Mammoth, LADWP may be near settlement over water rights issue


Agreement could end litigation threat

After months of wrangling, a solution to the recent water war between Mammoth’s municipal water district and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power may be at hand—and perhaps as soon as Feb. 14.

“We had a conference on Jan. 29 and DWP asked for a two-week extension, which we agreed to,” said John Pedersen, the interim general manager of the Mammoth Community Water District, who took on the job after former general manager Greg Norby left for another job at the end of January.

“We believe the reason they only asked for two weeks, and the judge granted it, is because the judge understood that we are close to agreeing to the basic principles that will go into a final settlement.”

Even if an agreement is reached Feb. 14, it will still take another several months to finalize it, Pedersen said. But the agreement would mark the end of the threat of litigation against the district, litigation that has so far cost the district more than $600,000.

If things fall apart and the two sides cannot agree Feb. 14, the case could still go to trial, he said.

He said he was not at liberty to state what those “principles” were, but on Feb. 5, the Los Angeles Times ran an article stating that “the DWP is weighing a compromise: in return for less than $5 million, Los Angeles would drop its lawsuit and both sides would agree never to challenge each other’s water rights.”

Pedersen would not confirm this statement, which was not attributed to any single source in the article, stating legal constraints in talking about the case.

But before he left, Norby indicated he believed the main thing DWP wanted from Mammoth was a fair price for the water Mammoth uses from the creek.

The Los Angeles Times recently published a story about a series of other "water wars" between the Eastern Sierra and LADWP.