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Lake Powell reaches historic low, heightens power concerns

Posted at 3:33 PM, Mar 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-16 17:33:38-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Water levels at Lake Powell fell below 3,525 feet Thursday, triggering further concerns about hydropower abilities for people in Western states.

The new level marks the lowest the lake has ever been at since it was filled after the Colorado River was dammed at Glen Canyon.

While experts agree that the lake may rise a little bit as snow melts, they also say it's a short term solution for a situation that continues to get more desperate as drought conditions rage on in the Western United States.

FOX 13 News reported that severe consequences happen if Lake Powell drops to 3,490 feet or below. After that threshold is reached, Glen Canyon Dam won't be able to generate reliable power.

Power from Glen Canyon Dam is distributed to millions of customers in Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and Nebraska.

The new low comes as the tourist industry in the area has already taken a hit from the low water levels. A marina in the area was closed in January 2022 for the year due to conditions of the lake. The marina was a popular spot for boaters to refuel.

Shipwrecks and trails that have been underwater for many years have also been exposed as the water recedes, opening new opportunities for visitors to explore.

The Associated Press reports that while hot conditions and scarce water is old news in the Western region, many experts weren't prepared to deal with hydro-power and water supply issues for a few more years.

Water managers and the Federal Government will now have to think of solutions to address the problem. Last year, "emergency releases," from three reservoirs, including Flaming Gorge were conducted to give the lake a boost.

However, advocates believe trying to fill the massive lake using water from other smaller reservoirs is a limited solution and will not provide long-term success in keeping Lake Powell above the hydropower threshold.