1/17/2009 Hay Ranch groundwater pumping: extracting the effects of water transfers
Last Monday, January 12, the Inyo County Water Commission met to discuss the Coso Hay Ranch Water Extraction and Delivery System project permit. What water commissioners heard concerned them so much that they have scheduled an additional meeting to discuss the issue Monday, January 26, 2009.

Under the terms of the permit, the Coso Operating Company would extract groundwater from two wells on the Hay Ranch in Rose Valley and transfer it to the Coso geothermal project at the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station.

According to the project's Draft Environmental Impact Report, even in normal conditions, the project "would have a significant impact on water availability at Little Lake Ranch" nearby, an avian refuge and recreational hunting area that depends entirely upon groundwater to supply its lake, springs, and wetlands. Effects of the project in drier conditions were apparently not modeled. Project managers define a loss of ten percent of the groundwater supply to Little Lake Ranch--and consequent effects on wetlands there--as being acceptable. Owners and advocates of Little Lake Ranch and its environs disagree.

The extraction project would last thirty years; however, the effects of the project would last at least 100 years after the project's end, according to Gary Arnold, an attorney for and member of Little Lake Ranch. Arnold is also concerned about the stifling effect the project would have on any other businesses in the area because the project essentially consumes all of the valley's estimated annual water recharge in the best conditions.

"Cosoís Project will deprive other commercial enterprises and the future residents of Rose Valley of vital water resources, solely because the Project overdrafts the Rose Valley aquifer by pumping more water than is naturally recharged," Mr. Arnold wrote in a recent letter to Inyo County Water Commissioners. "....At least two companies have proposed additional geothermal explorations in the vicinity of Coso, including Deep Rose, both of which will need some water. The FEIR does not address these cumulative impacts because it asserts that the future projects are speculative. Cosoís Project will deplete water resources, making future development in Rose Valley impractical, if not impossible."

These and other concerns raised about the project prompted the water commissioners to meet again to discuss possible actions and alternatives. The meeting agenda follows below.

If you would like to learn more, we've posted links to documents and comments about this issue in the OVC reading room at:


Monday, January 26, 2009, 6:00 p.m.
Board of Supervisors Room, County Administrative Center

224 North Edwards
Independence, California


The public will be offered the opportunity to comment on each agenda item prior to any action on the item by the Water Commission or, in the absence of action, prior to the Commission moving to the next item on the agenda. The public will also be offered the opportunity to address the Commission on any matter within the Commissionís jurisdiction prior to adjournment of the meeting.

1. Pledge of Allegiance

2. Continuation from Water Commission meeting of January 12, 2009: Consideration of recommendation to Planning Commission regarding Conditional Use Permit #2007-3/Coso Operating Co. LLC, Hay Ranch Water Extraction and Delivery System

a. Presentation by Coso Operating Company

b. Public comment

c. Consideration of recommendations to Planning Commission

3. Public Comment

4. Adjourn
Contacts:   Phone: