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PRESS RELEASE: As BuRec Deadline Looms, Winners of the ‘Re-engineering Glen Canyon Dam’ Contest Announced

For Immediate Release January 26, 2023

Tick Segerblom:
Daniel P. Beard:
Eric Balken: (801) 363-4450,
Gary Wockner: 970-218-8310,


As BuRec Deadline Looms, Winners of the ‘Re-engineering Glen Canyon Dam’ Contest Announced

Colorado River: As the Bureau of Reclamation’s Jan. 31st deadline looms for ‘fixing’ the massive problems on the Colorado River, three winners have been announced in the contest to re-engineer Glen Canyon Dam to reconnect the Colorado River through Glen Canyon and Grand Canyon. The contest, called “Rewilding The Colorado River” — at the website – was an outgrowth of the “Dam the Status Quo” contest sponsored by former Nevada State Senator and current Clark County Commissioner, Tick Segerblom.

The winning white papers were submitted by Brook M Thompson, M.S. Stanford University, Ph.D. Student UC Santa Cruz; Sarah Gerot, Geological Engineering Student at Colorado School of Mines; and by co-authors C. Crosby, C. Stultz, K. Pederson, N. Botvin.

The proposals are posted here: Brook Thompson, Sarah Gerot, Charles Crosby et al.

“These proposals are important steps to open the public dialogue about how to deal with the quagmire that is Glen Canyon Dam,” said Tick Segerblom, a Clark County Commissioner in Nevada and one of the donors to the prize money. “We need new and creative ideas for how to make the Colorado River sustainable and to start restoring the Glen and Grand Canyons rather than continuing to deplete them.”

Climate change and overuse of Colorado River water have brought the levels of Lake Powell and Lake Mead to historic lows. As stakeholders of the Colorado River Basin rush to find solutions to address the western water crisis, calls to phase out Lake Powell reservoir have grown louder. Without enough water to fill half of either reservoir, the intended purpose of Glen Canyon Dam which was to store excess water and meet downstream delivery obligations, is coming into question in today’s hydrology as well as all future predictions of hydrology. Below a certain level, the dam would be physically unable to release enough water downstream to meet delivery obligations.

“Given the hydrologic realities of the Colorado River in the 21st century, it’s imperative that we think about what comes after Lake Powell”, said Eric Balken, director of Glen Canyon Institute, a contest supporter.

“Science and climate change are proving that Glen Canyon Dam never should’ve been built in the first place,” said Daniel P. Beard, a former Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation and one of the donors to the prize money. “We not only have the right, but the responsibility, to fix this historic mistake.

The need to re-engineer Glen Canyon Dam has become necessary enough that even the Bureau of Reclamation is looking at how to modify it so that it can operate below dead pool. While Reclamation’s modification studies go on behind closed doors, the ideas proposed in this contest are an opportunity for Glen Canyon’s modifications to be discussed in a public forum. The wide-ranging proposals submitted explored the issues of sediment accumulation, flood control, ecological, and recreation concerns. The diverse array of perspectives presented prompted the contest judges to split the $10,000 prize equally between the top three proposals.

“These dams on the Colorado River are the poster-child for how humans have dramatically and mistakenly damaged and degraded rivers for short-term economic gain,” said Gary Wockner of Save The Colorado, a contest supporter. “We can set a historic example with the removal of Glen Canyon Dam, one that heals the river as well as the American public consciousness.”


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