In 2018, The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP) decided to de-water Long and Little Round Valleys, CA. The LADWP notified leaseholders in that it would be eliminating their irrigation allotments. This water not only helps to support local pasture, it also plays a critical role in maintaining wetland and meadow habitat – much of which were lost in 1941 when LADWP built the Long Valley Dam and created Crowley Lake. Join us in demanding that LADWP provide a sufficient, binding water supply each year to keep these valleys green, with a healthy environment and a sustainable economy!

March 22, 2024 in Newsletter

Every Last Drop Newsletter – Volume 4, Issue 2 – March 2024

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In the News

What’s happening?

  • LADWP has long been the largest land owner in the area, and in the 1940s, as part of its construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct system, it built the Long Valley Dam, which destroyed the pre-existing wetland meadows. Since then, it has allotted sufficient amounts of water to its lessee ranchers to support their agricultural operations. This water also created and maintained wetland meadows, somewhat mitigating the environmental destruction caused by the creation of Crowley Lake.
  • In 2018, LADWP notified its ranch lessees on 6,400 acres in Long Valley and Little Round Valley that it intends to remove all irrigation water from future leases. This drastic step was taken without performing any analysis of the proposal’s likely impact on the valleys’ environment, agricultural and recreational economies, and the health and safety of local communities.
  • Mono County and the Sierra Club filed litigation in August 2018 to stop the dewatering of Long Valley and Little Round Valley, challenging LADWP’s failure to perform an environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). In a major victory in March 2021, the Alameda Superior Court ruled that LADWP could not carry out such a drastic change from historical practice without first conducting a CEQA environmental review.
  • While LADWP has issued non-binding statements that it will continue to provide water in the area, it has also steadfastly stated that it will refuse to even consider entering into a legally binding agreement to this effect. The agency appealed the March 2021 decision, and in late June 2022 the Court of Appeals unfortunately ruled that if LADWP was not dewatering the area, as they represented in court, they would not have to perform an environmental review.

Why It Matters

  • The wetland meadows around Crowley Lake and Eastern Sierra streams support rich biodiversity, with a variety of fish, invertebrate, amphibian, and avian life. The area is critical habitat for the native Bi-State Sage Grouse, a species of special concern whose population is already in precipitous decline. The meadows also decrease the risk of wildfire, suppress dust for local communities, and sequester carbon, thereby mitigating some climate change impacts. In addition,it would end up being far more expensive for L.A. ratepayers to mitigate the damage of creating a dustbowl in Long Valley than to avoid the dewatering option in the first place – all over a relatively tiny volume for the city that could easily be made up for through urban water conservation.
  • The Paiute-Shoshone Indigenous people remain vocal defenders of these valleys, which are part of sacred Payahüünadü – “the land of flowing water.” LADWP drained Owens Lake roughly a century ago, leading to massive toxic dust problems and perpetual court-ordered mitigation. Payahüünadü has never recovered from that blow, and it would be unconscionable to dry up and devastate another part of it.
  • These meadows are also the basis for southern Mono County’s ranching and recreation economies. The ranches are not leased or managed by large corporate conglomerates but instead by small families that have stewarded the lands for generations. The meadows also support recreational tourism and activities, such as world-class fishing at Hot Creek and the beautiful landscapes enjoyed by large numbers of campers, hikers, bikers, and OHVers from around the world, including Los Angeles.

What We’re Doing About It and How You Can Help


The Keep Long Valley Green Coalition continues to bring together ranchers, environmentalists, recreationalists, local residents, and tribal governments. We magnify voices and raise awareness about LADWP’s dewatering proposal. We also clearly show decision makers how drying of valley meadows would devastate the natural environment and local economy.


Following the March 2021 court ruling, the coalition reiterated its demand that LADWP provide a binding yearly water supply (adjusted for precipitation) to keep Long Valley and Little Round Valley green, with a healthy environment and a sustainable economy.

We seek to work together with LADWP as a partner, not a vassal, and are confident that a mutually beneficial solution is within reach – one in which L.A. can meet all of its water needs AND significantly reduce water exports from the Eastern Sierra.

Take Action

Sign Up for Email Alerts

Volunteer With Us

Attend LADWP Commissioners Meeting and

Send Comments

Dive in to the history, goals, and impact of water on the Long Valley

Water’s Role in Long Valley’s Wildlife, Economy, & Recreation

The Paiute-Shoshone Indigenous people call the region Payahüünadü – “the land of flowing water” – and consider it sacred. Mountain snowmelt sustains beautiful creeks and wetland meadows rich in biodiversity…

Recent History of Long Valley’s Water 

Follow the timeline of LA’s actions in the Eastern Sierra from 1905 to the current day. From undercover representatives consolidating water rights,  to destruction of the the original meadows, and recent attempts to dewater the entire valley…

Our Goals

Our overriding goal is simple: for LADWP to provide a binding yearly water supply (adjusted for precipitation) for Long Valley and Little Round Valley, at a certain date each year…  


Long Valley and Little Round Valley need advocates to stand up and protect them. These valleys are the only part of the Eastern Sierra lacking a legally binding water management plan. For decades LADWP cooperated to preserve ecologically rich green meadows and grazing lands. But in 2018, LADWP announced its intention to renew these leases without any water. In a ruling in March 2021 the Alameda Superior Court required LADWP to conduct a formal environmental review. Join us in working with LADWP to ensure a sufficient, binding water supply agreement is reached to keep the valley’s meadows green into the future. 

Ready to get involved?  Please consider donating today.