WEATHER

Water watchers expect historically low levels at Lake Powell

Apr 22, 2021, 7:19 PM
Water Lake Powell...
The public launch ramp at Antelope Point, late March, 2021. (PHOTO: NPS/Trash Trackers)
(PHOTO: NPS/Trash Trackers)

KANE COUNTY, Utah – A water warning from officials at Lake Powell was delivered Thursday. Water levels are expected to be at historically low levels and analysts expect the levels will keep dropping next year in Lake Powell. 

Officials from the Glen Canyon National Recreation area reported levels at Lake Powell could dip to 3,540 feet above sea level, which would be the lowest it has been since 1968. Paul Davidson with the Bureau of Reclamation says if it gets below 3,490, the power plants at the dam are in real trouble.

Davidson said, “At which level, if it was to go below that, we wouldn’t be able to operate the generators.”

Davidson advised dam managers can’t just withhold water to raise the levels. The Colorado River Compact requires that a certain amount of water be released for the people who depend on it. However, Davidson said the compact was written in 1922, which was a very different time, weather-wise.

“In the 1920s and in the early 1900s, on the record books, it’s a very wet [period] that we haven’t seen except for the exception of 1983 and 1984,” he said.

Two dams are now in decline thanks to two decades of drought conditions.

Davidson said, “Now we know that was an overzealous assumption on their part on how much water there actually is that we can reliably predict.”

Officials at Lake Powell are asking boaters to check marinas and their launch statuses before they arrive at the lake. Some launch pads may be restricted and if one pad is closed, boat traffic in other parts of the lake could be very busy. 

Officials issued a press release that said:

“Currently, the Bullfrog Main Launch Ramp, Antelope Point Public Launch Ramp, Hite Launch Ramp, Stateline Launch Ramp, and Castle Rock Cut are closed. Bullfrog North Launch Ramp, Wahweap Main Launch Ramp, and the Halls Crossing Launch Ramp remain open. Stateline Launch Ramp at Wahweap will reopen for the season on April 26. These boat ramps will remain open as long as conditions allow. Due to a steep drop-off and predictions for low lake levels this summer, the Antelope Point Public Launch Ramp will likely remain closed to motorized vessels this season; however human powered vessels may launch there (kayaks, canoes, paddleboards).”

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Water watchers expect historically low levels at Lake Powell