By City News Service
Plans by the City of Los Angeles to sink new wells to extract more water from the Eastern Sierra are being opposed by officials in Inyo County, it was reported Sunday.
The city plans to augment its water supply by removing 1,100 acre feet of groundwater a year from the desert valley south of the now-dry Owens Lake, about 120 miles north of the Civic Center. The Department of Water and Power has issued an initial environmental assessment that contends there would be no negative impact, a preliminary step to avoiding a full environmental impact report on the plan.
That has raised objections from the Inyo County government in Independence, a former farm town that lost its irrigation supplies 100 years ago when Los Angeles bought them.
Bishop television station KSRW reported that the Inyo Water Director, Bob Harrington, contends that the diversion project would violate California environmental laws. Harrington said the pumping "would have a substantial impact" on the desert environment near Olancha and Little Lake, not the "negative impact" as concluded by DWP.
DWP's pumps would be about one mile north of a geothermal energy project at Coso Wells, and would connect to the twin Los Angeles Aqueducts via a pipeline, KSRW-TV reported.
The county water director urged the Inyo County Board of Supervisors to challenge the DWP assessment, which he said "should be withdrawn and a new CEQA analysis prepared." Harrington said the DWP pumping plan violates a master water agreement between L.A. and Eastern Sierra governments.
The spat comes as Los Angeles is readying celebrations for the 100th Anniversary of the completion of the first L.A. Aqueduct, which diverts water from as far north as Yosemite into two canals that feed the city with nearly all its drinking water.
Los Angeles has recently offered to settle its lawsuit against the Town of Mammoth Lakes over its water, which comes from a creek that is claimed by L.A. as its water. The city has also just reached an agreement to begin restoring Mono Lake, where earlier agreements to end water diversions have failed to sufficiently divert creek water from the L.A. system to the desert lake.