A lake level gauge, made of a metal pipe with a ruler-like measuring stick attached, pokes up from the surface of a very glassy and highly reflective lake with the lenticular-shaped Black Point and desert mountains in the background.

Celebrate September 28th at Mono Lake with us

  • What: Celebrate September 28th virtually with us at Mono Lake!
  • When: 9:00am, Monday, September 28, 2020*
  • Where: Facebook
  • Why: On September 28, 1994 the State Water Resources Control Board voted unanimously to approve Decision 1631, the mandate we often refer to as the decision to “Save Mono Lake.”

At that time, decades of excessive water diversions by the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power had caused the lake to decline precipitously, imperiling millions of migratory and nesting birds, causing toxic dust storms harmful to human health, and drying up miles of tributary stream habitat.

Court rulings regarding the lake and stream supported taking action, which is exactly what the State Water Board did. Storm Over Mono author John Hart writes, “At Mono Lake in 1994, for the first time ever in California, water was removed from the grasp of an anointed appropriative user and assigned, not to some rival diverter, but to an environmental purpose: the restoration of the lake and its feeder streams.”

The decision also marked a new era of environmental commitment in Los Angeles when city leaders joined with the Mono Lake Committee and state and federal agencies to declare that the State Water Board had found the path forward. All would support raising the lake to a healthy management level, the restoration of the damaged streams, and sustainable water supply development to meet the real needs of the City.

Thus the September 28th anniversary is about balancing the water needs of people and a landscape they love, and want to protect, and restore.

In many ways, here at Mono Lake we celebrate Mono Lake every day through our protection, restoration, education, and science programs. But each year as we round the corner into fall, we take some extra time to celebrate this landmark moment in Mono Lake’s history.

This 2020 anniversary is a particularly important one. Twenty six years ago the State Water Board put forward a plan to raise the artificially low lake to its healthy management level in a reasonable amount of time. This year is a critical evaluation moment: if the lake hasn’t yet reached the management level, the State Water Board decision requires a process to review the situation and consider diversion criteria modifications to reach the goal.

The Committee team will be doing a socially distanced lake level reading at the edge of the lake on the anniversary morning—while we already know that the lake isn’t yet at the healthy level, knowing precise data matters.

Join us online for a live stream lake level reading and a chat about what it all means this Monday, September 28 at 9:00am on Facebook.

Because, again, John Hart seems to find just the right words: “When the lake was sinking toward its nadir, only a few people paid close attention. As it rises, the world will be watching.”

For more background, including footage from the State Water Board hearing, and more, we recommend watching The Mono Lake Story short film.

Top photo by Robbie Di Paolo.