Breaking News: Statement by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power regarding Mammoth Creek Water Issues
On Friday, June 29, 2012 that Los Angeles Department of Water & Power General Manager Ronald O. Nichols released the following statement today regarding an article in the LA Times concerning the town of Mammoth Lakes & Mammoth Creak Water District:
The Mammoth Creek Water District has retained consultants to undertake an intensive and costly public relations campaign to cast the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) as attempting to deny the Town of Mammoth Lakes a water supply from Mammoth Creek. This is simply not true. A story reported in today’s Los Angeles Times repeats many of the baseless arguments set forth by lobbyists and public relations consultants hired by Mammoth Creek Water District (MCWD) at public expense, and I am very concerned that the public is being misled and has been misinformed as to the basic facts. LADWP is in no way attempting to deny water to the Town of Mammoth Lakes and has communicated to MCWD staff and Board that we are ready and willing to work with them to find a solution.
Here are the facts on the issues involving LADWP and MCWD:
For the past a decade, LADWP has expressed its concerns to MCWD regarding water diversions from Mammoth Creek. Over the last year, LADWP and MCWD officials have been negotiating to find a mutually acceptable way of sharing the water of Mammoth Creek while not harming the water customers and ratepayers of Los Angeles. Those talks have consistently failed to produce results.
We believe the reason for the failure to reach an agreement is that so far, the MCWD is unwilling to do what is provided for by water rights laws and protocols of the State of California. LADWP has held the senior water rights on Mammoth Creek since 1905. That water flows to Owens River, and is a part of the water supply to Los Angeles. Water from Mammoth Creek used by MCWD to meet local needs can be replaced by LADWP by purchasing more water from the Metropolitan Water District (MWD). Water rights laws and protocols provide for LADWP to make that substitution to enable the Mammoth water district to meet local needs, which LADWP has repeatedly expressed we are willing to do. However, there is no obligation for LADWP to make that substitution and charge our customers to provide free water to MCWD. To view this otherwise is to ignore the very foundation of water rights laws in California. We believe that MCWD knows its position is groundless and has undertaken a public relations campaign to camouflage that fact.
LADWP had not pressed this issue legally, believing that a fair solution could be reached. However, when MCWD sought to update its Urban Water Management Plan to allow the resort community to increase its water use by 50% in the future by using LADWP’s water source, we were forced to ask a judge to protect the interests of Los Angeles’ water customers who pay LADWP water rates. LADWP has been accused of making a “water grab” but that is simply not the case.
Even though LADWP has taken legal steps required to protect our water rights, at the same time we have also been clear that we are prepared to continue our long-running negotiations with MCWD, in the hope that a compromise can be reached. In fact, recent conversations, not reported in the Times story, have been very positive, and. LADWP and MCWD staff have been quietly working together to look for a suitable resolution that would enable LADWP to retain its water while meeting the needs of MCWD.
It is important to note that even if other supplies cannot be found and Mammoth customers were asked to pay for the water purchased and paid for by Los Angeles’ residents, under the worst-case scenario average Mammoth customers would see their monthly water bills increase from about $24 to $35 – while the same amount of water currently costs a Los Angeles customer about $43 a month. In other words, LADWP’s rates would still be about 25% higher than the rates enjoyed by Mammoth’s residents, businesses and resorts. LADWP has over 300,000 qualified low-income and senior citizen customers who would continue to pay more for their water than customers pay in in Mammoth Lakes even if MCWD compensated for the LADWP water that it is diverting. Los Angeles water customers cannot continue to subsidize Mammoth’s water bills. We believe there are solutions that enable alternatives other than simply reimbursing LADWP for the water that MCWD is using and we remain actively engaged with MCWD to collaboratively find such a solution.
I want to reiterate that LADWP has no intention, nor any desire to deprive the citizens of Mammoth of water. No amount of misinformed public relations efforts can change these facts. We remain willing to work out a solution that will ensure adequate and affordable water supplies to the community of Mammoth Lakes on a sustained and fair basis and we stand ready to work with MCWD to resolve this issue.
Source: LADWP Public Affairs
Graphic credit to: LADWP