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“Settlement” talks between Mammoth’s community water district and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power appear to have broken down Thursday and the two sides could be headed to court.
According to Mammoth Community Water District attorney Alan Lilly, a hearing date has now been set for Sept. 6, barring a possible settlement between now and then.
Thursday, Feb. 14, was supposed to be the day that “optimistic” water district officials had hoped to settle the issue out of court, after six months and two weeks of talks to avoid such a fate.
Instead, interim Mammoth Community Water District general manager John Pedersen delivered this terse statement Thursday afternoon: “The attorneys will be requesting that the court set briefing and hearing schedules.”
“I cannot comment further,” he said.
A local attorney, with no connection to this case, said it was hard not to interpret the comment as anything other than that the case is now headed for court.
“It’s certainly reasonable to draw an inference that settlement discussions have not been successful,” the attorney said.
“I cannot think of another reason for a hearing to reset and for a briefing schedule be developed, other than this.”
The case has already cost the water district hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend, according to district officials. If the case does go to court, the district will have to make the case that the water rights it has to Mammoth Creek, which it believes were granted to it by the state of California for the water that supplies much of the town’s drinking and irrigation water, belong to the district, not to LADWP.
LADWP has also contested other issues regarding Mammoth Creek management and flow.
Two weeks ago, LADWP attorneys asked for a two-week extension to the six-month case settlement talk process, which was granted—and which ended on Feb. 14.