#ColoradoRiver states agree to federal request to hold back #water in #LakePowell — The #Nevada Independent #COriver #aridification

Lake Powell, just upstream from Glen Canyon Dam. At the time of this photo, in May 2021, Lake Powell was 34% full. (Ted Wood/The Water Desk)

Click the link to read the article on The Nevada Independent website (Daniel Rothberg). Here’s an excerpt:

In a letter sent Friday, the seven states that use the Colorado River agreed with the U.S. Department of Interior and recommended that federal water managers take an emergency action aimed at stabilizing a dwindling Lake Powell, one of the main storage reservoirs on the river.

Earlier this month, federal water managers warned the states, including Nevada, that they were considering an emergency action to hold water back in Lake Powell, an attempt to stabilize the reservoir at serious risk of losing the ability to generate hydropower and deliver water to Page, Arizona, a city with roughly 7,500 residents, and the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation.

Under the existing operating rules governing the Colorado River, the federal government was required to release 7.48 million acre-feet of water from Lake Powell downstream to Lake Mead, which stores water for Arizona, California, Nevada and the country of Mexico (an acre-foot is the amount of water that can fill one acre of land to a depth of 1 foot). But such a release would have led to further declines at Lake Powell, adding to the risk facing the Colorado River Basin.

As a result, the U.S. Department of Interior asked the states to consider a deviation from the existing operating rules — to hold back 480,000 acre-feet in Lake Powell. On Friday morning, representatives from the seven states within the Colorado River Basin sent the Department of Interior a joint letter agreeing with the proposed action, but requested that it “be implemented in a manner that is operationally neutral” so as not to trigger cuts for any state.

“It is our collective judgment that additional cooperative actions should be taken this spring to reduce the risk of Lake Powell declining below critical elevations,” state representatives wrote.

Output capacity of the dam’s turbines decreases in direct proportion to the reservoir’s surface elevation. As Lake Powell Shrinks, the dam generates less power. Source: Argonne National Laboratory.

Daniel Rothberg is a staff reporter covering water, climate change and public land.

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