Tag Archives: inyo county water department

Get Ready for Higher Water Rates in Inyo County

Water rates are changing for Lone Pine, Independence, and Laws.

County Administrative Officer, Clint Quilter, 1st District Supervisor Dan Totheroh, 4th District Supervisor Mark Tilemans, and 5th District Supervisor Matt Kingsley were in attendance at Wednesday’s water rates workshop along with Mike Errante and Chris Cash from the Public Works Department to field questions on the proposed rate changes.

“The water system needs attention.” Public Works Director, Mike Errante told a concerned group of citizens on Wednesday night. “We are falling way behind on improvements, and this is a way to catch up.”

County officials stated that the rate increase will reflect costs of delivery of water rather than the actual water itself.

Deputy Director of Public Works, Chris Cash discussed how getting water from the source to homes and businesses is not as simple as one may be led to believe, noting issues with pressure, purification, equipment, delivery methods, staffing, and adequate quality.

After Errante and Cash were finished answering questions, they introduced Vice President of public utility consulting firm, Raftelis, Sanjay Gaur. Gaur began the PowerPoint presentation highlighting the nature of water systems, fees and taxes, the current financial plan, and proposed rates and billing.

Gaur discussed how the Inyo County water system does not pay for its water, however, they pay for the ability to use water to 24/7. Additionally, water is not taxed in California, but is treated as a service from the county to the public.

According to Gaur’s presentation, Inyo County’s revenue from water systems equates to an average of $370,164 per year. While their total operating budget for fiscal year 2018 is $436,588 which equates to a loss of -$66,424 for that year. Gaur argued that each year the system is not renovated using the aforementioned numbers, the net loss over five years is projected to reach -$176,229.

However, with the increased water rates, the county’s total capital improvement plan would be increased by $150,000 each year after 2021. Having a capital improvement plan will allow Inyo to build up a budget for necessary projects such as renovating the water system.

Two scenarios were proposed at the meeting to assuage the county’s lack of funds, with both equating to the same amount of money being added to the water system. The first scenario would have an up-front water bill increase of 30%, with the rest of the increase going up 10% each year until 2024. Scenario two, which is the one the county promoted more to the audience has a 50% increase in rates starting in 2020, then in 2021 it would increase by 10%, and afterward the bill would increase by 5% each year until 2024.

Scenario one would increase most residential water bills from the current quoted rate of $28.38 then move up to $38.45 in 2020. At the end of this rate increase cycle, most residential units will be paying $56.31 by 2024.

Scenario two would see an extreme jump of $44.36 per month for most residential properties during the first year. After the initial hike, the rates would moderately increase until they reach $56.51 per month in 2024.

On top of the already high bills residents will be paying, those who live in Independence can expect a surcharge of $6.34 per month to help make up the difference of an emergency water line that was installed. The cost of that line was $150,000 and the proposed rates will help pay off the county’s loan.

According to the PowerPoint regarding excess water usage, “Independence, Lone Pine, and Laws each have a water use threshold.If water is pumped above the threshold, there is an additional cost from LADWP.”

The water rate alteration is the first significant change for this utility since 2004. After the five year span of raising the rates, don’t expect them to go down. When asked by an individual in the crowd about a potential decrease in utility payments, Sanjay Gaur was quick to shoot the notion down saying, “No, the rates will stay the same after 2024 but they will not go down. The Golden Gate Bridge is constantly being painted. A water system is just like that in the sense that there is constant maintenance and upkeep.”

Field trip to Five Bridges Area

Inyo Water Commission Field trip will tour the Five Bridges Impact Area

submitted by the Inyo County Water Department
February 8, 2016

The public is invited to join the tour  Wednesday February 10th at 9 am.  Meet in Bishop at the corner of Wye Road and Spruce Road—Directly behind Kmart

The Inyo County Water Commission invites the public to participate in a field trip to the Five Bridges Impact Area located three miles north of Bishop. In the summer of 1988, approximately 300 acres of native vegetation were lost when nearby LADWP wells de-watered the area and caused groundwater to retreat from below the rooting zone. The area is an environmental Mitigation Project identified in the 1991 Long Term Water Agreement between Inyo County and LADWP.

