Journalist Jane Braxton Little recently wrote a comprehensive article about Mono Lake—we recommend giving it a read. She does a great job of capturing where Mono Lake stands today in the face of California’s historic drought. Click the link to read the article Mono Lake Facing Another Crisis.
‘Statewide Water Policy’ Category
This morning Mono Lake Committee staff met with Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) personnel to conduct the official annual April 1 reading of the lake level together. The consensus: Mono Lake stands at 6378.11 feet above sea level.
Mono Lake is now just 13 inches above the ecologically precipitous 6377-foot elevation at which the nesting islands become landbridged, lake salinity hits new highs, air quality problems worsen, and stream delta habitat conditions degrade.
With those concerns in mind, the State Water Board rules are more nuanced this year for determining whether or not DWP can export water to Los Angeles. Not only does the lake have to be above 6377 feet for today’s measurement, it also has to be forecast to stay above 6377 every day of the coming year. (more…)
After a nearly four-year absence, winter has made an appearance in the Mono Basin, but it has not met expectations of a very strong, “Godzilla” El Niño.
In Lee Vining we have enjoyed the full spectrum of winter weather: freezing fog, snow, rain, and cold temperatures. We have experienced something much closer to a normal winter, and after four years of well-below-normal winters, we are easily impressed by even a little bit of snow. While the psychological bar is very low, the true measure of winter for Mono Lake is in the water content of the Sierra snowpack and the eventual runoff—these numbers (more…)
The fourth year of drought has ushered in intensive urban water conservation efforts across the state.
In Southern California there are many ways residents can save water (see the Mono Lake Committee’s water conservation web page for a lot of great and simple ideas). One highly popular option is replacing water-hungry lawn turf with drought-resistant native plants. So popular, in fact, that all $350 million in rebate incentives authorized by the Metropolitan Water District in June was spent by July. (more…)
The 2013 Mono Basin Stream Restoration Agreement is a major milestone in the long-running effort to recover the health of Rush, Lee Vining, Parker, and Walker creeks after the damage caused by decades of excessive water diversions. The current priority is for the terms of the Agreement to be incorporated into the official water license issued by the California State Water Resources Control Board to the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power.
While progress has been slow, completion and formal approval of the newly revised license draws ever closer. Once the license is issued, the many benefits of the (more…)
After four years of drought, this year Mono Lake dropped below 6380 feet of elevation for the first time since July 1996, two years after the landmark State Water Board Decision in 1994. Because Mono Lake passed this critical threshold, water diversions to Los Angeles were reduced by nearly 70%, from 16,000 acre-feet to 4,500 acre-feet. Many visitors this summer have wisely asked how Los Angeles is able to compensate for such a reduction in water from the Mono Basin.
As an environmental non-profit, part of our mission is to promote cooperative water solutions without transferring the problem to other regions. The Mono Lake Committee has worked extensively with the city of Los Angeles over the years to ensure that (more…)
California’s four-year drought has lowered Mono Lake more than five feet. The decline has been disappointing to watch yet ecologically survivable thanks to the protections won by the Mono Lake Committee and Mono Lake advocates two decades ago. 2016, however, could change this story for the worse.
The winter of 2015–16 lies ahead, and a wet winter with ample Mono Basin precipitation is the hope of all Mono Lake friends. But as we have learned over the years at the Committee, our work is most effective when we hope for the best and prepare for the worst. In this case, another dry winter that pushes the state into a fifth drought year would push new and potentially contentious Mono Lake management issues to the forefront.
The landbridge to the gulls
The fall in lake level to date has caused the landbridge near the lake’s north shore to re-emerge and grow ever bigger, threatening to provide a pathway for coyotes to (more…)
The word of the day, week, month, and year in Southern California water (as with all of California) is “drought.” How bad will it be? How warm will it be? How can Governor Jerry Brown’s 25% water use reduction be implemented? What about next year?
Los Angeles and Mono Lake are two ends of a watershed, connected by the Los Angeles Aqueduct. The effects of the drought on Los Angeles—and the response plans—are critical to Mono Lake, especially in this dry year as lower water exports kick in to slow the falling level of Mono Lake. The good news is that LA is already working on achieving an aggressive set of (more…)
If you haven’t already read today’s Los Angeles Times article about Mono Lake over your morning coffee, take a look!
This drought is a crucial time for Mono Lake, as record high temperatures combined with record low snowpack have caused the lake’s level to drop steadily over the last four years. The falling lake level has exposed more of the landbridge between the mainland and Negit Island, and if the lake drops another few feet the nesting California Gull population will be in danger of coyote predation. In addition, Mono Lake’s tributary streams are also stressed by lower flows of warmer-than-normal water.
Of course, the drought affecting Mono Lake affect LA’s water supply in turn. This year water going to LA from the Mono Basin was reduced by two-thirds, according to the rules set out in 1994 by the State Water Board. If Mono Lake drops another few feet, LA will not get any water from the Mono Basin at all. These protections mean that Mono Lake is in much better shape than if full, unrestricted diversions had been allowed to continue, but now it’s up to the weather gods to bring us a rainy summer and a snowy winter.