“Don’t let LA drink from Mono Lake” CalMatters article highlights questions many are asking

There’s a new in-depth article out that highlights the essential questions many people are asking right now—about Mono Lake’s low level, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power diversions, State Water Board action, the Mono Lake Committee’s campaign to raise the lake to the mandated healthy level, and what it all means in this big water year, and beyond.

Alastair Bland, writer for CalMatters, which describes itself as “the leading nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom committed to explaining California politics and policy,” explores the issue through interviews with an array of people and a knack for asking and answering the question “why?”

In 2019 former Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti set a goal of recycling 100% of the city’s wastewater by 2035 — part of a broader plan to acquire 50% of the city’s water from local sources by the same year. His vision aligns with that of Gov. Gavin Newsom, whose water strategy plan, released last summer, endorsed more water recycling, capturing stormwater and using less.

The progress prompts many to question why Los Angeles clings so tightly to the trickle it receives from the Mono basin.

“That’s the funny thing — it’s such a drop in the bucket,” said Bruze Reznik, executive director of the environmental group Los Angeles Waterkeeper. “I think the department recognizes they don’t need the water, but they just keep it because they have a right to it.”

— “State asked to stop diverting iconic Mono Lake’s water to Los Angeles,” CalMatters, Alastair Bland, May 30, 2023

The story also highlights the importance of the role of the Mono Lake Kutzadika’a Tribe, the Department of Water & Power, LA community leaders, and ratepayers as well as the Committee—all working together to take on this challenge effectively. This includes state and city goals for municipal water capture and conservation projects—elements of the solution for both Mono Lake and Los Angeles—beyond one wet year.

Geoff McQuilkin, the Mono Lake Committee’s executive director, said the lake will probably rise another four feet in 2023 — reason, as he sees it, to double down and halt exports.

“This is a year to take advantage of,” he said. “We’d like to lock in these gains.”

— “State asked to stop diverting iconic Mono Lake’s water to Los Angeles,” CalMatters, Alastair Bland, May 30, 2023

Read the CalMatters article here.

Top photo by Arya Degenhardt.