With declining water levels on Mono Lake and an increase in airborne dust, the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District has formally requested a hearing before the State Water
Resources Control Board.
The request, approved at the GBUAPCD board meeting on June 7, cites the Water Board’s 1994
Decision 1631 setting the average surface elevation on the lake at 6,392 feet above sea level.
According to Great Basin’s letter, if Mono Lake doesn’t rise to that level, “the SWRCB could
adjust the water diversion criteria in an appropriate manner under the exercise of its continuing authority over water rights.” The formality of holding a hearing is also spelled out in that decision to “determine if further revisions to the (LADWP) licenses are appropriate”.
According to Great Basin, during a previous drop in Mono Lake levels a reduction in diversions
of streams into the lake, from 16,000 acre-feet to 4,500 acre-feet, was put in place.
The Mono Lake Committee and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power took a Mono Lake level measurement on April 1. At that time, the official reading was 6,378.92-feet, 12-feet
below the required level.
At issue are the areas of the lake exposed by the drop in elevation by the diversion of
waterways feeding Mono Lake and measured levels of PM10 which Great Basin identifies as
“one of the most severe and widespread pollutants.
Anselmo Collins, LADWP senior assistant general manager of water systems, responded via e-
mail: “While the level at Mono Lake has not changed in the last few months, we do anticipate there will be a decline based on a year of low runoff. Just like the rest of California, the Mono Basin has been impacted by climate change and drought, resulting in less snow and, ultimately, less runoff feeding into Mono Lake. Less snowfall – and less runoff – is the driving influence of lake elevation levels at Mono Lake, not LADWP’s limited exports. We still encourage the District to continue the development of an updated air pollution control plan for the Basin that satisfies both the Clean Air Act and Health & Safety Code and considers the many factors beyond lake level which may impact air quality. We look forward to engaging with them around that effort.”