Both Edison and Department of Water and Power officials have hinted at possible talks and plans to keep water flowing down Bishop Creek this summer in view of the third drought year. Now, Edison says they did make an earlier decision to manage flows to help keep water flowing into West Bishop.
We asked Debbie Hess, Regional Manager of Public Affairs for Edison, if the utility planned to manage flows as suggested by former Edison hydrographer Burt Almond. He recommended a consistent 50 cubic feet per second to maintain flows throughout the summer. Almond said Bishop Creek maintains a year-round flow of 30 cfs and only an additional 20 cfs would need to be added. Ms. Hess said, “Southern California Edison is releasing water from the reservoirs in a pattern mimicking natural flows as of April 1st.”
When asked about the Chandler Decree that dictates legal flow requirements, Hess would only say that at the beginning of the season Edison decided to revert to natural flows that are lower than the normally scheduled Chandler Decree flows. She said this is designed to retain more water in the reservoirs and in the creek later in the season. Sources tell us that the LADWP website shows an average flow of roughly 78 cubic feet per second in Bishop Creek this season.
In spite of hopes for a more well-managed flow, Ms. Hess strongly underscored that this does not mean ditches in West Bishop properties will remain wet for the entire season and that is because of the severe drought conditions. Hess said hopefully it will mean water will last longer.
This week, DWP Manager Jim Yannotta said that LA is willing to enter into a “dialog on Bishop Creek flows.” He said DWP is concerned about irrigation requirements under the Long Term Water Agreement. He said the Inyo Supervisors and DWP, acting through the Standing Committee, would have to approve any reductions in irrigation water or water for mitigation projects if there are impacts from a reduction in Bishop Creek flows.