LADWP Adapts Operations to Meet 2020’s Low Runoff and Statewide Dry Conditions
Los Angeles, CA (May 27, 2021) – LADWP is adapting annual operations to meet the low runoff in the Owens Valley, forecasted at a mere 55% of normal. As a result, groundwater pumping will only be 34-41% of what is allocated under the long-term agreement (Water Agreement) with Inyo County. All groundwater, coupled with the severely limited runoff, will go to local water systems, fisheries, ranch lease operations, recreation, and environmental enhancement and mitigation projects in Inyo County including dust control, river restoration, and wildlife protection.
“Each year, Californians look to the mountains and the melting snow to gauge what’s in store for our finite, natural resource – the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power does the same,” said Adam Perez, LA Aqueduct Manager, LADWP. “Drier dries, wetter wets, hotter temperatures and year-round fire seasons are all indicative of a climate reality that makes year-to-year water conditions highly unpredictable. LADWP must in turn adapt our operations to prepare for drier times, balancing water supply needs with the needs of the evolving environment.”
Over the years, LADWP has shifted its operations, leaving more water in the region for environmental efforts. Since implementation of the Water Agreement, exports have been reduced by about half and 64 enhancement and mitigation projects are either complete or underway.
The Lower Owens River Project (LORP), a collaboration between both LADWP and Inyo County, is one of the largest river restoration projects in the Western United States. The project commits to rewatering the full 62-mile reach of the Lower Owens River.
Blackrock Waterfowl Management Area (BWMA) is a 1,500 acre off-river area within the LORP that LADWP operates and maintains for the benefit of resident and migratory waterbirds. LADWP manages and monitors water releases over 500 acres to improve habitat conditions for local waterfowl.
And at Owens Lake, LADWP has implemented the Owens Lake Dust Mitigation Program to improve air quality conditions and is working in partnership with local stakeholders to continue to meet cultural and environmental needs associated with the project. To date, this project has brought 48.6 square miles of previously emissive lakebed into air quality compliance translating into 99.3 % reduction in dust emissions.
While we continue to balance supplies with the enhancement and protection of the Eastern Sierra, LADWP is also making significant investments within city limits to reduce dependence on imported, purchased water and reduce overall consumption. We’re diversifying our supplies, committing to 100% recycled wastewater by 2035 and have reduced water use by more than 40% over the last 30 years, even as the city’s population grew by more than one million people.
Learn more about LADWP’s work in the Eastern Sierra here.