Wednesday May 4, 2022

Department of Water Resources

The Bureau of Reclamation today announced two separate urgent drought response actions that will help prop up Lake Powell by nearly 1 million acre-feet (maf) of water over the next 12 months (May 2022 through April 2023). Today, Lake Powell’s water surface elevation is at 3,522 feet, its lowest level since originally being filled in the 1960s. A critical elevation at Lake Powell is 3,490 feet, the lowest point at which Glen Canyon Dam can generate hydropower. This elevation introduces new uncertainties for reservoir operations and water deliveries because the facility has never operated under such conditions for an extended period. These two actions equate to approximately 16 feet of elevation increase.

Given the extraordinary circumstances in the Basin, Reclamation is invoking its authority to change annual operations at Glen Canyon Dam for the first time. The measure protects hydropower generation, the facility’s key infrastructure, and the water supply for the city of Page, Arizona, and the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation.

“Today’s decision reflects the truly unprecedented challenges facing the Colorado River Basin and will provide operational certainty for the next year. Everyone who relies on the Colorado River must continue to work together to reduce uses and think of additional proactive measure we can take in the months and years ahead to rebuild our reservoirs,” said Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo. “The Department of the Interior remains committed to addressing the challenges of climate change by using science-based, innovative strategies and working cooperatively with all the diverse communities that rely on the Colorado River. Thankfully, we have additional resources now as a result of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that can aid us in our collective efforts.”

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