Glen Canyon Should Stay Drowned

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Waterbaby

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https://www.outsideonline.com/2188006/glen-canyon-should-stay-drowned

Glen Canyon Should Stay Drowned [warning, headline is misleading - must read]
Unplugging Lake Powell is a beautiful dream, but it would hurt the river more than it would help
By: Frederick Reimers
May 26, 2017


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Many argue over whether Glen Canyon's Lake Powell should be unplugged. Photo: Luca Bravo/Unsplash

I hate Lake Powell as much as anyone. Since 1963, the Colorado River has pooled behind 710-foot Glen Canyon Dam, flooding not only 186 miles of serene Glen Canyon but also a labyrinth of grottoes, slot canyons, and oases like Cathedral of the Desert, Ribbon Canyon, and Dungeon Canyon. Some have called Glen Canyon the lost national park. For many, it is a sunken Atlantis and, worse, a symbol of man’s hubris—and a reminder to fight like hell on matters of conservation.

It also swamped 18 rapids in Cataract Canyon, farther upstream, where I raft-guided in the 1990s. Instead of shooting legendary drops like Imperial and Dark Canyon on the weeklong trip’s final days, we stalled out on the greasy lake. Our outboard motor broke the wilderness idyll as we puttered along for 30 miles above the drowned rapids.

We’d talk about Edward Abbey’s idea to detonate a houseboat full of explosives against the dam’s upstream face, sending the lake careening down Grand Canyon. When we learned that the reservoir was filling up with silt and would eventually become obsolete, some guides sank their bags of trash in the lake, hoping to hasten the demise of the reservoir we called Lake Foul.

Lately, though, a new idea has been gaining traction: drain Lake Powell and let Glen Canyon reemerge. Called Fill Mead First (FMF), the plan calls for storing Lake Powell’s water 300 miles downstream in Lake Mead. Both reservoirs—the first- and second-largest in the nation—are currently less than half full, and few expect them to ever reach capacity again, so Mead has the capacity. According to the plan, Glen Canyon Dam would stay in place to store water in the rare wettest years when Mead might surpass capacity.


Proponents say we’d save water by curtailing losses from evaporation—the reservoirs lose about six feet from their surface annually in the hot desert sun—and from water seeping through the porous sandstone lining Lake Powell. One study said FMF would save some 300,000 acre-feet a year, about the annual water use of Las Vegas.

Advocates also say the plan would allow for the restoration of Glen Canyon, improve habitat and migration for endangered native fish, and restore beaches and huge spring flows for Grand Canyon River runners. The initiative has gained the support of media and high-profile former Bureau of Recreation employees. There’s just one problem: the political storm FMF would generate may hurt the Colorado River’s ecosystem more than it helps.

The FMF plan was created in 2009 by the Glen Canyon Institute (GCI), a Utah-based nonprofit focused on restoring the Colorado to a free-flowing state. The plan tries to do more than harken back to a lost past; it tries to engineer a win-win solution in a complex and flawed water-allocation system. Put simply, Colorado River users—meaning farmers and cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles—draw more water from the river than its watershed generates every year.

According to the 1922 compact that governs how the river’s water is used, it’s the responsibility of Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado (the upper Colorado River basin) to make sure that Nevada, Arizona, and California (the lower Colorado basin) get the water they’re owed. Lake Powell allows them to do that—if there’s a low snow year in Colorado, Powell is the water bank they can withdraw from. If they couldn’t, those lower-basin states would be able to sue those in the upper basin.

Matt Rice, director of the Colorado River Basin Program for American Rivers, says it’s unlikely that the upper states would give up their primary water bank. “If the upper states couldn’t meet their compact obligation, it’s hard to imagine the sort of political chaos it would create,” says Rice. Colorado River water is hugely important to the economies of each of those states. “When there is chaos in a climate of increasing water demand, and when the river is already pushed to the limit, the health of rivers are going to suffer most.”

