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Environews: Glen Canyon Dam: 20 more years

By Amy Brunvand

At the Colorado River Water Users Association meeting in Las Vegas, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell finalized a management plan for the Glen Canyon Dam over the next 20 years. The plan calls for continuing high-flow releases to restore sand bars and fish habitat in the Grand Canyon. Predictably, Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT-1) griped, saying, “The plan creates undue imbalance that undermines hydropower generation.”

A study released by Glen Canyon Institute in July says that electric energy generated by the Glen Canyon Dam “represents only a small fraction of regional electric production [and] can be easily replaced if lost.

In fact, hydropower is not the main issue. Lake Powell is a huge water waster. The huge surface area means that an average of 86,000 acre/feet of water annually are lost to evaporation and seeping into porous rocks (that’s enough to supply the Salt Lake Valley for five years). The Glen Canyon Institute advocates filling Lake Mead downstream before storing water in Lake Powell; Other environmental groups advocate permanently draining Lake Powell in order to conserve water and restore the Grand Canyon ecosystem.

Glen Canyon Dam LTEMP:

This article was originally published on January 10, 2017.