Owens Lake Dust Mitigation

Owens Lake is the remnant of a large prehistoric freshwater lake that extended some 60 miles up and down the Owens Valley and was more than 300 feet deep.  Gradually, as the climate of the area changed from post-glacial to semi-arid, the lake began to dry up.  By the time settlers entered the valley in the mid-nineteenth century the lake had become a shallow saline desert sink only a fraction of the size it had been in prehistoric times.

Dissolved minerals and salts in the water, which had flowed into Owens Lake over many millennia, had concentrated through evaporation to the point where only a few primitive organisms could survive in the waters of the lake such as algae, brine shrimp, and brine flies.  By 1905, diversion of water by farmers in the Owens Valley, coupled with drought in the region, had shrunk the lake even further; to approximately 60% of what it was in the mid 1800s.

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