Medicine Lake Aquifer could ease California drought says fresh water advocate Sharon Kleyne – but is this necessary?

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Kleyne will discuss Medicine Lake, Ahjumawi Lava Springs and the California drought on her Sharon Kleyne Hour™ Power of Water® radio broadcast of August 3, 2015.

It’s 25 miles from remote Medicine Lake, in Northeast California’s Modoc National Forest, to Ahjumawi Lava Springs, California’s northernmost and among its least visited State Parks. The volcanic area beneath Medicine Lake contains one of California’s largest untapped ground water aquifers, whose main outflow is at Ahjumawi Lava Springs, part of the Fall River Springs complex. * According to Fresh Water advocate Sharon Kleyne, ground water extraction in the Medicine Lake area could go a long way towards easing the current worst ever California drought.

However, Kleyne believes, the use of this resource for drought relief would be unnecessary and wasteful. She also opposes the proposed construction of two geothermal power plants near Medicine Lake* because they involve hydrofluoric acid rock fracturing that could contaminate the lake and harm fish and local endangered species.    

Kleyne will discuss Medicine Lake, Ahjumawi Lava Springs and the California drought on her Sharon Kleyne Hour™ Power of Water® radio broadcast of August 3, 2015. For the live show or a podcast, go to

The syndicated show, hosted by Kleyne, is heard weekly on VoiceAmerica and Apple iTunes. The education oriented show is sponsored by Bio-Logic Aqua® Research, founded by Kleyne and specializing in fresh water, the atmosphere, accelerated moisture evaporation and dehydration. Nature’s Tears® EyeMist® is the Research Center’s signature product for dry eye.

Medicine Lake, at 600 acres, lies at the center of “Medicine Lake Highland,” an immense volcano immediately east of the much higher Mt. Shasta volcano. Although relatively low in elevation (7,795 feet), according to Kleyne, Medicine Lake Highland is the largest volcano in the United States in basal area and extremely active. The last volcanic eruption on the US mainland prior to Mt. Lassen in 1917 was the 1857 Medicine Lake gas eruption. Other related features include Glass Mountain, one of the largest obsidian (volcanic glass) flows in the US, and Burnt Lava Flow Geologic Area, immediately south, a 30 mile long lava flow whose last magma emission occurred 300 years ago.

Medicine Lake Highland is easily seen from the road through Lava Beds National Monument, near Tulelake, California. An 11 mile gravel road leads from the Monument to the lake.

Because newly formed volcanic areas tend to be extremely porous, they retain large amounts of rain water and snow melt. For this reason, says Kleyne, streams originating in the Medicine Lake Aquifer, part of the High Cascades Aquifer, will continue to flow during a drought long after other rivers dry up. It is estimated that there is enough stored water in the Medicine Lake Aquifer to fill California’s 200 largest reservoirs.

Fall River Springs, the main Medicine Lake Aquifer outflow, Kleyne explains, includes four springs at Ahjumawi and several nearby springs on the Tule, Little Tule and Fall Rivers. They are collectively described as “the world’s third largest natural springs.” Since it takes 40 years for precipitation falling on the highland to reach the springs, outflow reflects weather conditions from 40 years ago and is largely unaffected by the current drought. The spring produces 1.2 million cubic meters of water per year, 90 percent from the Medicine Lake Aquifer. Most of the water flows into Lake Shasta reservoir via the Pit River.**

In addition to the proposed power plants, says Kleyne, there are proposals to extract large amounts of aquifer water for drought relief. Also, despite the aquifer’s immensity, Medicine Lake itself is very much threatened by the drought. To prevent the lake from drying out, there is talk of pumping groundwater from the aquifer into the lake. Medicine Lake is also a Native American holy site.

Kleyne opposes any exploitation of the Medicine Lake Aquifer unless there is no alternative (although she supports saving the lake). This rare and varied volcanic area, of great scenic and scientific interest, could easily become a National Park or Monument.

Kleyne has long advocated fresh water recycling to reduce dependence on constant water extraction and importation. With intensive water recycling programs such as those in Orange and San Diego Counties, Kleyne believes, there should be plenty of water for everyone in California, even with the drought. © 2015 Bio-Logic Aqua® Research. All rights reserved.    

*Dadigan, M, “California’s drought and the battle for Medicine Lake,” AlJazeera, July 27, 2015

**Rose, TP, “Data measured on water collected from Fall River Springs, California,” Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, April 18, 2013

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