As part of his visit to the Owens Valley on May 8, 2017, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke to people on the ground and was given an aerial tour of the area. Photo courtesy Mayor Garcetti's office.
As part of his visit to the Owens Valley on May 8, 2017, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke to people on the ground and was given an aerial tour of the area. Photo courtesy Mayor Garcetti’s office.

Weeks after declaring a state of emergency in the area, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti toured the Owens Valley Monday ahead of what is expected to be record snowmelt runoff from the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

During the tour, Garcetti got a look at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power‘s emergency flood control preparations in the area, spoke with residents and met with workers involved in flood-control efforts.

“I declared this state of emergency because we have a responsibility to protect Angelenos and the people of the Owens Valley,” Garcetti said. “We are acting as quickly and diligently as we can to address this potential threat, and I’m pleased by the progress we’re making.”

With this year’s snowpack in the Eastern Sierras 241 percent above normal, LADWP anticipates the snowmelt to send up to 1 million acre-feet of runoff into the Owens Valley — nearly twice the amount of water that Angelenos use in a year.

The city owns hundreds of square miles of land in the Owens Valley, which is more than 200 miles away from Los Angeles and feeds the city’s aqueduct system.

The state of emergency allows the LADWP to quickly hire subcontractors and procure materials needed to prepare for the expected increase in water. The LADWP has spent more than $1.1 billion since 2000 implementing dust control measures around Owens Lake, and the high water levels could damage the infrastructure and vegetation that have been put in place, as well as cause flooding in the area.

–City News Service

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