A new "drain Lake Powell" opinion article in High Country News

Pegasus

Well-Known Member
#1
Article name: The playground of Lake Powell isn't worth drowned canyons

https://www.hcn.org/articles/opinion-the-playground-of-lake-powell-isnt-worth-drowned-canyons

It's always nice to read both sides of an argument - the one stated in this article is not my personal side BTW. The arguments in this article are not anything new, but just goes to show the battle will not end for the left until the lake is drained.

It's funny, I own two copies of the book mentioned in the article - The Ghosts of Glen Canyon - it is one of my favorite books. We like to boat or hike to locations where the photos were taken that appear in the book and note the differences and what is under the water. It's a fantastic book, but it never made me want to drain the lake.

I lived in Park City, Utah for 15 years until 2006. When I moved there in 1991, I was moving from California. It was quiet, traffic was little to none, and you could see millions of stars every night while in the hot tub on the back deck. When I moved away from PC in 2006, it wasn't quiet, traffic was horrible, and I could not see a single star at night as the lights of the city drowned them all out. Although Park City is filled with left leaning environmentalists, I've never heard one argue to destroy what's become of Park City to make it like it was in the 1990's (or 1970's or 80's). I do hear some don't like it, but never "let's tear down the quad ski lifts, let's tear down the Marriott hotel, let's tear down the Deer Valley lodges - not once have I heard that. I wonder why that is so different than their feelings toward Lake Powell? Change happens, and it's not all great, but it is life.
 

Endurance

Well-Known Member
#5
Crista Worthy is entitled to her own opinion, but not her own facts. She gets several of the latter wrong. She characterizes storage in Lake Mead as a water-saving alternative to storage in Lake Powell. That is contrary to true facts: Lake Mead has a mean temperature several degrees higher than Lake Powell. It has fewer steep walls, so its water spreads to create more surface area. Ms. Worthy talks about sandstone as a porous stone. That's accurate if you're comparing it to granite, but the sandstone will seep considerably less water than the aggregate so common at Lake Mead. True facts show that Lake Mead would have higher water loss rates than Lake Powell. Anyone truly interested in saving water would keep Lake Powell at full pool and let Lake Mead take in what Lake Powell can send her.
 

John P Funk

Well-Known Member
#7
The part of the argument I don't understand is the purely financial gain from keeping Lake Powell as is. How many people would visit the underwater slot canyons that would be recovered with a draining of Powell? A few hundred a year, maybe a thousand? What money do they bring to the National Park, and surrounding towns? As a lake the number of visitors is much larger, and the level of disposable/available income is probably 10-20 times what some tree-hugging backpacker brings to the table(good luck finding a tree to hug at Powell). It doesn't make hydrologic sense, and it definitely doesn't make economic sense, and if politicians pay attention to anything its economics.

P.S. There are tons of slot canyons still available for killing yourself to the North of the lake, just take your pick. What makes the underwater slots more preferable(the fact that they are underwater)?
 

TR.

Well-Known Member
#8
There is a subset of folks that want things “back to the way they’d should be”. Some of my good friends feel this way and we have many a night drinking beer and arguing merits. They have given up on changing my opinion, although I am an argumentative sort and still poke the bear every chance I get ;) most drainers are very passionate and no one will change their mind. My experience with them is that it is an emotional response filled with inaccurate facts...some accurate, that drives them. I do not believe they will ever gain traction because Funk stated some great arguments that I agree with. My other argument that usually gets no where with that crowd of friends is that I have applied for a permit to float the Yampa through dinosaur for 24 years and been denied every year. And that is public land that I am not allowed on. Try getting a permit for the middle fork of the salmon, or the Selway. Good luck. One permit a day for the Selway while the season lasts, with thousands upon thousands applying (I have never got that one either). My feeling is of this was still a river it would be most heavily permitted. Very few would actually get to enjoy it and there would be groups of thirty or more meeting every year to apply for the same date in the hopes that one of the them gets lucky. As it stands now, anyone can go and enjoy the lake. Any time, any where, with whomever they want. The needs of the many are being met, and my gut says it will stay that way....for that reason as well as the financial, economical, power and water conservation reasons. Of course if some of my friends were reading this they would disagree, which is where the beer and late nights come in.

TR
 
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Waterbaby

Moderator
Staff member
#9
Crista Worthy is entitled to her own opinion, but not her own facts. She gets several of the latter wrong. She characterizes storage in Lake Mead as a water-saving alternative to storage in Lake Powell. That is contrary to true facts: Lake Mead has a mean temperature several degrees higher than Lake Powell. It has fewer steep walls, so its water spreads to create more surface area. Ms. Worthy talks about sandstone as a porous stone. That's accurate if you're comparing it to granite, but the sandstone will seep considerably less water than the aggregate so common at Lake Mead. True facts show that Lake Mead would have higher water loss rates than Lake Powell. Anyone truly interested in saving water would keep Lake Powell at full pool and let Lake Mead take in what Lake Powell can send her.

She's regurgitating the falsehoods from GCI. We've heard it so often over the last 20 + years could recite it in our sleep.
 

Lake Bum

Well-Known Member
#14
IF they ever drained it, and a drought continued, there would most definitely be a civil war fought over the remaining water left. You CANNOT survive without water! Why would you eliminate HALF of your ability to contain water?
I just really will never understand this whole "restore" the canyon theory. That idea was killed, the moment they closed the diversion tunnels, and started filling the lake in 66 :cool: