3/2/2012 Ripples: news in brief from the Owens Valley Committee
SUCTION DREDGING: Under new regulations, Inyo and Mono waters may be hosed

In a state where water has inspired more claim jumping than gold, you might expect suction dredging--and associated resuspension of mercury and other toxic compounds, the potential introduction of pipe-clogging invasive species, disturbance of special-status bird species, and disturbance of recreational fishing areas--to enjoy the same welcome as a family of skittish skunks. Nevertheless, suction dredging will soon be permitted across California. In Inyo and Mono counties, where suction dredging has never been allowed, sections of the Owens River, Lower Rock Creek, Bishop Creek, and Pine Creek are among new areas listed as being eligible for recreational dredging.

Public comments on the new regulations are due March 5. To see last year's Environmental Impact Report for the regulations or to learn more about this issue, see the DFG's suction dredging website at

or see our April 29, 2011 article "Suction dredging may hit bottom in a watershed near you" at


THANK YOU: It's over, but we're still smiling

Many thanks to more than one hundred people who joined us for author and professor John Walton's lecture "Western Times and Water Wars," a fundraiser for the Owens Valley Committee. Dr. Walton reminded us that small communities, if they pull together, can wield almost mythical power, and he pointed out that activists in the Owens Valley water wars still inspire resistance against water colonialism across the nation. (See, for example, Snake Valley's resistance to Las Vegas' quest for groundwater at )

Thanks again to Dr. Walton for a fascinating and inspiring lecture. We hope to see everyone again soon.



Testing the hypothesis that lawyers are cheaper than water, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) threw two legal temper tantrums recently on the East Side. In January, LADWP sued the Mammoth Community Water District with an argument that Los Angeles owns the rights to Mammoth Creek water (see or, for an interesting spin on the spirit of cooperation, see LADWP's news release on the subject at ).

In February, LADWP followed up at the Owens Lake with a suit against the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District in a tiff over whether Los Angeles is responsible for controlling ongoing dust pollution from the lakebed and over who should pay legal fees generated when LADWP disagrees with the Air Pollution Control District. For more information, see Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District

In related news, at an Inyo-Los Angeles Tech Group meeting in early February, LADWP and Inyo County were able to agree upon a partial list of what the two agencies disagree about. For example, LADWP does not agree with Inyo County that LADWP should apply for a permit to drill a new well in Inyo County, nor does Los Angeles agree that the Technical Group should be able to approve or deny new well construction, although Los Angeles and Inyo County ostensibly agreed to jointly manage groundwater pumping in Inyo County in 1991 under the terms of the Inyo/LA Long Term Water Agreement (see ).


LOWER OWENS RIVER PROJECT (LORP): Draft recreation plan released for public review

Those with strong opinions or simple curiosity about playful pursuits on or near the Lower Owens River can review the new draft version of the LORP Recreation Use Plan at

or in the LORP section of the Inyo County Water Department website at

MIG, a recreation design firm, unveiled the plan at the most recent Inyo-Los Angeles Standing Committee meeting February 24 in Independence.

For more information about the plan, please contact mitigation manager Larry Freilich at the Inyo County Water Department (760-878-0011).


REMINDER: Check our website calendar for community water meetings

Due to the sheer number of water policy meetings in Inyo County and to the startling habits of one or two agencies to announce last-minute changes in the time or location of meetings, we've decided to post notices about public water policy meetings on our web site calendar rather than subjecting everyone to flurries of e-mail. If you'd like to check the time or location of Inyo County Water Commission meetings, Inyo-Los Angeles Tech Group meetings, Inyo-Mono Integrated Regional Water Management Group meetings, Inyo-Los Angeles Standing Committee meetings, or Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District Governing Board meetings, please glance at the calendar posted on our home page ( We'll try to post meeting times and locations there as soon as we know about them.

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