Mr. HANSEN. Our next witnesses are Mr.
Adam Werbach, President of the Sierra Club; Mr.
Ted Stewart, Executive Director of the Utah
Department of Natural Resources; Rita P. Pearson,
Director of Arizona Department of Water
Resources; Mark Whitlock, Executive Director of
FAME. And David Wegner was asked by Mr. Werbach
if he could sit with him. I have no objection to
that if you want to bring him up.
Mr. Chairman, are you going to ask unanimous
consent to bring up Mr. Wegner, because I intend
Mr. HANSEN. Well, I'll tell you what,
we'll have him sit there, and we won't call upon
him to testify until the third panel. Is that all
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Or even the fourth panel.
Mr. HANSEN. Mr. Wegner, if you would like
to sit up there, we won't call upon you to
testify until the third panel.
You all realize that in this setting there is
some strong feelings on both sides of every
issue. And they are most of the time in this
area. So Mr. Werbach, we're pleased that you
could join us today. And we'll turn the time to
you for your testimony, sir.
STATEMENT OF ADAM WERBACH, PRESIDENT, SIERRA CLUB
Mr. WERBACH. Thank you very much, Mr.
Chairman. Mr. Chairman and members of the
Subcommittee, my name is Adam Werbach, and I am
the President of the Sierra Club. I thank you for
the opportunity to appear before you today.
I represent the Sierra Club's 600,000 members
across America in supporting the restoration of
one of the most special places on earth, Glen
Canyon, for our families and for our future.
Last November, the Sierra Club's national board
of directors voted unanimously to advocate the
draining of the Lake Powell Reservoir. This might
have surprised some people, but it was a natural
decision for the Sierra Club.
The Sierra Club has been protecting unique
natural resources throughout the Colorado River
basin for the last 50 years. Throughout our
history, we have urged protection of the Green
and Yampa Rivers and Dinosaur National Monument,
the Animas River in Colorado. And we have always
stood for the river canyons along the Colorado.
Canyon was never a good idea. And the Sierra Club
never thought that it was. But we had no idea how
wrong it was at the time it was proposed. David
Brower, who could not be here today because of
health problems with his wife, Anne, called Glen
Canyon the place that no one knew.
While the canyons of Dinosaur National Monuments
were world famous, only a few people had
experienced the transcendent natural majesty of
Glen Canyon. Few people had rafted its waters.
Few people had explored its mysterious side
canyons. Few people experienced Glen Canyon's
quite soulful magic.
Those who did experience Glen Canyon were lucky.
I regret that I was born too late to see one of
God's masterpieces. I hope my children will have
The sense of remorse spreads beyond the Sierra
Club. Former Senator Barry Goldwater recently
reflected in the PBS documentary ''Cadillac
Desert'' that, quote, ''I'd vote against it. I
have become convinced that, while water is
important, it's just not that important,'' end
We are simply not being good stewards of the
river. By inundating Glen Canyon, we have
eliminated some of the most productive habitat
for native Colorado fish, many of which have been
smothered forever from the face of this earth.
The remaining species hang on as isolated and
aging populations in only a few places along the
The Colorado River Compact promises more water to
the basin States and to Mexico than what nature
provides. And most of that water goes to water
plants, not people. Many of these plants, like
cotton, are not native to the desert, are heavy
water users, and would not be grown at all if
their cultivation was not supported by a complex
web of tax breaks, subsidies, and Federal price
Perhaps most appalling is that the Grand Canyon
is suffering from the effects of Glen Canyon Dam.
This dam has turned its waterits warm water
native fish habitats cold, cutoff the supply of
sediments needed to rebuild its beaches and
shorelines, and prevented the cleansing seasonal
We have only a
short window of time to act to protect the native
species of the Grand Canyon that are on the verge
of extinction. Let us not be known as the
generation that sacrificed the Grand Canyon.
In the not-too-distant future, Lake Powell, like
all reservoirs, will be rendered useless for
water storage and power by incoming silt. Between
seepage into the canyon walls around Lake Powell
and evaporation from this vast, flat
high-elevation reservoir located in one of the
driest areas in the country, water loss is
estimated at almost one million acre feet of
water per year according to the Bureau of
Reclamation, enough for a city the size of Los
Angeles. This is no way to run a river. And it's
not the legacy to leave for our children.
Now, there is good news. Changes are possible
without massive shortfalls in water or power. I
would like to submit to the hearing record a
study just completed by the Environmental Defense
Fund entitled, ''The Effect of Draining Lake
Powell on Water Supply and Electricity
Now, EDF used the Bureau of Reclamation's own
hydrologic model for managing the Colorado River
to assess the impacts of the river system with
and without Lake Powell and even assumed growth
in water use through the year 2050. The analysis
shows that, quote: ''On average, the drained Lake
Powell scenario reduces deliveries to the lower
basin by only 91,000 acre feet per year,
approximately 1.15 percent of all lower basin
deliveries. The Colorado River's ability to meet
upper basin obligations does not depend on
whether Lake Powell is drained.''
Regarding hydropower, EDF finds that most, quote,
''most power users in the Southwest would not be
affected,'' end quote. And the estimated cost to
all Americans of restoring Glen Canyon by
foregoing power revenues from the dam is only 37
cents a piece per year, a bargain for what we
would get back.
