Tuesday April 16, 2024

Los Angeles Times

Federal officials have discovered damage inside Glen Canyon Dam that could force limits on how much Colorado River water is released at low reservoir levels, raising risks the Southwest could face shortages that were previously unforeseen.

The damage was recently detected in four 8-foot-wide steel tubes — called the river outlet works — that allow water to pass through the dam in northern Arizona when Lake Powell reaches low levels. Dam managers spotted deterioration in the tubes after conducting an exercise last year that sent large flows from the dam into the Grand Canyon.

To reduce risks of additional damage, federal Bureau of Reclamation officials have determined that flows should be reduced in the event of low reservoir levels. The infrastructure problems in one of the country’s largest dams have created new complications as water managers representing seven Western states negotiate long-term plans for reducing water use to address the river’s chronic supply-demand gap and adapt to the effects of climate change.

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