Tag Archives: los angeles department of water and power

Great Basin Approves Owens Dry Lake Clean Air Plan

Historic Plan for Clean Air Approved by Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District

April 13, 2016
Submitted by the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District
Keeler, California
Today, the Governing Board of the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District (District) approved an innovative State Implementation Plan to control particulate air pollution and bring the Owens Valley into compliance with air quality standards for the first time. The plan includes the terms of a stipulated court judgment by the Superior Court in Sacramento County requiring the City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to complete the nation’s largest particulate air pollution control project on the dried Owens Lake bed. The District also adopted a new rule and order to LADWP to implement the plan. The plan will next be submitted to the California Air Resources Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for approval and adoption under the federal Clean Air Act.
For 102 years, LADWP’s water diversions into the Los Angeles Aqueduct created the dried Owens Lake bed, the largest source of dust pollution in the country, resulting in severe adverse health
impacts to our local communities. The plan requires LADWP to complete an additional 3.6 square miles of dust controls on the lake bed, bringing the total to 48.6 square miles, and allows the District
to require an additional 4.8 square miles of controls if needed to attain the air quality standards. The plan also allows LADWP to use new water saving measures to control the pollution, including tilling
the lake bed with the back-up of shallow flooding as needed, dynamic water management to more closely align the controls with the emission seasons and utilization of brine in dust control areas.
Immediate water savings will be enough water to supply hundreds of thousands of people.
According to Phill Kiddoo, Air Pollution Control Officer, “This plan will allow the citizens of the Owens Valley to breathe some of the cleanest air in the country and save water. More than 75,000 tons of dust per year have been controlled with dust mitigation implementation at Owens Lake, making this the largest air pollution project in the history of the United States. We also look forward to a new day of cooperation with LADWP to protect the health of our communities and the environment.” The full plan is available on the District web site at www.gbuapcd.org.
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LADWP and CAL Fire schedule Prescribed Burns

LADWP and CAL Fire burns begin this week

February 8, 2016

submitted by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

LADWP and CAL Fire to Conduct Series of Prescribed Burns for Range and Habitat Improvement.
Burns to occur through March 15, 2016.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and CAL Fire crews will be conducting a series of prescribed burns for range and habitat improvement purposes in the Bishop and Independence areas through March 15, 2016.

The first prescribed burn will occur southeast of Bishop this week.

The public is asked not to report the smoke and fire in the controlled burn areas. Crews will monitor the fire throughout the burn, and will take precautions to keep smoke away from area communities.

cover photo by Arnie Palu

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Owens Lake “Big Day” Bird Counts

LADWP and Eastern Sierra Audubon Society Release 2015 Owens Lake “Big Day” Bird Count Reports

Owens Lake Provides Refuge for Waterbirds during Record Drought

submitted by the LADWP

Despite record drought, participants in the 2015 Owens Lake “Big Day” Bird Counts for both Spring and Fall documented continued high bird use within the Lake’s dust control ponds. The numbers are especially encouraging given that several ponds were temporarily off-line due to the ongoing construction of Phase 7A of the Owens Lake Dust Mitigation Project, including some ponds that are typically quite productive during the bird count periods.

The Owens Lake counts are hosted by the Eastern Sierra Audubon Society and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) each year to determine how many birds visit Owens Lake and help guide LADWP staff and stakeholders in the understanding and management of bird habitat within dust control areas.

The Spring 2015 Owens Lake Big Day, held on April 22, 2015, recorded over 97,000 birds and 57 different species – numbers comparable with previous non-drought year spring counts. Some species of note found during the Spring survey include Red-breasted Merganser, a Semipalmated Sandpiper, several Franklin’s Gull, and a lone Cattle Egret..

At almost 60,000 birds, shorebirds comprised approximately 60 percent of the overall Spring total, more than have ever been recorded before during a Big Day count. Waterfowl and diving waterbirds, typically found in lower numbers in spring, totaled approximately 3,000 and 4,000 respectively.

