Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Water's for Fight'n

There is a saying in the west, sometimes attributed to Mark Twain, that "Whiskey's for drink'n and water's for fight'n over" No where is it more true than in the Owen's Valley. Many books have been written on the subject and I won't attempt to go into detail here.

Since early in the last century people have been arguing over the water of this valley and whether the city of Los Angeles stole it. After years of litigation a peace of sorts has been achieved and part of the agreement is that LA's Department of Water and Power would put water back in the lower Owen's River. A river that has been dry since LADWP diverted its water for use in Los Angeles.
When we were in Lone Pine last month we decided to go see what the river looks like now that it has a little water.
It seems to be a green oasis in an otherwise dry landscape. They refer to this as a mitigation project, restoring some of the lost habitat. It certainly looks like a place for birds and other wildlife
Looking across the river bed you can see the grasses and trees in front of arid lands, the Alabama Hills and the Sierra crest, an interesting layering of landscapes.

Over our years in the Owen's Valley we heard many opinions on the controversy. In the spirit of full disclosure I will say that my husband worked for the LADWP. We loved the valley though and would like to think that we were unbiased in our opinion. I have come to realize, though, that no one is unbiased, we tend to filter the facts through our own interests.

Many believe that when the City bought the land and water rights (LA owns most of the land in the valley, and some believe they were dishonest when they bought it) they ended any chance for economic development and this is a fair assessment.

Others, myself included, feel that if the City had not bought out the farmers and ranchers the valley would have been developed beyond its ability to sustain a quality environment. It would have had air pollution, congestion and locked gates rather than the open spaces and free access that LADWP allows. As for air pollution, it has that on a cold winter morning when everyone is burning wood for heat.

It reminds me of the story of the blind men and the elephant, "while all of them are partly right, each of them is wrong." Perhaps not wrong but trying to make a very complicated problem simple. Is it better to move the people to the water or the water to the people. What do you think?
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25 comments:

Jane said...

Beautiful photos Martha and wonderful bright blue sky too. Thanks for sharing:)

Perry said...

Pretty little river and geography lesson. Thank you. And you are correct. Had the city not purchased long ago you would have photos of tract houses. How sad would that be!

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Water is a controversial subject even in water-rich Ontario. And it's only going to get worse. But before I go any further, I will step down off my soapbox. ;-)

Photo Cache said...

Wow, I learn something today and I like that. Quite a controversial subject I see. It's really nice to see some water flowing through there and birds will come.

www.ewok1993.wordpress.com

Kitty said...

Lovely pictures! It's a thorny problem - in future there will probably be many more arguments over water supply - maybe there will some lessons to be learned from this situation..

J Bar said...

Beautiful shots.
Sydney - City and Suburbs

happilyretired said...

Water in California is a challenging issue. People tend to forget much of the state was desert before all the development. You make many excellent points and take WONDERFUL photos ;--)
Hugs and blessings,

eileeninmd said...

It does look like a nice place for a nature reserve. Maybe if there were less houses they would have more water.
This battle goes on here too in little towns that are becommming bigger towns.

Gaelyn said...

Water in the Owens River is a lushous sight, especially against the arid backdrop. I believe the water issue comes down to too many people. Glad to see a green way over concrete any day. Nice post and excellent captures.

PERBS said...

I could not decide on your question. I am glad they restored the water tho.

JO said...

nice photos.

joarduo.com

Ebie said...

I heard about the LA purchase when we watched the video presentation at the Visitors Center by the Mono Lake, I don;t quite remember.

Thanks for this topic, quite a lesson for me.

Dimple said...

I didn't know that LA had any open space like this--I grew up in the central valley, and LA was just a behemoth of people, pavement, and pollution. I don't know the answer to the question you pose-maybe there is no one answer-but I think probably "both" or "either" would come close. It is difficult to balance these seemingly opposite views. Inevitably someone, or some group, will be unhappy.

momgen said...

It looks pretty site in there. Thanks for sharing. Happy watery Wednesday.

Mine is here

Martha Z said...

I guess I should have mentioned, the Owen's Valley is 200 miles from LA.

Lilli & Nevada said...

Love the watery photos

Lawstude said...

it's really amazing to see the same place in different seasons and finding out that the place offers different things. great shots.

Maggie May said...

That was an interesting post and photos! I suppose water has always been a thing that people could argue about!
It happens here too and sometimes its to do with floods and who is to blame!

Nuts in May

Joops said...

I love the last photo, very beautiful!

Here's to a Watery Wednesday in the Korean side of the world.

Regina said...

I want to see the place. Great photos! than you for sharing Martha.

Owlfarmer said...

Thanks for getting down to the lower end of the Valley for these shots, Martha. I'm now working on a sabbatical project that will take me home next fall for a few weeks--and you've inspired me to get going on the proposal. Anyone interested in the Lower Owens River Project and the progress on wetlands restoration can go to http://www.inyowater.org/LORP/default.htm for updates and more background.

Barb said...

Well, Martha, I think that at the moment you took those photos, the land looked pristine and sustainable. You're right - all beautiful places seem to eventually be inhabited by too many people - esp if the land is accessible.

Pblacksaw said...

Those are great shots.. they would be wonderful framed.. I love the previous post about the "Ghost town" I would love to visit there!
Patsy

Lee Spangler said...

Thanks for sharing the info on the Owens Valley. I really like such posts. I also went back and saw your shots on Bodie and Twolomie Meadows. Martha thanks for visiting me here in Bend. It reminds me how impt it is to come to see your site.

Tammie Lee said...

wonderful photos of this area. My sense is that we ought to take batter care of our waters and be more mindful of how we use it. Lovely and important contemplation you present.