Mono Lake California Case Study

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Mono Lake California

Mono Lake, California

Summary of the crisis

Mono Lake is located near the city of Los Angeles and has been in the spot light for the extensive damage done to it in the past few decades. As the population of Los Angeles soared, there was a shortage of water for its residents. This semi-arid area did not have a lot of options to cater to the growing water needs of its residents. So, Mono Basin became a prospective source of water and by 1941, water was diverted from four of the five feeders from the Mono Lake to the LA Aqueduct (Kahrl, 1983).

This water diversion helped the LADWP as well as the LA water consumers because water was available at a cheaper rate than water from other sources such as the Colorado river. The economics and availability of water created more demand and as a result, more water was taken from the Mono Basin. Soon, the water levels started falling down and the amount of salinity began to increase. This led to a disruption of the local ecosystem. The algae present in the lake provide food for the brine shrimp and this in turn, attracts California Gulls that use this as a resting spot in its journey of migration. The increased salinity affected the algae in a big way because they were unable to perform photosynthesis for the production of food and this in turn, led to a disruption in the reproduction cycles of the brine shrimp. Also, the reduced water exposed the lake bed and this made it easy for predators like raccoons to attack the California Gulls. All this led to vast ecological damage in the surrounding areas.

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As residents and environmental groups began to understand the implications of the problem, legal battles began to ensue. The Mono Lake Committee was formed in 1976 and they fought long legal battles to restore the water levels in this lake. Finally, the California Water Resources Control Board ruled on August 22, 1989 that the city of LA should allow the water levels of Mono Lake to rise to 17 feet at an elevation of 6,391 feet above sea level (Strong-Aufhauser, 1995). This put an end to large scale diversions from this lake and the water levels have since risen in this lake.

Summary of the scientific data

TOPIC: Case Study on Mono Lake California Assignment

The scientific data clearly states that the rate of evaporation in Mono Lake was one foot a year before the water diversions started taking place and when a second aqueduct was opened, the rate shot up to 1.6 feet per year. It is estimated that the amount of water in Mono Lake from the 1970's to the 1990's was roughly about 83,000 acre per year and the overall volume of the lake reduced by about 22 miles (Monolake.org, 2012). This doubled the amount of salt present in the water and led to the destruction of the local ecosystem. In addition, the alkali lake bed of Mono Lake was exposed because of reduced water levels and this led to more dust storms that affected human health in a big way.

When the water levels dropped, mineral formations called tufa towers emerged on the lake and this led to a surge in tourism. The irony is that these tufa towers had made the lake a lifeless spot.

Social and Legislative barriers

Water is a necessity for life and this semi-arid region needed it more than any other city. The water from Mono Basin was cheaper than the one from Colorado and this led to a lot of resistance from the residents of LA as well as the LADWP. Also, lack of any other large source of water coupled with the increasing population made it difficult for the city officials to overlook the availability of water in Mono Lake. Any law suit that restricted the use of this water became a social thorn that became difficult to implement.

Besides social barriers, there was also certain legislative barriers that the Mono Lake Committee members had to face. A state constitutional amendment passed in 1928 stated that all the waters present in the state should be put to good use and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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