EDF concludes that, quote: ''A comprehensive
study of all effects of the proposal to drain
Lake Powell is clearly warranted.''
We believe that
these preliminary analyses show that draining
Lake Powell is possible without major
dislocations, that it's affordable, and that it's
not too late to consider this option.
The power generation loss from Glen Canyon Dam
can be replaced by natural gas or conservation
elsewhere. And the cost spread over the rate base
of the western power grade should not be
Today, society is reevaluating our past
fascination with dams. Congress has directed that
the Elwa Dam in Washington State be removed to
restore the rivers. Reservoirs in the Colombia
and Snake River basins are being proposed for
drawdown to restore salmon runs. Glen Canyon Dam
itself has been re-regulated by 1992 legislation.
The Sierra Club supports evaluating the tradeoffs
and opportunities of draining Lake Powell through
an environment assessment. We urge the
administration to undertake this review.
Regardless of where you stand on this issue, it
clearly makes sense to examine the facts. The
fate of the Grand Canyons is at stake. Our goal
is to make the place no one knew the place that
everyone knows about. We believe that the
American public would choose in favor of Glen
Canyon. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for beginning
[The prepared statement of Mr. Werbach may be
found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Werbach.
Mr. VENTO. Mr. Chairman, apparently the
EDF study I would ask unanimous consent to be
included in the record.
Mr. HANSEN. Without objection, so ordered.
[The information referred to may be found at end
Mr. HANSEN. Ted Stewart, Executive
Director, Department of Natural Resources, State
of Utah. Mr. Stewart, we'll recognize you, sir.
STATEMENT OF TED
STEWART, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UTAH DEPARTMENT OF
Mr. STEWART. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. In
1922, the Colorado River Compact was entered into
between the seven States most affected by the
Colorado River. An equitable apportionment of
that river was agreed to after considerable and
The Colorado River is divided into two basins,
the upper and the lower. The upper basin consists
of the States of Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, and New
Mexico. The lower basin States are Arizona,
Nevada, and California.
That Compact requires that, in any 10-year period
of time, 75 million acre-feet of water be
delivered by the upper basin States at Lees
Ferry, which is immediately below Glen Canyon
Dam. And that is, if you will, the highest
priority on the river, except perhaps the Mexican
treaty obligation that has already been discussed
Unfortunately, the river does not work on
averages, which apparently the EDF study is based
on. The flow at Glen Canyon or, excuse me, Lees
Ferry can vary from 5.8 million acre feet a year
to over 24 million acre feet a year. Yet, the
obligation to deliver 75 million acre feet in any
10-year period remains.
The storage in Lake Powell is absolutely
essential for the ability of the upper basin
States to meet that obligation to the lower basin
States. If Lake Powell were drained, water would
be taken from the taps along the Wasatch Front
and Salt Lake City, because the Central Utah
Project brings water from the Colorado River
basin to the Wasatch Front.
The State of Utah cannot rely on its ability
towith the other upper basin
statesmeet that obligation to the lower
basin States without Lake Powell storage. It is
In addition to the Central Utah Project,
obligations to Native American tribes in the
Uintah Basin and the eastern part of the State of
Utah would be at risk. And, in addition, current
plans to bring water to southwestern Utah, one of
the fastest growing areas in the entire country,
is dependent to a large extent on a proposed
pipeline from Lake Powell to Washington County
and other areas in Southwest Utah.
So, again, there
is an absolute obligation to meet that 75 million
acre-feet to the lower basin States. And it
cannot be met without storage in Lake Powell.
Besides the water storage, secondary benefits
have already been mentionedthe hydropower,
the recreation. The State of Utah, along with the
other Western States, are always told we have to
free ourselves from this historical ''Old West''
mentality of being dependent upon natural
resource jobs. Forget about mining. It's a
historical oddity. Forget about grazing cattle
and sheep. It's evil. Let's get rid of all of
this oil and gas production, become dependent, or
at least more dependent, on tourism.
Well, people in this part of the State of Utah
have become dependent on tourism. They have
accepted that challenge. And in excess of $400
million a year is generated by those millions of
visitors that come to Lake Powell. Are we now
going to remove that option for the people in
Southern Utah as a way of sustaining an economic
Lake Powell (Glen Canyon Dam) is a natural
resource, but it is also a public resource. It
belongs to every one of us. And when any group,
especially a group with the reputation and the
influence of the Sierra Club, comes forward and
makes a proposal, they have an obligation to
answer certain questions, I believe.
One of those questions has to be: ''Where will
Utah and the other upper basin States get its
water if Lake Powell storage is removed?'' The
population in the State of Utah is booming. We're
currently slightly over 2 million people. In the
next 20 years, it is estimated we will add
another million people. Where will water come
from if we are not allowed to develop our full
Colorado River allocation?
It has been stated that we can put the water in
Lake Mead. The Bureau of Reclamation just a few
minutes ago indicated what a foolish notion that
was. But if I may point out this, earlier this
year, environmentalists brought a lawsuit to stop
the increased storage at Lake Mead because of its
impact on the Southwest willow flycatcher, an
Lake Mead is
currently rising because the Colorado River has
begun to flow at heavier levels than it has over
the last 6 or 7 years. The natural increase was
going to destroy willow habitat.