For the Fall 2015 Count, held August 20, 2015, in the midst of one of the state’s most severe droughts on record, over 14,000 birds were seen. This is particularly impressive given that late summer is always a tough time for waterbirds in the Eastern Sierra as water resources are typically at a minimum for the year.

As a drought mitigation measure “dynamic water management” was implemented for the first time on Owens Lake. Under dynamic water management, water releases were delayed to areas identified by Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District (GBUAPCD) as not requiring a wetted surface to control dust until later in the year. In order to help offset potential impacts to wildlife due to drought and dynamic water management, LADWP released water to the lakebed in late summer. This was the first time in history that water was released on Owens Lake outside of dust mitigation periods specifically for the benefit of migrating birds.

The technique seems to have worked given that total bird numbers in August were higher than the last three years. Shorebirds were the most abundant and diverse group as 21 species and over 11,000 shorebirds were recorded. The most notable species found include a Red Phalarope and a Pectoral Sandpiper.

Although all bird species are recorded during the surveys, the populations of specific bird guilds, including shorebirds, waterfowl and diving waterbirds, are of particular interest to stakeholders. Data from Big Day surveys track trends in bird use of the Dust Control Project area, helping guide wildlife habitat management decisions while water conservation efforts are implemented at Owens Lake, and while dust control requirements continue to be met.

The data are also used to refine the Owens Lake Habitat Suitability Model. The Habitat suitability model will be used to guide management and monitor habitat availability during implementation of the Owens Lake Master Project, a long-term collaborative project with the goal of reducing the water usage for dust control while preserving habitat for shorebirds, waterfowl, and diving waterbirds.

Eastern Sierra Audubon Society’s Mike Prather and LADWP Watershed Resources Specialist Debbie House organized the Spring and Fall 2015 Owens Lake Big Day surveys. Participants represented a team effort and included nine LADWP staff, local volunteers, Friends of the Inyo, and staff from Great Basin Air Pollution Control District, Inyo County Water Department, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

Below are the official results for the 2015 Owens Lake Big Day Bird Counts:

Species Group

Common Name







American Wigeon





Blue-winged Teal


Cinnamon Teal



Northern Shoveler



Northern Pintail



Green-winged Teal



Unidentified Teal


Diving Waterbirds




Lesser Scaup





Common Goldeneye


Red-breasted Merganser


Ruddy Duck



Common Loon


Eared Grebe



Fish Eaters

Double-crested Cormorant



American White Pelican


Wading Birds

Great Blue Heron


Great Egret


Cattle Egret


White-faced Ibis



Northern Harrier



American Coot




Black-bellied Plover


Snowy Plover



Semipalmated Plover





Black-necked Stilt



American Avocet



Spotted Sandpiper



Greater Yellowlegs






Lesser Yellowlegs





Long-billed Curlew



Marbled Godwit



Semipalmated Sandpiper


Western Sandpiper



Least Sandpiper



Baird’s Sandpiper





Calidris sp.



Short-billed Dowitcher



Long-billed Dowitcher



Unidentified Dowitcher


Wilson’s Phalarope



Red-necked Phalarope



Red Phalarope


Gulls and Terns

Bonaparte’s Gull


Franklin’s Gull


Ring-billed Gull


California Gull



Caspian Tern



Mourning Dove



American Kestrel


Peregrine Falcon


Prairie Falcon




Say’s Phoebe


Western Kingbird


Common Raven



Horned Lark



Northern Rough-winged Swallow


Barn Swallow



Marsh Wren


American Pipit


Savannah Sparrow



Red-winged Blackbird



Western Meadowlark


Yellow-headed Blackbird


Great-tailed Grackle


Brown-headed Cowbird


 owens dry lake, los angeles department of water and power, eastern sierra Audubon society

LADWP reclassifies five bridges wells

The Los Angeles Department of water and power reclassifies 2 wells in the Five Bridges area as “New Wells”

Will Conduct a CEQA Study

LADWP statement

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

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LADWP Removes Aqueduct Dam


Statement from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power:

Bishop, CA – After meeting environmental demands in the Eastern Sierra for the irrigation season, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) removed the temporary dam in the Los Angeles Aqueduct, unblocking the system and allowing exportation of approximately 22,000 acre feet (AF) of water gathered from the Inyo/Mono Basin this runoff year to flow south to Los Angeles.

