Lake Powell began filling in 1963 after the completion of Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River by the federal Bureau of Reclamation. The 710-foot-high hydroelectric dam creates the second-largest man-made lake, or reservoir, in the U.S. The lake stretches 186 miles along the Colorado River from Page, Arizona to Hite, Utah. Located within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the reservoir sits in an expansive canyon with sparse vegetation and beautiful red hues of Navajo sandstone. It represents a key long-term water supply for the Upper Colorado River Basin States (Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico).
Lake Powell and Glen Canyon are popular tourist attractions. Access to the lake by road is limited and boating is dependent on lake levels. From Arizona, Paige offers the most convenient access point for outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, camping, rappelling, and boating. Adventure seekers with four-wheel drive vehicles can travel along several dirt roads that lead to remote areas along the lake and deep within the canyon.
Due to the high demand for water and energy supply in a fast-growing arid region and several years of drought, levels of the lake have rapidly declined. Low reservoir levels threaten future water supply shortages and also impact the efficiency of on-site power generation. Negotiations between the Upper Colorado River Basin States are underway to identify solutions for future water supplies and environmental restoration efforts.
Balancing the needs of water for humans and wildlife in a changing climate is critical to maintaining the beneficial functions we receive from the environment. Whether millions of people travel to see the product of powerful human engineering masterminds, or whether they come to see the expansive red canyons that Mother Nature carved over many years with a powerful river, this area is worth preserving for generations to see.
The photos featured are just a few of over 1,000 submittals for our Spring 2014 Celebrate AZ Water Photo Contest. Discover more water-worthy sites to visit across the state by checking out our Celebrate Arizona Water blogs.
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