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Lake Powell Glen Canyon Dam water release delayed due to drought


The water level at Lake Powell is at an historic low on April 5, 2022 at Page, Arizona.

Rj. Sangosti| Medianews Group | The Denver Post via Getty Images

The federal government on Tuesday announced it will delay the release of water from one of the Colorado River’s major reservoirs, an unprecedented action that will temporarily address declining reservoir levels fueled by the historic Western drought.

The river’s second primary reservoir, Lake Mead in Lake Mead in Arizona will receive more water from the Glen Canyon Dam.

These actions are coming as the water levels in both reservoirs reach their lowest level ever recorded. Lake Powell is at an elevation currently of 3,523 feet. The Glen Canyon Dam supplies electricity if the water level falls below 3 490 feet. for about 5.8 million customers in the inland West, will no longer be able to generate electricity.

Officials stated that the delay will protect dam operations for 12 months. They also said that nearly 500,000 acres of water would be kept in Lake Powell. A separate plan will see officials release around 500,000 acre feet of water to Lake Powell from Flaming Gorge. Flaming Gorge is a reservoir that’s located downstream at the Utah/Wyoming border.

Officials claimed that these actions would help to save water, preserve the dam’s hydropower potential and give officials more time for figuring out how the dam can be operated at lower levels.

Tanya Trujillo, assistant secretary to the Interior Department said Tuesday that she had never before taken such a step in Colorado Basin. “But, the circumstances we are seeing today and the future demand prompt action.

The Federal government’s last year ordered the first-ever water cuts for the Colorado River Basin, which supplies water to more than 40 million people and some 2.5 million acres of croplands in the West. These cuts have mostly affected farmers in ArizonaThey use almost three-quarters the water available to irrigate their plants.

In April, federal water managers warned the seven states that draw from the Colorado River that the government was considering taking emergency action to address declining water levels at Lake Powell.

Later in the month, the representatives of each state wrote to the Interior confirming the proposal. The letter requested that temporarily reduced releases from Lake Powell be applied without any further water cut in the affected states.

The western U.S. is experiencing a megadrought that has been fuelled the driest two decades in the region in at least 1,200 years, with conditions likely to continue through 2022 and persist for years. Research has shown that climate change is responsible for 42% of drought severity.

Trujillo explained that the climate is rapidly changing and our actions have been responsible. Trujillo also stated, “We must take responsibility for what we do.” We all have to come together in order to preserve the Colorado River’s water supply and to save the precious resources that we have. Our communities depend on it.