Save water, drain Lake Powell

  Dear HCN,

The article on water problems in the Imperial Valley (HCN, 9/16/02: The Royal Squeeze) was interesting, informative, and in my view, a good example of HCN's dedication to balanced reporting, which is especially difficult with hot-button issues like water, salmon and prairie dogs.

I was struck by one of the figures stated in the article: that California is being pushed to reduce its use of Colorado River water by 800,000 acre-feet per year. That number is smack in the middle of the range of estimates of water wasted because of Glen Canyon Dam and the reservoir known as Lake Powell.

The loss of water caused by the dam cannot be precisely known, but Glen Canyon Institute's studies indicate that between 600,000 and 1 million acre-feet of water are lost every year through evaporation and bank storage from Powell. These are net amounts, mind you - over and above the water removed from the river elsewhere.

The terrible costs of our great mistake in building Glen Canyon Dam come in many forms. When Glen Canyon Dam is decommissioned (either by us or by the river itself when silt fills the reservoir entirely), there will be more water for downstream users like the farmers in Imperial Valley, the people of Los Angeles, and the birds on the Pacific Flyway.

F.R. Pamp

Flagstaff, Arizona

The author is executive director of the Glen Canyon Institute.
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