Without Powell, more dams could be greenlighted upstream to replace that storage capacity, meaning free-flowing sections of rivers that feed the Colorado—including the Gunnison, Yampa, and Green—could be compromised. Water diversions could be built, too, pulling enough water from the river that it might not even flow in some stretches. (This already occurs in sections of the Dolores.) Though voters recently defeated many such diversion projects in the Colorado watershed, there is an adage in the river conservation community that “no dam proposal ever dies.”

All these might be reason enough to keep Powell around. But the real blow to FMF is a 2016 University of Utah study that challenges the plan’s water-saving merits. Authored by Jack Schmidt, former head of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center, the study found that there is likely less seepage from Lake Powell than previously estimated. He also found that whatever water was stored in less-leaky Mead would evaporate faster due to the hotter temperatures that broil Lake Mead all summer long.

“We owe it to the river to get better data on the issue,” says Schmidt. “The savings probably are not worth the political cost now, but in 20 years they might be.”

Glen Canyon Institute executive director Erik Balken doesn’t see the Schmidt study as the FMF death blow that many others do. “It does what we’ve been asking for all along, which is to move the discussion about Glen Canyon forward,” he says. “Draining Lake Powell is a radical idea, and it’s not going to happen overnight.” If usage rates continue to increase and precipitation in the basin continues to decrease, Balken says, Powell may reach dead pool—the lake elevation below which water cannot be physically released through the turbines—sooner rather than later. “If that happens, draining the reservoir may be the only option.”

Meanwhile, Lake Powell foes like me take pleasure in the fact that Glen Canyon is already emerging, to some degree. With the reservoir less than half full, dozens of side canyons are now uncovered, and annual flash floods are clearing these grottoes of the feet of sediment left behind. In the main canyon, where I once steered our rafts by outboard motor, current flows again; 12 rapids have been unearthed thus far. Explorers now venture to spots like Davis Gulch and Iceberg Canyon. If the lake drops 57 more feet (or 35 at this spring’s low point), Cathedral in the Desert will emerge again all on its own.
 

Gem Morris

Well-Known Member
Waterbaby, this sounds like a credible threat/new angle to their argument - something to hang their hat on - this FMF.

Is it the same old noise or is this serious?

Sounds like Dr. Iggy isn't the director of GCI anymore...
 

Goblin

Well-Known Member
Everyone should never lose sight of the fact that:

"To the far Left, the issue is never the issue, the issue is always the revolution."

Goblin
 

bubba

Well-Known Member
Come on people, just "think" and you have your answer. Don't react to this propaganda and the person spoon feeding it to you. Draining Lake Powell will never ever happen. But, if it does happen it will be Trump being stupid and talking stupid and acting stupid and doing stupid which actually makes it very possible any hour of any day.
 

Goblin

Well-Known Member
Come on people, just "think" and you have your answer. Don't react to this propaganda and the person spoon feeding it to you. Draining Lake Powell will never ever happen. But, if it does happen it will be Trump being stupid and talking stupid and acting stupid and doing stupid which actually makes it very possible any hour of any day.
I'm getting really confused, not being able to think and all.......But are you saying to disregard all of your posts that you have been spoon feeding to the board??

Well alright then, consider it done. ;)
Goblin
 

Lake Bum

Well-Known Member
Come on people, just "think" and you have your answer. Don't react to this propaganda and the person spoon feeding it to you. Draining Lake Powell will never ever happen. But, if it does happen it will be Trump being stupid and talking stupid and acting stupid and doing stupid which actually makes it very possible any hour of any day.
Bubba, your post reminds me of the age old question......"Which came first, the Chicken or the egg"? Except in your case, I think you are confused about the Chickens WING, and not the egg.

