BY MIKE STEVENS
Flows in Eastern Sierra streams more than doubled in volume in less than two weeks
BISHOP – With ‘peak runoff’ yet to arrive, flows in Eastern Sierra creeks are significantly elevated and the rushing waters of Bishop Creek recently claimed the life of a woman who fell into the water near Aspendell on the creek’s middle fork.
According to Inyo County Sheriff’s Office:
On Saturday, May 27, at about 2:50 p.m. Inyo County Sheriff’s Office received a call of a 58-year-old female who fell into Bishop Creek east of Aspendell. The female was reportedly unconscious and stuck in the water on a log. Inyo County Sheriff Deputies, CAL-Fire, Forest Service, Aspendell Volunteer Fire Department, Bishop Volunteer Fire Department, Coast-to-Coast Ambulance Service, along with Riverside City Fire Department, Cal-Oes Swift Water Rescue Team #6, who is currently on standby in Inyo County responded.
The victim’s son attempted to rescue his mother but was also swept away due to the fast-moving water. The son self-rescued and summoned emergency personnel, and the Swift Water Team was able to reach the victim after multiple attempts of entering the dangerous conditions and recovered the deceased victim.
Runoff as snowmelt causing creeks and rivers to swell and take on dangerous and unmanageable conditions has been a statewide concern since the record-setting winter finally came to an end in March. Eastern Sierra residents and visitors alike will experience it firsthand, and it is imperative that anyone in the vicinity of these waters during these flows should exercise extreme caution.
A day prior to the general season opener in late April, Adam Perez of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) told members of the media just what all that snowpack was going to mean come spring when it turns into runoff.
“The LADWP expects 1 million acre-feet of runoff to erupt from the whole Eastern Sierra watershed during the upcoming runoff, and that will stand as the most since 1969,” said Adam Perez, who also said the department is expecting to lose Chalk Bluff Road when flows peak.
It’s safe to assume footbridges and other structures built along various creeks will be damaged if not destroyed along with some of those high banks along the lower Owens River. That being said, visitors should refrain from parking near the banks of the Owens or any other running water in the Eastern Sierra.