L.A. CITY HALL: Owens Valley water, "Chinatown" history, end of feud, report/analysis, New York Times: "Century Later, the 'Chinatown' Water Feud Ebbs" ....
* New York Times: "Century Later, the 'Chinatown' Water Feud Ebbs" - From the NYT:
OWENS LAKE, Calif. — For 24 years, traveling across the stark and dusty moonscape of what once was a glimmering 110-square-mile lake framed by snow-covered mountains, Ted Schade was a general in the Owens Valley water wars with Los Angeles. This was where Los Angeles began taking water for its own use nearly a century ago, leaving behind a dry lake bed that choked the valley with dust, turning it into one of the most polluted parts of the nation.
The result was a bitter feud between two night-and-day regions of California, steeped in years of lawsuits, conspiracy theories, toxic distrust and noir lore — the stealing of the Owens Valley water was the inspiration for the movie “Chinatown.” But while the water theft remains a point of contention, the battle long ago turned into one about the clouds of dust that were the legacy of the lost lake, 200 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.
In what may be the most startling development yet, the end of one of the great water battles in the West appears at hand: Instead of flooding the lake bed with nearly 25 billion gallons of Los Angeles water every year to hold the dust in place — the expensive and drought-defying stopgap solution that had been in place — engineers have begun to methodically till about 50 square miles of the lake bed, which will serve as the primary weapon to control dust in the valley.
That will create three-foot-high furrows that, sprinkled with far less water, together should scrub the atmosphere of the thick haze that often makes it impossible to see from one side of the valley to the other, with widespread complaints of asthma. “All we wanted is air pollution control,” Mr. Schade said. “We just wanted to make it so it’s not so dusty.”
Mr. Schade, 57, his pursuit of Los Angeles finally over, celebrated the moment by announcing he was retiring as the chief enforcement officer for the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District. In that role, he installed cameras and air pollution maintenance stations across the lake bed, haranguing the city to step in whenever air pollution standards were violated.
No less striking, Los Angeles, after years of filing lawsuits against the basin asserting that the damage was not the city’s fault, is showing remorse. “The city has accepted its responsibility,” Mayor Eric M. Garcetti of Los Angeles said in a ceremony marking the agreement last month. “We took the water.”
Mr. Schade said he was confident that the battle was finally over; if the fight were still going on, he said, he would still be heading out to the lake bed most days to check his monitors. “I am retiring because I feel like I can,” he said.