Environmentalists brought a lawsuit to require
the Bureau of Reclamation to not allow that
increased storage to happen.
The second question that I think needs to be
answered is, ''Why is the recreation that may be
available to an additional 15,000 to 20,000
people, which is what is estimated will be
allowed to use Glen Canyon if it is restored, be
superior to or a higher priority than that
recreation that is currently available to about 3
Additionally, ''Where will the replacement power
come from?'' ''Where will the repayments to the
Federal Treasury for the dam come from?'' '' Who
will pay for the cost of restoration? Where will
the millions and millions of tons of silt and
other materials that are found in Lake Powell be
moved to? And who will move them? At what cost to
taxpayers or others?''
These are legitimate questions. And, again, my
assertion is, before anyone comes and starts
talking about the use, or the change in use, of
any public resource, they have an obligation to
answer these legitimate questions. And I believe
those answers have not been forthcoming to this
point. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Stewart may be
found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Stewart.
Rita Pearson. I turn the time to you, madam.
STATEMENT OF RITA PEARSON, DIRECTOR, ARIZONA
DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES
Ms. PEARSON. Good morning, Chairman Hansen
and members of the joint Subcommittees. My name
is Rita Pearson, and I am the Director of the
Arizona Department of Water Resources.
Thank you for the
opportunity to speak on behalf of the State of
Arizona. My testimony today will focus on
Arizona's primary concerns with the draining of
Lake Powell, a proposal which we adamantly
oppose. I've submitted written testimony that
provides additional details. And I will refer to
it periodically during my testimony.
I would also like to acknowledge the submission
of testimony from Governor Jane Hull, Arizona's
Governor, on behalf of the State of Arizona as
Draining Lake Powell cannot be seriously
considered for many reasons. But the principal
reason is because life as we know it here in the
West would be impossible without Lake Powell
Reservoir. It is one of the keystone facilities
used in managing the Colorado River basin system
and the hydroelectric power resources generated
Draining Lake Powell would have serious impacts
on water supplies in the lower basin States,
Arizona, California, and Nevada, as well as
creating environmental and economic hardships,
specifically in the State of Arizona.
As has been mentioned a number of times this
morning, Lake Powell can store 25 million acre
feet or more of Colorado River water. That's 42
percent of the storage capacity of the entire
Colorado River system.
Lake Powell is the upper basin's insurance
policy, because with it, the upper basin cannot
guarantee annual deliveries to the lower basin of
7 1/2 million acre feet pursuant to the 1922
The Colorado River is one of the most erratically
flowing rivers in the United States. It has flows
as high as 23 million acre feet in 1 year and as
low as 5 million acre feet in another.
With my testimony today, I submitted a chart
which shows annual inflows into the Colorado
River above Glen Canyon Dam. You will see that
it's a roller coaster. No 2 years are alike. In
fact, talking about averages as we have heard
today from the Sierra Club is absolutely
meaningless without a reservoir system. And
because of this, if the storage capabilities of
Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell are eliminated,
future Colorado water supplies in the lower basin
States will be critically jeopardized. It will be
a water resource feast or famine.
Seventy percent of
the natural inflows flowing into Lake Powell
occur during the months of May, June, and July.
The only way we can capture the runoff is through
reservoir storage. Without Lake Powell, the
Bureau of Reclamation's modeling indicates that
shortages in the lower basin could occur as early
as the year 2006, almost 20 years earlier than
had been projected. And I note, we are projecting
shortages today without the elimination of Lake
Powell. But eliminating that storage capacity
reduces supplies and makes shortage a possibility
Arizona is particularly vulnerable to shortage.
As a result of the 1968 Colorado River Basin
Project Act, the water supply through the central
Arizona project into central and southern Arizona
is the lowest priority water in the lower basin.
During such a shortage, as a result of Lake
Powell drainage, the CAP could see diversions
reduced to zero as early as 2051. Without Lake
Powell, as I mentioned, as early as 2006, the
probability of shortage jumps to 25 percent or
once in every 4 years. By 2051, shortages could
occur one-third of the time.
We have noted that 600,000 acre feet of
evaporative storage disappears every year from
Lake Powell. That is a costthat's the
insurance premium that we buy in order to
guarantee 27 million acre feet of storage. That
is a very important storage capacity for the
lower basin system.
To give you an idea of how important the CAP is
to Arizona, it provides water to Maricopa, Pinal,
and Pima Counties where 3 1/2 million acre people
live. More than 2.4 million people live in
Maricopa County alone, which is the home to
Phoenix, Arizona, the sixth largest city in the
Currently, the majority of our water is delivered
to agriculture, but with each passing year, more
and more of that water is delivered to cities,
cities that do not have the flexibility of
retiring ag. land. There is an ongoing demand
that does not cease regardless of drought
I would also point
out, the Southern Nevada Water Authority would be
greatly jeopardized as well. Their intake pump is
set at 7.3 million acre feet of storage in Lake
Mead. If all of the demand is drawn off of Lake
Mead, we would have serious shortages in both
Southern California and Southern Nevada.
