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.

#2: Working towards healthy streamflows for the Mono Basin’s creeks

Number 2 on our Top Ten highlights list is the intensive process of planning for a 21st century aqueduct that can deliver restoration flows to Mono Lake’s tributaries at the times they need it the most, deliver water to Mono Lake so it can rise to the management level of 6392 feet above sea level, as well as efficiently export water to Los Angeles.

An aerial view of Rush Creek, the Rush Creek return ditch, and Grant Lake Reservoir, which are key to the 21st century aqueduct discussions. Photo by Geoffrey McQuilkin.

If you’ve been following the Mono Lake Newsletter, you’ll know that the Committee has been working intensively on this process for nearly two years.

In 2010, State Water Board-appointed stream scientists compiled the Synthesis Report after a decade of work on the Mono Basin’s creeks. The Synthesis Report prescribes shifting stream restoration flows to a more natural pattern during the year, and across wet and dry years, in order to meet State Water Board mandates to maximize the recovery of stream health—and to minimize the impacts of continuing diversions of water to LA.

The goal of the past two years’ discussions is to find a way to implement the Synthesis Report recommendations to the agreement of the parties involved: the Committee, the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, California Trout, and the California Department of Fish & Game.

This December, the Committee’s team of policy staff, water experts, and attorneys have been pushing hard to bring the discussions to completion and submit a final plan to the State Water Board. Stay tuned here on the Mono-logue and in the Newsletter for more updates next year!