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‘Statewide Water Policy’ Category

DWP takes unilateral land management action, causing litigation: Is dewatering of Long Valley meadows the first step in a new phase of water extraction?

Thursday, November 15th, 2018 by Geoff, Executive Director
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The Mono Lake Committee celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. That means the Committee has been advocating for Mono Lake and its tributary streams for more than half the years that the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) has been in the business of exporting water from the Mono Basin.

The Mono Lake Committee and our expert consultants, network of partners, and 16,000 members are always alert to threats to Mono Lake, its tributary streams, and surrounding lands. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

DWP has changed in many ways over those 40 years, some internally generated and many, like the protection of Mono Lake, resulting from intense advocacy efforts and new rules imposed by outside authorities. Institutional change has often been due to the citizens of Los Angeles requiring greater environmental responsibility from DWP, both directly and through elected city council members and mayors who have worked together with groups like the Committee to reach that goal. As a result Los Angeles is a leader in building a more sustainable and reliable water supply through conservation, reclamation, groundwater cleanup, and local supply.

The famously contentious relationship between DWP and the Eastern Sierra has changed as well. (more…)

Defending the public trust at Mono Lake

Thursday, November 8th, 2018 by Geoff, Executive Director
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2018 Defender of the Trust Peter Vorster. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

The California Supreme Court begins its landmark 1983 Mono Lake decision with these powerful words: “The public trust is an affirmation of the duty of the state to protect the people’s common heritage of streams, lakes, marshlands and tidelands…”

Every other year, to celebrate the history of the public trust at Mono Lake, we organize a special three-day Defense Trust Weekend for the Mono Lake Committee’s high donors. The weekend is full of field trips, good food, and time spent with fellow Mono Lake enthusiasts and Committee Board and staff.

This year we had an open house in the Committee office, a Rush Creek tour with experts including (more…)

Refreshing ‘Ologists: Mono Basin fisheries project with Ross Taylor

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018 by Joslyn, Project Specialist
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Join us on Wednesday, September 26 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery for this week’s Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentation.

Scientists electrofishing in the Mono Gate One Return Ditch. Photo courtesy of Ross Taylor.

Ross Taylor, State Water Board-appointed Lead Fisheries Scientist, will be here to discuss fisheries monitoring and development of flow recommendations for Mono Basin streams. If you can join us, register here for this free program! (more…)

“The Longest Straw” documentary showing at the Mono Lake Committee

Tuesday, August 21st, 2018 by Joslyn, Project Specialist
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The Mono Lake Committee will be hosting another screening of the documentary The Longest Straw, this Friday, August 24 at 7:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery.

The Longest Straw follows director Samantha Bode as she backpacks the 338-mile-long stretch of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. During her journey she speaks with community leaders, advocates, and the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power. She finishes her 65-day hike at the source of Los Angeles’ water supply in the Mono Basin. Samantha’s experience provides insights into the effects of importing water on the surrounding communities and ecology.

Join us this Friday for the free screening. Light snacks and refreshments will be provided. Please contact me by email or at (760) 647-6595 with any questions.

Great Sierra River Cleanup this Saturday

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018 by Alexis, Mono Lake Intern
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Join us this Saturday, August 11 from 8:30am to 12:30pm for the annual Great Sierra River Cleanup! We will spend the morning picking up trash along Lee Vining Creek.

If you are free this Saturday, meet us outside the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore in Lee Vining. From there we will carpool to the DWP diversion site on Lee Vining Creek. Make sure to bring sturdy footwear, a water bottle, and sun protection. We’ll provide work gloves as well as a light snack.

This event is coordinated by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy with the help of California Coastal Cleanup. For the past ten years, volunteers across the Sierra Nevada have banded together to help clean up rivers and (more…)

Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentations return: Mike Prather to speak on August 8

Friday, August 3rd, 2018 by Joslyn, Project Specialist
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Join us for this summer’s first Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentation, next Wednesday, August 8 at 4:00pm at the Mono Lake Committee. Come hear longtime local conservationist Mike Prather speak about the hundreds of thousands of shorebirds and waterfowl that are once again returning to Owens Lake each spring and fall.