The drought referred to earlier between 1986 and
1993 took 20 million acre feet of storage out of
the system. If that was borne solely by Lake
Mead, Nevada's intake pumps would have been left
high and dry. Twenty million people are served by
supplies in the lower basin by water from the
In addition to drainage problems from Lake
Powell, that would also cause problems from Lake
Mead. Annual storage in Lake Mead would be
reduced as well. And you would have to manage the
system either for a drought condition or for a
flood condition. In other words, if you're
managing for a drought, you have to maximize the
storage in Lake Mead. But when the flood hits,
you have nowhere to put the water. It goes down
streams. And downstream communities like Yuma,
Bull Head City, Lake Havasu City would be greatly
In addition to that, you have more than 30 years
of sediment trapped behind Glen Canyon Dam. The
estimates are that between 65,000 and 100,000
cubic yards of sediment are annually gathered
behind Glen Canyon Dam.
When Lake Powell dries out, the sediment will
evaporate. It will move into the air. We will
have air quality problems throughout the West as
well as water quality problems from the selenium
and heavy metals in the sediment.
Three years ago, the lower basin States entered
into a multistate State habitat conservation
plan. That plan is designed to protect over 100
plant and wildlife species dependent upon the
Our ability to protect those species is directly
dependent upon the water supply. If we lose Lake
Powell, all of our flexibility in the system is
managed off of Lake Mead. We will be unable to
protect those species as we have planned to in
joint agreements with the Interior Department,
environmental groups, and Indian tribes as well.
Mr. Chairman, I see I am out of time. I have a
bit more testimony, but I would be happy to stop.
How much time do you need?
Ms. PEARSON. Probably another 2 minutes.
Mr. HANSEN. I'll give you an additional 2
Ms. PEARSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let
me briefly touch upon the visitation at the Glen
Canyon recreational area, including Lake Powell.
We've talked about 3 million people a year
visiting there. The canyon is now open in a way
it never was before. As has been talked about by
the previous panel, it has the second largest
number of overnight stays of any park in the
national system. Forty-two thousand people
annually float the river. Seventy thousand now
visit Rainbow Bridge, a national monument that
was not readily accessible because it was 6 miles
into very difficult territory.
The annual economic impact to the tiny Arizona
communities like Marble Canyon and Vermillion
Cliffs that are associated with the Lees Ferry
fishery are estimated to be $5 million alone.
Draining Lake Powell would shut down the blue
ribbon trout fishery known as Lees Ferry. And
8,000 people reside in Page, Arizona, where
tourism and the Navajo Generating Station are the
principal types of employment there.
Mr. Chairman, I could go on and on about the
impacts of draining Lake Powell. But let me first
and finally point out that there is an old saying
that they use in the West, that water is just
around the corner. It is just over the next hill.
That is no longer the case in the West. We have
identified and quantified all of the available
supplies of water. We are facing shortages today
without the draining of Lake Powell. To
exacerbate it would be irresponsible. I would
like to suggest that we use history as a
guidepost, not a hitching post. Thank you.
[The preparerd statement of Ms. Pearson may be
found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you very much. Our next
witness is Mark Whitlock. He's accompanied by
Shelia Reed, Project Manager, Environment
Protection Department of FAME Renaissance. Mr.
STATEMENT OF MARK WHITLOCK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,
Mr. WHITLOCK. Mr. Chairman, members of the
Subcommittee, ladies and gentlemen, we appreciate
the opportunity to be here today to share some of
our concerns we have regarding the Sierra Club
and the Glen Canyon Institute's proposal to drain
My name is Mark Whitlock. And I serve as a
minister of First A.M.E. Church led by Dr. Cecil
L. Murray. We have some 14,000 members. And we
are all on one accord with this issue.
We believe that water is important. We believe it
sustains life, offers new life, provides a
preservation of life. Thus, we believe we must
retain Lake Powell. Certainly, as the city of Los
Angeles grows by some 210,000 people per year,
and possibly by the year 2020, we will have some
21.5 million people in the city of Los Angeles,
State of California.
We're concerned that if there is not enough water
available, then we will have to go out and spend
an enormous amount of money finding the supplies
for them. Clearly, Lake Powell provides that
surplus, that water needed to sustain life.
If we have to spend more money on new water
supplies, then there will be a cost incurred for
that research, that new project. And that cost,
unfortunately, reflects back on our ratepayers or
our community, our constituents, whose water
bills will increase.
Well, that's where the rubber meets the road for
us. Clearly, in south central Los Angeles, where
we suffer from the poverty of money, an
unemployment rate of anywhere from 16 percent, in
some areas of our community as high as 50
percent, a poverty rate in our community of 25
percent. So any increase in water, any increase
in bills takes food out of the mouths of our
children. So wewe clearly believe water is
important. Thus, Lake Powell is important.
Why not look at
another program? Why not look at another way to
provide resources to continue working within the
system? We support a project that we work closely
on with the Metropolitan Water District and other
agencies within the city of Los Angeles. That
project, we call it a water conservation program.
Most toilets, shower heads in the city of Los
Angeles are rather antiquated. One flush could
result in a loss of 9 to as much as 16 gallons of
water. Clearly, if you take a piece of tissue and
put it down the drain, 16 gallons of water gone.
