In 1900, just east of the Sierra Mountains, Owens Lake sat amidst a fertile valley. A 200 square mile lake fed by the Owens River, it was diverted in 1913 to provide water for the growing city of Los Angeles. By 1926, the diverted river had completely drained the lake bed and the landscape completely transformed to arid desert.
In the 110 years since, strong winds continuously shave tiny particles loose from the empty lake bed resulting in fierce dust storms. As such, Owens Lake is the greatest source of particulate matter pollution in the country.
The epic concentration of minerals in the small amounts of residual water produce blooms of microscopic bacteria, turning the water a deep, dark red.
As of 2015, the river diverted to the Owens Valley Aqueduct still provides 60% of LA’s water supply.
David Maisel’s aerial photography illuminates the role of mining, urbanization and farming in environmental destruction.
This Earth Day, we urge you to make the daily small changes to (composting, reducing plastic use, reducing car emissions, etc.).
We think this crisis is not going to happen, IT IS HAPPENING.
We urge you to write to your local, state and federal lawmakers and demand they back legislation that both restricts emissions and enforces sanctions to push us immediately toward a society based on renewable energy by 2030. - Maureen Post
Photo Credit : David Maisel