Tag Archives: owens valley news

City of Bishop Appoints New City Administrator

After conducting a comprehensive recruitment facilitated by an executive search firm, the Bishop City Council voted unanimously to appoint Ron Phillips as its next City Administrator at the City Council meeting on January 13, 2020.

The recruitment process yielded 14 applicants, which were put through a rigorous screening. The field was eventually reduced to 4 highly qualified candidates for final interviews. Candidates interviewed before two panels comprised of staff and the City Council.

Mr. Phillips holds a Master’s degree in Regional and City Planning and has a diverse career as a City Manager, Planning Director, Engineering General Manager, Transportation Planner and Past President of the Colorado Municipal League. Ron attended the Program for Senior Executives in State & Local Government as a Gates Foundation Fellow in the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Ron has served as Town Manager in Vail, Colorado, Transportation Services Director for Fort Collins, Colorado, principal in his own consulting firm, and most recently as General Manager for six water utility special districts in Wasatch County, Utah.

The Bishop City Council welcomes Mr. Phillips to the City! He is expected to start on February 1st, and we are excited to have him join the City team.

County to Discuss Indian Wells Groundwater Authority Groundwater Sustainability

The Inyo County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to discuss the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (IWVGA) draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) at its regular meeting Tuesday, January 14. Specifically, the Board will receive a presentation by staff and an update from Supervisor Kingsley, Inyo
County’s representative on the IWVGA. The GSP is scheduled for consideration by the IWVGA on Thursday, January 16, 2020. One of the components of the GSP is inclusion of a project seeking to import water into the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin via the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

Inyo County is one of five members of the IWVGA, which also includes Kern and San Bernardino counties, the City of Ridgecrest, and the Indian Wells Valley Water District. The joint powers authority was created for the purpose of implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) within the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin, which the state determined is in “critical overdraft” due to decades of over- pumping. SGMA is requiring development of a GSP as part of the mandate to halt the overdraft and bring the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin into balanced levels of pumping and recharge by 2040. The GSP is
due this month.

“Although Inyo County’s constituency is a relatively small portion of the groundwater users in that basin (i.e., Pearsonville), Inyo County has outsized concerns regarding the future of the basin’s water use due to the intention of our fellow JPA members to import water into the basin via the LADWP Aqueduct,” said Assistant County Counsel John-Carl Vallejo, who serves as Inyo County’s alternate on the IWVGA board.

The Inyo County Board of Supervisors hear the update Tuesday shortly after reconvening from closed session at 10 a.m.

The meeting will be held in the Board of Supervisors Chambers, County Administrative Center, 224 N. Edwards St., Independence.

Manzanar hosts Citizenship Ceremony

Manzanar Historic Site hosts Naturalization Ceremony

May 25, 2016
by Allie Wilder

Today a Naturalization Ceremony took place at Manzanar National Historic Site in observance of Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The ceremony was part of a partnership between U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the National Park Service to host 100 Naturalization Ceremonies in 100 National Parks and Monuments to celebrate the National Park Service’s Centennial.

Keynote speaker Honorable Paul M. Igasaki congratulated the 14 local new citizens saying that they “Have altered the American Story today by becoming part of it”.

Both Igasaki and longtime Manzanar volunteer, 2016 National Park Service enduring service award winner and former internee Saburo Sasaki noted that until 1952 only those of European ancestry were eligible for naturalization. Sasaki urged the new citizens to exercise their new rights as the privilege of becoming American citizens has not always been available to everyone.

Bernadette Johnson, superintendent of Manzanar National Historic Site noted that the story of Manzanar is “A story of the fragility of our constitutional rights” and that she hopes that this can become an annual event.

In her closing remarks Monica E. Toro from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services stated that making this an annual event will be their pleasure. The ceremony concluded with Voter Registration for the new citizens and a tour of Manzanar National Historic Site led by Saburo Sasaki.

The 14 new citizens taking their Oath of Allegiance. Photo by Allie Wilder
Manzanar national historic site, manzanar hosts citizenship ceremony, owens valley news

LADWP awards $217 Million Contract for Owens Lake Work

LADWP Awards Big Money for Dry Lake Dust Controls

submitted by the LADWP

LADWP Awards $200+ million Construction Contract to OHL USA for Owens Lake Phase 9/10 Project

Employment Opportunities May Be Available for Owens Valley Residents

Los Angeles, CA – The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has awarded the contract for construction of Phase 9/10 of Owens Lake’s dust mitigation effort to OHL USA. The contract with OHL USA is not to exceed $238,973,689, which includes a 10 percent contingency amount of $21,724,881. OHL USA was awarded the contract with a bid amount of $217,248,808.

The Phase 9/10 project is designed to mitigate dust emissions on an additional 3.62 square miles of Owens Lake playa. By the completion of this project, the City of Los Angeles will have mitigated dust emissions from over 48 square miles of Owens Lake playa and LADWP will have reduced PM10 dust emissions from the lakebed by 99 percent. The effort is scheduled to be completed by December 31, 2017. Upon completion of Phase 9/10, the City of Los Angeles’ overall investment in the Owens Lake Dust Mitigation Program will reach nearly $2 billion.

OHL USA will be hiring union trades, clerical and office staff positions for the Phase 9/10 Project. To apply to work on Phase 9/10, please contact Ezam Khazeni of OHL California at 949-242-4432, or email your resume to ekhazeni@ohlusa.com.

OHL USA’s West Coast office is staffed by experts in heavy civil construction who have decades of experience working in the region. Their expertise and capabilities are supported by the financial strength and technical resources of OHL’s global practice, which includes more than a century of successful construction around the world.

ladwp owens dry lake, owens dry lake, owens valley news, eastern sierra news

Independence Holiday Boutique and Craft Show

Independence Holiday Boutique and Craft Show

Get into the spirit of the season on Friday November 20 by enjoying a day of fun, food & holiday shopping in beautiful and historic Independence.

The very popular Independence Holiday Boutique and Craft show kicks off the day with over 20 talented craft persons displaying their handiwork for sale at the American Legion Hall beginning at 7:45 a.m. Shoppers will find a huge selection of beautiful and one-of-a-kind hand-made items including jewelry, pottery, aprons, baskets, baked goods and much more. You’ll be sure to find just the right item for everyone on your holiday shopping list.

The show will also feature hot breakfast from 7:45 to 10 and a delicious lunch including hand-crafted soups, chili and more starting at 11. The Boutique and Craft show will be open 7:45 a.m. until 2.
Also on November 20th, the Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery adds to the Independence festivities with their annual Holiday sale from 10 a.m. until 3. Come in and check out their great selection of Christmas gift ideas and Christmas decorations as well. And after shopping…enjoy a free self-guided tour of the historic Fish Hatchery, a true Owens Valley treasure.

Holiday shopping, delicious food and genuine small town charm…you’ll find all that and much more on Friday November 20th. Make a day of it and take the trip to historic Independence for a fun filled day of holiday cheer and geniality. For more information call Gayle at 760 920-2132.

cover photo, 2014 Independence Boutique and Craft Show

independence california, mt whitney fish hatchery, owens valley news

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.

ladwp, los angeles department of water and power, owens valley news, inyo county news

NIH goes Green and gets the green light on patient improvement plan

NIH Green Committee diverts 23.2 tons from local landfill

They drive past every day — trucks pulling 53-foot hay trailers headed up and down U.S. 395. The next one that passes by, take a long, hard look at the trailer and picture it loaded with recyclables like paper, plastics and bottles. That trailer is equal to the amount of recycling diverted from the local landfill in just three months thanks to Northern Inyo Hospital’s Green Committee.
Established last year by hospital administrator Victoria Alexander-Lane and a group of ecologically-minded employees eager to cut waste, The NIH Green Committee partnered with The Sierra Conservation Project and Preferred Disposal to do as much recycling as possible. None of the committee members knew what that would mean in the long run; they just knew it was the right thing to do.
An exact answer came at the end of June, and the results were huge.
In the first quarter of the effort, April through June of this year, the hospital recycled: 22,680 lbs of mixed paper; 1,210 lbs of plastics; 302 lbs of aluminum; 6,048 lbs of glass, and; an estimated 16,164 lbs of cardboard. The grand total adds up to 46,404 lbs, or roughly 23.2 tons.
That’s right 23.2 tons. It is projected that within a year, NIH will have recycled 92.808 tons of materials.
Environmental Services Manager Richard Miears presented this information to the NIH Board of Directors during its July meeting. Miears, who has a background in trucking, was the person who realized the visual of a hay truck. He estimated that 650 bales of hay at 65 lbs each equaled 42,250 lbs — 4,000 lbs less than what NIH recycled.
“It’s a good start,” Miears said, “but we want to take this from good to great. We have plans in place to explore other areas where we can reduce waste.”
For example, the NIH Green Committee began recycling coffee grounds to the Bishop High School Future Farmers of America’s composting program. The committee is working with NIH’s Maintenance Department to explore the use of LED lighting within the hospital. Miears said if the hospital switched over completely, NIH could save up to $200,000 per year in electrical costs. Not bad, considering the hospital’s current power bill is an estimated $480,000 a year.
“The success of this program rests in small efforts as well as the larger projects,” Miears said. “Every little bit helps. Every project counts.”
So when the NIH Information Technology agreed to be the first department to use recycled paper, the Green Committee was delighted. An even bigger effort is the recycling of blood pressure cuffs and pulse oximeter probes. “If the deal works out with the medically-certified recycling company we are working with, it could save the hospital $15,000 a year, and one year will pay for two-and-a-half years of our local recycling program. If that isn’t a win-win situation, then I don’t know what is,” Miears said.
Miears would especially like to thank the hospital’s Environmental Services and Dietary staffs and all the hospital employees who have participated in the recycling effort. “It’s really a team effort,” he said.
The NIH Green Committee consists of NIH employees Julie Anderson, Greg Bissonette, Andrea Daniels, Layne Durocher, Mark Gavriel, Brandi Jernigan, Karen Taketomo, Lynn Lippincott, Neil Lynch, Richard Miears, Shauna Murray, Devin Riley, Amy Stange and Cheryl Underhill.