Well, a partnership with the Metropolitan Water
District results in a savings of water. Five
years ago, they offered us the opportunity to
exchange the old guzzler, 9 to 16 gallons per
flush for a new guzzler, 1.6 gallons of water per
We thought it was a bit strange to offer that
program to First A.M.E. Church, an organization
that has allowed certainly ministerallowed
Martin Luther King to come over our pulpit,
Mandela, even President Clinton has offered a few
words over our pulpit. We thought it a bit
strange to talk about toilets over the pulpit at
First A.M.E. Church.
Well, we did support the program. And they paid a
small fee for that program. And out of that
program, we were able to hire men, women who were
unemployed or underemployed, some 30 of them, to
be exact. And they started exchanging toilets.
The agency wanted just 100 a week. These men,
women started exchanging toilets to the tune of a
thousand a week. And within a 2 1/2-year period,
we exchanged some 84,000 toilets, resulting in a
savings of 68,710 acre feet of water. They saved
some billions of gallons of water. A program that
works, a program that works within the system,
certainly not the extreme of eliminating Lake
So, today, we support the retention of Lake
Powell for all the right reasons. And we
challenge, certainly, other agencies to develop a
partnership, a partnership that saves water, a
partnership that creates jobs, lowers water
bills, and at the same time, preserves the
Colorado River and certainly supports the
continuation of Lake Powell.
We thank you for
the opportunity to be here today. We certainly
welcome any questions that you may have, Shelia
Reed and I. I'm Mark Whitlock. Thank you so much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Whitlock may be
found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Whitlock. I
appreciate the testimony of all of our witnesses.
We'll now go to the Committee for questions of
the witnesses. I would like to hold you to the 5
minutes, if I could. We'll start out with Mr.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Ms. Pearson, I would like
to refer to yourthe graph you supplied with
your testimony. If we were to drain Lake Powell
and thus Hoover Dam and Lake Mead would become
the main regulating reservoir in the Colorado
River system, I'm just wondering, looking at
this, it looks like in 1979 that you had 17
million acre feet. And yet, in 1980, there were 5
million acre feet for a difference of 12 million.
And then you go into, it looks like, 1981, you
had 8 million; and then 1982, you had 23 million
for a difference of 15. I just can't imagine how
would you ever purport to manage thisyour
manager would have to be wrong at least half the
time, I would think.
Ms. PEARSON. That's correct, Congressman.
There is no perfect predictor out there. And so
that's why we have the reservoir system. That is
the only way we can manage this system.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Well, that would be a very
substantial drawback, even for those who are
arguing that this is a desirable to go to one.
Certainly, this would seem to be irrefutable
evidence that there would be no way you could
ever manage. And ifI assume flood control
would get the highest priority amongst the
multiple uses. And if that's the case, then
you're going to create plenty of flood
reservation storage in case you get a year of 23
million acre feet flowing in as opposed to 5
million like the year before. Let me ask
Mr.is it Werbach? Is that
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Werbach. Thank you. Mr.
Werbach, how do you react to this chart?
Mr. WERBACH. Well, right now what we're
asking for is solely an environmental assessment
of this proposal. And all these things would need
to be looked at very carefully. What this would
require would be the Bureau to be a more
effective manager of those water resources.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. So you're sayingI'm
sorry. I was distracted. But you're indicating
you're just calling for the study rather than
making a claim that we can live with this?
Mr. WERBACH. The Sierra Club advocates the
draining of the lake. But we believe right now we
need to look at a lot of the facts that a lot of
the other witnesses raised right here, to look
into the issue and to examine them and to begin a
conversation with society to see where we come
We believe that, after looking at the facts,
people will believe this is the right course of
action. But we wouldn't be so bold to say that
all those facts are already in hand.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Well, given the testimony
you've heard today, which I guess you could say
we've begun the conversation, does this concern
you, the ability to properly manage the river
when you tear down theone of the main
reservoirs on it and have this kind of annual
fluctuation like history shows we've had?
Mr. WERBACH. That would certainly be one
of the issues that we'd look into.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. OK. You state in your
testimony in the not too distant future Lake
Powell, like all the reservoirs, would be
rendered useless for water storage and power by
incoming silt. What do you mean when you say
''the not too distant future?''
Well, if we use the Bureau's figures of 700 years
for total filling of the silt of the dam, in
about 250 years the outlet tubes would be
inundated. And at that point, the dam's effective
use as a power generation plant would be
Mr. DOOLITTLE. So you had in mind, then,
their figures of say 250 to 500 years.
Mr. WERBACH. If we use those figures.
There are other figures that suggest that those
numbers would be between 70 and 125 years.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. All right. But, I mean, I'd
say that 250 years is a fair way into the future.
Mr. WERBACH. Well, it depends on what your
level of horizon is. Two hundred fifty years for
the destruction of one of the canyons that took
millions of years to create is really not that
long. In a geologic sense, 250 years is really
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Well, that is longer than
we've been a country. It's long for Americans.
