Now is an important time to speak up for Mono Lake! Despite January’s wet weather, Mono Lake’s surface elevation is so low that an intervention is needed. The Mono Lake Committee is asking the State Water Board to suspend water diversions until the lake rises enough to protect wildlife and the ecosystem, and to quickly schedule a hearing to implement long-term stream diversion changes to ensure Mono Lake can rise to the healthy sustainable level mandated by the Board in 1994.
On February 15, 2023 the State Water Board held an online, public information-gathering workshop followed by a public comment period. We are urging people to:
Write a letter to the State Water Board. See our key points below.
Donate to support the Mono Lake Committee’s effort to defend Mono Lake.
Letters written to the Board will show how important Mono Lake is to many people, and will be part of the public record on this issue. You can personalize and submit an electronic letter here—the more letters the Board receives before the workshop, the better. The comment period ends at 4:00pm PDT on March 24, 2023.
We are asking the State Water Board to:
1. Suspend water diversions until the lake rises enough to protect wildlife and the ecosystem
Today, the lake level is perilously low—reflecting the legacy of excessive water diversions accentuated by drought. The low level has further exposed a landbridge that allows predators to threaten one of the world’s largest nesting California Gull populations. In addition, salinity has increased in violation of water quality standards, which puts the entire ecosystem at risk.
The intervention we are calling for is necessary despite a wet and snowy January. This year’s lake level rise won’t last without immediate State Water Board action. Under the current rules, the gain from wet years is not preserved.
The nature-based solution is to get more water in the lake by suspending Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) diversions from Mono Lake’s tributary streams until the lake rises to levels already required by the State Water Board to ensure long-term wildlife and water quality protection.
2. Quickly schedule a hearing to implement long-term stream diversion changes to ensure Mono Lake can rise to the healthy level mandated by the State Water Board in 1994
The State Water Board needs to schedule a hearing as soon as possible to implement long-term stream diversion changes that will ensure Mono Lake can rise to the healthy, sustainable level the Board mandated decades ago. In that very mandate the Board planned to hold this hearing, writing that it “could adjust the water diversion criteria” if the lake did not rise as expected.
Indeed, after 29 years Mono Lake has only risen 20% of the way to the mandated level. Meanwhile, DWP has diverted the maximum allowed each year, taking water away from the lake. It’s time to schedule the hearing so that Mono Lake can rise to a healthy, sustainable level.
The February 15 workshop
Update: The workshop was held on February 15—learn more about it here.
Writing a letter is the most impactful thing you can do. You can also attend the workshop, which is being held online. The purpose of the workshop is to evaluate the Mono Lake Committee’s formal request for emergency action and to “discuss the status of lake levels and solicit input on next steps the Board should consider.”
The Mono Lake Committee, DWP, California Department of Fish & Wildlife, and the Mono Lake Kutzadika’a Tribe will present on the current conditions at Mono Lake during the workshop. State Water Board staff will present overview information and seek verbal comments from participants.
To attend the workshop, you must go to the State Water Board’s Mono Lake page to register. We encourage participants to read the workshop agenda and note the specific questions that State Water Board staff are posing for comment.
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Top photo by Geoff McQuilkin.