For as long as most people can remember, much of California's 110-square-mile Owens Lake has been dry as dust. In fact, the area's desiccated lake bed has been the nation's largest source of dust (SN: 10/6/01, p. 218: Ill Winds). It's not just any dust that billows off the site, but particles of arsenic-laced silt and salt small enough to be inhaled deeply.
That's about to change, with some of Owens Lake's parched expanse slated to become mud.
About 4 weeks ago, engineers began testing 200 miles of newly installed water pipelines, a web of conduits feeding an 11-square-mile parcel of the lake bed. By year-end, water will pour from more than 5,000 pipeline outlets to keep the ground saturated. The project will require an estima