LADWP has managed the revegetation of this area, with input from the County since the fall of 1988. The project has as its goal reestablishing native meadow similar to those that exist nearby outside the affected area. This has not been easy, and based on measures of vegetation cover and composition; the project has only fully met desired conditions six times in the past 26 years.

The tour will include an overlook of the Five Bridges Impact Area and two short walks into the project site.

Also discussed will be the proposal by LADWP to operate the two wells that led to the loss of vegetation. These wells, designated 385R and 386R have been modified to draw water from the deep aquifer at a lower rate. LADWP considers these new wells. This proposal is currently under discussion by the County and LADWP.

The tour will last about three hours. Participants will need to provide their own transportation, and prepare to be outside for about three hours.

The Inyo County Water Commission is an advisory panel to the Inyo County Board of Supervisors. One of its principal responsibilities is to conduct meetings to inform and educate the public about, and to solicit public opinion on, all issues, decisions, projects, programs and activities arising out of agreements and stipulations between the LADWP and Inyo County.

For more information, please call 760-878-0001, or visit www.inyowater.org/LORP.

cover photo by Gary Young

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DWP issues post-standing committee statement

DWP issues statement

The June 4th Inyo/LA standing committee meeting was dominated by a shared sense of cooperation between Inyo County and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.  Working through another year of drought the two parties agreed to reduce water to the McNalley enhancement/mitigation project and Warren Lake while securing irrigation water through July.

In response to the June 4, 2015 Inyo County/Los Angeles Standing Committee meeting, The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has issued the following statement:

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is pleased with the outcome of the June 4 Standing Committee meeting. In these times of unprecedented drought, we are encouraged by the collaboration exercised by the Inyo County community. This shared sacrifice by all, including the City of Los Angeles who itself is receiving an 85 percent reduction in LA Aqueduct water this runoff year, will allow local ranchers the ability to irrigate their lands through July. LADWP and the other MOU parties are working toward finalizing an agreement (hopefully by early THIS week) that will save up to 4,000 AF of water toward additional irrigation in the Owens Valley. If additional water savings are realized on Owens Lake this Fall and are agreed by Great Basin, State Lands, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife, then more water can be made available for continuing irrigation into August and later into the irrigation season.  We look forward to continued constructive collaboration with the community and more positive outcomes from future negotiations.”

The next Inyo/LA standing committee meeting is set for July 24th in Los Angeles.

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Low Water, High Passion at Tech Group Meeting

Inyo County/Los Angleles Technical Group hears public concerns

The Inyo County/Los Angeles Department of water and power technical group met Tuesday morning at the DWP’s Bishop headquarters. The relatively short, 5 item agenda featured a scheduled discussion on water supply reductions to the McNalley ponds, but also featured pointed questions from local residents demanding answers to what they call “clear violations of the long term water agreement”.

Residents Sally Manning, Daris Moxley, and Gary Gilbert addressed the technical group Tuesday, as they did at the May 4th meeting. Manning quoted the Long Term Water agreement section relating to the DWP’s requirement to provide irrigation water. In regards to cuts in irrigation water, Manning said, “Justice is not being done”.

Daris Moxley spoke passionately about attending technical group and standing committee meetings since 2008 to voice concerns in regards to the DWP’s “non-compliance with the long term water agreement.”. Moxley noted that her questions have not be answered by the LADWP or Inyo County.

Responding to Moxley, Inyo County Water director Bob Harrington said, “We are reviewing the material you submitted and making assessments.”

Wilkerson rancher Gary Gilbert questioned the procedure for cuts in irrigation water. Stressing the importance of providing advance notice.

At the last Standing committee meeting Inyo County and the LADWP did not agree on a program of reasonable reductions in light of the ongoing drought. The long term agreement calls for reductions in irrigation, enhancement/mitigation, and other environmental projects in the Owens Valley. Bob Harrington indicates that Inyo County is continuing to meeting with MOU parties to look at adjustments to current projects to conserve water that could be transferred to irrigation.   Potential projects targeted include the lower owens river project and the owens dry lake.

The Standing committee is set to meet June 4th.

Cover Photo by Gary Young.

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