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Conservation Groups Slam Glen Canyon Dam Proposal

Conservation groups are criticizing the Final Environmental Impact Statement on Glen Canyon Dam. (U.S. Bureau of Reclamation)
Conservation groups are criticizing the Final Environmental Impact Statement on Glen Canyon Dam. (U.S. Bureau of Reclamation)
October 11, 2016

LAKE POWELL, Ariz. – Conservation groups are slamming the feds' final proposal for fixes at Glen Canyon Dam at Lake Powell on the Colorado River.

The U.S. Department of the Interior just released the final environmental impact statement on the new management plan, and the public review period lasts 30 days.

Four endangered species of fish are threatened by the dam: the humpback chub, the bonytail, the Colorado pikeminnow, and the razorback sucker.

Gary Wockner, executive director of the advocacy group Save the Colorado, said the government's preferred solution amounts to business as usual at a time when the system is close to flat-lining.

"Both of the main reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, are near their historic lows and climate change is indicating that's only going to get worse, so there doesn't seem to be any realistic way to keep Glen Canyon Dam and the hydropower plant there in operation," he explained.

Supporters of the dam say the Glen Canyon hydropower plant generates 4.5 billion kilowatt-hours of power a year, and is a relatively clean, renewable source of energy.

However, Wockner said the dam pollutes the air with methane emissions and only hinders the recovery of fish, so he's disappointed that the feds won't even consider decommissioning it.

"They actually refused to consider the biggest alternative, the one that would be most likely to actually achieve the goal of protecting and restoring endangered fish," he said.

In other states, courts have forced the feds to consider closing dams as one of the options in the environmental analysis. Once the final record of decision on Glen Canyon is released, conservation groups say they will decide whether to file suit.

Suzanne Potter/Shaine Smith, Public News Service - AZ