Future of Lake Powell is not looking so bright

Dec 22, 2022, 9:30 PM

Low water levels are plaguing the Great Salt Lake for several summers now....

Low water levels are pictured in Lake Powell in Page, Ariz., on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021. Experts say the lake is approaching a dead pool. That's when the water is so low is can't flow downstream, which is causing concern over the future of the lake. (Kirstin Murphy/Deseret News)

(Kirstin Murphy/Deseret News)

PAGE, Ariz. — The future of Lake Powell is getting bleak. So much so that experts say the lake is approaching a dead pool.

A dead pool is when the water level in a reservoir drops so low, it can’t flow downstream. 

Jack Stauss, of the Glen Canyon Institute, told KSL NewsRadio that his institute has been calling for the draining of the lake for years.

“Nature is kind of showing us that it’s not only possible, but it’s already kind of happening with or without our intervention,” he said.  

The future of Lake Powell

If nothing improves by 2025, Stauss says only Lake Mead would be filled. But that would require good conservation measures and cutbacks at the various states. Stauss points out the cutbacks are already starting to take place.

“Those things coupled with the reality of climate change has showed us that we don’t necessarily need two giant reservoirs to meet the obligation of the compact,” he said. 

Stauss says his organization has performed a legal analysis of the law of the river. He says it would be legal for the Upper Basin to maintain its water downstream in Lake Mead. Essentially, he says the Upper Basin could hold on to water rights of the Lower Basin. And still be able to provide the assurances of the Upper Basin, while still allowing the Lower Basin to use what it needs.

Stauss says all seven states in the basin water area need to work together to find a solution. 


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Future of Lake Powell is not looking so bright