Cattle in the Owens Valley are foraging for grass among the sage brush, waiting for precipitation to restore native grasses, build up snowpack in the mountains and start to alleviate the impact of back-to-back drought years. Photo by Deb Murphy
All eyes are turned to the skies or to the meteorologists for some indication that the past two years of drought conditions will change. With low precipitation records set in the Western states for the 2013 calendar year, the Eastern Sierra needs rain, snow and possibly the most important, snowpack, badly.
Water tables have dropped in some areas but not others. Rancher Mark Laceyâs well near Ft. Independence had been consistently between 40-50 feet since the 1960s. When he put in a new well, the water table was at 76 feet. But, Bishopâs Department of Public Works hit water at 11 feet during work on the Wye Road Improvement Project.
Locals point to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Powerâs well fields between Bishop and Independence, but according to Inyo County Water Department Director Bob Harrington, âthatâs not really the issue, itâs the lack of recharge.â In other words, DWP has always pumped; the difference with two back-to-back dry years is that the aquifers are not being recharged by snowpack runoff.
Read more in the Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014 edition of The Inyo Register.