Walker Basin Water Transfer Program

Walker Lake
A General Plan Amendment (GPA) is being proposed at the June 20, 2024, Planning Commission meeting that would establish criteria intended to largely mitigate and prevent environmental impacts that may result from water transactions redirecting water to Walker Lake.

Walker Lake is a salty terminal lake in Mineral County, Nevada, at the terminus of the Walker River which begins in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and runs through Antelope Valley and Bridgeport Valley (for a map, see https://webapps.usgs.gov/walkerbasinhydromapper/#home). Due to water diversions for various reasons, water levels in the lake have declined and the salinity of Walker Lake increased dramatically to the point that the general health of the ecosystem is at risk.

In 2012, Mono County entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), which was initially charged with restoration efforts, that funding for water transactions in Mono County to restore Walker Lake would not be appropriated unless and until the Mono County Board of Supervisors reviewed, commented on, and considered a proposal for such transactions. Outside of the MOU, Mono County has no approval authority over water transactions. The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) has exclusive authority to issue and administer water right permits and licenses for surface water appropriations.

Mono County has developed a set of General Plan policies that serve as water transaction critieria for the restoration of Walker Lake, based on a preliminary environmental analysis of potential impacts. The guidelines and any analysis are provided for informational purposes only and intended for consideration by the SWRCB when conducting environmental review on any subsequent water transaction in the County. A description of the Mono County Water Transaction Criteria for the Restoration of Walker Lake is available for download at the bottom of this page, along with the MOU and preliminary environmental analysis. 

Tribal consultation letters pursuant to SB 18 were sent on February 6, 2024, and public outreach has been conducted with the Antelope Valley RPAC, Bridgeport Valley RPAC, agricultural operators, Collaborative Planning Team, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

For more information, please contact:
Wendy Sugimura
(760) 924-1814