Maybe it's not long for Europeans. Let me ask you
this: If we do tear it down so that we have to
have more storage, then, would the Sierra Club
support the inundation of additional river miles
that are currently upstream of Lake Mead in order
to compensate for the loss of storage behind Glen
Mr. WERBACH. Well, we don't believe that
you should fill up Lake Mead to an extraordinary
level that would be unsafe. We wouldn't suggest
that. And let me clarify one thing. The Sierra
Club is not suggesting that we tear down Glen
Canyon Dam. We are only suggesting that we bypass
Mr. DOOLITTLE. OK. Bypass it. That is
true. Well, then, you've heard the testimony that
it has to go somewhere. Wouldn't that be a
necessary consequence of bypassing Glen Canyon
Dam that you would have to store more water in
Well, some of the water would be used to fulfill
our treaty obligations to Mexico. The water would
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Well, our treaty obligation
to Mexico is, what, 1 1/2 million acre feet? So I
mean, out of the total number of acre feet in
this system, that's relatively small. So we're
going to have to put the water someplace. And I
guess I'm just trying to see if the Sierra Club
is going to advocate this, and if we were to act
on it, then what would your complete proposal be?
How would we provide for the storage needs? I
mean, would you support the construction of a dam
someplace else to store it?
Mr. WERBACH. Let me refer back to the EDF
study that I have quoted. Let me read a paragraph
from it. Let me use something that I cutoff from
my testimony because I was running a little long.
Information prepared by the Bureau of Reclamation
itself in July 1997 addresses the issue of
draining Lake Powell and says that the difference
between the average annual inflow to the
reservoir and current upper basin use is, quote,
enough to satisfy the Colorado River Compact
obligation of 75 million acre feet for 10 years
to the lower basin without needing the storage of
In addition, recovered evaporation losses from
Lake Powell would help to meet any potential
deficiency in the Mexican treaty obligation.
That's in this document that was prepared by the
Bureau of Reclamation.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. My question to you
iscan I have a couple extra minutes?
Mr. HANSEN. The gentleman is recognized
for two additional minutes.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you. How are
wesinceI mean, yes, an average is
just a theoretical number given the way the
Colorado River actually works, as demonstrated by
this chart. But how would we practically manage
the river for flood control, water supply, power
generation, to name three important things, not
to mention the recreation and environmental
aspects, but how would you manage those three
things without having more storage?
It is a river, and rivers flow. It's only our
obstructions on the river that have stopped and
made those impoundments. Now, as I said, you
would be able to have enough water to fulfill the
Compact obligations, but it would be letting more
water flow through the river.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Well, yes, it's a river,
and rivers flow. I think we'll all stipulate to
that. The problem is sometimes they flow very
slowly, and sometimes they flow in raging
torrents. And the Colorado River is an extreme
example from that. And it can go from one extreme
in 1 year literally to the other in the next
So how do the river managers manage this river in
such a way to meet the power and the water and
the flood control needs? I don't see how they
could possibly do it without having more
Mr. WERBACH. There is plenty of water. The
question is who gets it and how much they pay for
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Well, sometimes there's too
much water. Sometimes there's not enough. You
heard testimony from Mr. Stewart that the upper
basin will be without water in a sustained period
of drought, which happens every few years. I
think we heard testimony there was a 6-year
drought for a while. Now, we've got El Nino
hitting us in the West this year.
So I justI don't want to be argumentative
with you, but I mean rivers flow. That's exactly
the point. That's why we haveyou're going
to tear downnot tear down. You're going to
bypass the second largest reservoir on this
Colorado River system. And when you do that,
you're going to tremendously limit the
flexibility to manage for all these other
So telling somebody that has lost his house that,
while rivers flow, or somebody that's, you know,
on water rationing because they have flowed out
trying to have enough reservation for flood
storage, it turned out to be a miscalculation, I
mean, that doesn't really satisfy for us.
I think you're
going tobefore you can move your idea,
you're going to really have to come up with some
answers for what you do when you eliminate
essentially 27 million acre feet of storage that
we presently have behind Glen Canyon Dam. Thank
you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. The gentleman from Minnesota.
Mr. VENTO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I was
not here earlier. I just wanted to make the
observation that I think that this hearing sort
of underlines the importance of land use
decisions we make on the Committee. And that,
very often, they are almost irreversible in terms
of the consequences they have.
In this instance, as I look at the witness, the
list of witnesses, both in recreation and
economic and other factors, I mean, really, this
dam has set down a land use patterna land
use pattern in terms of population and use that
is very difficult to change.
So it's one thing to look at the physical
geography of this and the changed view of an
individual, Mr. Brower, and then others to try
and talk about how this is going to be or could
be accomplished, because it makes it very
difficult in terms of turning that away.
Of course I visited this site, realized
tremendous recreation park designations have gone
on based on the fact there is a reservoir there.
It's one of those things we designate, I guess,
parks for recreation purposes for certain.
So I think, though, as we look ahead, I mean,
there may be physical or other problems that do
exist with this. I realize there is some points
aboutI mean, it is an efficient use. This
water isn't going to be running into the ocean.
It goes someplace before. And, as you said, for
safety or for other reasons, if you were just
doing this for safety reasons, you probably would
have a much different type of facility than you
have. And a lot of it is lost, as they point out
through, evaporation. And the argument here is
whether it's a million or half million acre feet
that are lost and treaty obligations and other
But I think it's
useful to have the hearing in the sense
thatand further review of the issue. I
don't know whatif, in fact, there is a real
interest in doing an environmental impact
statement or a study. I note that there is a
volunteer group that is going to go ahead and
move with that.
