Mother Natures

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Mother Natures

Mother Natures "Time Share"
Lake Powell is a family resort for many. Every year at least two million people enjoy its
splendor. But I would assume they do not know the trouble that lies beneath. Lake Powell
was voted in by a small margin in March, 1956. It was part of the Colorado River Storage
Project, also known as CRSP. Ever since it's beginning, some of the people who helped
build the dam have had regrets for what has been done to the canyon. Lake Powell has
spurred controversy since its beginning on many issues: environmental problems, water
rights, and the energy it generates. But the reservoir has its good points as well. There
have been many jobs created and a thriving tourist market that have been the result of the
dam. The concern now is the reservoir's water level. At forty percent it is the lowest we
have seen the lake since its establishment. We are not expecting more water due to the
drought and researchers say it will not be ending soon. The question is should Lake Powell
be refilled?

In 1922 the Colorado River Compact was organized. This organization allocated the
resources of the Colorado River and its tributaries. The Upper Basin States (Utah,
Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming) realized that the Colorado River Compact had

overestimated the river's annual flow and wanted to guarantee their water rights. The only
way the Upper Basin states saw fit to ensure their water was to literally hold onto their
water in reservoirs.

1956 brought the beginning of the Glen Canyon dam. But Glen Canyon was not the only site
that was being considered as a possible site for the reservoir. Echo Park, in Dinosaur
National Monument was another option that was being discussed by the Bureau of
Reclamation. The Sierra Club was fighting to keep both dams from being built. In the end
they had the choice and traded Glen Canyon for Echo Park (Ritchey).

June of 1960 brought the beginning of the dam. Five million yards of concrete were poured
into the canyon over the period of two years. The construction did not stop until the dam
was complete in September of 1962. After Glen Canyon Dam was completed, and to this day,
it stands 710 feet with an average water depth of 560 feet when the reservoir is full. The
dam stops water for one 186 miles up stream, creating 2,200 miles of shore line (Booth).

In June of 1980 Lake Powell was filled. For most of us we think of pleasure boating and
fun. And for a special few that had spent time in the canyon, they remember Glen Canyon as
the heart of the Colorado Plateau, such as the late Edward Abbey. Abbey was the author of
controversial books that were set in the Four Corners area. His most popular book was The
Monkey Wrench Gang. It revolved around Glen Canyon and eco-terrorism. The conclusion of
the book, which caused the most controversy, was that the characters would load a house
boat full of dynamite and blow up Glen Canyon dam.

Abbey was also a Park Ranger in Arches National Park for 20 years and always was an out
spoken activist on the focus of preserving the American West.

Economy & Tourism
The biggest contribution of Lake Powell was not made by the water nor the electricity that
it generated, but by the people that the lake draws for its many recreational activities.
Lake Powell attracts 2.5 million people annually. The lake has year round activities;
fishing all year and water skiing in the summer. The summer activities are the most
popular with the water temperatures reaching 80 degrees. The house boats alone that are
stored on the lake are estimated being worth over 190 million dollars. These boats range
from just enough to house a small family, too multi-million dollar three and four story
floating creations (Living). The people that use the lake give the very existence to the
towns of Page, Arizona and Bullfrog, Utah; not to mention the other marinas around the
lake. These towns have provided year round amenities until now.

This is the first year that Lake Powell has had to close year round facilities. With the
water levels decreasing, Lake Powell has seen a significant drop in visitors to the lake
for four years now. The surrounding towns depend on the visitors for their lively-hood. It
has been said the cause was not the level of water, despite the fact that it has dropped
135 feet and is at forty percent of "full-pool". Due to many factors: the decline of the
foreign exchange rates, gas prices from the summer of 2004, and the recent terrorist
attacks on the United States; there has been lower attendance to all of the National
Parks.(11) Even while taking these facts into account, it is hard to rationalize that the
water level has not affected the park more than the parks officials have led us to

(figure 1. ksl 5 lake powell

As of November, 15 2004 ARAMARK, who owns the concessionaire rights to five of the lake's
marinas, will be closing down all their restaurants and lodging, due to the lack of the
lake's visitors. There will still be partial services open in the bigger marinas of
Wahweap, Bullfrog, and Hall's Crossing. Their services will be very limited and will
include boat rentals, the occasional scenic tour, and fuel services. At the smaller
marinas there will be fuel available for "pay at the pump" customers (Ritchey).

Though there have been arrangements made for the lower water levels, it has not seemed to
help, even in some cases a futile effort. In the spring of 1999, Antelope Point

Marina was finished, at the cost of seventy million dollars. Despite the fact the ramp was
intended to be the solution for the problem of the diminishing water level, Antelope Point
Marina was the first boat ramp to close down, just three years later, in the summer of
2002. There is another ramp intended for Antelope Point on the opposite side of the
marina, but studies have shown that it will end abruptly at the edge of a 500 foot cliff
that is not out of the water yet. Another solution is that there has been a three million
dollar appropriation bill approved to extend the ramps at Bullfrog, Hall's Crossing, and
Wahweap (Ritchey). With the recent drop in tourism, and water levels that are not
cooperating it has proved to be very expensive to the company. This makes the decisions of
ARAMARK critical for winter and year round boaters at Lake Powell. The thought of moving
marinas has arisen but the expense is too great. It is hard to say what the outcome will
be, but the hope of having big water years similar to that of those in 1983 and 1984, are
a quick fix people are praying for.

Lake Powell has been a holding tank for the past forty years. Its walls are made of porous
rock and it is located in a desert that averages over ninety-two degrees throughout the
summer months. The problem with water rights along the Colorado River has been in
existence since the early 1920's. This was the reason for building the dam, but even then
there are those that say it was a mistake. But making it work is what is left for us to
figure out.

Lake Powell at full capacity can hold twenty seven million acre feet. An acre foot is
325,851 gallons, about the amount the average family of four uses each year (Booth).

The Colorado River Compact designated that a minimum of 8.23 million acre feet per year
would be delivered to Nevada, Arizona, California, and New Mexico. Lake Powell provides
water for about twenty three million people in the seven surrounding states. The annual
flow of the Colorado River is about fifteen million acre feet. Even though we are in a
drought there are simple ways that have been suggested on how we can actually gain more
water by making small adjustments.

figure 2.

One of the greater adjustments that have been made has been in Nevada and Arizona. They
have been using a system known as Artificial Recharge. Since both of these states depend
greatly on ground water the problem of depleting these finite sources has been a long term
concern. In using Artificial Recharge these states have actually pumped surplus water back
into the ground. In the ten years that Arizona has implemented recharging, they have been
able to put 1.8 million acre-feet back into aquifer storage. Nevada has been doing this
since 1987 and has been able to store 275,000 acre-feet, which is only 25,000 acre-feet
shy of what they are allowed to consume from the Colorado River each year. This system
works great for the main reason that they are able to use the ground as a savings bank.
When you think of pouring water into the ground most would assume it to be waste-full, but
when the earth has been doing this for 10,000 years on a slower rate it really makes
sense. And for a state like Arizona that is almost solely dependant on ground water it
works quite well. The other problem Artificial Recharge fixes is that of keeping the
ground water levels up. Without refilling these aquifers, wells would go dry. For the
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