Federal Government Rolls Out ‘Extraordinary Actions’ to Prop Up Lake Powell

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced two measures today to boost water levels in Lake Powell, keeping them high enough to continue generating hydropower at the Glen Canyon Dam. Both moves are being framed as painful but necessary band-aids, cutting into reserves elsewhere in the region to stave off the worst effects of a decades-long drought that has sapped the nation’s second-largest reservoir.

One measure will send water from upstream to help refill Lake Powell. About 500,000 acre-feet of water will be released from Flaming Gorge Reservoir, which straddles the border between Wyoming and Utah.

500,000 Acre-Feet of Water Will Be Released From Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Wyoming to Protect Lake Powell

Flaming Gorge reservoir in Wyoming will release 500,000 acre-feet of water under a new Drought Operations Plan to help prop up dangerously low water levels at Lake Powell.

The plan, approved Thursday by the Upper Colorado River Commission, does not call for any water to be released from Blue Mesa west of Gunnison, but also does not rule out the possibility of that being an option in the future.

Extreme Actions Underway to Ensure Glen Canyon Dam Can Continue to Generate Power

The growing crisis on the Colorado River came into sharper focus last week when the Bureau of Reclamation began emergency releases from Flaming Gorge Reservoir to shore up Lake Powell’s declining levels, now at historic lows.

The move will bolster Powell’s level by 3 feet in hopes of preventing it from dropping to a point where Glen Canyon Dam would not be able to generate electrical power, according to the agency’s Upper Colorado regional director Wayne Pullan.