U.S. Water News Online
LOS ANGELES -- Construction has begun on a project to
restore a 62-mile stretch of the Owens River, which virtually dried
up when Los Angeles began diverting water from the area nearly a
The $29-million project will allow water to flow from the Los
Angeles Aqueduct to the delta of Owens Lake and a segment of the
river, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.
The water should create hundreds of acres of wetlands and maintain
lakes and ponds in the region 250 miles north of Los Angeles.
The aqueduct was built in 1913 to bring water from Inyo County to
Los Angeles' fast-growing San Fernando Valley but the project turned
the once-fertile Owens Valley into a dust bowl. The events were
fictionalized in the 1974 movie "Chinatown."
Excessive groundwater pumping destroyed some 100 acres of the
Owens Valley between 1970 and 1990. In 1997, the Los Angeles
Department of Water & Power agreed to create a natural habitat in
the Owens Valley by 2003 but missed the deadline, prompting a
Last year, following more than three decades of litigation, an
Inyo County judge ordered the Department of Water & Power to
either act on repeated court orders to restore the Lower Owens River
or stop pumping water from it.
The DWP has received the project's final permit from the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers, the mayor's office said.
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