State gives green light to NIH patient care improvements

Surveyors from the California Department of Public Health visited Northern Inyo Hospital (NIH) for a licensing survey on July 21-22. The hospital can now provide the following improvements for its patients.
Swing Bed increase
The state granted NIH five additional Swing Beds, bringing its available total to 10. Medicare allows certain small rural hospitals to use its beds as needed, either for acute care or skilled care. This allows physicians to “swing” patients from one level of care to another while staying within the same bed and same facility.
A good example of a Swing Bed stay is when someone undergoes joint replacement surgery. A Swing Bed allows patients to recover in a hospital setting versus a nursing home. In the hospital, patients have easy access to nursing care and rehabilitative services including physical, occupational and speech therapy. The goal of Swing Bed programs is to help patients becoming as independent as possible before discharge.
Swing Beds also allow patients to stay closer to family and friends, reducing stress from possibly being placed outside the community and eliminating high transportation costs. It also provides the patient with continuity of care since they will be working with the same nurses and therapists they had during their surgery or illness.
RHC Exam Rooms added, Women’s Health added
The Rural Health Clinic’s (RHC) Family Practice now has three additional exam rooms. The additional exam rooms are expected to ease patient flow and should reduce patient wait times at the RHC, which experiences about 24,000 patient visits per year.
In addition, women’s health care services are now part of the RHC, housed in the adjacent building connected by a ramp/walkway. These services will include obstetrical care, well women exams and minor gynecological procedures. RHC Family Practice will continue to provide family practice/primary care, preventive care, chronic disease management and acute illness care.
Patients making appointments should call (760) 873-2602 for women’s health or (760) 873-2849 for family practice.
Infusion Center to relocate
The new NIH Infusion Center will now occupy a much larger space within the older main hospital off Pioneer Lane.
What makes the new space unique is that it offers five individual exam rooms, enhancing privacy for patients. NIH nursing staff is working to make the new location a warmer, more welcoming place for patients to undergo treatment. The Infusion Center is expected to begin operations by early Fall.
Infusion Therapy is the intravenous administration of medication and is most often used when oral medications will not work. For many people chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer is the most familiar type of Infusion Therapy. Other types include intravenous antibiotics and therapeutic infusions such as iron replacement and infusions for bone health.
Northern Inyo Hospital is a 25-bed, not-for-profit Critical Access Hospital located in Bishop. Accredited by The Joint Commission, NIH has been providing health care to the Eastern Sierra since 1946.

northern inyo hospital, bishop california news, owens valley news

Current Fire Map

Fires Rage Statewide

The Rough fire grew substantially Sunday.   Fire officials indicate the fire burning north of Hume Lake in Fresno County grew approximately 2,500 acres Sunday.  Smoke from the Rough Fire made its way into the Eastern Sierra mid-afternoon Sunday.  The Rough Fire is currently listed at 0% containment.  The lightning caused fire that started back on July 31st is now 3,777 acres with 282 firefights assigned.

