Work on the Grant Lake Reservoir Spillway Represents LADWP’s Ongoing Commitment to Protecting and Preserving the Environment
LOS ANGELES (October 30, 2020) — The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) announced today it is advancing one of the largest environmental restoration projects in the Mono Basin by launching the environmental review process for a structure at Grant Lake Reservoir in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. Advancing this project will fulfill LADWP’s commitment to a landmark 2013 Settlement Agreement that brought diverse stakeholders together to chart a unified path forward for the final stages of stream and habitat restoration in the Mono Basin.
The Mono Basin is a unique region in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, which includes Mono Lake, Grant Lake Reservoir and a system of streams that flow throughout the region providing recreation opportunities and water supplies for the Eastern Sierra and the City of Los Angeles. Similar to the rest of California, Mono Basin has seen declining snowfall and rainfall in recent years, resulting in less water for streams, rivers, lakes and taps.
The project includes construction of a new spillway gate structure that allows for increased control of flows from Grant Lake Reservoir, through Rush Creek and into Mono Lake. The structure will be used during specific wet year conditions to deliver higher flows as recommended by the state and outlined in the 2013 Settlement Agreement. The proposed project does not change existing Mono Lake elevation criteria or export agreements. Construction of this project is a reflection of the City of Los Angeles’ commitment to protecting the natural habitats and waterways that provide residents with clean, affordable drinking water.
“LADWP’s work in conservation and restoration provides a roadmap on how to face the challenge of preserving California’s natural resources for future generations,” said Cynthia McClain-Hill, president of the LA Board of Water and Power Commissioners. “We are proud to invest in innovative infrastructure, support programs that decrease water usage and prioritize environmental restoration and enhancement projects.”
The release of the environmental review document – referred to as a mitigated negative declaration (MND) – begins a 45-day public comment period. A copy of the MND may be found on LADWP’s website ladwp.com/envnotices. Members of the public who wish to provide comment on the document may do so in writing by mail or by email. The construction is expected to take approximately three years.
For nearly 40 years, LADWP has worked with local partners to restore and preserve the natural beauty of Mono Basin. During that time, the utility has invested in dozens of restoration projects, while exports from Mono Basin have been reduced by more than 80%. The water instead now remains in Mono Basin to support environmental restoration projects that improve the ecological vibrancy of the region.
Thanks in part to LADWP’s commitment to the region, Mono Lake and its tributaries offer abundant resources for the unique water birds nesting on shore, and a healthy environment for the plants and fish to thrive. For the last 20 years, water elevation in Mono Lake has been an average of 10 feet higher than its lowest point in 1981.
Species populations have returned to Rush Creek as flows have been restored, and state-appointed scientists have determined that fish populations are reproducing naturally.
After decades of restoration, LADWP engaged in a dialogue with the Mono Lake Committee, California Trout, and the California Department of Fish & Wildlife to align on a path forward for the final stages of restoration in the Mono Basin – a process that resulted in a landmark 2013 settlement agreement that sought to memorialize the restoration of the Mono Basin. The Grant Lake Reservoir spillway enhancement represents the final and most important project that will fulfill LADWP’s commitment to the agreement.
Click here to learn more about LADWP’s restoration work in the Mono Basin [Agenda Item 8C].
“This is an exciting day for LADWP. We are living up to our responsibility and actively working to protect California’s natural resources,” said LADWP General Manager Martin L. Adams. “Mono Basin is a healthy, vibrant ecosystem today because of LADWP’s long-term collaboration with local partners. Enhancement of the spillway at Grant Lake Reservoir is the capstone project to decades of environmental restoration in the region.”
LADWP has also made significant investments in expanding local supply projects and reducing water usage in Los Angeles to reduce reliance on exports. LADWP has a track record of being a leader on protecting long-term water supply reliability through water recycling, stormwater capture, groundwater replenishment and conservation. The results of that work are clear: Over the past 30 years, Angelenos have cut their water usage 40 percent, even as the City’s population has increased by a million people.