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County questions L.A.’s latest pumping plan

April 26, 2012

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power recently released its annual operations report, offering a look at approximately how much water it is planning to pump this runoff year. Photo courtesy

County leaders are concerned that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is not being specific enough about how much water it is planning to pump this run-off year.
Each year, the LADWP is required by the Inyo County -Los Angeles Long-Term Water Agreement to complete an annual operations plan and deliver it to the county by April 20 for review.
In this year’s installment, rather than providing specific pumping projections for each of its Owens Valley wellfields, the LADWP provided the county with a range that it may pump, including a minimum and maximum number.
For the 2012-13 runoff year, the LADWP is proposing to pump between 69,000 and 88,000 acre-feet of water.
Water Director Bob Harrington said the maximum projection of 88,000 acre-feet is a little high, but on par with previous years. Last year, the LADWP proposed pumping 91,000 acre-feet.
The format of providing a projection range rather than specific proposals “is a little different, and it does make it a little harder to respond,” Harrington said. “It’s hard to raise a dispute about a plan that is not specific about what it’s planning.”
In its proposal, the LADWP provides specific pumping numbers for wellfields in Laws (7,400 acre-feet), Bishop (12,000 acre-feet) and Lone Pine (800 acre-feet), while the other six wellfields, Big Pine (20,500-28,400 acre-feet), Taboose-Aberdeen (300-12,600 acre-feet), Thibaut-Sawmill (12,000-13,200 acre-feet), Independence-Oak Creek (7,200-9,800 acre-feet), Symmes-Shepherd Creek (1,200-7,000 acre-feet) and Bairs-Georges Creek (500-1,800 acre-feet), have the proposed range for potential pumping.
Harrington said that if the LADWP pumped the maximum it outlined for each wellfield, it would pump about 93,000 acre-feet of water, more than the maximum proposed in the plan.
“At first, I thought it was an arithmetic mistake,” Harrington said, adding that he has called representatives from the LADWP to find out why it decided to provide a pumping range rather than specific numbers, and whether the discrepancy in the numbers is a mistake or not. That phone call had not been returned as of Tuesday.
Harrington said the LADWP may have created the range without any solid plan as to how much water would be pumped from certain wells, and has a goal to pump no more than the specified 88,000 acre-feet of water.
“I suppose the DWP has the ability to project a certain amount and pump less,” he said. “The Water Agreement says the plan can be amended.”
“It seems like they shouldn’t exceed the 88,000,” Third District Supervisor Rick Pucci said.
Harrington said the Inyo County Water Department is preparing an analysis and response to the pumping plan based completely on the maximum projections proposed by the LADWP.
In the response, Harrington said it will be clear that the county does not approve of the range format in this year’s pumping plan, and would like to see specific numbers in the future so county leaders have a better idea of exactly what to expect for pumping levels throughout the summer.

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