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The LADWP began releasing water at the Freeman Sluice Gate last Wednesday, March 29. This is one of five locations where water will be released. The aqueduct releases are expected to continue through August. / Laura Austin Photo

LADWP is now releasing water into IWV Basin

By Patricia Farris News Review Publisher–

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) began releasing water from the aqueduct into the Indian Wells Valley Basin on Wednesday, March 29, at the Freeman Sluice Gate.   Reported Don Zdeba, Acting Manager for the Indian Wells Valley Water District (IWVWD)

Freeman Sluice Gate is one of five locations where the LADWP Operations Staff has announced that they will be releasing water. According to Zdeba, only four of those locations are currently being used.

Planned water releases are expected to continue into summer, perhaps as late as August.

The release at Freeman Sluice Gate amounts to about five cubic feet per second (cfs). Two cfs is about 900 gallons per minute (gpm). Five cfs is about 2,250 gpm.

It was announced that the LADWP staff plan to have biologists at each site to observe the release’s start-up to ensure that the Desert Tortoise is protected.

When massive snowstorms hit the Eastern Sierra in January, LADWP started staging additional staff and resources in the Owens Valley and spreading water in Inyo County. The Department said it was following the Water Management script from 2017, the previous record-holder for snowpack and runoff. The recent rains in the Owens Valley and even more snow in the Sierra high country brought the Department’s effort into focus. Even a cursory tour through Inyo County reveals there is, quite literally, water flowing everywhere from Bishop Creek to Owens Lake.

Water releases from Crowley Lake and Pleasant Valley Reservoir have been consistently high, which has sent heavy flows to the Owens River, which has been running fast and muddy for weeks.

LADWP has used the Lower Owens River at Mazourka Canyon Road west of Independence to divert rainwater and early season runoff from the LA Aqueduct. The Lower Owens River has been running about 200 cfs. It typically flows at 40 cfs this time of year.

According to county staff, with record-breaking snowfall and water throughout the southern portion of the Sierra Nevada, it is anticipated there will be significant spring runoff.

LADWP announced Tuesday that recent measurements taken at Mono Lake indicate the lake level elevation is 6,379.3 feet above sea level, more than two feet higher than its 2017 low of 6,377.5 when no emergency regulatory action was called for or taken.

LADWP has also recently forecasted that recent snowfall in and around the Mono Basin will cause the lake level to rise approximately two more feet before the end of the year, ensuring the continued health of the Mono Basin ecosystem.

Due to the intense rainfall, there is severe damage to publicly accessible roads, highways, bridges, and LADWP infrastructure, such as canals, diversion structures, and LA Aqueduct structures.