On November 1, 2012 LADWP announced that the Los Angeles City Council yesterday unanimously approved a resolution supporting the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s lawsuit seeking to halt what LADWP alleges are excessive and unlawful regulations and costs being imposed on Los Angeles water consumers by the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District (Great Basin) in the Owens Valley area of California.
According to the LADWP lawsuit, Great Basin continues to issue orders to LADWP to further expand the area of dust control beyond that which LADWP is responsible and continues to seek to fund its own operations at the expense of Los Angeles water ratepayers.
“The City Council today stood up for Los Angeles consumers, who are being unlawfully obligated to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to mitigate dust beyond that for which Los Angeles is responsible. In addition, fresh water is being wasted to reduce dust when other low-water or waterless options exist,” said LADWP General Manager Ron Nichols. “While LADWP continues to honor our obligations to protect the environment by controlling dust for which we are responsible, we simply will not stand idly by as billions of gallons of LA water are wasted at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars to our customers.”
The proposed City Council resolution states that “the City has spent more than $1.2 billion toward constructing and operating 42 square miles of dust controls and has committed to an additional 3 square miles, resulting in 45 square miles. …[At] the completion of 45 square miles of dust controls the City will have fulfilled its mitigation obligations and illustrated LADWP’s willing interest in addressing the air quality impacts of its water gathering activities on and around Owens Lake.”
The LADWP remains committed to ongoing dust control on the 45 square miles, and seeks to use other proven means to control dust other than by wasting scarce drinking water. LADWP has objected to orders by Great Basin to once again, expand the dust control area further, at a cost of $400 million to LADWP water customers.
“Already, nearly $10 from every $100 of the average LA resident’s water bill goes towards the work we perform at Owens Lake. This money goes to pay for the 95,000 acre feet of water per year that is poured on the lake bed – more than what is used by the entire city of San Francisco annually – there comes a time when you mast say enough is enough,” said LA City Councilmember Tony Cardenas. “Expanding this project again is an abuse of the residents of Los Angeles, especially when we consider how far they have strayed from the original agreement reached between the city and the Great Basin.”
The City Council resolution also describes various objectionable and unlawful actions by Great Basin, including “continu[ing] to issue orders to the City to control dust arising from Owens Lake in excess of the City’s agreement, causation, and legal obligation” and “unreasonably charg[ing] the City for the general costs of government and excessive costs of outside attorneys.”
The unanimous adoption of the resolution signifies that the City Council “affirms, supports and endorses the legal position and the filing of a lawsuit by the LADWP acting on behalf of water ratepayers.”
More information on this issue can be found at www.ladwp.com/OwensLake.