Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Balancing Tourism with the Environment

Predicting the weather is risky business and predicting the longterm effectiveness of Glen Canyon Dam and Powell Reservoir even more so. The Reservoir is currently down some 150 ft. and dropping. Even the Bureau of Reclamation indicates the Reservoir may be empty 15% - 50% of the time. You find uncertainty even from this quarter.

But, the questions are serious ones. While it appears likely that Powell Reservoir will disappear -- making what happens to the dam almost irrelevant -- the question remains how the area will supply water to a growing population in an intelligent and reasonable manner.(Tank farms come to mind but the seers in this controversy may have other solutions.)

A friend living across the street has a sign in her house that reads, "The River Always Wins", but it begs the question, "What if the river disappears?" The Colorado River? That national treasure? That gargantuan serpent whose back we've tried to ride for decades?

Into this controversy steps Page, Arizona, booster Joan Nevills-Staveley who, in a recent article titled "Glen Canyon Dam: 50 years of controversy" published in The Salt Lake Tribune, measures the value of Glen Canyon Dam in terms of motel beds.

Referring in the article to environmentalists Rich Ingebretsen, president of the Glen Canyon Institute, and Ken Sleight, environmentalist and former river runner, Ms. Nevills-Staveley comments, "You'd like to do them in." (italics mine)

Do them in?... In the name of Page tourism?... Some people are scary, but it's scarier that serious water-supply issues can be answered with quirky sentiments and irrelevant considerations.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

There's a Ring Around the Tub.

Powell Reservoir is evaporating behind the buttress of Glen Canyon Dam despite the best laid plans of men (and women) of the Bureau of Reclamation and the ignorant perseverance of those who insist on storing water in an open container in this arid region.

Rich Ingebretsen, president and founder of the Glen Canyon Institute, in a recent presentation to the Colorado River Workshop held at Western State College in Gunnison, CO, pointed out that more than 40 million acre-feet had already been lost in this way. The Bureau of Reclamation, with seemingly no ax to grind (except to keep its dam), has estimated that Powell Reservoir will likely be empty 15% of the time.

Water questions are volatile issues in the Southwest, closely tied to political sentiment and the veracity of global warming. As referenced in the May 24th edition of The Daily Sentinal, Patricia Mulroy, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, claimed she got "heart cramps" when talking about tearing down Glen Canyon Dam. In contrast to the Bureau of Reclamation, she does have an ax to grind, but I'd recommend atenolol for the cramps and some enlightenment re water storage.

It's an environment where a forgotten cup of coffee will evaporate in a week.

And...the governors of the Great Lakes states have suddenly gotten wise and effectively put an end to any plans to implement a pipeline to Arizona or any other distant state.