500,000 acre-feet of water from Flaming Gorge Reservoir released to Lake Powell
May 3, 2022, 5:11 PM
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY — The Bureau of Reclamation is juggling water supplies to protect the electricity generation mission of the Glen Canyon Dam over the next year.
It’s the first time the bureau has used its authority to change annual operations at Glen Canyon Dam.
Those changes include a release of 500,000 acre-feet from Flaming Gorge Reservoir downstream to Lake Powell. The second change is to reduce water releases from Lake Powell downstream to Glen Canyon Dam by 480,000 acre-feet.
A news release said Lake Powell’s current water surface elevation is at 3,522 feet, its lowest level since originally being filled in the 1960s. If Lake Powell drops to 3,490 feet, Glen Canyon Dam won’t be able to generate hydropower.
The changes will prop up Lake Powell’s elevation by 16 feet and drop Flaming Gorge by nine feet.
Flaming Gorge Reservoir, located on the Green River in Utah and Wyoming, currently holds approximately 3 million acre-feet and is at 78% of its storage capacity, the bureau said.
“Today’s decision reflects the truly unprecedented challenges facing the Colorado River Basin and will provide operational certainty for the next year,” said Assistant Secretary of Water and Science Tanya Trujillo. “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.”
The changes under the Drought Contingency Plan created in 2019 will also ensure the water supply for the city of Page, Arizona, and the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation.
“Reclamation applauds the quick response and support from across the Basin for these actions,” said Reclamation Acting Commissioner David Palumbo. “As we focus on these short-term response actions, we recognize the importance of simultaneously planning for the longer-term to stabilize our reservoirs before we face an even larger crisis.”
Flaming Gorge Reservoir is on the Green River in Utah and Wyoming. Right now it holds 3 million acre-feet of water and is at 78% capacity.