ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4) – A temporary fix to Lake Powell’s record low water levels will soon kick in according to Utah’s water leaders.
Lake Powell’s water levels are dangerously low. If below 3,490 feet, generators will shut off and large water deliveries to surrounding states like Utah and Native American groups could stop.
“Lake Powell is America’s second-largest reservoir and it is within a few feet of having the hydropower generation turned off,” says Zach Frankel, the Executive Director for the Utah Rivers Council.
As of Monday, Lake Powell is at 3,523 feet, only 33 feet away from the number water leaders worried would come.
Utah’s Upper Colorado River Commissioner, Gene Shawcroft tells ABC4 the commission just adopted a Drought Response Operation Agreement, to allow water to be released from Flaming Gorge to Lake Powell.
“10 or so feet, somewhere in that range, will be added to Lake Powell and it won’t come obviously all at once, it will be delivered over the course of a year,” says Shawcroft.
He says it’s happening a year sooner than they anticipated and that agreement is now in the hands of the Secretary of Interior awaiting official approval. If passed, water will be transferred in the next week, but would only be a temporary fix.
“It will certainly have impacts on Flaming Gorge, it will drop the elevation again over the course of the year, about 16 feet lower than it otherwise would be and we recognize there will be significant impacts,” he says.
“It’s not just about what’s happening in Lake Powell, it’s also about what’s happening in America’s largest reservoir in Lake Mead,” says Frankel.
State leaders like Shawcroft say they are working on a long-term solution, but conservation experts like Shawcroft say eventually these bodies of water will completely deplete.