How will the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power’s decision to reduce or eliminate lessee’s irrigation allotments in Long Valley affect recreation?
The lands in and around Long Valley have been regularly irrigated for over a century – well before the land was owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). This has allowed wetland meadow habitat to flourish across Long and Little Round Valleys, filling in the land between the natural riparian corridors created by Mammoth Creek, Hot Creek, Convict Creek, McGee Creek, Whiskey Creek, the Upper Owens, and other, smaller tributaries. The lush meadows support a wealth of invertebrate and amphibian life, which in turn support native bird species (including various waterfowl and the bi-state sage grouse) and trout, which were introduced to the area at the turn of the century. Generations of outdoor enthusiasts have traveled to the Eastern Sierra, specifically to hunt and fish the lands in and around Long Valley. Hot Creek and the Upper Owns River are renowned for being world-class fishing resources. LADWP’s decision to dewater the wetland meadow landscape will undoubtedly affect the biodiversity in Long and Little Round Valleys, which will likely have an impact on the hunting and fishing resources in the area. Mammoth Lakes Recreation and our coalition partners are asking that LADWP conduct a full environmental impact report, so that the extent of these impact can be determined. Further, we are asking that irrigation allotments for the landscape be maintained at their historic levels until this study is completed and community members, including the hunting and fishing community, have a chance to review the findings.
What is Mammoth Lakes Recreation and its coalition partners asking of the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power?
Mammoth Lakes Recreation and its coalition partners are asking the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power to conduct an environmental impact report (EIR) so that all parties may better understand what effects dewatering Long Valley will have, and to what degree those effects will impact the landscape, biodiversity, and recreational opportunities in the area. Moreover, Mammoth Lakes Recreation and its coalition partners are asking that Los Angeles Department of Water & Power continue to maintain irrigation allotments at historic levels until the EIR has been completed and is determined to be consistent with the California Environmental Qualities Act.
The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power has described the wetland landscape in Long Valley as “artificial.” Is that true?
No. Prior to 1941, a lush wetland meadow existed at the southern end of Long Valley. The meadow was destroyed when Los Angeles Department & Power built the Long Valley Dam, which then created Crowley Lake.
CLICK HERE to see an inset from a USGS topographic map from 1912 that shows the original meadow.
When the leaseholders in Long Valley began irrigating their lands, native flora and fauna that inhabited the original wetland meadow began to spring up and populate the irrigated land. Local environmental groups and researchers refer to the meadow landscape in Long Valley as adapted.
The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power has stated that leaseholders are getting “free water.” Is that true?
No. Leaseholders in Long and Little Round Valley not only pay for their water allotments, they do so at rates that typically exceed what they would pay on non-leased land.
What are some alternative actions the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power can take to meet their water needs instead of pulling it from the Eastern Sierra?
There several actions that the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power can take that would allow them to better meet their water needs.
First, LADWP needs to address insufficiencies in their infrastructure. These deficiencies contribute to a staggering amount of leak and loss within the system. In fact California’s water distribution systems lose up to 228 billion gallons annually — more than enough to supply the entire city of Los Angeles for a year!
Second, LADWP needs to direct more effort towards stormwater capture. According to an April 2018 report by the Southern California Water Coalition, further investment into stormwater capture projects could yield hundreds of thousands of net-new acre feet of water (AFY) to Southern California.
Third, LADWP needs to continue to make water conservation a priority. While the agency was successful at getting its ratepayers to conserve water during the recent drought, they’ve scaled back that messaging following the robust 2016-17 winter season.
I’m concerned about the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power’s plan to dewater Long and Little Round Valley. What can I do?
Mammoth Lakes Recreation is asking that anyone who is concerned about the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s decision to dewater Long and Little Round Valley to contact Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and ask him to intercede. Mammoth Lakes has created an online tool that you can use to email Mayor Garcetti and voice your concerns: CLICK HERE TO SEND.
You can also contact Mayor Garcetti’s office directly:
Mayor Eric Garcetti
200 N. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90012