‘It’s not doomsday yet’ for #LakePowell, but continuing #drought poses litany of challenges — The St. George News #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

Remains from a batch plant used in construction of Glen Canyon Dam emerged from the receding waters of Lake Powell in February. Photos/Allen Best

Click the link to read the article on the St. George News website (David Dudley). Here’s an excerpt:

Just below the dam, railroad tracks run along the canyon wall — the ghostly remains of a concrete batch plant that was created to construct the dam in the early 1960s.

“This is the first time they’ve been above water in 60 years,” said Gus Levy, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s deputy field division manager at Glen Canyon Dam.

They may not be visible for much longer. Beginning in May, the Bureau of Reclamation began the process of releasing 500,000 acre-feet of water from the Flaming Gorge. That water will flow from northern Utah down into Lake Powell, where it will collect and, officials hope, enable the Glen Canyon Dam to continue providing water and electricity for millions of people…

Gene Shawcroft is the general manager for Central Utah Water Conservancy District, the state’s largest water district. Shawcroft, who is also the Colorado River commissioner of Utah, earned degrees in engineering from Brigham Young University. He originally grew up on a farm in southern Colorado, where he enjoyed working and playing in the water.

“There are two elevations that we’re concerned about right now,” Shawcroft told St. George News, referring to Lake Powell’s water level. “The first is 3,525 feet; the second is 3,490 feet.” The latter is the point at which the turbines at Glen Canyon Dam, which supplies millions with power, would be turned off, an unprecedented situation…To prevent that, Shawcroft said that various Upper Colorado River Basin states, which include Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico, are working together. While some water from smaller basins has been released, Shawcroft said that the 500,000 acre-feet of water flowing from Flaming Gorge is meant to replenish Lake Powell…

Jack Schmidt is a professor as well as the Janet Quinney Lawson chair in Colorado River Studies at Utah State University. He’s researched the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon for over 30 years. Schmidt’s appraisal of the situation may feel grim to some, but it may also offer hope.

“We are the problem,” he told St. George News. “But we can also be the solution.”

One way people contribute to the problem is overuse of water in the face of the Colorado River’s dwindling water flows. The weather plays a crucial role, too.

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