Government inaction could wipe out a defining feature of the Grand Canyon, environmentalists say

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Environmentalists say falling water levels upstream of a dam — along with its inadequate architecture — could cause the Colorado River, which flows through the Grand Canyon, to “effectively” [dry] up,” reported The Arizona Republic.

A report released by the Utah Rivers Council, the Glen Canyon Institute and the Great Water Basin Network calls on Congress to repair the Glen Canyon Dam.

The Glen Canyon Dam created Lake Powell, which stands at 3,536 feet above sea level, an amount 46 feet away from the minimum level (3,490 feet) needed to produce hydroelectric power, according to the paper. However, if the water level at Lake Powell continues to fall, the dam’s infrastructure won’t allow it to move water downstream and river flow could be reduced “to less than half,” according to Environment & Energy Publishing.

The effects of falling water levels could affect water supplies “to irrigate farms and fully supply cities from Phoenix and Las Vegas to Los Angeles and Tijuana,” according to the Republic of Arizona.

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As severe drought ravages parts of the western United States, the water level at Lake Powell has fallen to its lowest level since the lake was created by damming the Colorado River in 1963.

Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

The groups are calling on the federal government to come up with ways to redesign the dam.

“We are once again in a situation where our water leaders’ strategy, their plan to deal with shortages, seems to be crossing their fingers and hoping for snow and rain,” said Zach Frankel, the executive director of the Utah Rivers Council. , to E&E Publishing. “The time has long since passed for us to have truly meaningful leadership in this mega drought of drought.”

Tom Buschatzke, director of Arizona Water Resources, told the Republic of Arizona it would be wise to investigate changes to the dam’s infrastructure.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, an agency that oversees the dam, has pledged $2 million to find ways to continue providing water and power, a spokeswoman for the agency said.

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