Living Rivers - Colorado Riverkeeper
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Save Grand Canyon Again
Grand Canyon Campaign
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Grand Canyon & Glen Canyon Dam: The Basics
The Restoration Journey
Colorado River Water Storage Without Glen Canyon Dam
Climate Change: The End of Glen Canyon Dam?
Other Reasons to Decommission Glen Canyon Dam
Species in Peril

Other Reasons to Decommission Glen Canyon Dam

Glen Canyon Dam was completed in 1963. Promoted as a water supply and hydroelectric facility, Glen Canyon Dam is proving to be an environmental, economic, technical and social liability.

It's Inevitable
The tremendous inflows of sediment into Lake Powell reservoir will soon render Glen Canyon Dam useless. Sediment is fast approaching the level of the bypass tubes used as the first line of defense to prevent floods from overtopping the dam. Once these tubes are blocked, the dam will have to be decommissioned.

Disappearing Water
Lake Powell reservoir loses up to seven percent of the Colorado's annual flow through evaporation into the dry desert air, and seepage into the porous sandstone surrounding it. Evaporative losses on a single Labor Day weekend could satisfy the needs of 17,000 western homes for a year.

Clean Energy
Glen Canyon Dam has the capacity to provide just three percent of the energy used in the Southwest. The deterioration of Grand Canyon's native river habitat illustrates that this is not clean energy. The power from Glen Canyon Dam could be entirely replaced should ten million homes in the region replace two standard light bulbs with compact fluorescents.

Save Money
Glen Canyon Dam's hydroelectric power revenues are not sufficient to repay the dam's construction costs as was required by law. Neither are dam revenues sufficient to finance the rapidly escalating costs of environmental mitigation in Grand Canyon. More revenue with fewer expenses could be generated by decommissioning the dam and selling the water currently lost to evaporation and seepage from Lake Powell.

Avoid Catastrophe
In 1983, the Colorado River nearly spilled over the top of Glen Canyon Dam and the dam's spillway tunnels nearly collapsed. Described as a once-in-25-year flood event, this scenario is likely to reoccur. Additionally, the highly porous sandstone, in which the dam is set, is prone to splintering and collapse.

Restore Sacred Sites
Many religious sites were inundated by Lake Powell. One was Rainbow Bridge, the world's largest natural bridge. Despite protest from Navajo medicine people and designation as a National Monument, it became a victim of the reservoir behind Glen Canyon Dam.

Restore the Joy
A redrock wonderland of nearly 125 side canyons, hidden arches, grottos, and stone chambers is poised to reemerge when Glen Canyon Dam is decommissioned. Nature's forces have repeatedly illustrated that when reservoirs are drained native ecosystems can return with limited human intervention.

Sustainable Recreation
Recreation on Lake Powell is destined to disappear as sediment fills the reservoir. However, when Glen Canyon is restored hiking, rafting and biking will fast take its place, generating significant income as they do elsewhere on the Colorado Plateau.

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Last Update: August 6, 2004

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Living Rivers    PO Box 466     Moab, UT 84532     435.259.1063