A new phase of aquatic restoration work based on a voluntary water settlement agreement in the Mono Basin began this past year. Conservation parties Mono Lake Committee, California Trout, and California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) are working with licensee Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP) to better manage water diversions by LADWP and incorporate extensive new requirements to maximize stream restoration in the Mono Basin.
In October 2021, the California State Water Resources Board issued Order 21-86 to amend the water rights of the LADWP in the Mono Basin. Previously, Mono Basin stream habitat was damaged by excessive water diversions by the LADWP. Under this order, new requirements will be introduced and the restoration of 20 miles of stream habitat will be prioritized. CalTrout communicates closely with the Mono Lake Committee, CDFW, and LADWP to implement these changes.
As a first step, CalTrout and partners established the Monitoring Administration Team (MAT), composed of staff from each of the organizations. Then, the MAT selected NFWF as the fiscal administrator overseeing survey work paid for by LADWP as part of the settlement. As required under Order 21-86, monitoring will cover the areas of stream, waterfowl, and limnology.
MAT members are also working together to create an Annual Operations Plan and the Mono Basin Operations Plan. These plans will provide guidance, rules, and criteria for LADWP’s operations within the basin.
Prior to the introduction of Order 21-86, CalTrout and Mono Lake Committee ensured the restoration of Mono Lake and its streams using legal challenges and State Water Board orders to monitor Los Angeles Aqueduct operations and Mono Basin restoration. The order provides a new framework for restoration work. Setting a new precedent, this order will serve as a blueprint for work in the Mono Basin and beyond, ensuring that restoration of Mono Lake and its streams is achieved.