The Los Angeles Department of water and power reclassifies 2 wells in the Five Bridges area as “New Wells”
Will Conduct a CEQA Study
BISHOP – Community concern surrounding the proposed testing of two recently modified wells in the Five Bridges area north of Bishop, have prompted the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to re-evaluate and treat wells W385 and W386 (now numbered as 385R and 386R) as “new wells” as defined by the Inyo/LA Water Agreement and described in the Green Book. The new classification means that LADWP will perform a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) study on the project to analyze whether operation will have significant environmental impacts and to avoid or mitigate those impacts, if feasible.
“Performing a CEQA study for wells 385R and 386R is appropriate to better avoid potential significant environmental impacts,” James Yannotta, Manager of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, said. “With the activation of these wells we hope to provide water for local environmental and irrigation efforts, and provide a reliable source of water for export to Los Angeles.”
The old wells W385 and W386 were operated in the late 1980s with the intention of both dewatering gravel pits in the Five Bridges area and providing water for Los Angeles. Both wells were screened to the shallow and deep aquifer and, when operated, impacted vegetation in the Five Bridges area.
Consequently, the 1991 Environmental Impact Report (EIR) identified both wells as contributing to a significant impact to vegetation in the area and prescribed development of a mitigation measure to remediate the impact. The mitigation measure required Inyo County and LADWP to jointly develop and implement a revegetation plan for 300 acres identified in the report. This mitigation effort is ongoing.
Recently, both wells 385R and 386R were modified and screened to pump only from a deep aquifer, and will pump at a rate of less than 25 percent of their original capacity. LADWP anticipates that pumping from the deep aquifer, and at a dramatically lower rate, will protect groundwater dependent vegetation from any impacts associated with pumping. LADWP planned to conduct a thorough test to confirm this prior to putting the wells into operation. However, significant opposition to the renewed operation of these wells has been received by Inyo County and LADWP. After reviewing these concerns, LADWP agrees that further study of the area will alleviate concerns and is now reclassifying wells 385R and 386R as new wells.
LADWP thanks the community for their input during this process. The Department will adhere to the new well provisions outlined in the Inyo/LA Water Agreement in activating these and all new wells.
The goal of the Inyo/LA Water Agreement is to provide a reliable source of water for the City of Los Angeles as well as the protection of the Owens Valley environment. During a normal hydrologic year nearly one-third of Los Angeles’ water supply is supplied from the Los Angeles Aqueduct.
A large presence in the Eastern Sierra region, LADWP owns 315,000 acres in Inyo and Mono Counties and keeps nearly 75 percent of these lands open to the public for recreation. LADWP has been present in the Owens Valley for over a century and is a valuable partner in the Owens Valley community.
Cover Photo by Gary Young