To meet ever-growing water demands as the city grew, in 1970 the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power completed a second Aqueduct, almost doubling its water delivery capacity to the City.
To fill the Second Aqueduct, Los Angeles increased groundwater pumping and diverted additional surface water from the Owens Valley. These actions prompted Inyo County to file a lawsuit claiming that Los Angeles was harming the environment, and that the City’s water-gathering activities to fill the Second LA Aqueduct should be examined in an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). After the Court ordered the LADWP to prepare an EIR, the City completed one in 1976 and another in 1979, both of which were found inadequate by the Court.
In 1984, Inyo County and Los Angeles began working together to develop a joint water management plan and permanent resolution of disputes between the two parties. Several years of negotiations led to the Inyo County-Los Angeles Water Agreement which was approved by the Court in 1997, ending legal disputes that had continued for almost 25 years.
The LADWP now manages its Owens Valley water-gathering activities under the provisions of the Water Agreement in consultation with Inyo County. The overall goals of the Water Agreement are to manage the water
resources within Inyo County so as to cause no significant effect on the environment that cannot be mitigated, while providing a reliable supply of water for export to Los Angeles and for use in Inyo County.