Los Angeles Department of Water and Power delays two-month testing of well due to low snowpack

By on January 4, 2018
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) had planned to begin a two-month testing of a well in the Owens Valley that was overhauled in 2014. However, the low snowpack in the Eastern Sierra has caused LADWP’s water managers to scrap these plans with hopes to conduct the testing next year.

In 2014, LADWP made significant modifications to an old well (called W385) located in the Five Bridges area of the Owens Valley.  The new version, called well W385R, is distinctly different from its predecessor. The new well will draw from deep areas of the aquifer that are hydrologically separate from water that is needed to protect plant growth on the valley floor.

Following a shorter pump test in 2014, LADWP set up this winter’s test to further evaluate the operating characteristics of the well and improve the accuracy of groundwater modeling in the region. However, the potential operation of well W385R has raised concerns in the Owens Valley. During the testing delay LADWP has committed to continue working with both Inyo County personnel and local stakeholders as agreed to in its Long Term Water Agreement.

“Right now, we are looking at about a 50 percent of normal snowpack, which is causing us to reduce flows out of Lake Crowley and start refilling important storage there,” said Richard Harasick, senior assistant general manager for LADWP’s Water System.  “One of the critical control variables for the well test is to maintain a constant flow in the Owens River, which we just cannot afford to do without jeopardizing this year’s aqueduct operations.”

The most recent forecasting from The California Department of Water Resources is for a below normal snowpack for the year and calls for water conservation are already ramping up throughout the state.

Although this of year is typically ideal for gathering good test data — when water flow conditions can be kept fairly constant and robust safeguards can put in place to make to ensure that the environment is completely protected – the lack of precipitation in California thus far this year has interrupted LADWP’s well testing plans.

“While we are eager to get this testing underway, we are more committed to getting good, reliable test results and protecting the local environment. Confirming that this well can be operated without adverse impacts is core to what this testing is about,” said Harasick.