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Study: Time to Prepare for the Worst for Lake Powell's Water

The reservoir on the Colorado located above the Grand Canyon is dropping fast. A new study proposes a contingency plan to reduce the risk of catastrophe.
September 7, 2016, 2pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Johnny Adolphson

Tony Davis shares the news of a new study warning that Lake Powell "could virtually dry up in as few as six years if the region gets a repeat of the dry spell it experienced from 2000 to 2005." The lake was almost full prior to the drought during that time period—this time its only half full (depending on how you look at it).

According to Davis, the lake is already only 85 feet above a threshold that would trigger Upper Basin states (i.e., Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming) delivering water from other reservoirs into Lake Powell. Thirty-five feet lower than that and "there wouldn’t be enough water flowing through Glen Canyon Dam’s turbines to generate power."

The study also includes the beginnings of a contingency plan that would create a "three-legged stool" to protect the reservoir.

One leg would involve reducing water demand by farmers and cities in the Upper Basin. The second would step up cloud-seeding programs to try to boost snowfall in the region. The third would transfer some water stored in the smaller Upper Basin reservoirs to Lake Powell.

The feature-length article includes a lot more detail about the function of Lake Powell, including sections about the reservoir's primary purpose as a storage facility and the unprecedented climate trends of recent years

A collection of water districts and groups financed the study. 

Full Story:
Published on Sunday, September 4, 2016 in Arizona Daily Star
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