Specifically, which side of the wing is your main confusion, it would seem....
The Left wing, has the drainers. The RIGHT wing has the true Conservationists. So we could debate over stupid is, as stupid does for forever.....but President Trump will never, ever, ever propose draining Lake Powell. Ironically, I just had chicken for dinner :cool:
 

Dale

Well-Known Member
https://www.outsideonline.com/2188006/glen-canyon-should-stay-drowned

Glen Canyon Should Stay Drowned [warning, headline is misleading - must read]
Unplugging Lake Powell is a beautiful dream, but it would hurt the river more than it would help
By: Frederick Reimers
May 26, 2017


Share This

Share

Tweet

Email

Many argue over whether Glen Canyon's Lake Powell should be unplugged. Photo: Luca Bravo/Unsplash

I hate Lake Powell as much as anyone. Since 1963, the Colorado River has pooled behind 710-foot Glen Canyon Dam, flooding not only 186 miles of serene Glen Canyon but also a labyrinth of grottoes, slot canyons, and oases like Cathedral of the Desert, Ribbon Canyon, and Dungeon Canyon. Some have called Glen Canyon the lost national park. For many, it is a sunken Atlantis and, worse, a symbol of man’s hubris—and a reminder to fight like hell on matters of conservation.

It also swamped 18 rapids in Cataract Canyon, farther upstream, where I raft-guided in the 1990s. Instead of shooting legendary drops like Imperial and Dark Canyon on the weeklong trip’s final days, we stalled out on the greasy lake. Our outboard motor broke the wilderness idyll as we puttered along for 30 miles above the drowned rapids.

We’d talk about Edward Abbey’s idea to detonate a houseboat full of explosives against the dam’s upstream face, sending the lake careening down Grand Canyon. When we learned that the reservoir was filling up with silt and would eventually become obsolete, some guides sank their bags of trash in the lake, hoping to hasten the demise of the reservoir we called Lake Foul.

Lately, though, a new idea has been gaining traction: drain Lake Powell and let Glen Canyon reemerge. Called Fill Mead First (FMF), the plan calls for storing Lake Powell’s water 300 miles downstream in Lake Mead. Both reservoirs—the first- and second-largest in the nation—are currently less than half full, and few expect them to ever reach capacity again, so Mead has the capacity. According to the plan, Glen Canyon Dam would stay in place to store water in the rare wettest years when Mead might surpass capacity.


Proponents say we’d save water by curtailing losses from evaporation—the reservoirs lose about six feet from their surface annually in the hot desert sun—and from water seeping through the porous sandstone lining Lake Powell. One study said FMF would save some 300,000 acre-feet a year, about the annual water use of Las Vegas.

Advocates also say the plan would allow for the restoration of Glen Canyon, improve habitat and migration for endangered native fish, and restore beaches and huge spring flows for Grand Canyon River runners. The initiative has gained the support of media and high-profile former Bureau of Recreation employees. There’s just one problem: the political storm FMF would generate may hurt the Colorado River’s ecosystem more than it helps.

The FMF plan was created in 2009 by the Glen Canyon Institute (GCI), a Utah-based nonprofit focused on restoring the Colorado to a free-flowing state. The plan tries to do more than harken back to a lost past; it tries to engineer a win-win solution in a complex and flawed water-allocation system. Put simply, Colorado River users—meaning farmers and cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles—draw more water from the river than its watershed generates every year.

According to the 1922 compact that governs how the river’s water is used, it’s the responsibility of Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado (the upper Colorado River basin) to make sure that Nevada, Arizona, and California (the lower Colorado basin) get the water they’re owed. Lake Powell allows them to do that—if there’s a low snow year in Colorado, Powell is the water bank they can withdraw from. If they couldn’t, those lower-basin states would be able to sue those in the upper basin.

Matt Rice, director of the Colorado River Basin Program for American Rivers, says it’s unlikely that the upper states would give up their primary water bank. “If the upper states couldn’t meet their compact obligation, it’s hard to imagine the sort of political chaos it would create,” says Rice. Colorado River water is hugely important to the economies of each of those states. “When there is chaos in a climate of increasing water demand, and when the river is already pushed to the limit, the health of rivers are going to suffer most.”

Without Powell, more dams could be greenlighted upstream to replace that storage capacity, meaning free-flowing sections of rivers that feed the Colorado—including the Gunnison, Yampa, and Green—could be compromised. Water diversions could be built, too, pulling enough water from the river that it might not even flow in some stretches. (This already occurs in sections of the Dolores.) Though voters recently defeated many such diversion projects in the Colorado watershed, there is an adage in the river conservation community that “no dam proposal ever dies.”

