The hydrologic losses due to net evaporation in the Aral Sea have interesting analogs in the interior-drainage basins of the American West. Each of the three places discussed here – the Salton Sea, Owens Lake, and Mono Lake – has its own unique historical and geographic circumstances, but the story of each place has certain parallels to the Aral Sea disaster. Each place experienced dramatic water losses during much of the 20th century, but the emergence of environmental science and law in recent decades has caused significant policy changes. The Salton Sea is still declining, and modest efforts by state and federal agencies to halt the decline are inadequate. A proposal to build dikes to save part of the water body and convert the rest to salt evaporation ponds cited the Aral Sea as a model for the Salton Sea's future. The dry Owens Lake bed yields windblown dust that exceeds the Clean Air standard for fine particulate matter (PM 10), so Los Angeles is now required to release additional water back into the basin to create more shallow wetlands. In Mono Lake, a negotiated settlement has reversed the water loss while protecting vital interests of all parties, and a substantial ecological restoration plan is being implemented. The history of the American analogs to the Aral Sea, especially the success story of Mono Lake, may indicate potential pathways to progress in reducing problems caused by large-scale water diversion.
Horowitz, H. (2012), "Aral Sea Analogs in the American West", Edelstein, M., Cerny, A. and Gadaev, A. (Ed.) Disaster by Design: The Aral Sea and its Lessons for Sustainability (Research in Social Problems and Public Policy, Vol. 20), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 89-103. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0196-1152(2012)0000020017Download as .RIS
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