Tuesday May 30, 2023


As trickling snowmelt in the Sierra Nevada slowly raises Mono Lake —  famed for its bird life and outlandish shoreline mineral spires — advocates are pressuring state water officials to halt diversions from the lake’s tributaries to Los Angeles, which has used this clean mountain water source for decades. 

Environmentalists and tribal representatives say such action is years overdue and would help the iconic lake’s ecosystem, long plagued by low levels, high salinity and dust that wafts off the exposed lakebed. The city of Los Angeles, they argue, should simply use less water, and expand investments in more sustainable sources – especially recycled wastewater and uncaptured stormwater. This, they say, could help wean the city off Mono basin’s water for good. 

In December, the Mono Lake Committee, the basin’s leading advocacy group, sent a letter to the State Water Resources Control Board requesting an emergency pause on water diversions from the lake. The water board hosted an online workshop to discuss the matter in February, and it is now considering further actions to restore the naturally saline lake.

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. 

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