MCWD’s EIR.
The second seeks to invalidate the District’s 2010 Urban Water Management Plan, a standard planning document required by the state. Both lawsuits are based upon the underlying issue that LADWP does not believe MCWD has legal rights to surface water for Mammoth Creek.
The next step, according to Norby, will be for MCWD to certify and file the administrative records in both cases on or before July 16.