Here’s a guest column written by Alex and Fred Thevenin running in the Arizona Central. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:
In Arizona, 25 percent of us use Colorado River water, with Phoenix relying on the river for half of its drinking water, and the section of the river coursing through the Grand Canyon is the economic engine for a thriving Arizona tourism economy.
As owners of a third-generation rafting company in Flagstaff that guides more than 60 Grand Canyon trips per year, the condition of the Colorado River is crucial — to our employees, our bottom line, and the thousands of other businesses that rely on the river to attract visitors and outdoor enthusiasts. We must find ways to adapt the region’s water needs in the face of challenges like lean-snow years, drought, increasing demand and other factors stressing the river system.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation recently released the Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study. Taking their lead from the study, Congress and federal agencies must follow through and build a future that includes healthy rivers, state-of-the-art water conservation for cities and agriculture, and water reuse and sharing mechanisms that allow communities to grow, prosper and adapt to water demands and availability.
This year, Congress should continue funding programs that drive sustainable water management, while protecting the river system and the communities, businesses and wildlife it supports. Specifically, we should prioritize funding in the Colorado River Basin to:
– Implement management decisions that maintain and restore flows necessary for natural habitats, wildlife and recreation.
– Support cost-effective investments in water technology and delivery like piped sprinkler and drip irrigation to our farms and ranches.
– Provide for urban water education and conservation programs. Reducing urban water consumption by just 1 percent annually — a rate municipal utilities have averaged for two decades — produces significant savings at very low cost.
– Continue effective programs like the Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART and Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse programs that drive water conservation and American jobs through adopting innovation and technology.
Bringing these approaches to the table can pull the Colorado River off the endangered list. We can refocus outdated ways of addressing our water supplies right now with cost-effective solutions that maximize water resources and prioritize conservation, reuse and efficiency.
Meanwhile a low Lake Powell impacts hydroelectric generation at Glen Canyon Dam. Here’s a report from Emily Guerin writing for The Goat. Here’s an excerpt:
The government entities that manage Glen Canyon Dam and sell the power its turbines generate are also distressed at Lake Powell’s retreat, albeit for economic and political reasons. According to the Bureau of Reclamation, in May the reservoir was only 48 percent full, and is expected to drop 11 feet before September, ending the summer at 44 percent capacity. Severe to extreme drought in much of the Colorado River’s watershed, plus record heat, isn’t exactly helping.
Despite the dismal conditions, Glen Canyon Dam is still discharging 8.23 million acre-feet of water this year (measured from Oct. 1, 2012 to Sept. 30), as it does every year that lake levels stay above approximately 3,650 feet (the exact levels were decided in a 2007 environmental impact study designed to address water storage issues on the Colorado River in times of drought). But there’s a 50-50 chance that the lake will soon drop below that height, triggering a lower water release next year. If that happens, it would be the first time since Lake Powell’s creation that less than 8.23 million acre feet of water will pass from Glen Canyon Dam, according to Bureau of Reclamation spokesperson Lisa Iams. “It’s not a promising statement about the hydrology that all of us face,” she said. “The realities of drought and climate change are increasing.”