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The Mono-logue » Statewide Water Policy

‘Statewide Water Policy’ Category

DWP completes this year’s export of 4,500 acre-feet of water from the Mono Basin

Saturday, November 5th, 2016 by Greg, Information & Restoration Specialist
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When Mono Lake is between 6377 and 6380 feet above sea level, and the final May lake level forecast (and any subsequent projections) shows that it will stay above 6377 feet, the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) is permitted to export 4,500 acre-feet of water that year. Any time Mono Lake falls below, or is projected to fall below 6377 feet, exports must stop.

Photo by Bartshe Miller.

A blustery day in mid-October kicked up clouds of alkali dust over Mono Lake’s eastern shore. Mono Lake may drop below 6377 feet above sea level next year, which means no water may be exported to Los Angeles. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Operations plan guidelines state that the water should be exported late in the summer, and this year, DWP exported this water September through early November, allowing more water to remain in Grant Lake Reservoir during the summer—a good thing that kept the reservoir higher during recreation season and likely kept water temperatures cooler for fish in Rush Creek. (more…)

Mono Lake in another drought year

Sunday, June 19th, 2016 by Geoff, Executive Director
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When the California State Water Resources Control Board protected Mono Lake in 1994 by revising Los Angeles’ water rights in a landmark decision, it linked lake level and water exports together. The closer the lake is to its mandated ecologically sound level, the more water Los Angeles is authorized to export.

This approach, advocated by the Mono Lake Committee to protect Mono Lake and meet real water needs in the city, also works in reverse: the lower the lake, the less water can be exported.

Newsletter-Su-pull-quote

Last year, with the level of Mono Lake falling due to drought, the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) reduced exports by 70%, as required by the State Water Board rules. This year, (more…)

Great article about Mono Lake and the drought

Saturday, May 7th, 2016 by Robbie, Restoration Field Technician
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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.

Mono Lake tufa towers are seen Monday, Nov. 15, 2004, near Lee Vining, Calif. The ancient towers, composed of calcium carbonate, were formed underwater when fresh water springs mixed with minerals in the lakewater, and became visible when lake water receded over the past 60 years due to water diversion to Los Angeles. Now, residents and the U.S. Forest Service say the Mono Lake protections are imperiled by a plan to subdivide 120 acres for luxury homes on the lake's western shore. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Photo of Pirate Ship Tufa at South Tufa from the article “Mono Lake Facing Another Crisis.” Photo by Ben Margot, Associated Press.

April 1 Mono Lake level close to critically low threshold

Friday, April 1st, 2016 by Geoff, Executive Director
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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.

Measuring Mono Lake's April 1 elevation

DWP’s Steve Rich and Robbie Di Paolo from the Mono Lake Committee read the lake level gauge together this morning. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

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…)

Meh Niño

Monday, February 22nd, 2016 by Bartshé, Education Director
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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.

Photo by Andrew Youssef.

The “Godzilla” El Niño has yet to impress at Mono Lake. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

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…)

California’s urban water conservation efforts

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015 by Geoff, Executive Director
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The fourth year of drought has ushered in intensive urban water conservation efforts across the state.

South Tufa, with Negit and Paoha islands and the Bodie Hills beyond. Photo by Erv Nichols.

South Tufa, with Negit and Paoha islands and the Bodie Hills beyond. Photo by Erv Nichols.

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…)

Progress toward a new license for streams in 2016

Monday, November 16th, 2015 by Geoff, Executive Director
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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.

Mono Lake, Negit Island, and the Bodie Hills beyond. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

Mono Lake, Negit Island, and the Bodie Hills beyond. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

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…)

2015 Mono Lake Committee Annual Report

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015 by Arya, Communications Director
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The Mono Lake Committee’s 2015 Annual Report is now available online.

The 2015 Mono Lake Committee Annual Report is now available online. Cover photo courtesy of Phil Lindsay.

The 2015 Mono Lake Committee Annual Report is now available online. Cover photo courtesy of Phil Lindsay.

It is chock-full of photos of the Mono Lake Committee in action in our focus areas of protection, restoration, education, and (more…)

Imagining California water use in 2040

Monday, November 2nd, 2015 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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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.

California's four-year-long drought makes water conservation efforts even more critical today. Photo by Elin Ljung.

California’s four-year-long drought makes water conservation efforts even more critical today. Photo by Elin Ljung.

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…)

New twists as Mono Lake’s level falls: Spotlight on lake level forecasting in 2016

Thursday, October 29th, 2015 by Geoff, Executive Director
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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.

Photo by Erv Nichols.

Photo by Erv Nichols.

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…)

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