NHI represented California Trout in the remedy phase of the Mono Lake Cases (1991-). For the first time in California’s history, these cases applied the public trust doctrine to condition water rights to protect environmental quality. From 1941 until 1989, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) diverted most natural flows from the freshwater tributaries of Mono Lake, because the State (in granting the permits in 1940) believed that municipal water supply trumped all other uses. Under the mandate of these cases, LADWP will reduce its diversions by nearly 75% on a long-term basis. LADWP will release flows and undertake other physical measures to restore the trout fisheries and riparian forests of these creeks and raise the lake to a level which provides sustainable habitat for grebes, ducks, seagulls and other migratory waterfowl.
NHI negotiated a settlement, now approved as an amendment to these rights, that commits LADWP to achieve these actual results. These remedies have resulted in an estimated $4 million per year in ecotourism in this remote Eastern Sierra region. LADWP has replaced the foregone water diversions through conservation and wastewater reclamation.
Contact: Richard Roos-Collins