Mono Lake Committee to Attend Workshop on Feb 15 to Raise Awareness of Conservation Needs
By Bailey Meyers
JCI’s partnership with the Mono Lake Committee has been alive and well since our work started in July of last year. We are working with the Committee to support efforts within the City of Los Angeles to protect and preserve the lake amid continued threats of climate change and water exports to the City. On February 15th at 1pm PST, there will be a workshop hosted by the State Water Resources Control Board to provide an opportunity to discuss solutions to the water crisis affecting both the lake and Los Angeles, with the Mono Lake Committee and the Kutzadika’a Tribe in attendance to present their positions.
Anyone can register to attend the public workshop virtually via Zoom. Be sure to also check out MLC’s action alert page where you can write a letter to the State Water Board encouraging them to take steps to save Mono Lake.
Mono Lake is one of California’s natural gems, and boasts an ecosystem consisting of a major salt lake, unique limestone formations called Tufa towers, brine shrimp, and two million migratory birds. Mono Lake’s rocky islands are home for 50% of the nesting California Gull population and the lake is designated as a public trust.
In the 1940’s the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) began exporting water from Mono Lake’s tributaries to support Los Angeles’s growing population. By the 1980’s, the lake had lost half of its water and the salinity levels had doubled. The shores of Mono Lake became the largest source of human-caused dust pollution in the United States, and growing land bridges to nesting islands provide predators an easy path to the animals.
In 1978, David Gaines and Sally Judy formed the Mono Lake Committee to protect and restore the lake after seeing the devastating path on which it had been set. The Mono Lake Committee had major success in 1994 with a legal decision to cut back the LADWP’s withdrawals and bring lake levels up to 6,392 feet above sea level, which ecologists deemed acceptable.
Yet, progress has only inched to the 25% mark, in terms of volume of water restored. LADWP continues to divert Mono Lake’s tributary streams at an unacceptable level and the ecology remains under fierce threat. The coming workshop aims to address this faltering.
Additionally, the threats to Mono Lake are indicative of larger threats to California’s natural resources as a whole and the coming economic impacts. While water exports are bad for the lake, they signify a larger issue around water use that will only worsen as the Earth continues to heat up and scarcity issues continue to grow. As we use up what few natural sources of water we have, Los Angeles ratepayers will feel the effects in the price of water. For at-risk communities already concerned about finances, rising costs for this essential resource will prove to be an additional hurdle.
Funding is available for water conservation at the state and federal level through the California Department of Water Resources. With the right focus and initiative to apply, the LADWP can invest in sustainable conservation practices in Los Angeles, saving the city from the need to overdraw from natural resources to supply its residents. Already, conservation efforts such as installing low-flush toilets have proven to have huge effects on the city’s needs.
MLC is proposing a plan at the workshop to temporarily suspend water diversions from the lake and is requesting funding for essential conservation projects in the Los Angeles region. JCI and the Mono Lake Committee look forward to the coming workshop with the State Water Resources Control Board, and we are eager to restore the lake while contributing to building a more future-proof and drought-resistant Los Angeles. We encourage all community members to stand in solidarity in the face of climate change by showing their support for the Mono Lake ecosystem at the workshop on Wednesday, or by writing a letter to the State Water Board.