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Emergency Efforts Being Made by the Bureau of Reclamation

Emergency Efforts Being Made by the Bureau of Reclamation
July 20
04:08 2021

Emergency Efforts Being Made by the Bureau of Reclamation

(The following came to us from the Arizona News Connection in Phoenix)

Page, AZ – The federal government has ordered emergency steps to maintain the water levels in Lake Powell at a level high enough to generate hydropower at Glen Canyon Dam. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has ordered additional inflows from upstream reservoirs to maintain the lake’s water levels.

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-thousand feet per second from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Wyoming, to maintain Lake Powell’s water levels at 35-hundred feet. Bureau officials project without this intervention, water levels would soon fall below the amount necessary to run the generators at Glen Canyon Dam. However,

Gary Wockner, with the group Save the Colorado, says 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. 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’d hit 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 charges 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. 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-percent 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 that Lake Powell be shut down, to let the Colorado River return to its original course – a change Congress would ultimately have to make.

 

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