Owens Lake Dust Abatement Project

Client: KDG Development and Construction Consulting

Location: Inyo County, CA

UltraSystems performed cultural resource monitoring on behalf of KDG for Phase 7 of the Owens Lake Dust Abatement Project. The project was conducted by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to mitigate the effects of extreme dust pollution in the 70,000-acre Owens Lake bed and the surrounding region, through implementation of Dust Control Measures (DCMs). The DCM’s were performed to meet the requirements of the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District and National Ambient Air Quality Standards.  They included moat & row construction, shallow flooding of constructed ponds with water from the L.A. Aqueduct, planting of native vegetation, and surfacing with gravel cover. The project was conducted for 10 years with multiple phases. Phase 7 was concerned primarily with the southwest and south edges of the lake, constructing 20 sites with a combination of shallow ponds and moat and row, involving a total of 15.1 sq. miles (9,664 acres).  There were known prehistoric sites and several historic mining-related sites along the edges and out into the old lake bed which require mitigation. 

A cultural resources survey conducted prior to the start of Phase 7 recorded 15 sites and 223 isolated artifacts within its scope. As a sub-contractor to KDG, UltraSystems personnel activities included monitoring at Owens Lake during grading and trenching construction work to ensure compliance with government regulations; conducting surveys of areas prior to ground-disturbing activities; observing native soil as it was uncovered during grading and trenching; noting any signs of prehistoric resources as possible sites to be recorded, tested and evaluated before possible disturbance; collecting and recording historic and prehistoric artifacts likely to be destroyed by the construction activities on California Department of Parks and Recreation lands; filing of required forms at the local archaeological information center (University of California, Riverside); and provision of daily reports to KDG. Native American monitors, drawn from the local Lone Pine Shoshone/Paiute Indian Reservation, were also utilized on-site to consult on the disposition of any prehistoric findings.