All these might be reason enough to keep Powell around. But the real blow to FMF is a 2016 University of Utah study that challenges the plan’s water-saving merits. Authored by Jack Schmidt, former head of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center, the study found that there is likely less seepage from Lake Powell than previously estimated. He also found that whatever water was stored in less-leaky Mead would evaporate faster due to the hotter temperatures that broil Lake Mead all summer long.

“We owe it to the river to get better data on the issue,” says Schmidt. “The savings probably are not worth the political cost now, but in 20 years they might be.”

Glen Canyon Institute executive director Erik Balken doesn’t see the Schmidt study as the FMF death blow that many others do. “It does what we’ve been asking for all along, which is to move the discussion about Glen Canyon forward,” he says. “Draining Lake Powell is a radical idea, and it’s not going to happen overnight.” If usage rates continue to increase and precipitation in the basin continues to decrease, Balken says, Powell may reach dead pool—the lake elevation below which water cannot be physically released through the turbines—sooner rather than later. “If that happens, draining the reservoir may be the only option.”

Meanwhile, Lake Powell foes like me take pleasure in the fact that Glen Canyon is already emerging, to some degree. With the reservoir less than half full, dozens of side canyons are now uncovered, and annual flash floods are clearing these grottoes of the feet of sediment left behind. In the main canyon, where I once steered our rafts by outboard motor, current flows again; 12 rapids have been unearthed thus far. Explorers now venture to spots like Davis Gulch and Iceberg Canyon. If the lake drops 57 more feet (or 35 at this spring’s low point), Cathedral in the Desert will emerge again all on its own.
This Reimers guy must be on some serious drugs as CID has only been accessible for 1 or 2 years since the lake filled. Oh Shoot, I forgot, All the drainers are on drugs! No one with a brain is that stupid!
 

Waterbaby

Moderator
Staff member
Bubba, your post reminds me of the age old question......"Which came first, the Chicken or the egg"? Except in your case, I think you are confused about the Chickens WING, and not the egg.

Specifically, which side of the wing is your main confusion, it would seem....
The Left wing, has the drainers. The RIGHT wing has the true Conservationists. So we could debate over stupid is, as stupid does for forever.....but President Trump will never, ever, ever propose draining Lake Powell. Ironically, I just had chicken for dinner :cool:
Exactly! Zinke is an outdoorsman and was just in the Powell area last week and loved it! - as long as Trump is President Lake Powell is safe.....
 

Waterbaby

Moderator
Staff member
As usual they always ignore Lake Powell is only 12% of Glen Canyon Recreation Area. There are many other sites not near the water which are equal to CID - including The Golden Cathedral. The entire drain the lake thing is bunk, but they have been trying for a very long time and they get a lot of donations with their threats - I imagine the people running GCI make a very good living off those donations from people who have never even seen Lake Powell, but read their drivel in the New York Times, etc.
 

Waterbaby

Moderator
Staff member
Next time someone whines about Cathedral in the Desert being inundated and how the lake needs to be drained - remind them of this - also up the Escalante - not, never has been and won't be inundated and every bit as majestic as CID


https://utah.com/hiking/golden-cathedral-trail

Golden Cathedral - Neon Canyon
If you like dramatic light beaming down through sandstone and landing in a pool, this will blow your mind.

Neon Canyon-Escalante River Confluence

(37.606071, -111.168037)
Neon Canyon empties into the Escalante River only one mile south of Fence Canyon, coming down from the northeast.

Golden Cathedral

(37.611292, -111.164787)
Neon Canyon is a beautiful and amazingly colorful canyon—hence the name. The trip would be worth it even without the Golden Cathedral, though it is without a doubt the main attraction. The pool below the domed pour-off can be deep enough to swim during seasons of high precipitation. Those who wish to do the entire—technical—Neon Canyon route will need to ascend the Choprock Bench that makes up the northern wall of the canyon. Climbing across the bench will allow visitors to bypass the Golden Cathedral pour-off and to drop into upper Neon Canyon in order to climb and rappel down.
















 

birdsnest

Well-Known Member
I hate the ugly ropes hanging down on the first picture where people are desecrating the cliffs by rappeling. It would look much more pleasing with a boat in the foreground.
 

