The dirt is starting to fly on the Owens Dry Lake as construction starts on the next phase of dust control work on the massive lakebed.
Barnard Construction has been awarded a $208 million contract by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power for Phase 7a of the dust mitigation work on the lake. The company has been the primary contractor on the lake since the dust mitigation work began more than a decade ago.
The latest phase of the dust control project will take place over the next 18 months, said Paul Kraus, of Barnard, and the workforce for the project should hit about 200. Besides the numerous sub-contractors and Barnard employees who will be on the job, “we’re going to need local help,” Kraus said. The company has a construction office near the LADWP Pump Back Station on Lubken Canyon Road, south of Lone Pine, and interested job seekers can come to the office and fill out an application, he said.
The work will result in new dust control measures on about three square miles of lakebed with another three to four square miles of existing treated land getting a new, “hybrid” set of dust control treatments, he said. Crews will be working primarily along the entire eastern edge of the sprawling lake bed, with some mitigation work also taking place on the northern part of the lake, he noted.
Since starting the dust project, LADWP has completed dust mitigation measures on about 46 square miles of the Owens Dry Lake, which covers close to 100 square miles.
The LADWP is required to complete dust mitigation work on Phase 7a of the project per a June 27, 2013 agreement between the department and Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District. That agreement came on the heals of several months of litigation, with the LADWP arguing that it had met its dust control obligations and Great Basin arguing that Phase 7a, the last phase identified by the dust control agency, still needed to be completed.
Under the agreement, Great Basin extended the LADWP’s deadline to complete dust mitigation in the 7a area from Dec. 31, 2013 to Dec. 31, 2015.
In the agreement, Great Basin also agreed to “remove” eligible cultural resource areas from Phase 7a. That means that the LADWP will not be required to do dust control in areas with identified cultural resources (about 328 acres) during work on Phase 7a. Those areas that are sensitive cultural resource sites will be moved to the newly created Phase 7b.
To update the community on dust control efforts, Kraus spoke at the Feb. 4 Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce installation dinner. He was asked “what can the community do for you (Barnard).” He said that Barnard and its employees have worked on the lake before and enjoyed the community and the area. He then turned the question around, and said Barnard and its employees “would like to not be an impact on your community and not disrupt your way of life.”
As with previous dust control work on the Owens Dry Lake, this next phase contains some eye-popping statistics which provide a glimpse of the scope and scale of the project. Krause outlined some of the components of the project:
• 24,000 sprinkler heads will be installed, to both provide water for both shallow flooding and watering managed vegetation.
• 400 miles of pipe will be installed.
• 900,000 tons of gravel will be hauled to the lakebed and spread and contoured.
• 1 million tons of earth will be moved from the lakebed itself and used for berms, roads and fill.
• 14 miles of power cable will be installed.
• 40 miles of berm roads will be constructed.
• About 200 pieces of equipment will be at work on the lake.
• Three miles of walkways and other amenities will be built to provide access to the lake to the public. There will also be informational signs about the project and the area’s birds.
The end result should be new dust control measures on about 3.2 square miles of lakebed.
The project will also include some innovative applications of the dust-control measures that can be used on the lake. The three to four square miles of lakebed that currently has some form of dust control in place will be redone using “hybrid” combinations of shallow flooding, managed vegetation, contoured gravel cover and tillage, which is similar to plowing up the ground, Kraus said.
This latest phase of dust control work should be completed by mid-2015.