News

7/6/2002 July 1st status to the Superior Court regarding progress on the Draft EIR on the Lower Owens River
The attached July 1st status report resulted from efforts by the Sierra Club
(SC) and the Owens Valley Committee(OVC) to involve the courts in overseeing the progress of the Draft EIR (DEIR) for the Lower Owens River Project(LORP). The LORP would rewater approximately 60 miles of the lower Owens River above Owens Lake and is a result of the 1997 Inyo County / Los Angeles Long-Term Water Agreement. The DEIR for the project was due in June of 2000. After signing on in good faith twice to time extensions for the DEIR in 2001, the Sierra Club and the Owens Valley Committee finally after 18 months went to Superior Court in December of 2001 and asked for the court to become involved. In May of 2002 the Sierra Club and OVC agreed to not begin the fact finding discovery phase of our lawsuit in return for Inyo County and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power stipulating to the court that they would have their DEIR released to the public by August 31, 2002 (or provide a list of reasons as to why they could not) and would also provide the court with three status reports on July 1, July 31 and August 15. See the attached report for required details of the status reports.

Attached you will find the July 1, 2002 status report that hints that the DEIR may be delayed another four weeks past August 31, 2002. The Sierra Club and the Owens Valley Committee asks who or what is really causing this prolonged delay? The Lower Owens River Project represents the largest and most significant mitigation for the devastating impacts of LADWP's ground water pumping from 1970-1990. Fish Springs and Blackrock Springs each supplied water for fish hatcheries with no pumping. Hines Springs had 1-2 acres of ponds and sloughs plus acres of marsh. All three of these springs are extinct from groundwater pumping by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. It is now 32 years since 1970. How much longer should the Owens Valley have to wait for a small measure of healing?

Michael Prather
President - Owens Valley Committee




PAUL N. BRUCE, (081619) ROCKARD J. DELGADILLO
Inyo County Counsel City Attorney
224 North Edwards Street PHILIP SHINER
P.O. Box M Chief Assistant City Attorney for
Independence, California 93526 Water and Power
(760) 878-0229 ARTHUR B. WALSH (89732)
(760) 878-2241 (fax) Assistant City Attorney
111 North Hope Street, Suite 340
GREGORY L. JAMES P.0. Box 51111
Special Legal Counsel (055760) Los Angeles, California 90051-0100
163 May Street (213) 367-4591
Bishop, California 93514
(760) 872-1168
(760) 873-5695 (fax)

Attorneys for Defendant Attorneys for Defendant City of Los
County of Inyo Angeles by and through its Department
of Water and Power


IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

FOR THE COUNTY OF INYO



SIERRA CLUB, and OWENS ) Case No.: S1CVCV01-29768
VALLEY COMMITTEE )
) STATUS REPORT ON PREPARATION
Plaintiffs ) OF DRAFT EIR/EIS
)
)
v. )
)
CITY OF LOS ANGELES; LOS )
ANGELES DEPARTMENT OF )
WATER AND POWER; and )
county of inyo )
)
Defendants )
)
)
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF )
FISH AND GAME; and CALIFORNIA )
STATE LANDS COMMISSION )
)
Real Parties in Interest. )
On May 29, 2002, the parties to this litigation, and the California Department of Fish and
Game and the California State Lands Commission (as Real Parties in Interest) filed a
stipulation in the above entitled case (“Stipulation”). Section 2 of the Stipulation provides as
follows:
Defendants will prepare the Draft EIR/EIS in accordance with the schedule attached hereto as Exhibit "A." (Hereinafter "Schedule.") On July 1, 2002, July 31, 2002, and August 15, 2002, Defendants, either jointly or separately, will submit to the Court, the Plaintiffs, and the Real Parties in Interest, a status report on the preparation of the EIR/EIS. The status report shall include: (1) whether all work required by the Schedule to be completed as of the date of the report, has been completed; (2) a description of any work required by the Schedule to be completed as of the date of the report, that has not been completed; (3) an explanation of why any work required by the Schedule to be completed, has not been completed; (4) a statement of whether the failure to complete any work required to be completed by the Schedule will potentially delay the completion and release of the EIR/EIS beyond August 31, 2002; (5) a brief summary of the federal agency activity undertaken toward completion of the EIS component of the EIR/EIS and (6) a description of any foreseeable problems that may delay the completion and release of the EIR/EIS beyond August 31, 2002.
This document is the July 1, 2002 status report on the Draft EIR/EIS that is required by Section 2 of the Stipulation. As provided in Section 2 of the Stipulation, this status report is jointly submitted by Defendants County of Inyo and the City of Los Angeles, and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (“LADWP”).
Under California law, LADWP is the lead agency, and the County of Inyo is a responsible agency. The Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) is the federal lead agency. Ecosystem Sciences Incorporated (“ESI”), a contractor for Defendant LADWP, is assisting in the preparation of the Draft EIR/EIS. ESI was selected by the MOU parties to undertake certain work under the direction of Defendants in regard to the LORP. URS is the consultant who is preparing the Draft EIR/EIS. As agreed by the Defendants, URS is performing such work under a contract with Defendant County of Inyo. Hereinafter, these entities and organizations are sometimes collectively referred to as “those responsible for preparing the EIR/EIS.”
1. Has all work required by the Schedule to be completed as of the date of the report, been completed?
Response: No.
2. Describe any work required by the Schedule to be completed as of the date of the report that has not been completed.
Response: The Schedule calls for consensus to have been reached on Chapters 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, and 13 by the date of this report. Consensus has not been reached on these chapters. Further, ESI is developing a revised Draft LORP Plan for incorporation into the Administrative Draft EIR/EIS. The Draft LORP Plan is contingent on consensus being reached on the Chapter 2 project description and has not been completed.
3. Explain why any work required by the Schedule to be completed, has not been completed.
Response:
Chapter 2 (the project description): During the past two weeks, and on July 1, 2002, ESI modified the descriptions of the Owens River Delta Habitat Area, the management goals for the delta area, and of the baseflows to be released to the delta area. Those responsible for preparing the EIR/EIS will attempt to reach consensus on the descriptions as soon as possible after the descriptions become available from Defendant LADWP and from ESI.
A draft of the Monitoring/Adaptive Management sections of Chapter 2 was prepared by Defendant County of Inyo and distributed to Defendant LADWP and to ESI on June 7, 2002. A response from ESI was received on June 26, 2002. On June 28, 2002, Defendant County of Inyo provided a revised draft of the Monitoring/Adaptive Management sections, incorporating comments and revisions provided by ESI for review to the others responsible for preparing the EIR/EIS. Those responsible for preparing the EIR/EIS will attempt to reach consensus on content of the Monitoring/Adaptive Management section of Chapter 2 by July 3, 2002.
The EPA has requested a more detailed description of the areas within the Blackrock Waterfowl Habitat Area that will be flooded, and of the conversions of wetland vegetation that would occur in response to the flooding. In response to the EPA request, the descriptions were developed by ESI, and the descriptions are expected to be provided for review to those responsible for preparing the EIR/EIS on July 1, 2002. Those responsible for preparing the EIR/EIS will attempt to reach consensus on these descriptions by July 3, 2002.
Once all the EIR/EIS chapters are finalized, Chapter 2 will be revised as necessary to be consistent with those chapters.
Chapter 4 (impacts of project on the Lower Owens River Riverine-Riparian Ecosystem): Following the submission of the Stipulation, Defendants and the EPA requested ESI to prepare a standardized description of vegetation types that will be employed in each of the chapters that address the impacts of the project. In regard to Chapter 4, such a description was provided by ESI during the week of June 24, 2002. Those responsible for preparing the EIR/EIS will attempt to reach consensus on the contents of Chapter 4 by July 3, 2002.
