December 2006 - It wasn't a turn of a spigot, rather, it was more along the lines of a release of the floodgates.The Lower Owens River Project (LORP) is one of the largest river restoration projects in the United States and is expected to provide a steady flow of water to 62 miles of the Owens River below the Los Angeles Aqueduct Intake that has essentially been dry since 1913. On December 6, 2006, Los Angeles City Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, in the presence of Inyo County officials, water management authorities, and citizen groups, pushed a release button, activating a steel gate that diverts water from the L.A. Aqueduct to the Lower Owens River.
“By opening these gates today, we will demonstrate to the world that the great City of Los Angeles is prepared to own up to its history and that we can thrive in partnership and in balance with our neighbors and with the environment of the Eastern Sierra,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “Today, I will push a button that will move the waters of the Owens River back into their natural channel to the south. We are here today because we need to change course. We need to move with these waters.” According to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) the LORP, using flow and land management, will spread water into basins to create hundreds of acres of wetland habitat and off-river lakes and ponds for waterfowl, shorebirds, and fisheries. It will also provide new opportunities for bird-watching and other low-impact outdoor recreation and nature activities, as well as help boost the local economy.   Nearly two dozen SonTek/YSI Argonaut-SL and Argonaut-SW systems have been installed in preparation for monitoring the revived river flow. Data collected will help in the control of gates and pumps along the way. SonTek/YSI Representative, HydroScientific West (HSW), took the lead role in working with the LADWP in identifying the right technology and providing integration services for flow and SCADA components for this massive restoration endeavor. “The SonTek/YSI Argonaut-SW and Argonaut-SL flow instrumentation is powered with solar energy and integrated with Rugid Computer RTUs (remote terminal units),” explained HSW President, Ron Nauman. “Real-time data is moved via LADWP’s discrete frequency radio backbone which covers the Owens Valley, with repeaters in the foothills of the Eastern Sierras. There are 16 sites set up to monitor a 62 mile reach from the head gates where the water is released from the L.A. Aqueduct into the Lower Owens river, and then pumped back into the Aqueduct at the southern terminus via four 600-horsepower pumps.” Nauman said some sites were installed in culverts under roads and other sites in the natural setting of the dry river-bed using a 120-mil thick GEO-textile lining to ensure consistent geometry of the cross sections and to inhibit biological growth. “The hydraulic objective is to move 40 cfs, with two each 200 cfs 'flushing cycles' at one-week durations. Due to evaporation and seepage at a few points along the reaches, flow will be augmented by river tributary water from the Eastern Sierras until the groundwater and aquifers are filled, which could take many years. The long-term objective is to restore the riparian habitat that was once a vital resource for the desert wildlife, farmers, ranchers, and citizens of the Owens Valley,” Nauman concluded.   Read on for more information.

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