The temporary dam was put in place in April near the south end of Owens Lake to hold back Eastern Sierra runoff water in the Owens Valley for environmental purposes during this period of extreme drought. The first-of-its-kind dam effort enabled LADWP to successfully meet its environmental and other water commitments in the Owens Valley.

“While our past actions may have contributed to negative impacts in the Eastern Sierra region, our current mitigation efforts are working to not only restore the land, but also our relationship to the local community,” LADWP General Manager Marcie Edwards said.

“On a normal year, nearly half of all Los Angeles Aqueduct water from the Inyo/Mono Basin stays in the Owens Valley for Owens Lake, environmental mitigation efforts, irrigation, and other uses,” LADWP Los Angeles Aqueduct Manager Jim Yannotta said. “This year, with the snow pack at just four percent of normal, there isn’t enough water to fulfill the needs of both the Owens Valley and Los Angeles. The City of Los Angeles received drastic water reductions, demonstrating LADWP’s strength of commitment to the Eastern Sierra community.”

The total Eastern Sierra water supply on an average year is approximately 541,000 AF. Of this amount, approximately 230,000 AF is typically exported from the Eastern Sierra region to Los Angeles. The rest, nearly 50 percent, is kept in the Owens Valley for uses including environmental mitigation, recreation, habitat enhancement, irrigation and dust mitigation on the Owens Lake, among others. This year, with the temporary aqueduct dam in place, Angelenos will receive just 10 percent of typical exports.

With the residents of Los Angeles receiving a drastic reduction of water from the Eastern Sierra, LADWP had to increase purchased imported water from the Metropolitan Water District and the State Water Project. In addition, Los Angeles increased conservation levels above their already state-leading efforts, meeting stringent goals mandated by Governor Brown and Mayor Garcetti. As a result of this conservation Los Angeles has the lowest water use per capita of all major U.S. cities with a population of over 1 million.

In addition to conservation, LADWP is hard at work shoring up local water resources by increasing stormwater capture efforts and recycled water programs. Furthermore, the Department is cleaning up the San Fernando Groundwater Basin where man-made pollution caused by industrial activities beginning in the 1940s severely impaired the quality of the groundwater, forcing the closure of nearly half of LADWP’s production wells in the area. Staff is working to remove contamination from the groundwater and restore use of the aquifer which once provided over 28 billion gallons per year – nearly two months of the City’s water supply.

With these increases in local water supplies and conservation efforts, Los Angeles is on track to cut imported water purchases from the Sacramento Bay Delta and Colorado River in half by 2025, and an Executive Directive from Mayor Garcetti last year has cemented these commitments.

photo submitted

ladwp, la aqueduct dam removal, owens dry lake, los angeles department of water and power

Irrigation water to flow


Statement from the LADWP:

Bishop, CA — The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is committing to continue irrigating city-owned lands through the duration of irrigation season thanks to water reductions on Owens Lake obtained through the granting of a variance by Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District (Great Basin).

“We are encouraged by the collaboration from our partners at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the State Lands Commission,” Manager of Los Angeles Aqueduct James Yannotta said. “Through the State Agencies’ approval of the variance, LADWP now has the necessary water for irrigating leased City lands in the Owens Valley through September 30.”

The variance granted by the Great Basin Hearing Board in July enables LADWP to initiate a late ramp-up of shallow flooding on Owens Lake. This allows for a water savings of approximately 4,200 acre-feet this fall, which in turn will in turn provide sufficient water for the remainder of irrigation season.

LADWP previously committed to irrigating city-owned lands through August. Irrigation season will end on September 30, 2015.

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