Science

In extraordinary move, California mulls crackdown on Los Angeles’ water draws at Mono Lake

In extraordinary move, California mulls crackdown on Los Angeles’ water draws at Mono Lake

Even as a storm shower California with rain and snow, state water regulators announced this week that they’re revisiting their effort to protect Mono Lake from the ravages of drought, agreeing to review how much water the city of Los Angeles is taking from the basin and whether it’s too much.

The announcement, which has already begun drawing backlash from Southern California, comes as the giant salt lake and ecological curiosity on the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada has become increasingly dry in recent years. The freshly exposed lakebed has been sending toxic dust into skies and creating a land bridge to islands where hungry coyotes threaten to prey on nesting birds.

Almost three decades ago, one of the biggest environmental campaigns in US history succeeded in forcing Los Angeles to reduce the amount of water it pipes from the basin to faucets in Southern California. Still, state regulators have told The Chronicle that the 1994 reductions haven’t raised Mono Lake to the point it should be at, nor will the recent storms and a potentially very wet year.

The State Water Resources Control Board has scheduled a public workshop for Feb. 15 to reopen discussion of the problems at Mono Lake and water diversions by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

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