The Lake Powell water level reached capacity in the 1980s. Created in the 1920s to store Colorado River water to be used for farms, homes and businesses, capacity calculations for the reservoir were based on a now changed set of assumptions about precipitation and water availability. Those capacity assumptions are the basis of the amount of water that is to be made available to states that are contained within the upper and lower basins of the Colorado River.
KUER’s Jon Reed looks at the history of the Glen Canyon Dam, the current Lake Powell water level and the response from environmentalists, as the area suffers through decades of drought since the Lake Powell’s creation. Colorado River managers face an uncertain future as they struggle to fulfill their water deliveries to lower basin states for irrigation, recreation and development.
Once the Lake Powell water level reached capacity, development grew quickly in the region and many of the river’s states experienced housing booms that continue to this day. Unfortunately, that development has come at the cost of water availability for farming in areas throughout the region, causing many long-term farming families to reconsider their future in farming. Many farmers are facing difficult, life changing decisions that could change the face of farming in the West.