This dam will go anyway

  Dear HCN,

As a geologist who thinks the flooding of Glen Canyon was tragic but who also happens to work for the Bureau of Reclamation, I can't help but say something about the drain Lake Powell idea (HCN, 11/10/97). Over and over we hear from David Brower and others who claim that Glen Canyon is "destroyed," "lost," or "ruined forever."

All I can say is that these folks (and their human egos, which tend to think of a lifetime as forever) have no concept of geologic time or the realities of geologic processes. Glen Canyon, and the Grand Canyon for that matter, have existed for several million years and will still be here several million years from now, when what we call the human race is long gone.

Glen Canyon Dam will only last a few hundred years at the most. The reservoir will fill with sediment, the dam will be overtopped, and then will be eroded away, just as the dozens of lava dams were that blocked and flooded the lower Grand Canyon during the last million years. (Yes, numerous dams have flooded the Grand Canyon in the recent geologic past.) There are much more important environmental battles to be fought - like overpopulation - than this one over Lake Powell.

Larry Anderson

Golden, Colorado