Solar pilot, without impact report, proposed for Owens Valley

Nearly a century after Los Angeles drained Owens Lake by diverting its water to the Los Angeles Aqueduct, the city now hopes to generate solar energy on the dusty salt flats it left behind, reports Phil Wilson in the Los Angeles Times.

The Department of Water and Power’s board of commissioners Tuesday unanimously approved a renewable energy pilot project that would cover 616 acres of lake bed with solar arrays — a possible precursor to a mammoth solar farm that could cover thousands of acres.

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Permanent water conservation

California did it. This month, the Legislature passed a package of bills that includes a statewide urban water conservation goal of 20% by 2020. We have confronted the kind of conservation that will be needed to secure the water supply of Los Angeles, and the state, in the face of population growth and climate change. Or have we? It all depends on where you put the goal posts.

To keep reading today’s op-ed in the Los Angeles Times on permanent water conservation, click here.

Correction: In citing projected population growth by 2020 for Southern California in this article, I quoted predictions as high as 43%. That was incorrect. The correct figure for Southern California as forecast in 1998 by the California Department of Housing and Community Development is 13.8% and for state-wide growth 48.3%. I greatly regret the error. Please see the comment string for more discussion of the

Trouble in paradise

LOS ANGELES awoke fractious today, at least in the press. Los Angeles Department of Water & Power bills are arriving and a North Hollywood couple using an average 748 gallons of water a day, five times the Los Angeles County norm (150 gallons per day, down from 181 a year ago) is so mad, they wrote a seven-page letter to Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez.

For Lopez, the couple’s outrage was a jumping off point. Lopez himself is fantasizing about seeing Mayor Villaraigosa shot aloft by a geyser from one of the City’s seemingly endless water main breaks.

Interview: S. David Freeman

IN APRIL 2009, a man of big hats, big talk and big reputation, S. David Freeman, was appointed Deputy Mayor of the City of Los Angeles for Energy and Environment. The job vaulted the Tennessean and former General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power back into the forefront of water issues just as the State Legislature tried to pass a massive block of water bills. Last week, that legislation failed, and Freeman thinks that’s just as well for Los Angeles.

On the subject of dust, birds and water in Owens Valley

FROM THE Inyo Register via Aquafornia: The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power is working on a “moat and row” plan to control the dust storms caused by its diversion of the snowmelt that once fed Owens Lake (see pre-LA Aqueduct photo, left). Court-ordered air pollution mitigation now forces LADWP to leave vast amounts of water on the dry lake bed instead of pumping it to Los Angeles. Ponds formed by dust control watering have recently become a sanctuary for birds. The new “moat and row” system would mean more water for LA but less water for the birds. To read the Inyo Register story,  click hereFor what we know about the reputedly $100m LADWP case against its dust contractor CH2M Hill, click here. For a 1913 Los Angeles Times story recounting the opening of the aqueduct that drained Owens Lake, click here. Finally,

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