Glen Canyon Dam may be past its prime, says Michael Connor, the deputy secretary of the Interior and a former Commissioner of Reclamation, but its not past its usefulness. Though he calls the amount of water lost to evaporation and leakage “incredibly significant,” Connor credits Glen Canyon with numbing the pain of the recent drought. “Look at the last 15 years,” he says. “It’s the lowest inflow in history and there’s been no shortages on the Colorado River and that’s because of Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell and Hoover Dam and Lake Mead.”
There is also a political tide to be reckoned with; the delicate peace struck between the seven competing states and Mexico 2014 and the fear that they’d never again be able to reach an agreement the likes of which they all signed in 1922. “Getting rid of Lake Powell2026 it would basically make the compact stand on its head,” said Bronson Mack, a spokesman for the Southern Nevada Water Authority in Las Vegas, pointing to the role that Lake Powell plays in guaranteeing the northern states have enough water to deliver to Nevada and the south each year. “We’ve always said cracking open the compact is going to land seven states in decades of litigation, so there has not been an appetite for it.”
Decommissioning Glen Canyon Dam, however, could offer a solution that politicians cannot afford to ignore: a cheap, immediate, and significant new source of water where it is most desperately needed.