3525 feet is an important number for Lake Powell’s water level.
The Bureau of Reclamation announced that the water level at Lake Powell will temporarily drop a few feet below the target elevation of 3,525 feet. The Bureau projects recovery in May, the spring runoff season. With drought conditions expected to continue, the Bureau anticipates another drop below 3,525 feet this summer.
The water elevation is critical for hydropower generation at Glen Canyon Dam. Water Online explains,
As part of the 2019 Drought Contingency Plan Agreements, specifically the Drought Response Operations Agreement, Reclamation and the Upper Division States describe elevation 3,525 feet as the target elevation and elevation 3,490 feet as the minimum power pool elevation, the lowest point Glen Canyon Dam can generate hydropower. The target elevation provides a 35-foot buffer and allows time for response actions to help prevent Lake Powell from dropping below minimum power pool.
Lake Powell is the second largest reservoir in the United States. It is dependent on flow from the upstream states of Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico. Releases from those four states will be key to maintaining enough water for Glen Canyon Dam to continue its hydroelectric power generation. Molly Taft at Gizmodo writes that the low levels spell trouble. “[T]he fact that it’s so low in the first place is incredibly worrisome. The lake is sitting dangerously close to the cutoff level for Glen Canyon Dam, which can provide electricity for 5.8 million homes and businesses across Western states.”
Wikimedia Commons – Glen Canyon Dam, substation (left) and bridge (in front of the dam) as seen from the south, near Page, Arizona, USA (March 2010).