Inyo County signed off on a new draft pumping plan by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power that addresses concerns local officials had about potential over-pumping.
The LADWP released a draft pumping plan this spring that called for pumping levels in the Independence Blackrock area that the Board of Supervisors and Inyo County Water Department said were unacceptable.
In response, the LADWP presented a new, modified draft pumping plan that would reduce activity in the Independence Blackrock well field, but increase pumping at the Laws and Independence Oak well fields.
The revised draft operations plan says the department will pump no more than 7,540 acre-feet from the Independence Oak well field and 32,146 acre-feet from the Laws well field.
The total the LADWP proposes to pump is the same as in the original pumping plan, with the increases making up for the reductions at Blackrock the county requested.
“This arises out of concerns the county raised in June, and essentially addresses the issues that were raised,” Inyo County Water Director Bob Harrington said. “Those issues have been addressed, but that’s not to say the increased pumping, particularly at Laws, does not raise other issues.”
The county was concerned that the LADWP’s proposed pumping in the Blackrock well field would lower the water table there to a level that would harm native vegetation.
At Laws, Harrington said there has already been signs that vegetation is being impacted by pumping, and taking more water from the area would further damage native foliage.
Part of the problem the county has encountered with the revised pumping plan is that there is nothing in the Inyo County-Los Angeles Long-Term Water Agreement that lays out guidelines for commenting on or re-tooling a revised pumping plan.
Before the county can comment on the revised pumping plan, it needs the Water Department to analyze potential impacts to the Laws and Independence Oak well fields. And time is an issue. All comments on the revised plan must be made by Monday, Oct. 17.
County Counsel Randy Keller said it is important for the Water Department to complete its study on the pumping increases so the county can comment on the revised draft plan.
Keller pointed out that the revised pumping plan is only a draft at this point, and can be changed. If the county does not provide comments and recommendations on the plan, the LADWP could make changes to the plan and approve it without county input.
The board directed Harrington to supply comments to the LADWP on the draft plan as soon as the Water Department completes a study on potential impacts from the LADWP’s new pumping proposal.