Wetlands and islands dotting Owens Lake, which is now a designated site of international importance for the hundreds of thousands of birds that arrive during spring and fall migration. Photo courtesy of Ray Ramirez.

Owens Lake dried up after being tapped by the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power in 1913, and has suffered from severe dust issues ever since. DWP released (more…)

August 7 Mono County meeting to examine new DWP water extraction efforts

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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If you live, work, or play in the Eastern Sierra, put next week’s Mono County Board of Supervisors meeting in your schedule and please plan to attend:

• Tuesday, August 7 at 10:00am •
Mono County Courthouse, Bridgeport (in-person)
Town-County Conference Room, Minaret Mall,
CAO Conference Room, Sierra Center Mall,
Mammoth Lakes
(by video conference)

This past spring, the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) provided ranchers in the Long Valley and Little Round Valley area next to Crowley Lake new proposed leases with no irrigation water—a proposal, in effect, to dry up approximately 6,400 acres of agricultural lands in Mono County.

These areas have been irrigated for more than 70 years, so removing the water would be a major change in land use and a surprising attempt to extract additional water from Mono County. Local concerns are numerous and include increased risk of wildfire, desiccation of wetlands, damage to important habitat for sensitive species such as the Bi-State Sage Grouse, and undermining the local agricultural and tourism-based economy.

Mono County has been corresponding with LA Mayor Eric Garcetti about the leases and lack of water—see those letters, maps, and a summary of the issue here. The Board of Supervisors meeting is your chance to make your thoughts, concerns, and opinions known, and Mono Lake Committee staff will also be attending—we have been advising Mono County about this issue given our long history with DWP. For more information call (760) 647-6595 or email Lisa Cutting, Eastern Sierra Policy Director.

“The Longest Straw” showing at the Aquarium of the Bay

Thursday, July 19th, 2018 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist
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If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and have been hoping to see the film The Longest Straw but can’t make it to tomorrow’s screening here in Lee Vining, you’re in luck…

On Wednesday, August 8 at 6:00pm the Bay Institute will be hosting a screening at the Aquarium of the Bay! Film director and star Samantha Bode will be there, along with the Mono Lake Committee’s Information & Restoration Specialist Greg Reis, for a Q&A and discussion after the film. Tickets cost $15 and include access to the Aquarium, a reception with light refreshments, and the screening. For more information or to purchase tickets click here.

Aqueduct retrofit ensures export accuracy: Mono Lake Committee advocacy produces results

Friday, June 29th, 2018 by Geoff, Executive Director
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One thing the Mono Lake Committee and the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) can agree on is that accurate measurement of water exported from the Mono Basin is important. One might assume that measuring water sent out of the Mono Basin through the Los Angeles Aqueduct would be fairly straightforward, but due to infrastructure complexities, DWP has historically used a calculation to derive the export amount.

Aqueduct improvements in 2009, shown here, added equipment to directly measure water exports, but the system was unreliable until recent repairs, thanks to the Committee’s persistence. Photo by Greg Reis.

Getting from calculation to measurement

To understand why DWP couldn’t simply measure its (more…)

The future of Sierra Nevada snow: Dr. Alex Hall on the climate future of the Sierra

Saturday, June 23rd, 2018 by Geoff, Executive Director
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What will happen to the Sierra Nevada’s snowpack as climate change impacts accumulate through the 21st century? This question is vital to both the ecological health of the Range of Light and to water delivery systems throughout California. And, it matters a great deal to Mono Lake and its many miles of tributary streams, which depend on Sierra runoff for their vitality.

A view of the Eastern Sierra from Virginia Canyon to Mt. Conness, including Mono Lake. Photo by Geoff McQuilkin.

Forecasts of the future rely on complex climate modeling, and I talked with Dr. Alex Hall, Professor of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences at UCLA, about the work he and his team have been conducting to produce actionable climate science. Dr. Hall heads the Center for Climate Science, where they have developed cutting-edge downscaling techniques to create geographically detailed climate projections for the Los Angeles area and the Sierra Nevada.

Geoff: Thanks for taking time to talk, Alex. You have just released a major report, Climate Change in the Sierra Nevada: California’s Water Future. What are the big takeaway messages?

Alex: Temperatures across the Sierra Nevada are warming (more…)

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