ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4) – Lake Powell’s water surface elevation is at 3,522 feet, its lowest level since originally being filled in the 1960s, according to leaders from the Bureau of Reclamation.
This is why leaders announced Tuesday they’ve agreed to release water coming upstream from Flaming Gorge to Lake Powell and less will be released downstream.
“That will drop the elevations, the water elevation in Flaming Gorge about 15 feet and will have an impact to raise Lake Powell by about seven feet,” says Gene Shawcroft, Utah’s Colorado River Commissioner.
Officials say these unprecedented low water levels may impact deliveries to those downstream, like the City of Page, Arizona, and the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation.
“There are promises that have been made by the federal government and we’re going to continue to remind them that these water rights settlements were put into place,” says Navajo Nation President, Jonathan Nez.
President Nez says they’re counting on the federal government to ensure water security as the nation is also working to add infrastructure to get water and electricity to its residents as 30-40% of them don’t have those basic essentials.
“Here on Navajo Nation, the need is to expand water lines into other communities and we’re not going to stop,” he says.
Water leaders say while the latest announcement for the release from Flaming Gorge to Lake Powell is only a temporary fix, they don’t have a long-term plan in pace yet as water levels are expected to continue to decline.
“We’re recognizing that we’re going to have to think outside the box to determine how we operate into the future,” says Shawcroft.
President Nez says while they advocate for their fair share of water, they’re also working to find self sufficient ways to supply water to those in the western part of the nation.