Owens, river, c.120 mi (190 km) long, rising in the Sierra Nevada, E Calif., SE of Yosemite National Park and flowing SE, to enter Owens Lake, near Mt. Whitney. Since 1913, at a point c.45 mi (70 km) NW of Owens Lake, an aqueduct has diverted the bulk of the river's water to Los Angeles, causing Owens Lake to dry up. Because the dust from the dry lake is a health hazard, pipelines were constructed in 2001 to saturate a portion of the lakebed and greatly reduce the dust. In 2006, following a 2005 court order, a sufficient quantity of water to help restore the valley's environment was again permitted to course through the river; the water is captured at the north end of the lake and used for dust control on the lakebed or pumped into the aqueduct.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.