Water and Los Angeles: Part One
This is my favorite quote from the late California Senator S.I. Hayakawa, referring to the United States acquisition of the Panama Canal. I don’t agree with the sentiment, but I appreciate his audacity in saying such a thing, even though I’m pretty sure he was joking.
The “We stole it fair and square” story is the same with the water we use here in Los Angeles. Much of our water is being drawn from distant sources. And the stories of how we got that water, and the environmental price being paid by the land, wildlife and people at the source is not very pretty.
I thought I would start with the water we are taking from Mono and Owens Lakes. Tucked away on the Eastern side of the Sierra’s, I have been driving by this lake and the river that feeds it for years on the way to skiing (well, the rest of the family skiis while I live the spa-girl dream) in Mammoth. North of Mammoth, at the turn off to Tuolome Meadows and Yosemite on Highway 395 is Mono Lake, another source of water for us Angelenos.
Here are some links so you can learn the stories about the biggest water heist in history.:
From personal observation over the past 25 years, it does appear to me that Mono Lake is “healthier” than it was in the 1990’s. The water level is higher, there are wetland areas, and flowing streams. YAY!
Owens Lake, on the other hand, looks pretty dismal. When we were there, a fierce wind was blowing a TON of dust over the highway and we had to retreat to the car to avoid being sand blasted. I hope to go back in the spring and walk around the trails to see if I missed something.
What is pretty clear is that restoring the Owens Lake to anything remotely like its past size is probably off the table, unless those of us who live in Los Angeles do something about our water use.