Lake Powell supporters want legislators to help protect Glen Canyon Dam

By SCOTT THOMSEN
Associated Press Writer
02/09/2001

PHOENIX -- The people who live, work and play in Page are there for one reason, Lake Powell. And they don't want anybody taking it away from them.

Supporters of the lake went to the capitol Thursday to ask state lawmakers to help protect Glen Canyon Dam from efforts to tear it down. They are backing a proposed memorial to the U.S. Congress that would state Arizona's opposition to any attempts to breach or remove the dam. Such memorials are essentially post cards that have no binding affect on lawmakers' actions.

"Lake Powell provides not only the water we drink, but the life we breathe," Mayor Robert Bowling said, noting that the city was carved out of an empty hillside to create homes for the construction workers who built the dam.

Thousands of people from around the world visit the area each year to enjoy the manmade lake behind Glen Canyon Dam. It provides a reliable source of water in drought years for 25 million people in Arizona, Nevada and California. The dam also creates 1,300 megawatts of energy and supports the nearby Navajo Generating Station, which pumps out 2,700 megawatts more.

"The viability of Arizona depends on the dam and its control operation," Russell Smoldon, state and governmental relations manager for Salt River Project.

Still, several groups, including the Sierra Club and the Glen Canyon Institute, have advocated breaching the dam and draining the lake to return it to what it was before the dam was finished in 1963.

Val Gleave, president of the Friends of Lake Powell, told members of the Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Agriculture Committee that such a move would wipe out the town of Page.

"We care so much about our environment. We should be the ones who are asked," Gleave said. "The environmentalists who want to drain Lake Powell don't live there yet they want to make decisions that affect our lives."

No one spoke against the memorial Wednesday. It is not scheduled for a committee vote until next week.

 

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