Fall on the shores of the Owens Dry Lake. Photo: Mike Prather

Robbing Groundwater From a Dry Lake

Back in March Friends of the Inyo submitted comments on the misguided Owens Lake Test Well East project. The test was a masked attempt to increase groundwater pumping underneath the dusty Owens Lake bed. “We are not in agreement that groundwater pumping from beneath Owens lake can be done in an environmentally sustainable manner,” writes Wendy Schneider. Piecemeal self regulations were proposed by LADWP to replace any type of public review in hopes that the agency could escape scrutiny or mitigation for their newest water grab. Implementing this first step, as part of a larger groundwater pumping plan, will affect ecosystems over several miles through stopping seeps and springs, and LADWP’s own projections admit groundwater levels will not substantially recover for 18 months. This large scale and long term impact disregards state law by acting before completing an environmental and cultural review process.

Cancelled Effective Immediately

LADWP responded with a single page letter that they had cancelled the project effective immediately, and emphasized shifting “operations priority” as the reason for placing further pumping on hold. We look forward to working with the agency on ways to preserve water in the Eastern Sierra and rebuild aquifers depleted by years of over extraction by Los Angeles. We will also remain vigilant against LADWPs tactics and organize opposition against efforts to increase the water pumped out of Owens Valley.