Owens Lake making slow progress back from dust bowl conditions

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Owens Lake is slowly recovering from the dry conditions caused by its use in LA's water supply, after the DWP was ordered by a court to fix the problem. (KABC)

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power unveiled a new visitor center and trails at Owens Lake on Friday.

While the ribbon cutting itself might have been a "fail," the folks who were out there said the Owens Lake trails will allow everyone to see what can only be described as a success.

It's a story that goes way back to the early 1900s, when the Los Angeles Aqueduct was built.

Consequently, with all this water heading to L.A., Owens Lake dried up and created what many described as a dust bowl.

"When I first came up here, there were times when I couldn't even walk to work because I'd be inhaling the dust," said Steve Eaton of Lone Pine.

Eaton said it created health problems - even within his own family.

"In fact, I think my dad and my uncle - I think they died from the dust," he said.

About 20 years ago, the LADWP was ordered by a judge to fix the problem. They've planted grass, installed sprinklers and allowed some water to flow back into the lake.

Now, a new trail system will allow the public to see firsthand what's been done.

"The real purpose of the trails is to have a public access component to that," said Richard Harasick of the LADWP.

Most residents said the improvements are becoming clearer.

LADWP officials said since they've started working on the lake, they've reduced the amount of dust going into the air by about 96 percent. The group's goal is to reach 100 percent by 2017.
Related Topics:
newsdroughtwater conservationglobal warmingCalifornia
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