The Willow Fire near Bass Lake and the Cabin Fire in Sequoia National Park are now both over 90% contained.  Both Fires produces a large amount of smoke in the Easter Sierra.  The Willow fire is 95% contained at 5,702 acres and the Cabin Fire is 96% contained at 5,871 acres.  Officials note that while the Cabin Fire is nearly 100% contained, the interior of the fire will continue to smolder.  That will lead to limited residual smoke to the Southern Owens Valley.

The map below details fires statewide.


view of Rough fire Sunday from Hume Lake. Photo from “Lookouts R Us” Facebook page.
us forest service, rough fire, willow fire, cabin fire, owens valley news, california fires

Summer Time Reading Fun

Summer Reading at the Inyo County Free Library

Excitement and fun await those who journey to their local Inyo County Free Library and participate in the 2015 summer reading program: Read to the Rhythm! In addition to reading great books, library patrons can participate in exciting programs designed to introduce youngsters to the world of music, instruments, dance, rhythm, and movement.

Bishop Library
The Bishop Library will be hosting StoryTime every other Friday from 10:30-11:30.The next meeting will be on Friday, June 19th and will feature a performance by the High Sierra Chorus, who will be teaching our young patrons all about a capella singing. Kids of all ages are welcome to attend this free event!

For school-age patrons, join us at the Bishop Library every Friday this summer from 3:30-4:30 for our Elementary Reading Group. During the month of June we will be reading Rescue on the Oregon Trail by Kate Messner. It’s about Rescue, a time-traveling search-and-rescue dog who is transported to the year 1850 where he meets a family migrating west on the Oregon Trail. The journey to California is long and dangerous, and it is Rescue’s duty to keep his new friends safe!

Big Pine Library
The Big Pine Library welcomes children in preschool through 6th grade to read all summer long and earn Book Bucks. Young readers can purchase prizes, and even ice cream cones, with Book Bucks! The program goes through August 8th, and ends with a big party. Parents, sign your kids up with Lydia the Librarian at the Big Pine Library – 760-938-2420.

Independence and Lone Pine Libraries
Summer reading starts in Independence on June 25th with weekly story time from 3:30 – 4:30 PM, through July 30. Meet at the Eastern California Museum located 3 blocks west of the Courthouse.
In Lone Pine, children should gather at the Lone Pine Library at the corner of Bush and Washington Streets beginning Wednesday, June 24th from 10:30 – 11:30 AM, and going through July 29th.

In both towns, the program is geared to children grades 2-5, but all are welcome to attend. There will be prizes and lots of fun centered around reading and rhythm.
Lone Pine and Independence adults who hanker to read more this summer can also participate. For every book read, a ticket will be entered in a weekly drawing for fabulous prizes!

And if reading great books isn’t rewarding enough on its own, several local businesses generously donated prizes for kids participating in this year’s summer reading program. The Library is incredibly grateful for the strong community support to promote reading and literacy.

If you are interested in participating in the summer reading program, the Library is looking for Story Time volunteer readers, further donations for prizes, and musicians who would be willing to do demonstrations for the kids. Please contact Heather Todd at the Bishop Library (760-873-5115) or Lone Pine/Independence Coordinator Esther Hampton, at 760-876-5035 if you would like to get involved.

cover photo, “Make Tracks to the Library” The New Warren St. improvements at the Bishop Library

