Drain Lake Powell?
Many people call the Western United States their home and chances are they have heard of, visited, or even like myself have boated on a lake in the southeastern corner of Utah and northern Arizona, named Lake Powell. That being the case, it is also possible that they are aware of a movement, sponsored mainly by the Sierra Club and other environmental groups, to pull the plug on this enormous body of water and decommission the dam that made this lake and movement possible. Some would say that it is an impossible feat. Others would wonder if we should entertain such notions, considering all the adverse environmental, economic, and recreational impacts this act would have on the region. One thing is for sure, with population growth in the West, and the ever-increasing need for water and electricity to support this growth, draining Lake Powell would be both unwise and unrealistic. What motivates the Sierra Club, and other environmental groups, after 40 years to say that this national treasure needs to go? The answer is simple. They want to do whatever it takes to restore Glen Canyon to its original, pre-dam state. Never mind that thousands of people as well as whole cities rely on Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam for their very existence, or that millions more benefit from water storage and generated electricity. These groups just want it gone, and unfortunately, Lake Powell might not be their only target. Dave Wegner, the former head of the Glen Canyon Environmental Studies Group once said, “I’d take out Glen Canyon. I’d take out Flaming Gorge Dam. And I’d look at Navajo Dam on the San Juan” (Stiles, 2005). Glen Canyon Dam has inspired heavy controversy from environmentalists. Because of its location in the desert amid porous geology, Lake Powell causes huge evaporation and seepage losses. It is estimated that between 675,000 acre-feet and 1,000,000 acre-feet, with an average of 860,000 acre-feet, is lost from the reservoir each year. This...
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