|The Sierra Club filed a lawsuit October sixth against the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) over the adequacy of the Lower Owens River Project Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The lawsuit alleges a violation of CEQA in that the Final EIR failed to identify a significant impact to approximately 600 acres of valuable shorebird and wading bird habitat on the Owens Lake playa located just below the Owens River Delta. The project described in the FEIR proposes reduced flows to the area in fall, winter, and spring, resulting in effects acknowledged as a significant impact in the LORP Draft Environmental Impact Report. The description of reduced flows as a significant impact, however, was eliminated from the Final EIR without explanation.
The Sierra Club also seeks a Writ of Mandate directing LADWP to comply with its obligations to submit a habitat management plan for shorebird and snowy plover habitat under a 2001 Fish and Game Code 1601 Agreement. As part of a lakebed alteration agreement that LADWP was required to obtain for its dust control project--a project to reduce air pollution caused by the drying of Owens Lake, which resulted from the City’s export of water from the Owens River--LADWP is required to create and dedicate in perpetuity up to 2000 acres of shorebird and snowy plover habitat on the Owens Lake playa. LADWP failed to submit and implement a habitat management plan, due in December 2003, for 1000 acres of habitat within shallow flooded areas created for the Owens Lake Dust Control Project. The agency also failed to submit and implement a habitat management plan, due in July 2003, for up to an additional 1000 acres of habitat to be created on Owens Lake using only naturally occurring water sources.