Click the link to read the article on The Deseret News website (Amy Joi O’Donoghue). Here’s an excerpt:
Politics and threatened litigation are replacing what is left of the water in the Colorado River as the seven basin states that rely on the West’s largest river try to reach an agreement to cut flows so power generation can continue at Glen Canyon and Hoover dams. The directive to find some sort of definitive plan for dam operations by reducing flows was issued by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which is tasked with making decisions to prop up the river that has been decimated by drought and over diversion through the years. The proposals do not change any of the states’ water allocations, for now, or affect any existing water rights. The plans will ultimately become part of a more comprehensive effort being worked on by the federal agency.
It is more than a heavy lift for a river that was divided up under a compact forged more than 100 years ago in a remote location in New Mexico and subsequently shaped by regulations, court decisions and compacts that all coalesced into what is now known as the “Law of the River.”
“Instead of bending over backwards to prop up Lake Powell, officials should be making plans to save Lake Mead and utilize Glen Canyon as a backup facility,” said Eric Balken, executive director of Glen Canyon Institute. “There’s just not enough water to save both reservoirs, and Mead is more vital to the basin.”
The institute has long advocated for the draining of Lake Powell, the nation’s second largest reservoir behind Lake Mead.
On Monday, six of the states sharing the Colorado River — California later detailed its own plan — submitted what they described as a Consensus Based Modeling Alternative to the reclamation bureau. While not a formal agreement, they say it provides a step toward helping the federal agency as it crafts an environmental review going forward.
Among other things, the alternative details:
- Additional combined reductions of 250,000 acre-feet to Arizona, California and Nevada at Lake Mead elevation 1,030 feet and below.
- Additional combined reductions of 200,000 acre-feet to Arizona, California and Nevada at Lake Mead elevation 1,020 feet and below, as well as additional reductions necessary to protect Lake Mead elevation of 1,000 feet.
Those potential reductions are designed to keep Lake Mead’s Hoover Dam in operation.