October 9, 2016--Environmentalists dismayed by Glen Canyon Dam management plan (AZ Daily Sun)

Environmental groups are criticizing the final draft of a plan released by the Bureau of Reclamation Friday to manage the operations of Glen Canyon Dam for the next 20 years. The plan calls for a more even monthly water release pattern from the dam and a continuation of the high-flow releases aimed at washing sand from tributaries into the mainstem of the Colorado River to build up sandbars. It also allows for the mechanical removal of trout near the Little Colorado River confluence and experimentation with various water release patterns aimed at limiting juvenile trout populations, improving aquatic insect production and creating warmer waters downstream to benefit native chub. The action chosen by the agency “ensures Glen Canyon Dam will continue to meet its purposes while improving downstream resources and recreational experiences,” the Bureau of Reclamation stated in a press release on Friday. It said the plan has received letters of support from the seven Colorado Basin states, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Western Area Power Administration and the Navajo Nation.

Representatives with Save the Colorado and Sierra Club, however, said dam managers failed to analyze flow regimes they say would do more to benefit vegetation and aquatic life downstream, didn’t fully analyze methane emissions from Lake Powell and chose a plan that won’t put endangered species on track to full recovery. “Basically the Park Service and the Bureau of Reclamation did not try to find an alternative that would improve the floodplains, the vegetation or improve the ability for the Colorado River to be a living river. They have surrendered to the fact that the river is declining and they will do their best to slow that decline,” said Alicyn Gitlin, with the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter. In previous comments to the Bureau of Reclamation, the Sierra Club asked the agency to analyze other proposals for Glen Canyon Dam operations, including one to consolidate much of the water from both reservoirs in Lake Mead and another to adjust dam releases to mimic the Colorado River’s historic flows. Making river levels peak in June and then decline between September and February, as they would have pre-dam, would better align flows with the times when plants are releasing their seeds or fish are laying their eggs, Gitlin said. But in its response to comments, the agency said such alternatives wouldn’t allow compliance with water delivery requirements and other federal regulations, including the 1992 Grand Canyon Protection Act. To view the full article visit the AZ Daily Sun.