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PRESS RELEASE: Governors, Farmers, Cities Put Glen Canyon Dam in the Crosshairs of Post 2026 Colorado River EIS

For Immediate Release
August 21, 2023
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado, 970-218-8310

Governors, Farmers, Cities Put Glen Canyon Dam in the Crosshairs of Post 2026 Colorado River EIS

Colorado River, USA: As the comments are made public in the “Post-2026 Colorado River Scoping EIS” process, one thing is for certain — an alternative examining bypassing water around or through Glen Canyon Dam must be developed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

The usual suspects — mostly environmental groups — are calling for either completely decommissioning Glen Canyon Dam or bypassing the Dam to support the “Fill Mead First” alternative. But, what is surprising in some of the comments made public so far is that lower basin governors, farmers, and cities are saying somewhat the same thing. In a comment letter (posted here) signed by three representatives of the governors of Arizona, California, and Nevada it is stated:

  • “Post-2026 EIS, Reclamation should evaluate potential improvements at Glen Canyon Dam that could enhance its operational capacity and ensure that water can safely pass through the dam at low elevations.”

The “improvements” refer to the Bureau of Reclamation’s plan, released in February of 2023 (posted here), to tunnel around or through Glen Canyon Dam.

Further, two powerful farmers in the Imperial Irrigation District — Mike Abatti and James Abatti — stated in their comment letter (posted here) that the Bureau of Reclamation should examine the decommissioning alternative:

  • “Past proposals by environmental groups to decommission Glen Canyon Dam or to operate the reservoir without power production as a primary goal can no longer be ignored and must be seriously considered in the EIS.”

Finally, three urban water districts in the lower basin singled out protecting Mead Reservoir while ignoring Powell Reservoir. The comment letter (posted here) from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Southern Nevada Water Authority, and Central Arizona Water Conservation District states that Reclamation must prioritize storage in Mead:

  • “Recent experiences including declining reservoir inflow and historically low elevations of Lake Powell and Lake Mead in 2022 have made it clear that the Post-2026 Operational Guidelines need to include provisions that protect sufficient storage in Lake Mead and provide for water deliveries to meet public health, safety, and welfare needs if hydrologic conditions are so dry and reservoir conditions are so low that human health, safety and welfare needs would not be otherwise met by Colorado River deliveries.”

All of these lower basin agencies and farmers are realizing that Glen Canyon Dam stops water from flowing to Mead, and as such the Dam is one of the causes of the crisis on the Colorado River that must be addressed in the Post 2026 EIS.

“The best solution for California, Arizona, and Nevada to achieve water supply security is to have the Colorado River bypass Glen Canyon Dam, drain Powell’s water into Mead, and let the Colorado River flow freely through Grand Canyon,” said Gary Wockner. “Strange times create strange bedfellows — long-term water supply for farms and cities in the lower basin aligns with the best environmental alternative.”

Save The Colorado’s comments, supporting decommissioning Glen Canyon Dam with a “Grand Canyon Restoration Alternative”, are posted here. Save The Colorado also signed on to longer comments (posted here) — which also call for bypass and/or decommissioning — led by Living Rivers and including Center for Biological Diversity, Great Basin Water Network, River Runners for Wilderness, Las Vegas Water Defender, Glen Canyon Institute, Utah Rivers Council, and Waterkeeper Alliance.

This press release is posted here.


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