“It is a little-known and poignant fact that some of the silver and chemicals to produce the films that made Hollywood the global center of the movie industry were extracted from the Owens Valley and environs. As if it weren’t enough that Los Angeles drained water from the Eastern Sierra to expand into the San Fernando Valley, its major industry and part of the reason for the city’s growth were also being supported through mining in the same region, an ecological double jeopardy. Los Angeles artist Lauren Bon and her Metabolic Studio are using this set of entwined histories to make visible the effects of the historic resource extraction on both the Owens Valley and the city to the south.
“The snow-fed waters that flow down the Eastern Sierra and into the Owens Valley once watered its substantial agriculture before terminating in Owens Lake. After William Mulholland opened the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913 to capture and transport those waters to the Los Angeles metropolitan area, the valley’s agriculture became unsustainable and the 108-square-mile lake began to dry up. By 1924, Owens Lake no longer held water year-round. In 2006, Los Angeles was forced by a dust-mitigation lawsuit to begin re-watering 60 miles of the river, with the result that approximately 27 square miles of the lakebed are now flooded, a ghost of the lake that was.”
Read more: KCET
Photo retrieved from: www.thecaliforniareport.org
“Working on a documentary project in the Owens Valley on land owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) can be a little dicey. A truck zooms by as UC Berkeley scholar Jenna Cavelle and Paiute elder Harry Williams begin one of their mapping expeditions.
“Is this DWP land?” Cavelle asks Williams. “’Cause they’re right there, looking at us.”
DWP is aware of the project, but the two haven’t asked permission to make trips onto department property. Still, Cavelle feels generally secure when she’s with Williams because of a sanctuary agreement between DWP and the natives that allows them to come onto the land.
“This is our homeland. Kick me off, you’re gonna have to drag me,” Williams remarks.
The water wars that drained the Owens Valley 100 years ago to feed the Los Angeles aqueduct are today the stuff of literary and cinematic legend. But the Paiute story has been left out of the tellings. Before the arrival of white settlers, this tribe had a sophisticated water system of their own. This year marks the centennial anniversary of the aqueduct’s construction, and Cavelle and Williams are working to uncover this lost part of California’s water history.”
Read more: The California Report
Photo retrieved from: www.latimes.com
“The region’s economy and wildlife have struggled in a stunning landscape of snowcapped peaks, cascading streams and sage plains dotted with alfalfa fields and cattle ranches, and flanked by lava flows and dormant volcanoes. At dry Owens Lake, the focus of an agonizingly complex and expensive effort to control dust storms, dust pollution frequently exceeds federal health standards. Some locals have expressed their feelings toward the DWP by urinating in the aqueduct while reciting, “L.A. needs the water.”
These days, many Owens Valley residents are happy about the DWP’s newly conciliatory attitude, even if they wonder why it is coming now instead of much earlier. “The obvious question to ask is, ‘Why couldn’t it have been resolved years ago?’ ” said Geoff Pope, chairman of the board of the 40 Acres Homeowners Water Assn.
The DWP insists publicly that the three settlements have nothing to do with the anniversary festivities. “It’s serendipity,” DWP General Manager Ron Nichols said. “The important thing is to show that the DWP will work with reasonable people to find solutions that work for both sides.”
The standoff at 40 Acres, where the DWP and residents own property and water rights, began in 2001, when the utility constructed the diversion gate controlled with a wheel the size of a dinner plate.
The structure gave DWP control of the water, replacing a wooden diversion gate that locals had installed at a fork in the creek in the mid-1970s. It diverted water into a latticework of ditches, which disperses it through their little patch of cottonwoods, modest homes and pastures.”
Read more: Los Angeles Times
Photo retrieved from: www.aqueductfutures.wordpress.com
“Jenna Cavelle, an adventurer, blogger and journalist, photographer, and now conservation and resource studies researcher at Berkeley, is making a film about the Paiute’s use of water in Owens Valley. From her bio at Peakwater.org (which she co-founded):
Jenna works with members of the Paiute Indian community of California on a project that combines education, outreach, and technology to restore cultural memory associated with their ancient irrigation systems. These waterworks are currently in danger of being lost in the Owens Valley landscape through weathering and neglect. In addition, knowledge of the waterworks is also fading from American memory through the loss of culturally transmitted traditional knowledge. Through community engagement, she works with tribal members to document Paiute irrigation networks and their role in shaping Paiute culture. While her project has real bearing on tribal customs and interests, it also informs larger local and regional communities through education and museum exhibits.
For a full description of the film/project, check out her Kickstart.com page: PAYA: The Untold Story of the LA-Owens Valley Water War.”
Read more: Aqueduct Futures
Photo retrieved from: www.aqueductfeatures.com
“Hydro-librium signifies the balance of water, an ironic caption depicting the not so equated water dispute between the Owens Valley and city of Los Angeles. As Los Angeles began to flourish as a result of purchasing water rights from the Owens Valley, the playa began to pay the price for the success of this new-found metropolis: Los Angeles.
