William Mulholland's gamechanging, city-building scheme to provide Los Angeles a reliable source of water has been in place for more than 100 years, but the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which brings water to Los Angeles from the Owens Valley to the north, stopped sending any water to LA six months ago. It's no mistake: "to try to meet legal obligations" to the Owens Valley, water officials decided to do something they've never done before, and installed a dam to send runoff to the dry valley instead of to LA, the Associated Press reports. This past Tuesday, the process of taking the dam apart began, and water's already flowing back down to Los Angeles again.
The LADWP is required "by court settlements" to keep water in the Owens River and to keep the dust down in the dry Owens Lake bed, where "unhealthy dust ... has blown since its waters were siphoned south." Because of the persistent drought, there's been a lot less water runoff from the mountains, which many in the valley depend on. So to meet the legal obligations, the dam was put in—pastures that would otherwise be dry received water, the Owens River flowed, and the lake bed was moistened to reduce dust.
The dam redirected water for six months, but now that the "irrigation season" has ended and the legal requirements for this year have expired, the water can come down to Los Angeles again. Usually, LA gets about a third of its water from the aqueduct, but because of the drought, this source will probably account for just three percent of all LA's water this year, an aqueduct manager says. Next year, if an El Niño materializes, that could increase.
· LA Aqueduct flows after dam built for drought is dismantled [AP]
· Watch Extremely Drunk People and Jack Black "Explain" the Origins of the LAPD and the LA Aqueduct [Curbed LA]