Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Director of Water Operations Marty Adams appeared before the Inyo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to suggest – wait for it – a “win-win” proposal which would also conveniently reduce the amount of water the agency uses for dust control mitigation on the Owens Dry Lake.
Adams, who arrived at the meeting via helicopter, said the LADWP is willing to spend $600 million on dust control measures on the lake, with the ultimate goal of reducing water used for mitigation by half and capping LADWP’s environmental mitigation responsibility at 45 square miles.
Currently, about 20% of LADWP’s available water goes towards the Dry Lake each year. That amount of water, he said, is worth about $50 million.
“15% of the average resident’s water bill is related to the Owens Lake project,” said Adams.
Adams posited that while some habitat at the lake has been markedly enhanced with added water, other parts have not seen significant improvement. The idea, to quote Johnny Mercer, is to accentuate the positive and eliminate, or replace the negative with mitigation control that does not require water.
If it receives the go-ahead to “transition” watered mitigation areas, LADWP would want assurances that it would not receive financial penalties during the transitional period where dust could be exacerbated.
The proposal was met with a healthy dose of skepticism, particularly among those who had been participating on the Owens Lake Master Plan Committee.
Nancy Masters, a self-described Owens Valley Committee activist, suggested that the LADWP proposal was a not-so-subtle move to “leverage” ranchers and pit ranching interests against environmental interests.
“There’s no guarantee that less water for the dry lake means more water for the valley,” she said.
Bishop/L.A. resident Philip Ayala added, “They [DWP] are 100% concerned with water going on the lake which could otherwise flow down the aqueduct.”
Given the dry conditions of the past few years, however, the local ranching community is concerned that Owens Lake mitigation is taking water away from the valley.
Inyo-Mono Agriculture Commissioner Geroge Milovich said, “[We] don’t want to protect the nut and let the tree die … and the tree is the Owens Valley.”
Milovich claimed a 15,000 to 20,000-acre foot water loss to the valley over the past decade, and he is enthused that DWP wishes to move forward with its water-less mitigation plan.
“The County of Inyo needs to focus on the County of Inyo, and not just that lake,” he concluded.
Lone Pine Rancher Scott Kemp told the Inyo Board of Supervisors it needs to encourage the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District (GBUAPCD) to compromise with the LADWP regarding the natural occurrence of dust on the Dry Lake.
The GBUAPCD’s Ted Schade was not present at the meeting. When The Sheet reached him on Wednesday evening to ask why he hadn’t been there, Schade said, “I was neither invited nor notified, and I haven’t been checking the Board agendas so closely.”
Schade said he would have attended if he had known Adams was addressing the Board.
Schade continued, “What makes people think we’re [GBUAPCDmaking the DWP put water on the lakebed?”
As Schade said, the GBUAPCD reached the conclusion in the mid-’90s that gravel [rather than water] as dust control mitigation offered the cheapest long-term solution to the city of Los Angeles [though it requires significant up-front investment].
“They made that decision [to use water] because it was the cheapest decision at the time,” he said.
And to counter Milovich’s analogy, Schade offered another. “The Owens Valley is L.A.’s water factory, and the Owens Lake is its smokestack. We allow them to operate the factory, but they’ve got to clean up after themselves.”
And from Geisel’s desk
Mammoth Lakes Housing news …
MLH currently has two open seats on its Board of Directors. Potential nominees being considered for the seats include resident Jose Garcia, who lives in one of the MLH units, Mono County Superior Court Officer Hector Gonzalez and businessman Paul Rudder. Contact MLH if you’re interested in being considered for a seat on the Board.
Also, MLH Board member Rick Wood said Tuesday evening during the Board’s regular meeting that Mammoth Lakes Tourism will ask Town Council for a five-year contract, and Wood said he plans to support a similar deal for MLH. “You should know how much time you’ve got and have the funding in place,” Wood told MLH’s Jennifer Halferty.
Speaking of Halferty, who currently serves as MLH Deputy Director, the Board is also mulling offering her the Executive Director slot left open by the impending departure of Pam Hennarty, who is headed for a new job with Inyo County. According to Hennarty, the Board plans to offer Halferty the ED post, but is working out salary and other considerations. Recruitment for Halferty’s Deputy Director job is ongoing.
Whole Lava love …
And from Facebook, Sara Lavagnino, better known to Eastern Sierra music fans as one-half of the country duo the Lava Girls, will be one of the cast members of NBC’s new dating show concept, “Ready For Love,” which premieres April 9 from 9-11 p.m. The show’s premise, according to NBC, involves matchmaking professionals who help three single guys find true love!