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‘Statewide Water Policy’ Category

This year’s deep snowpack will raise Mono Lake

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019 by Geoff, Executive Director

Today it is once again possible to see the sky out of the windows at the Mono Lake Committee office—instead of a wall of snow—but the wet and snowy 2018–19 winter will continue to affect Mono Lake and its tributary streams throughout the summer and well into fall.

With 157% of average snowpack by April 1, it was an impressively wet winter in the Mono Basin. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Storms rolled into the Sierra this past winter and temperatures stayed cold, allowing for a large snow accumulation in Lee Vining and along the shore of Mono Lake. In February one noteworthy storm sequence dropped nearly four feet of snow in town and turned the entire Mono Basin into a snowfield. Another (more…)

Court memorial honors Judge Finney

Friday, May 17th, 2019 by Arya, Communications Director

On the wall at Mono Lake Committee headquarters, quietly perched above the fray, it reads, “People protecting Mono Lake for future generations.” There are many protectors—birders, scientists, students, lawyers … a bright star in that constellation, Terrence Finney passed away in November 2018, but his legacy will forever shine at Mono Lake.

Honored to have been part of hearings in his courtroom: restoration consultant Scott English, hydrogeographer Peter Vorster, and attorney Richard Roos-Collins with a photo (from Storm Over Mono) of Judge Terrence Finney, at the court memorial in January. Photo courtesy of Richard Roos-Collins.

According to the El Dorado County Superior Court, in Judge Finney’s 20 years of service, the Mono Lake case was “the biggest case of his career.” It certainly was vital to the protection of Mono Lake and restoration of the tributary streams.

In 1989 Judge Finney’s courtroom became the epicenter of (more…)

Vorster Center tackles critical hydrology questions

Monday, May 6th, 2019 by Geoff, Executive Director

For over 40 years, the Mono Lake Committee has pursued the best scientific understanding of Mono Basin hydrology. Last year we created the Vorster Center for Mono Basin Hydrology (see Fall 2018 Mono Lake Newsletter) to address new questions in an era of climate change and to serve as a hub for data collection, modeling, analysis, forecasting, and real world hydrology applications. The Vorster Center is not a physical space, rather (more…)

Lake level forecast report: net lake rise of 1.5 feet this water year

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019 by Arya, Communications Director

April 1 is the start of the 2019–2020 runoff year, celebrated by the official reading of the lake level. From there both the Mono Lake Committee and DWP take snowpack numbers, similar year types, and a bunch of other statistical data, crunch it all together, and come up with the Mono Lake Level Forecast report for the runoff year.

This year’s forecast is for a 1.5 foot net rise, which means that on April 1, 2020 we expect Mono Lake to be 1.5 feet higher than (more…)

April reading of Mono Lake’s level with DWP

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

As is tradition in early April, this morning staff from the Mono Lake Committee and the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) met at Mono Lake’s shore to read the lake level gauge at the start of this new runoff year.

Mono Lake Committee and DWP staff determine Mono Lake’s level together each year in early April. Photo by Elin Ljung.

The lake’s surface was a bit unsettled due to a spring rainstorm passing through, but Maureen (Committee) and Jason (DWP) watched the fluctuations carefully and settled on an official lake level reading of 6382.07 feet above sea level. (more…)

Monitoring Mono Lake’s level by ski

Friday, March 8th, 2019 by Maureen, Membership Assistant

In a winter full of snow, getting down to the lake has been a bit more challenging and a lot more fun.

A calm lake surface in not only incredibly scenic but ideal for lake level readings. With the onslaught of storms we’ve experienced this winter, a glassy lake has been a rare sight. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

The Mono Lake Committee monitors Mono Lake’s level throughout the year, at least once a month and usually more frequently. You can find monthly lake levels going back to 1971 here. The most important lake level reading of the year happens on (more…)

Ringing in 2019: Long live Mono Lake!

Tuesday, January 1st, 2019 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

This essay, written by Frances Spivy-Weber, appears in the 2019 Mono Lake Calendar.

“Tufa and grasses, Mono Lake.” Photo by David J. Gubernick.

When I became Executive Director of the Mono Lake Committee in January 1997, its Board of Directors had decided to reinvent the Committee and to renew the original mission to protect the lake at the same time—not an easy transition for its members or the staff. The Committee was founded to save Mono Lake, which, at first, meant fighting the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP) creatively but tenaciously in order to secure more water for Mono Lake and its tributary streams.

Without breaking stride, the Committee needed to learn to (more…)

DWP takes unilateral land management action, causing litigation: Is dewatering of Long Valley meadows the first step in a new phase of water extraction?

Thursday, November 15th, 2018 by Geoff, Executive Director

The Mono Lake Committee celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. That means the Committee has been advocating for Mono Lake and its tributary streams for more than half the years that the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) has been in the business of exporting water from the Mono Basin.

The Mono Lake Committee and our expert consultants, network of partners, and 16,000 members are always alert to threats to Mono Lake, its tributary streams, and surrounding lands. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

DWP has changed in many ways over those 40 years, some internally generated and many, like the protection of Mono Lake, resulting from intense advocacy efforts and new rules imposed by outside authorities. Institutional change has often been due to the citizens of Los Angeles requiring greater environmental responsibility from DWP, both directly and through elected city council members and mayors who have worked together with groups like the Committee to reach that goal. As a result Los Angeles is a leader in building a more sustainable and reliable water supply through conservation, reclamation, groundwater cleanup, and local supply.

The famously contentious relationship between DWP and the Eastern Sierra has changed as well. (more…)

Defending the public trust at Mono Lake

Thursday, November 8th, 2018 by Geoff, Executive Director

2018 Defender of the Trust Peter Vorster. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

The California Supreme Court begins its landmark 1983 Mono Lake decision with these powerful words: “The public trust is an affirmation of the duty of the state to protect the people’s common heritage of streams, lakes, marshlands and tidelands…”

Every other year, to celebrate the history of the public trust at Mono Lake, we organize a special three-day Defense Trust Weekend for the Mono Lake Committee’s high donors. The weekend is full of field trips, good food, and time spent with fellow Mono Lake enthusiasts and Committee Board and staff.

This year we had an open house in the Committee office, a Rush Creek tour with experts including (more…)

Refreshing ‘Ologists: Mono Basin fisheries project with Ross Taylor

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018 by Joslyn, Project Specialist

Join us on Wednesday, September 26 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery for this week’s Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentation.

Scientists electrofishing in the Mono Gate One Return Ditch. Photo courtesy of Ross Taylor.

Ross Taylor, State Water Board-appointed Lead Fisheries Scientist, will be here to discuss fisheries monitoring and development of flow recommendations for Mono Basin streams. If you can join us, register here for this free program! (more…)

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