NEWS WORTH NOTING: Mono County sues LADWP to stop next Eastern Sierra water grab, LADWP responds; Moulton Niguel Water District celebrates 50 years of water recycling; Officials visit Twentynine Palms, tour flouride facility

Mono County sues Los Angeles to stop next Eastern Sierra water grab

Litigation Challenges LADWP’s Failure to Conduct Environmental Review Prior to Dewatering Wetland and Meadow Habitat in Southern Mono County

On Wednesday, Mono County filed litigation challenging the decision of the City of Los Angeles and its Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to dry out 6,400 acres of wetlands, meadows and pastures in Long and Little Round Valleys in order to export additional water from California’s Eastern Sierra.

The lands in question have been irrigated for more than 100 years and provide important habitat for wildlife, including the bi-state-sage grouse, a California bird species of special concern currently being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act. The results of LADWP’s devastating action are visible to anyone traveling along Highway 395 near Crowley Lake, and the scenic vistas cherished by visitors from Los Angeles and around the world could be forever altered. Thousands of acres of wetland and meadow habitat are already brown and dry. With wildfires raging around the state, the removal of water and encroachment of highly flammable invasive plant species has state and county officials worried.

According to the Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, John Laird, LADWP’s actions in southern Mono County “have significant consequences to wildlife by destroying wetlands and riparian areas and eliminating habitat for sensitive species such as the bi-state sage grouse” and “also significantly increase the risk of wildfires, which would threaten nearby communities.”

The county’s lawsuit alleges that LADWP failed to comply with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and seeks “a determination from the Court that LADWP’s decision/action to significantly reduce water deliveries to approximately 6,400 acres of land in the County of Mono, modify more than seventy years of land management practices on those lands and thereby increase water export from Mono County is invalid and void and fails to satisfy the requirements of CEQA and the CEQA Guidelines.”

CEQA requires public agencies, such as LADWP, to analyze and consider the potential environmental impacts of their actions prior to taking those actions.

The county’s lawsuit further alleges that “prior to approving the additional water export and changing its historic land management practices, LADWP did not conduct any environmental review under CEQA. Thus, neither the public nor decisionmakers were provided information regarding the potentially significant impacts that such action may have on biological resources such as the bi-state sage grouse, visual/aesthetic resources, wetlands, and public safety.”

Read the full press release here: Press Release – Litigation FINAL

LADWP statement on Mono County litigation

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) today released the following statement in response to the litigation filed by the Mono County Board of Supervisors.

“LADWP has continued operating this year as we have in prior years, providing irrigation water to ranchers in Mono County based on operational needs, as provided for in each lease. LADWP is considering entering into new leases with the ranchers and other lessees in Mono County and will complete a full and thorough Environmental Impact Report before the new leases are approved. While continuing to provide irrigation water to ranchers, LADWP – through regular field visits and an established working group – continues to work closely with and implement recommendations from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Mono County, local Audubon representatives, and U.S. Geological Survey to provide water for the region’s Sage Grouse.

“The amount of water the county is demanding we use for flood-irrigation on a small portion of City of LA owned-land in southern Mono County is enough to serve nearly 50,000 households every year and would cost Los Angeles ratepayers nearly $18 million to replace the amount of water requested and the lost hydropower it generates by purchasing additional supplies from the already stressed State Water Project.  Climate change demands that we carefully manage limited water supplies throughout the State of California. We are committed to doing so and working with our lessees to use water more efficiently.”

Richard Harasick
LADWP Senior Assistant General Manager of Water System 

Moulton Niguel Water District Celebrates 50 Years of Water Recycling

District Delivers Over 2 Billion Gallons of Water Annually Via 150 Miles of Purple Pipes

Moulton Niguel Water District is celebrating its 50th year of operating one of the state’s most successful water recycling programs, which reuses more than 2 billion gallons of water every year.

As one of the first agencies to use recycled water in Orange County in the early 1960s, Moulton Niguel Water District now provides recycled water to more than 1,300 customers. Collectively, the District uses 7 million gallons of recycled water every day to irrigate landscapes at parks, recreational facilities, golf courses, street medians, and more. Every drop of recycled water that is used is a drop of drinking water that doesn’t have to be imported from hundreds of miles away.

“Our District could fill 3,900 Olympic-sized swimming pools with recycled water,” explains Moulton Niguel Water District President Donald Froelich. “Our recycled water program has been instrumental in creating a sustainable water supply for our customers.”

