Monday, January 1, 2007

A river no longer runs through it: In Arizona and New Mexico, dry rivers are common, but in cheery, watery southern California, that's reason for concern. Los Angeles recently began diverting a portion of its principal water source, the Owens River, to feed a lake that had been literally sucked dry by the City of Angels' insatiable thirst for agua. It seems that plant and animal life can come back, even in the midst of a landscape as barren as the far side of the moon:

To restore the river, Los Angeles built automated gates at the point where the river veers into the aqueduct. The gates steer some water into the original riverbed, setting the stage for the growth of cottonwood trees and other plants and the return of waterfowl and other animals.

Much of the water eventually returns to the aqueduct, though some of it is being used for lake irrigation and other projects.

Environmentalists here say they are keeping an eye on Los Angeles for backsliding, but they acknowledge that the new efforts will make a significant difference.

As winds whipped across Owens Lake on a recent afternoon, Mike Prather of the Owens Valley Committee, which along with the Sierra Club took Los Angeles to court over the environmental fallout of its water policies, marveled at sandpipers, American avocets and other birds frolicking in the shallow pools created by the irrigation.

“This work will bring back more and more of them,” Mr. Prather said, savoring the twist in the battle that means water once intended for Los Angeles will feed the lake.

“It’s Owens Valley’s turn to stick its straw in L.A.’s water,” he said.


No comments: