Lake Project 22
Aerial view of Owens Valley, California.
“Beginning in 1913, the now infamous Los Angeles reclamation project effectively diverted water from Owens Valley to the Los Angeles Aqueduct, providing a substantial amount of the city’s water supply. By 1926, the lower Owens River and Owens Lake were essentially depleted of water, leaving a vast exposed salt flat with unusually concentrated mineral levels and extremely vulnerable topsoil. The situation has been exacerbated by fierce winds that sweep through the valley and dislodge carcinogenic particles from the lakebed, creating a pervasive dust cloud known as the Keeler fog (named for the town on the east side of the lake). The Owens Lake region, the largest source of particulate matter pollution in the United States, is now undergoing an EPA approved, state implemented plan to control the spread of this hazardous matter. After decades of accelerated destruction, the ground is once again flooded, this time by EPA officials in an effort to diminish the toxic dust that settles in the soil, vegetation, and lungs of nearby inhabitants. From the air, high above this damaged wasteland, the ground assembles itself into something spectacular and horrifying.” - Diana Gaston, Aperture 172