Recycled water meets about 25 percent of the District’s overall water demands. Without recycled water sources, customers would need to use drinking water for all outdoor water uses, which comes at a higher cost.

“Moulton Niguel Water District’s recycled water program has conserved billions of gallons of water and helped thousands of customers save money,” said Director Larry Lizotte, who has served on Moulton Niguel Board of Directors for nearly half a century. “Over the years, especially during periods of drought, customers have really become appreciative of their opportunity to buy recycled water from us. Recycled water also reduces our dependence on imported water and provides our customers with reliable access to water.”

Moulton Niguel Water District’s Recycled Water Infrastructure

Moulton Niguel Water District’s recycled water customer pioneers, El Niguel Country Club and Mission Viejo Country Club, began their first full year of recycled water use in 1968. Over the years, both facilities have also invested in modern irrigation systems and planted California native landscaping to reduce their water needs.

“We’re grateful to Moulton Niguel Water District for its leadership then and its ongoing commitment to customer service and regional reliability. We’re proud of our long-standing partnership focused on responsible management of this valuable resource,” said Kimberly Wood, El Niguel Country Club’s general manager.

The District’s recycled water system has expanded substantially over the past half century, and now consists of approximately 150 miles of recycled water distribution pipelines. To serve its 1,300 recycled water customers, Moulton Niguel Water District also maintains 13 recycled water pump stations, six steel storage tanks, five pre‐stressed concrete reservoirs and two advanced wastewater treatment facilities.

Planning for the Future: Recycled Water Optimization Plan

Moulton Niguel Water District plans to expand its recycled water distribution system with the implementation of a recycled water optimization plan. The District offers a recycled water retrofit rebate as an incentive to encourage recycled water use. Additionally, the District has partnered with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to help customers in its service area access additional financial incentives for recycled water use through its On-Site Retrofit Program.

“Our District will continue to reinvest ratepayer dollars right back into maintaining and enhancing our community’s water infrastructure,” said Moulton Niguel Water District Board Vice President Brian Probolsky. “Recycled water improves our water reliability for all our customers during both wet and drought years.”

Throughout the year, Moulton Niguel Water District plans to recognize its recycled water customers and partners for their role in making the community more self-reliant.

Moulton Niguel Water District’s Recycled Water by the Numbers:  

  • 50 years of recycled water use
  • 1,367 customers
  • 150 miles of “purple pipe”
  • 7 million gallons used daily
  • 25% of total water demand
  • 19 pressure reducing stations
  • 13 recycled water pump stations
  • 11 reservoirs and storage tanks
  • 2 advanced wastewater treatment facilities

Moulton Niguel Water District maintains the lowest average bill in South Orange County. A leader in conservation and environmental protection, Moulton Niguel provides high-quality drinking water, recycled water and wastewater treatment services to customers in Aliso Viejo, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, Mission Viejo, San Juan Capistrano and Dana Point.

State Water Board member E. Joaquin Esquivel and Colorado River Water Board Executive Officer Paula Rasmussen visit Twentynine Palms Water District

Officials tour innovative flouride treatment plant, discuss region’s water needs and priorities

From Twentynine Palms Water District:

State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) Member E. Joaquin Esquivel and Executive Officer (EO) of the Colorado River Regional Water Quality Control Board (Colorado River Water Board) Paula Rasmussen joined Twentynine Palms Water District (TPWD) officials on Thursday, August 9, for a tour of the District’s innovative fluoride treatment plant.

“We are grateful to SWRCB Member Esquivel and Colorado River Water Board EO Rasmussen for making the time to visit our District and learn first-hand about our commitment to meeting the drinking water needs of our community,” said Ray Kolisz, TPWD’s General Manager. “Our fluoride treatment plant is a testament of our commitment to maintaining the safety of our water supply.”

TPWD, in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), successfully constructed a fluoride treatment plant in 2003. The Plant – capable of producing three-million gallons per day of treated water – removes high naturally occurring fluoride contained in groundwater through an adsorption process using activated aluminum with pH control. TPWD continues to develop innovative processes for fluoride removal through a unique in-house pilot study system.

“TPWD is an innovative and debt-free water district,” said Vice President of TPWD’s Board of Directors Carol Giannini. “We harness our resources to provide our residents affordable and safe drinking water.”

TPWD is currently pursuing grant funding for the design and construction of a secondary source water well to establish redundancy and ensure the reliability of the District’s water system in the event of an unexpected failure.


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About News Worth Noting:  News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations.  News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms.  If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.

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