You might remember hearing the Mono Lake story on NPR’s Blue Dot Podcast in May of 2021. Host Dave Schlom chatted with Nora Livingston, our Lead Naturalist Guide, about the geology, ecosystems, and organisms of Mono Lake, and later with Executive Director Geoff McQuilkin about policy history and next steps for the Mono Lake Committee.
Last week, Geoff returned to Blue Dot along with environmental reporter Kurtis Alexander of the San Francisco Chronicle for more about Mono Lake’s current status and visions for the future. Alexander made a visit to the Mono Basin in July and wrote a front-page article about several of the problems Mono Lake faces with dropping lake levels. In the podcast, Schlom and Alexander discuss in depth the poor air quality resulting from the exposed lakebed on the eastern shore of Mono Lake, which is the largest source of PM-10 pollution in the United States.
Later, Geoff picks up the discussion, emphasizing that the situation here at Mono Lake is still dire; on April 1st of this year the lake level read just below the critical threshold of 6380 feet above sea level that requires stream diversions to be reduced by nearly three-quarters. However, even with diversions significantly reduced, there is still unregulated Mono Basin groundwater seeping into the Mono Craters Tunnel, and the prolonged drought continues to be a difficulty for the ecosystem in the basin.
Looking forward, Geoff highlights that the current plan to raise Mono Lake has failed to deliver the state-mandated results. This means renegotiations are inevitable, and not far in the future.
Listen to the newest Blue Dot episode about Mono Lake here.
Top photo by Jessica Schneider.