I will have that water, please!

The flooded Standish district, with Honey Lake in the background, 1952. Courtesy of Betty B. Deal

A while back, I wrote about Hallett Creek,  importing water from one basin to another. Well, a lot of folks have had their eyes on Honey Lake. Ironically, in 1868 and 1911, certain Honey Lake residents suggested that a canal be constructed between Honey and Pyramid Lakes. In those two instances, the level of Honey Lake was so high, that many farms around the lake were flooded and it was their intention to drain the excess water to Pyramid.

How times have changed. In 1969, the Pyramid Lake Task Force was established to seek solutions concerning the shrinkage of Nevada’s famous desert lake. In 1971, the Task Force submitted a proposal to Lassen County officials for their consideration. They obliged. The plan called for the exportation of 50,000 acre-feet of Honey Lake water to Pyramid Lake. The two lakes, both remnants of Lake Lahontan, are relatively close, though Honey Lake is 190 feet higher in elevation. It was their intention to dry up Honey Lake, except in the northeast corner. There a 4,700 acre freshwater reservoir would be created for a wildlife sanctuary. Adjoining it would be holding reservoir with a capacity of 27,000 acres. A pumping plant would be built near Amedee, where the water would flow through a twenty-four mile long aqueduct to Pyramid Lake. The Task Force considered this plan the most feasible of all considered. Construction cost was estimated at $12 million, with an annual operating cost of $200,000. This did not include any possible litigation fees with affected properties for rights-of-way or damage payments to lakeshore owners. The adverse effects of Honey Lake being permanently dry drew heavy criticism from the local residents. The lake is enjoyed for its aesthetic beauty when full. When the lake is dry it is a scene of numerous dust storms. Opponents were also concerned with the loss of humidity and its effects on agricultural crops. After a public hearing, the Lassen County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution opposing the project.

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