Water is a natural resource that serves a significant purpose in balancing our ecosystem. The narrative of the Owens Valley and Los Angeles water dispute, showcases a variety of disturbances within the ecology of the landscape as a result of imbalanced water use. Project one attempts to map out the impacts and benefits resulting from the construction of the LA aqueduct. The mapping (above) displays an effort to engage a temporal look at the effects of groundwater pumping in the Owens playa and compare it to observed changes in the climate of the Owens Valley basin. The research however, was not plausible enough to conclude that the results of groundwater have created adverse effects on temperature change within the basin.”
Read more: Aqueduct Futures
Photo retrieved from: www.itunes.com
Here is a link to the radio interview about documentary film PAYA on KMMT. It is the first podcast listed as of now titled “Interview With Documentarian Jenna Cavelle”. Please share with others and go to kickstarter and make a pledge to help this film get to Sundance!!!!!!! Help restore Paiute history and bring the true version of their story to the world.
Listen here: KMMT
To support PAYA visit: Kickstarter
Photo retrieved from: www.tuvaijumemory.org
“If you’ve heard any history of the California desert at all, you’ve likely heard of the Owens Valley Water War.
Here’s the canonical version of that War: The Owens Valley is watered by runoff from the immense snowfall from the Sierra Nevada to its west, much of which runs into the Owens River when it melts. The Owens Valley is an endorrheic basin: it has no outflow. The Owens River never reaches the ocean. Instead, it flows into Owens Lake, in the valley’s lowest point at its south end.
Late in the 19th Century a thriving network of agricultural communities was developing due to the river’s water, growing a vibrant local economy along with their crops. Enter the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, led by engineer William Mulholland. DWP quietly bought up water rights throughout the Owens Valley in a series of deceptive land deals, then built a 223-mile aqueduct to bring Owens River water to Los Angeles. The aqueduct was finished in 1913 — 100 years ago this November — and farms started going out of business in the decade after. Owens Valley farmers dynamited parts of the aqueduct in 1924, but the rebellion was short-lived. Owens Lake, which had been a rich habitat for waterfowl, dried up and is now the single largest point source of particulate matter pollution in the U.S.
As canonical histories go, it’s pretty accurate. Or at least more accurate than the version a lot of people have in their heads due to the film Chinatown, which was based on the Owens Valley story. But it’s a woefully incomplete history nonetheless. The history of the Owens Valley didn’t start in the late 19th Century. Before the first European settlers arrived there were people living in the Owens Valley for thousands of years. The Owens Valley Paiute took advantage of the relatively well-watered landscape by gathering seeds, hunting the Valley’s abundant game, and — though this hardly ever gets mentioned in any of the formal histories — diverting the water of the Owens River and its tributaries to irrigate their crops.”
Read more: Pharyngula
Photo retrieved from: www.inyoregister.com
“With the 100-year anniversary of the completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct looming, a filmmaker is asking for help in her effort to tell an untold portion of the Owens Valley water wars.
Jenna Cavelle has been working on her documentary, “PAYA: The Untold Story of the L.A.-Owens Valley Water War” for the past year-and-a-half, and recently launched a Kick Starter page to help raise the funds needed to complete the project by its proposed release date this summer. “Paya” is the Paiute word for “water.”
“For the past 100 years, the L.A. Owens Valley water story always begins and ends with the L.A. Aqueduct,” Cavelle says in an introduction to her documentary at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jennacavelle/paya-the-untold-story-o…. “But there is a greater story, an untold story that is rich in history and human achievement. A story that is as much a part of American memory as the creation of our great cities. This story is the history of the Paiute Indians, who populated and irrigated the Owens Valley for millennia, long before the aqueduct was built. This project sheds light on the pre-history of America’s longest water war, telling the story of Paiute Native Americans and the vast irrigation systems they engineered.”
Cavelle has more than 10 years of experience working as a published journalist, photographer and researcher, in Mexico, French Polynesia, Indonesia, Cambodia and throughout the United States.
She said she got the idea for a project that would tell the history of the Paiutes’ water use in the Owens Valley when Bishop Tribal Member Harry Williams appeared as a guest speaker in one of her classes at UC Berkeley. During Williams’ lecture, “I was just completely lit up” when hearing about the Paiute’s history in the Owens Valley, and also “… saddened that this knowledge wasn’t being passed on to the younger generation.”
When the idea began, Cavelle had planned to create a museum exhibit, website and oral history about the Paiutes’ traditional uses of water in the Owens Valley, but as she began working on the project, it evolved.
“The film really didn’t come from me, it came from the community – people wanted to tell the story and reach a broader audience,” she said.”
Read more: The Inyo Register
Photo retrieved from: www.uprisingradio.org
“The story of that water acquisition is one of “lies, chicanery and subterfuge” and even an armed rebellion in 1924. After drying up Owens Valley, the city attempted to divert water from nearby Mono Lake but lost its bid to legal challenges.
LA has always needed more water than it produced and the historic water wars continue to this day. Activists are drawing attention to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, a $50+ billion plan to tap the Sacramento River. Managed by the Metropolitan Water District (MWD), the tax payer and rate payer funded plan involves the construction of a pipeline whose profits will ultimately be reaped by MWD. Environmentalists contend that the Sacramento Bay Delta has delicate salmon populations that would be devastated by the project. They also contend that the money could be better spent on water conservation efforts. Food and Water Watch is currently proposing that Californians vote on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan which they have dubbed the” “Billion Dollar Covert Pipeline.”
Read more: uprisingradio.org