In fact, we have begun to modify in 1992 the
policy path for thefor how the water levels
in Glen Canyon were, in fact, managed, to look at
the restoration of some of the beaches and some
of the other. Because, you know, it dramatically
has changed the whole system, the geography and
the ecosystems down river. And I don't know the
answers to this. It's pretty much if you just say
you're going to bypass it and go without it, you
left behind millions of people or
moremillions of people and rate users and
others that have obviously a vested interest.
They have come to depend upon this. And so you
clearly cannot move, you know, in that direction
withoutwithout considering what the
And I think, at this point, just as when Don
Hodel, Secretary of Interior, I think was
Secretary, then came in and said, let us take
Hetch Hetchy down or bypass it or drain it. It
was another question.
But I think there is a growing realization of
some of the consequences of these type of
structures of an ageI don't know what the
age is on this one. I know that, looking at Elwa
Dam, which had been there forsince the
thirties, 50, 60 years, it looks like it would
stand there another 100 to me the way it looked.
It looked like it was in pretty good shape. Yet
we're not using it. That's a much smaller scale
problem than the problem that is clearly being
presented here, a much different purpose, a much
But these are expensive to maintain. They
represent some serious problems in terms of what
the consequences are as we look today. So, you
know, one of our jobs is to get new information,
to get new knowledge, and to translate it into
public policy. That's what we do here. That's
what we're supposed to do.
thisthere is certainyou know,
recognizing our errors, and we all make them, I
guess. If we pass perfect laws, we wouldn't have
to be meeting here every year. But we know that
But I think it's a viable question to raise.
Everyone raises questions about what happens to
the population of the West if you do this. This
is a legitimate concern for certain as much as
they might think that we'reyou know, most
of us are concerned about that. We want to do
reasonable and cognitive things.
So I think that's the spirit in which I take
this. I understand that, right now, there are all
sorts of technical questions we could ask about
Glen Canyon, whether California is
overappropriating water, whether Colorado is
overappropriating water, whether there are treaty
problems with Mexico. I think the answer to those
are all yes.
So this is going to be an ongoing issue in terms
of where we go, and the physical condition of
this dam, whether it could meet the expectations
and all the goals that it has. But we ought to be
looking at alternatives. And certainly, you know,
one of them may be looking at whathow we
can better manage this to address some of the
concerns and what we're going to do in the future
in terms of this infrastructure as it ages. It
won't happenI don't know if it's going to
be 250 years. I would say more like 50 years. So
I'm really scaring Mr. Doolittle.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Vento.
Mr. VENTO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. The gentleman from Utah, Mr.
Mr. CANNON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Werbach, you suggested or said very clearly
that the Sierra Club advocates the draining of
Lake Powell and that your purpose now is to start
a dialog. It seems to me that the chart that Mr.
Doolittle is talking about which shows the annual
variation in runoff in the Colorado River above
Glen Canyon Dam is one of the most significant
elements in any kind of decision to change the
usage of the dam or eliminate the dam.
And my normal
course is to ask short questions and add to a
record. What I would really like to do is give
you some time to talk about that chart, those
variations in yearly flow, and how, in this very
complicated set of issues, you expect that to
sort itself out.
I've truly been trying to understand what your
position is. I've made a list of the various
goals that you would like to change or balances
that you would like to change. But it seems to me
that, in the end, you come down to how you
control the water that runs through it and what
Would you mind just taking a few minutes? What I
would like to do is give you the time to advocate
that position. Whether this discussion goes on
any further really is going to turn on that, I
Mr. WERBACH. I appreciate the opportunity.
Once again, you know, there are very serious
environmental issues at stake here. The fate of
the Grand Canyon is at stake here. And we have
issues that we need to talk about. What we're
advocating now is that we look into these issues
through an environmental assessment and examine
what's happening. What I would like to do is turn
it over to Dave Wegner, who is more familiar with
these issues specifically to respond to your
Mr. CANNON. That would be fine, but let me
just point out that you're advocating draining
the lake. That's what the position of the Sierra
Club is and that's what you voted on. And so I
would very much like to hear from Mr. Wegner
whathow the control of the extreme flows
fits into the purposes that you're trying to
Mr. WEGNER. Well, Mr. Congressman, my name
is Dave Wegner, and I am from Flagstaff, Arizona.
And I'm a member, Vice President of the Glen
Canyon Institute. And I'm here today to help with
some of the technical issues
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Mr. Chairman
Mr. WEGNER. [continuing] that was just
Mr. Chairman, I do not wish to offend feelings
here. I thought Mr.he was on the fourth
panel. Is he now going to join the second panel?
Mr. HANSEN. Mr. Doolittle had objected to
Mr. Wegner coming on to the second panel. And I
allowed him to sit there if Mr. Werbach needed
some information from him. No one objected to
your objection, so I respectfully point out that
you can respond to that in the following panel,
third and fourth panel. I apologize. We don't
want to offend you in any way. We do want to hear
Mr. CANNON. Thank you. I'll look forward
to that. If I can just then redirect my question
to Mr. Werbach. You may just take the time to set
forth, not the emotion behind this, but how the
various factors that you're concerned about fit
together. Let me just list them for you.
You're concerned about evaporation. The water
presumably could be used to go into the Sea of
Cortez. Concern about the danger of dam failure.
