YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

DWP's Stand on Owens Lake Dust Pollution

June 29, 1997

The Times' criticism of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power regarding Owens Lake rests on faulty premises (editorial, June 20). DWP's decision to appeal the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District's budget is not based upon a lack of understanding of or desire to solve the air-quality problem. DWP decided to use the administrative processes that are available to seek an effective use of its customers' funds and an open, science-based process that will lead to a solution to the problem.

Since 1983 Los Angeles has paid over $20 million to the district to research and mitigate the occasional dust problems associated with the unique Owens Lake bed. Now the district wants to continue that research and expand its staff. Yet at the same time it is preparing to order a massive project, based on dubious science, that is unlikely to solve the problem. The assertion that federal law requires the dust problem to be settled by 2001 is incorrect. Section 188(f) of the Clean Air Act provides the time necessary to evaluate the appropriateness and feasibility of proposed control measures for such intractable problems.

DWP remains fully committed to addressing the issue. The state Air Resources Board has set up a negotiating session on the budget and the proposed project. We will continue to join other stakeholders in working toward mitigation while protecting the interests of the residents of Los Angeles. But we are not willing to sacrifice both these interests and good science on the altar of emotion-driven, unproven "solutions."


Director of Water Resources

DWP, Los Angeles

* The Times' editorial reminded me of my childhood hatred of the Los Angeles DWP. William Mulholland and Fred Eaton were the "devils incarnate" for their rape of the beautiful Owens Valley.

I remember a bombing of a spillway on the Los Angeles Aqueduct. We kids danced and clapped our hands, but nothing stopped the march northward, and my uncle stood with other armed ranchers to make a last stand at Big Pine. Where tumbleweeds blow now, I remember streams, tall grass, cows, horses, apple orchards and eating huge red tomatoes off the vine--and today when the wind blows the people can't breathe.

Is there no shame!



Los Angeles Times Articles