Water vs. Power: Uncertain times along the Colorado River

Glen Canyon Dam
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The water level at Lake Mead is currently at the lowest point it has ever been since the reservoir was filled, says 8 News from Las VegasOpens in a new tab..  It dropped below 1060 feet “for the first time ever.”  Water levels might be even lower, given a proposal to keep more water in Lake Powell, which straddles Utah and Arizona.  The decision might come before the end of the month.

Glen Canyon Dam, which impounds water in Lake Powell, is an important hydropower generating plant that produces around five billion kilowatt-hours of hydroelectric power annually.  The power serves about 5 million customers and 54 Native American tribes.  Power is distributed by the Western Area Power Administration to Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Nebraska.

As to power generated at Hoover Dam, water levels at Lake Mead would need to drop another 100 feet to endanger the hydropower facility.

Midyear Cut Unprecedented.

Keeping water at Lake Powell instead of allowing it to go to Lake Mead would result in “unprecedented” cuts by the Department of Interior, reports ABC 17 (via the Arizona Daily Star)Opens in a new tab., raising concerns about the dam’s ability to deliver water to the Lower Basin states of Arizona, California, and Nevada. ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy, Kyl Water Center has published a paper about how Colorado River shortages will affect ArizonaOpens in a new tab..


Image Source:

Glen Canyon Dam from Colorado River, Wikimedia CommonsOpens in a new tab.




Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

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