inyo county library, bishop news, big pine news, owens valley news

Historic Drought Requires Historic Solutions

Historic Drought Requires Historic Solutions

Op-Ed by Amanda Parsons, LADWP Spokesperson

When gazing at the Sierra Nevada Mountains this year there is a harsh reality staring back: California is in the midst of a four-year drought – a drought so dire that it is unparalleled by any in the recorded history of the State. Snow pack in the Eastern Sierra was measured at only 4 percent of normal and runoff this year is only 36 percent of normal, far shattering the previous lowest year.
Many in the community are pleased that virtually no water from the LA Aqueduct will be exported south of Owens Lake, likely until November. But the harsh reality is, this year, there simply is not enough water to meet all of our obligations in the Owens Valley for the environment, local agriculture, tribal lands, irrigation, stockwater, recreation, and dust mitigation on Owens Lake. This reality is further complicated by the fact that required legal obligations and stipulated judgments have bound the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to use what little water is available to fulfill certain mandates, causing others to receive less.
For those who attended the County Board of Supervisors workshop meeting last Tuesday to discuss the lack of water, we want to thank you for voicing your opinions and making yourself heard. Constructive suggestions were brought up by the County Supervisors and the community.
Jim Yannotta, LADWP Manager of Aqueduct, is pleased to report that with cooperation of the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District (Great Basin), irrigation to LADWP leaseholders will not be shut off on May 1st as previously considered. This collaboration between Great Basin and LADWP allowed us to reach a mutually agreed upon solution for water savings on Owens Lake this spring, providing additional water for irrigation to continue for the near term, and helping local agriculture and the Owens Valley economy in the process.
This agreement with Great Basin couldn’t have been achieved without the help of the community and their participation in this complicated discussion. As the discussion continues, there is opportunity for further water savings that could be made available for irrigation or other uses. However, several questions remain in the community – questions about LADWP’s timing, reasoning, and numbers.
We understand that the timing of our letter to our leaseholders notifying them of our need to shut off irrigation water appears to have been done with too short of notice.
LADWP wants to emphasize that staff made efforts prior to the release of that letter to alert our stakeholders of the impacts this drought would have on local operations. A letter was sent to all our leaseholders in March informing them that irrigation amounts would be greatly reduced this year. We also invited a number of the members of the ranching community to our Bishop office almost two weeks ago once the final runoff numbers for this year were calculated showing an extreme shortage of water and lack of water for irrigation. The Department’s Annual Owens Valley Operations Plan is due to Inyo County on April 20 each year. Immediately, discussion with Inyo County Water Department and County officials ensued regarding the severity of the situation.
Continuing irrigation on our lease lands at the level it occurred during April would leave the Department short of water to meet all demands and our many legal obligations. LADWP staff worked to find solutions, but once the reality of the long list of legal obligations the Department faces came in to play, we had to show in the Operations Plan where the extremely limited amount of water would be used on LA-owned lands. Unless we neglected our legal requirements to the environment and for clean air by controlling dust on Owens Lake, we would not have enough water available for both the agricultural/ranching economy and environmental obligations in this Valley. We needed to inform all of the lessees as soon as possible about this dire situation.
As for our numbers provided in the Operations Plan, every year water engineers across the globe account for a certain amount of losses from snow pack to tap. These losses can be attributed to ground infiltration, evaporation, plant transpiration, etc. This year, LADWP’s Water Engineers predicted a loss of 119,400 acre feet as this water seeps into the ground of the Owens Valley, evaporates into the air of the Owens Valley, is transpired by plants in the Owens Valley, and is used by private landholders in the Owens Valley.
To put that into context, during the last runoff year – the second-lowest year ever – 147,000 acre feet was lost due to these miscellaneous uses and losses. The Inyo/Los Angeles Water Agreement signed in 1991 by both the City of Los Angeles and the County accounted for 122,000 acre feet for these uses and losses. Both the City and County have operated under this mutually agreed upon expectation, derived from historical averages, for over twenty years. LADWP’s predicted loss amount is considerably less than last year’s actual losses. Meaning LADWP’s meager predictions for available water in the Valley and for export may be further reduced as the year progresses.
Each Annual Operations Plan is calculated using a runoff-year, April 1 through March 31. In order to account for our annual allotment numbers, predictions must be made for the second half of the runoff year, October through March. In our predictions LADWP is forecasting normal winter precipitation levels during the remainder of this runoff year. The 2015-16 Plan states LADWP will deliver 42,000 acre feet of water from the Eastern Sierra to LA this runoff year (10,000 of which is already in storage from previous years and is not a result of current runoff). This represents only about 15 percent of the Eastern Sierra water that is typically exported to Los Angeles. However, if we do not achieve normal precipitation levels during that period, then less water will come down the creeks next winter and less will be available to the Owens Valley and Los Angeles.
Although this reality is far from ideal for any of us, it has resulted in a positive outcome to address this critical situation in the near term thanks to responses from the community, the Inyo County Board of Supervisors and Great Basin.
For better or worse, Los Angeles is connected to the Eastern Sierra by the aqueduct that binds us. We are a huge part of the Valley’s history, the reason for its pristine present, and a valuable partner in the shaping of its successful future.
This is the worst drought on record. Los Angeles is feeling its impacts just like the Owens Valley, and the rest of California. We are all in this together. If we continue to work collaboratively, listen to one another and accept the current reality, together we can develop productive solutions to this unprecedented situation. Let’s make history together.

Amanda Parsons is the Public Relations Representative from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power in the Owens Valley. If you have any questions regarding this issue or any LADWP operations, please don’t hesitate to contact her. She can be reached at 760-873-0264 or

ladwp, drought 2015, owens valley news, eastern sierra news, amanda parsons