River Managers Take Emergency Steps to Refill Lake Powell
Monday, July 19, 2021
PAGE, Ariz. -- The federal Bureau of Reclamation is taking emergency measures to shore up water levels in Lake Powell, to preserve the reservoir's ability to generate hydropower.
Late last week, officials ordered an additional release of 50,000 feet per second from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Wyoming, to maintain Lake Powell's water levels at 3,500 feet. Bureau officials project without this intervention, water levels would soon fall below the amount necessary to run the generators at Glen Canyon Dam.
Gary Wockner, executive director of the nonprofit Save the Colorado, said the upstream water release is too little, too late.
"This idea of just letting more water out of the other reservoirs is, at best, a very short-term band-aid," Wockner argued. "It does not solve anything. It only just elongates the problem; it doesn't actually address the problem."
Lake Powell, the second-largest reservoir in the U.S., provides power and delivers water to 40 million people in the Lower Colorado River basin, including millions of Arizonans. Agricultural interests would see water cutbacks first, before they would reach residential users.
The Bureau also plans additional water releases from Blue Mesa Reservoir in Colorado and Navajo Reservoir in New Mexico later this year.
Wockner charged the Colorado River's managers with being more interested in keeping the generators turning than raising the water levels.
"This is really more about electricity than water," Wockner contended. "And here's the thing: There's all sorts of alternatives to make electricity, but there are no alternatives to make more water. Letting more water out of Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Wyoming doesn't fix anything."
Both Lake Powell and it's larger cousin, Lake Mead, are currently at 35% of water-storage capacity and dropping. The move to increase inflows is part of a 2019 agreement about how to apportion Colorado River resources during a continued drought.
Save the Colorado is among the groups advocating Lake Powell be shut down, to let the Colorado River return to its original course, a change Congress would ultimately have to make.
get more stories like this via email
This election season, South Dakota is starting to implement voting-access reforms in light of a recent settlement with Native American tribes…
Between rising inflation and the ups and downs of the stock market, it isn't surprising that folks are concerned about their own financial situation…
The U.S. Postal Service is hiring 28,000 seasonal employees ahead of the surge in end-of-year holiday letters and packages for facilities in Michigan …
The roughly 2.4 million Ohioans who rely on Social Security income are expected to get a big boost in benefits, but advocates for the program are …
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills and her challenger, former Republican Gov. Paul LePage, both are courting votes from Maine's largest contingency -- …
Ahead of revised methane regulations expected from the federal government, a new study shows that gas flaring in oil-producing states such as Texas …
Health and Wellness
Even for people who think they're too busy to exercise, experts say there's one surefire way to squeeze in a modest workout: walking. Although often …
Groups challenging the criminal consequences for failing to pay rent in Arkansas say they'll take another run at it, perhaps as a class-action …