Owens Lake Restoration

About the project

Driving alongside the Eastern Sierras on Highway 395, about 200 miles northeast of Los Angeles, lies Owens Lake. The vapid landscape is not registered by most speeding across the 110-square-mile dry alkali flat. In 1913, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) began to divert the Owens River and within a decade the lake was dry. The resulting dust became the largest source of carcinogenic particulate air pollution in North America. In 1998, the EPA mandated that the LADWP take steps to minimize the toxic dust pollution.

The Owens Lake Dust Mitigation Program spans 50 square miles and is a mixed gravel cover, managed vegetation, buried drip tubing, and irrigation bubblers to shallow flood the dry lakebed. The dust mitigation project has cost $1.6 billion and is not sustainable due to climate change.