Owens Valley Indian Reservations, California

Client: Owens Valley Indian Water Commission
Project: Owens Valley Indian Reservations, California

As part of the negotiations for settling the Tribes’ reserved water right claims, NRCE developed a conceptual design and cost estimate for pumping reserved groundwater from the exchanged lands and conveying the water through a pipeline network to the Bishop, Big Pine, and Lone Pine Reservations.

Practicably Irrigable Acreage Study

NRCE conducted a Practicably Irrigable Acreage study to quantify the reserved water right of the Owens Valley Tribes. The Owens Valley Tribes are comprised of the Benton, Bishop, Lone Pine, Big Pine, and Fort Independence Indian Reservations. The study was conducted at a negotiation level for use in negotiations with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). Climatic data within the Owens Valley River Basin were analyzed to determine the growing season, a land classification study for the exchanged lands was conducted, and the proposed crops and irrigation water requirements within the Basin were determined. A computer model of the Owens River and tributaries was prepared, and the historical flow quantities were investigated. The undepleted surface water supply was estimated for the streams that cross, border, or flow near any of the arable exchanged lands. Additionally, the groundwater computer model MODFLOW was developed and applied to show regional flow patterns and to form the basis for a groundwater monitoring program. Mountain-front recharge areas were identified for use in determining transmission losses to stream flow, as well as recharge to groundwater aquifers.

Engineering studies and designs included the project diversion, conveyance, and distribution facilities (pipe networks and irrigation canal systems); groundwater recharge facilities; well fields (well and pumping stations); and an on-farm irrigation system. In addition, an economic analysis of all costs and benefits associated with water development was determined. NRCE assisted the Tribes during settlement negotiations between the Tribes and LADWP. NRCE also provided the Tribes with plans to establish a water resources department and a plan to monitor groundwater within the Reservations.

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