U.S. Water News Online
INDEPENDENCE, Calif. -- The city of Los Angeles has
sufficiently restored a stretch of river along the Sierra Nevada it
siphoned off decades ago by aqueduct and no longer has to pay fines
of $5,000 a day, a judge ruled.
Inyo County Superior Court Judge Lee Cooper said the city has
revived a 62-mile section of the lower Owens River that was left
essentially dry in 1913 when its flows were diverted to the Los
"I can now officially declare that the lower Owens River is a
river," Cooper said.
Water was directed back to the riverbed in December, marking a
concession in an infamous water war between Los Angeles and the
valley 200 miles north of the city.
Ecologists said the revived river was making a remarkable recovery
and reported seeing birds, fish, and plants in the channel.
The judge had imposed the $5,000 fine per day in July 2005 when he
grew frustrated by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's
long-delayed plan to restore the river.
During a hearing, Cooper also approved an agreement between the
DWP, Inyo County officials, residents and environmentalists that
spells out requirements for the city to keep the water flowing. The
judge warned he would impose fines under the deal if the city didn't
meet its obligations.
"The restoration of the river has been a long-term goal of Inyo
County and we are heartened that river's recovery is well under way,"
Jim Bilyeu, chairman of the county's board of supervisors, said in a
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