Chapter 6 (impacts of project on the Owens River Delta Habitat Area): Defendant LADWP and ESI are working to finalize the descriptions of the delta area, the management goals for the delta area, and of the baseflows to be released to the delta area. Those responsible for preparing the EIR/EIS will attempt to reach consensus on these descriptions, and on the impacts of the project to the delta area, as soon as possible after these descriptions become available from LADWP and from ESI.
A standardized description of vegetation types for the delta was provided by ESI during the week of June 24, 2002.
Chapter 7 (impacts of project on the Blackrock Waterfowl Habitat Area): Consensus cannot be reached on this chapter until EPA has agreed to the descriptions for the Blackrock Waterfowl Habitat Area that will be flooded, and to the description of the conversions of wetland vegetation that would occur in response to the flooding. However, those responsible for preparing the EIR/EIS (including the EPA) will attempt to reach consensus on the contents of Chapter 7 by July 3, 2002. A standardized description of vegetation types for the Blackrock area was provided by ESI during the week of June 24, 2002.
Chapter 9 (impacts of project on threatened and endangered species): A draft of this chapter that incorporated the comments of Defendants and of the EPA was circulated for final review on May 30, 2002. Final comments were received from Defendant LADWP on June 17, 2002 and from the EPA on June 25, 2002. A revision incorporating the comments from those entities was circulated by Defendant County of Inyo to the EPA, ESI, URS, and Defendant LADWP during the week of June 24th. Those responsible for preparing the EIR/EIS will attempt to reach consensus on the contents of Chapter 9 by July 3, 2002.
Chapter 11 (impacts of the project as a whole, including water supply impacts): The content of this chapter will be provided to Defendants and to the EPA for review as part of the Administrative Draft EIR/EIS that will be prepared by URS. Those responsible for preparing the EIR/EIS will attempt to reach consensus on this chapter following the release of the Administrative Draft EIR/EIS.
Chapter 12 (comparison of alternatives): A revised draft of this chapter was provided by URS to Defendants County of Inyo and LADWP and to the EPA for review and comment on June 26, 2002. Comments on the chapter are to be exchanged by July 12, 2002.
Chapter 13 (consistency of project with Inyo County General Plan): A revised draft of this chapter was provided by URS to Defendants County of Inyo and LADWP and to the EPA for review and comment on June 17, 2002. Comments on the chapter were provided by the EPA on June 25, 2002. It is expected that consensus will be reached on Chapter 13 by July 3, 2002.
Draft LORP Plan: ESI cannot complete preparation of a revised LORP Plan until consensus is reached on the portions of Chapter 2 (the project description) that are necessary for completion of the plan. ESI reports that a draft of the LORP Plan should be available for review by Defendants, EPA and URS by July 19, 2002.
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Administrative Draft EIR/EIS: URS will prepare an Administrative Draft EIR/EIS for review by Defendants County of Inyo and LADWP and by the EPA. The Schedule provides that the Administrative Draft EIR/EIS is to be completed by July 8, 2002; however, as a result of the delay in reaching consensus on the chapters discussed above, and because of the resulting additional editing, the necessity to insert new graphics, and the need to perform other work, URS reports that the Administrative Draft EIR/EIS will be not be released until August 5, 2002.
4. State whether the failure to complete any work required to be completed by the Schedule will potentially delay the completion and release of the EIR/EIS beyond August 31, 2002.
Response: Although the Defendants, ESI, URS and the EPA are attempting to overcome the past delays in achieving the Schedule, even if there are no further delays, it is possible that the release of the Draft EIR/EIS may be delayed beyond four weeks after August 31, 2002.
5. Provide a brief summary of the federal agency activity undertaken toward completion of the EIS component of the EIR/EIS.
Response: The EPA has provided timely comments on the portions of the Draft EIR/EIS described above. Many of the comments submitted by EPA requested information that the EPA thought should have been provided prior to the submission of the Stipulation. As a result of some of EPA’s comments, the Defendants, URS, ESI and the Bureau of Reclamation (the entity responsible for design the LORP pump station) have had to develop additional information in order to provide the information requested by the EPA.
6. Provide a description of any foreseeable problems that may delay the completion and release of the EIR/EIS beyond August 31, 2002.
Response: If consensus is not reached on the chapters as described above, and/or if the Administrative Draft EIR/EIS is not released by August 5, 2002, the release of the Draft EIR/EIS will likely be further delayed beyond four weeks after August 31, 2002.
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Respectively submitted on behalf of Defendants County of Inyo, City of Los Angeles, and the City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power this first day July 2002.

____________________________
Gregory L. James
Special Legal Counsel
County of Inyo
Contacts:  Mark Bagley (Sierra Club) markbagley@qnet.com Phone: 760.876.5326