LA leaders advance Mono Basin stream restoration compliance

City of Los Angeles leaders recently broke a logjam, pushing forward compliance with stream restoration obligations in the Mono Basin.

At issue is an environmental document that the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) is required by the State Water Board to complete. The document is years off schedule and was withheld for much of 2020.

Now the document has been released for public comment, with a path set to finalization.

Cynthia McClain-Hill, President of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners, reflected during the October 27 Commissioners meeting, “I mean to acknowledge the extreme, sometimes difficult, and often contentious process that has surrounded these issues. . . but nevertheless we have stepped up and embraced the strongest tenants of conservation and environmental stewardship. . . We will be releasing the environmental documents this week and look forward to the next phase.”

The restoration of fisheries, streamside forests, and wildlife habitats is underway on 20 miles of streams that were extensively damaged by excessive DWP water diversions from the Mono Basin in past decades. The program is a requirement established by the State Water Board.

A plan developed by State Water Board scientists to maximize restoration has been awaiting implementation since the signing of a settlement agreement in 2013 covering detailed implementation terms by the Mono Lake Committee, California Trout, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, and DWP.

The Mono Lake Committee commends the Board of Water & Power Commissioners, Mayor Garcetti, and his staff for moving this process forward. Repairing Mono Basin streams provides vast benefits to fish, birds, wildlife, and all Californians at a time when California’s natural habitats are under increased stress from climate change, drought, and fire.

Top photo of the DWP diversion facility on Lee Vining Creek by Nora Livingston.