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.