It is iconic only because it flooded a specular landscape which sits upon millions of fissures leaking Lake Powell water into mother earth….

…It is iconic only because it flooded a specular landscape which sits upon millions of fissures leaking Lake Powell water into mother earth….

Draining an iconic lake was ‘ludicrous,’ until now

Brittany Patterson, E&E News reporter Climatewire: Friday, October 27, 2017GLEN CANYON NATIONAL RECREATION AREA, Utah — Like many places across the West, Lake Powell seems impossibly large, mythical almost, with its rich red rock canyon walls standing in dramatic juxtaposition to the expanse of cerulean below that seems to stretch on forever.

Dramatic is an apt way to describe the second-largest man-made reservoir in America.

When it was formed in 1963, following the construction of Glen Canyon Dam in northern Arizona, Lake Powell was designed to hold a massive quantity of water — 26,215,000 acre-feet — that flows down mostly in the form of melted snowpack from the Upper Colorado River Basin states of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico. One acre-foot is enough water to serve a family of four for a year.

White calcium carbonate deposits, which form a striking bathtublike ring along the canyon walls, show the lake’s steep drop in water levels over the last decade and a half due to a combination of overuse and the worst 16-year drought in over a century.

Now, a controversial proposal — to allow Lake Powell to become a "dead pool," meaning there is no longer enough water to generate hydropower at the nearby 710-foot-tall Glen Canyon Dam — is no longer dismissed as unthinkable. Under that plan, Powell’s sister, Lake Mead, would serve as the main reservoir.

"Fill Mead first" was a thought exercise when put forward two decades ago by environmentalists. The goal was to encourage conversation about restoring the dammed Glen Canyon to its natural state. However, with the growing acknowledgement that neither Lake Mead nor Lake Powell has been filled anywhere close to capacity since 2000 — and that climate change will increasingly stress water resources along the Colorado River — the proposal is inching its way toward being a real outcom

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