Sunrise light on a grove of tufa towers emerging from the water of Mono Lake with soft green and dusty-red wild grasses in the foreground, Canada geese in the shallow water with reflections of the rocky towers, and desert hills in the distance.

#11: It was a very big water year

Kicking off the top 11 of 2011 is the fact that it was a very big water year! First there was the snowy winter, then there was the spring that just kept going, and then there was enough rain in August that the lake was still climbing for a water year (October 1–September 30) total rise of 2.1 feet! A big water year means not only lake level rise, but high flows that are critical to restoration on Mono’s tributary streams. Plus, it’s just downright exciting to see it all in action—you could hear the rocks rumbling in Lee Vining Creek for weeks, the spill over Grant Lake Reservoir was impressive, and the shoreline was visibly different each week throughout the summer. So even as we sit here on the winter solstice with very little snow to be found, it’s good to remember that 2011 was actually a big water year.

The current lake level is: 6383.6


Winter morning at the corner of Hwy 395 and Third Street, Mono Lake Committee Headquarters, Lee Vining.
Winter morning at the corner of Highway 395 and Third Street, Mono Lake Committee Headquarters, Lee Vining. Photo by Julia Runcie.
Mono Lake Committee staff at Grant Lake Reservoir on a field trip to see the reservoir spilling. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.
The falls below Ellery Lake on Lee Vining Creek. Photo by Morgan Lindsay.
Mill Creek fills the culvert below the Lundy Lake Dam. Photo by Geoff McQuilkin.
The lake level gauge at Old Marina, nearly submerged. Photo by Morgan Lindsay.
A piezometer (for reading ground water levels) overtaken by surface water from Lee Vining Creek. Photo by Greg Reis.
Mono One Gate Return Ditch, the conduit for Rush Creek water below Grant Lake Reservoir, flowing at 380 cubic feet per second. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

For more on the big water year, here is a compilation of writings from Mono Lake Committee staff: