PAGE, Arizona — Lake Powell is at its lowest level since it filled after the construction of Glen Canyon Dam.
The geography that makes the lake a stunning maze so popular with boaters also makes its decline less obvious than what residents of northern Utah observe as the Great Salt Lake declines. Lake Powell hides the volume of its water in deep canyons. When it declines…the shoreline doesn’t retreat so dramatically.
So the change is measured in depth and volume, and that change is dramatic. It’s also important because the ultimate point of a reservoir is to reserve water for a parched region.
In 1983, Lake Powell hit it’s highest volume ever with more than 25 million acre feet of water. That’s enough to cover half of the state of Utah in one foot of water.
Ten years ago the lake held 17 million acre feet, and today it holds just over 7 million.
Lake Powell’s water level is 163 feet below its historic high, and if drought conditions continue it could sink below its so-called minimum power pool within the next year. The current elevation is 3,544 feet above sea level. At 3,490 feet, the reservoir would no longer generate electricity which serves just under six million power customers.
Dead pool, meaning the point at which the dam no longer serves it’s purpose of controlling water flow, is 3,370 feet.