Dale

Well-Known Member
Apparently not accessible from the water without the rock climbing? I have never heard of it.
 

Gem Morris

Well-Known Member
[/URL][/IMG] Golden Cathedral is above the high water mark. If Lake Powell was at Full Pool you would have to hike another 16 "crow fly" miles up the Escalante River to get to the mouth of Neon Canyon. My best guess is that it would be something like a total of 30 miles based on the meandering river. And I'm not sure it would be possible. After runoff the Escalante River is not that big and can be waded but there likely is deep pools to swim and some waterfalls to get over.

The normal route to get to the Golden Cathedral from the Hole in the Rock road. (Still a long hike).
 
Last edited:

Waterbaby

Moderator
Staff member
I hate the ugly ropes hanging down on the first picture where people are desecrating the cliffs by rappeling. It would look much more pleasing with a boat in the foreground.

IT is the only way in and out of the Cathedral. There is - or was - a rope in Cathedral in the Desert, too. My point was the drainers always use CID as an excuse to drain Lake Powell like it is the only place in all of Glen Canyon like it, when in fact there is other places just like it - and far from the high water mark of the Recreation Area - and inaccessible by boat. Water is 12% of the Recreation Area. They need to get over it!
 

Dale

Well-Known Member
IT is the only way in and out of the Cathedral. There is - or was - a rope in Cathedral in the Desert, too. My point was the drainers always use CID as an excuse to drain Lake Powell like it is the only place in all of Glen Canyon like it, when in fact there is other places just like it - and far from the high water mark of the Recreation Area - and inaccessible by boat. Water is 12% of the Recreation Area. They need to get over it!
WB, Do you have a hi res pic of that cathedral you can send me? I would like to have that on my wall of Powell pics.

Next time someone whines about Cathedral in the Desert being inundated and how the lake needs to be drained - remind them of this - also up the Escalante - not, never has been and won't be inundated and every bit as majestic as CID


https://utah.com/hiking/golden-cathedral-trail

Golden Cathedral - Neon Canyon
If you like dramatic light beaming down through sandstone and landing in a pool, this will blow your mind.

Neon Canyon-Escalante River Confluence

(37.606071, -111.168037)
Neon Canyon empties into the Escalante River only one mile south of Fence Canyon, coming down from the northeast.

Golden Cathedral

(37.611292, -111.164787)
Neon Canyon is a beautiful and amazingly colorful canyon—hence the name. The trip would be worth it even without the Golden Cathedral, though it is without a doubt the main attraction. The pool below the domed pour-off can be deep enough to swim during seasons of high precipitation. Those who wish to do the entire—technical—Neon Canyon route will need to ascend the Choprock Bench that makes up the northern wall of the canyon. Climbing across the bench will allow visitors to bypass the Golden Cathedral pour-off and to drop into upper Neon Canyon in order to climb and rappel down.
















 

Waterbaby

Moderator
Staff member
WB, Do you have a hi res pic of that cathedral you can send me? I would like to have that on my wall of Powell pics.
Google Neon Canyon and then click on images... tons of high resolution images there........ as well as the GPS information on how a person reaches it and general access information.
 

birdsnest

Well-Known Member
IT is the only way in and out of the Cathedral. There is - or was - a rope in Cathedral in the Desert, too. My point was the drainers always use CID as an excuse to drain Lake Powell like it is the only place in all of Glen Canyon like it, when in fact there is other places just like it - and far from the high water mark of the Recreation Area - and inaccessible by boat. Water is 12% of the Recreation Area. They need to get over it!
Waterbaby, My sarcasm still gets you. I was being sarcastic about the ropes because I wouldn't care if they made the dam high enough to get a boat in there. I know that many more people can access and enjoy the Glen Canyon area because of boat access. This is a perfect example of a beautiful place that few folks can get to. The vast majority of what is now GCRA could never be accessed by the public before the dam. My 65 year old mother got to see so many gorgeous place by water that she would never have been able to see. This kind of shows that us humans are not very important to the drainers.
 
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