2/5/2002 Inyo Water Commission not persuaded by LADWP's Drought Recovery Policy interpretation
At the Inyo County Water Commission meeting Monday, February 4, 2002, LADWP's consultants Montgomery Watson Harza (MWH) gave a presentation regarding the Drought Recovery Policy (DRP). It was a splendid example of how a skilled consultant can selectively read a simple document to reach the conclusion desired by his client.

After asserting that wording in the DRP was not very specific and that MWH needed to find guidance as to what "substantial recovery" (in the second paragraph of the DRP) means, MWH was unable to explain why it didn't look in the first paragraph of the DRP where a very specific and measurable goal for the DRP is stated ("soil water in the rooting zone recover to a degree sufficient so that the vegetation protection goals of the [Water] Agreement are achieved.")

Instead of defining "substantial" with regard to rooting zone depths as the DRP requires, MWH instead equated "substantial" with "80% of the drawdown" regardless of whether this was in the rooting zone or not. To justify this it cited five papers from ecological journals in which the word "substantial" had been used. When it was pointed out that none of the five articles had anything to do with groundwater management and that none of the articles intended to give general definitions of "substantial" MWH had no response.

MWH asserted that vegetation condition is not a criterion for the termination of the DRP. Although the goals and implementation methods of the DRP explicitly require monitoring to evaluate condition of vegetation, MWH cited a passage in the Green Book which relates to mitigation and describes procedures for determining if vegetation change is permanent and attributable to ground water pumping. When it was pointed out that the objective of the Water Agreement is to "avoid" significant impacts to vegetation, not to simply let them occur and then mitigate, MWH made no response.

After MWH's presentation and one by the Inyo County Water Department (ICWD), the Water Commissioners discussed the issue. Three of the four members present stated that they concurred with ICWD's arguments that the DRP requires vegetation condition to be considered, that water tables must return to the rooting zone and that the DRP requires analysis at the scale of the vegetation parcel as opposed to the wellfield. The fourth commissioner, Mr. Kenny Lloyd, did not disagree with LADWP and MWH and stated that he needed more information.

Contacts:   Phone: