The Owens Valley Committee
We watch the water.

The Lower Owens River Project (LORP):

An environmental mitigation project

...or just a third barrel of
 the Los Angeles Aqueduct


 It's up to you.  Look over the LORP Draft Environmental Impact Report/Statement, keep up on the issues, and share your opinion with your local government.

See info on the web about



Since 1913, Los Angeles' surface water diversions and groundwater pumping in the Owens Valley have destroyed springs and seeps, dried the Owens Lake and the lower Owens River, and caused incalculable harm to migrating and endemic wildlife.

 As partial mitigation for damage dating from 1970 and for ongoing diversions and groundwater pumping, LADWP and Inyo County agreed in 1991 to create and implement a project to partially rewater and restore approximately 62 miles of the lower Owens River. In 1997, a Memorandum of Understanding between LADWP and concerned groups and individuals expanded the Lower Owens River Project (LORP) and defined conditions and a time frame for the project. After multiple delays, five years of gestation, and a court order, a Draft Environmental Impact Report/Statement (DEIR/S) for the project was released November 1, 2002.

Among other issues, the LORP DEIR/S is meant to address how, when, and how much the river will be rewatered; restoration or maintenance of associated areas such as the Owens River Delta, the Blackrock Waterfowl Habitat area, and off-river lakes and ponds; grazing and recreation; and monitoring to determine how well the LORP is progressing. The quality of the LORP depends largely on the quality of the DEIR/S; the quality of the DEIR/S depends, in turn, on public participation.

The public comment period for the LORP DEIR/S ended January 14, 2003. However, members of the public can still read the DEIR/S document and share their opinions with each other and their elected representatives.

Where to find it

To see the LORP DEIR/S on the web or download an Adobe PDF version, click here or type "" into your browser window. If you prefer to read a hard copy, you can review a copy during business hours at an Inyo County public library (in Bishop, Big Pine, Independence, or Lone Pine), the Inyo County Planning Department (168 North Edwards in Independence), the Owens Valley Indian Water Commission (46 Tu Su Lane in Bishop), the Inyo County Water Department (163 May Street in Bishop), the United States Environmental Protection Agency Library (13th Floor, 75 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco), or the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (111 N. Hope Street, Room 518, Los Angeles). If you'd like to have your own copy, you can request one from LADWP (color copy $25; CD free; 300 Mandich St. in Bishop) or from the Environmental Protection Agency (free black-and-white photocopy; call or write Gail Louis at 75 Hawthorne St., WTR-3, San Francisco, CA 94105, 415-972-3467).

Responses to the DEIR/S

A LORP pump station of up to 50 cfs capacity is called for in the Inyo-LA Long Term Water Agreement, but LADWP proposes a 150 cfs station.  "EPA has concluded that the indirect and cumulative impacts that would result if LADWP constructs a 150-cfs pump station (increased groundwater pumping, and/or reduction in water supplied by LADWP for use in the Owens Valley) are a significant and legitimate concern."  (LORP Draft EIR/EIS, p. 12-20)

•   OVC and Sierra Club comments (pdf format; 648k):  “The project described may not provide sufficient seasonal habitat flows throughout the river to achieve the following MOU goals…… we believe that their [LADWP’s] stated goal for the Delta Habitat Area … does not comply with the goals as stated in the MOU …… The proposed monitoring program is inadequate to meet the need to establish protocols for data collection, analysis and reporting that is required by the MOU …… In light of the problems detailed, we believe it would be appropriate to recirculate the DEIR/EIS for additional comments under an accelerated schedule.”

•   California Department of Fish and Game comments (pdf format; 188k):  “…the Department does not believe that the project as described in the current DEIR/EIS will meet the goals of the LORP as stated in the MOU. …… Despite the clear direction provided in the MOU (and in CEQA) the monitoring program as proposed is not capable of monitoring progress toward achievement of several of the goals.”

•   California State Lands Commission comments (pdf format; 131k):  “… the project as proposed in the DEIR/S does not meet the LORP goal specified in the MOU. …… The remedies now required add further delay to the LADWP’s failure to meet the MOU deadline for completion of the DEIR. The result is that ongoing environmental harm attributed to the LADWP’s groundwater pumping remains unmitigated.”


“There is little indication in the DEIR/EIS that the needs of the habitat indicator species in the Delta, or in the other project areas for that matter, have been given serious consideration. The DEIR/EIS must establish specific habitat goals or objectives that are consistent with the needs of the habitat indicator species listed in the MOU. The DEIR/EIS must establish performance standards in achieving those objectives in order to have an effective monitoring and adaptive management program to ensure the success of the project.”  (Sierra Club & OVC comment letter, p. 3-7)

Key issues

What is the LORP? Project Water Supply
OVC LORP Brochure (pdf format; 104k) Recreation Plan
Pump station and delta Noxious Weed Control
Project funding Impact to Shorebird Habitat  
Grazing Management    

What to do

1. If you'd like to join us in analyzing or publicizing the LORP or other water issues, call us at 760-876-1845 or e-mail us with your name, address, e-mail address, and phone number, and tell us that you'd like to help.

2. Call or write your elected officials and express your support for the long-term water agreement and Memorandum of Understanding, write letters expressing general support for our position, or come to hearings.  

3. You can also help us by making a donation to help with costs for photocopies, analyses, educational ads, and mailing campaigns to inform Owens Valley communities and others throughout California about the LORP DEIR and other water issues.