I’ve been interested in the Colorado River since I was very young taking canoe trips down the river. I later learned that the river doesn’t make it all the way to the ocean. “The river and its tributaries are controlled by an extensive system of dams, reservoirs, and aqueducts, which in most years divert its entire flow to furnish irrigation and municipal water supply for almost 40 million people both inside and outside the watershed…This intensive consumption has dried up the lower 100 miles (160 km) of the river, such that it has reached the sea only a few times since the 1960s.”
In an opinion piece for the New York Times, Abrahm Lustgarten makes the argument for opening the Glen Canyon dam.
The idea is this: Since two of the nations largest reservoirs Lake Mead and Lake Powell, just 300 miles apart depend on the same dwindling water source but are each less than half full, they should be combined into one. Lake Mead would be deeper, and its evaporative losses would increase. But the surface area of Lake Powell would be substantially reduced, and the evaporating water from there would be saved. Furthermore, sending the water out of Glen Canyon would move it from a valley that leaks like a sieve into one that is watertight. Evaporation losses at Mead say plan proponents would be more than offset by savings at Lake Powell.
It’s an interesting proposal to adapt our management of the river in the face of climate change.