Mono Lake Kutzadika’a Tribe calls for State Water Board to address low lake emergency

On December 22, 2022, the Mono Lake Kutzadika’a Tribe formally submitted a letter to the State Water Board in support of the Mono Lake Committee’s request that DWP stream diversions be suspended until the low lake emergency is over.

The letter opens:

I am writing on behalf of the Mono Lake Kutzadika’a (also spelled Kootzaduka’a or Kutzaduka’a) Tribe to support the request from the Mono Lake Committee that the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) immediately issue an emergency regulation to halt the export of water diverted from Mono Lake’s tributary streams by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). Specifically, the Tribe echoes the Committee’s request that all diversions be halted until the Lake reaches a level of at least 6384’ above sea level, at minimum, in order to prevent further deterioration of the Tribe’s cultural connection with the lake. This action is also necessary to alleviate the current emergency threats to the nesting gull colony and violations of water and air quality standards, which are also of great importance to the Tribe.

The letter describes the cultural significance of Mono Lake (known to the Kutzadika’a as Kootzabaa’a) to the Kutzadika’a people, as well as how the damage done by excessive water diversions threatens the Tribe’s cultural heritage and connection to Mono Lake. It reaffirms the Tribe’s stake in a long-term solution to raise Mono Lake well above its current, very low level.

The letter is expected to initiate formal government-to-government consultation between the State Water Board and the Kutzadika’a Tribe. It will also elevate consideration of the Kutzadika’a Tribe’s concerns in decision making processes about Mono Lake, which is long overdue. In the past the Tribe has not been included in decision-making processes, such as the State Water Board hearings in the 1990s.

The Mono Lake Committee is grateful to be collaborating with, and learning from, the Tribe on the critically important effort to protect the valuable ecological and cultural resources of Mono Lake.

—Read the full letter here—

Top photo by Robbie Di Paolo.