The esthetics of the canyon are a major issue
here, and I think may be the most important
issue. And I'm not sure. I would like you to tell
The concern with what is happening with the Sea
of Cortez on the other side, this water is not
likely to make it to the Sea of Cortez anyway
except in those years when we have dramatic
runoff. And the lost habitat versus some of the
gained habitat that you have there, those are
issues that I would like to hear you address for
a few minutes.
Mr. WERBACH. Mr. Congressman, what I would
like to say to you is that I am not an expert on
the specifics of all these issues. That is why we
do have a staff at the Sierra Club who works on
the issues as well as experts who are on the
other panels for you.
Mr. CANNON. But I'm not asking technical
questions. We can get back to Mr.
WerbachI'm sorry, Mr. Wegner, when he is
on. What I would like from youwhat I want
to do is just give you the opportunity to
maketo present just a few more points, make
a cogent case as to why we should actually begin
the dialog that you're asking for.
Absolutely. Well, let's speak about, first, the
native fish populations in the Grand Canyon.
We're already seeing die-off of isolated and
aging populations, species like the humpback chub
and the sucker fish that are in the Grand Canyon.
The cold water that comes from Lake Powell, about
47 degrees, is too cold to support those fish.
Now we need to figure out some way too deal with
A few years back, we tried a controlled release
into the Grand Canyon to simulate a flood. Well,
now our experience is that this was largely not a
long-term success. We did not succeed in
restoring the Grand Canyon, its beaches, and its
native fish habitat. So we need to look at other
And when the EIS was done, when the EIS was
completed for the Glen Canyon Dam, it really
didn't look at the option of draining the lake.
It didn't look at the option there because it was
deemed infeasible at the time.
But with new information that we see, both in
terms of the evaporation rates, which would seem
to portend that, if there is more water available
if you did not have this dam, then it would seem
likely that we should take the chance to look at
this issue and reflect and talk about it as a
society and see what we come up with.
The Sierra Club has its position. But I
understand that it will take longer for people to
look at this and see the science and make these
determinations on their own.
Mr. CANNON. Mr. Chairman, my time is
almost up. Can I ask unanimous consent for
Mr. HANSEN. The gentleman is recognized
for two additional minutes.
Mr. CANNON. Thank you.
Mr. HANSEN. You're welcome.
Mr. CANNON. What I would like to hear, and
maybe Mr. Wegner later can do this or someone
else may ask. I have asked sort of the general
question, why should we continue the dialog? And
what I've heard is that there are a couple of
endangered species. This is the opportunity. This
is the public forum for you to have the
opportunity to say why.
I think the issues
are much, much broader than that, especially when
you consider that it's pretty clear now that the
humpback chub is stable. The squaw fish was not
common, even before the dam was in place. You
have many other fish, as you alluded to. So but I
think studies show that they're not dwindling
particularly. On the other hand, you now have
some endangered species that are thriving in the
So I would just, as a plea, I'm sitting here
trying to understand this. Now, I used some
strong language earlier. Before the dam was done,
I was very young, but it was a matter of grave
concern because I love those canyons. Now many
people get to see those canyons. They do it in
boats instead of hiking, but they do see the
beauty of those canyons, and it's a thrilling,
I'm really trying to understand why we should
have a dialog on the issue. And I hope that in
the future, as others will ask questions, you
will take the opportunity to sort of give me the
broader picture on how it balances together.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. The gentlelady from the Virgin
Ms. CHRISTIAN-GREEN. Thank you, Mr.
Chairman. I first would like to thank the
panelists for their testimony. And I would like
to commend the First A.M.E. Church for the
programs that they have undertaken on behalf of
their congregation and the community.
Mr. Werbach, both your testimony and the written
testimony of Mr. Brower points to a frightening
picture of what could happen in the area served
by Lake Powell and the dam. You also say in your
testimony that we're not being good stewards of
this resource. Do you see that we can avoid some
of these untoward outcomes by being better
stewards rather than by draining the lake?
Mr. WERBACH. Well, I think the consequence
of being better stewards is draining the lake.
And at first blush, it may seem like a strange
idea. But the thing was not actually evaluated.
There was notthe dam was built before NEPA,
before the National Environmental Policy Act. So
an environmental review was not done for the dam.
In fact, the NEPA review was just nonexistent.
So what we need to
do was to look back and see it right now. Just
because a mistake was made in the past and it
would be difficult to change, I don't believe
that's reason enough to say, well, let's ignore
it. It would be difficult to do so, we should not
look at this.
Ms. CHRISTIAN-GREEN. Thank you. You've
partly answered my second question, and you've
really answered it several times in responding to
several other questions from other members from
the Committee and Subcommittee.
But I did come here thinkingand as I
listened to the earlier testimony, I thought we
were talking about the Sierra Club having voted
to drain the lake. But it's become increasingly
clear, and I think it's an important distinction
to make that what the Sierra Club actually did
ask for was an environmental assessment; is that
Mr. WERBACH. The Sierra Club did vote to
advocate the draining of the lake, because we
felt that was the way to began the conversation
and to put it on people's radars. But right now
what we're asking people to do is look at the
issue, to begin an environmental assessment.
I understand the Glen Canyon Institute is
interested in performing it if the administration
Ms. CHRISTIAN-GREEN. I'm sorry, so you say
the club is willing to do the environmental
Mr. WERBACH. The Glen Canyon Institute is
busy trying to raise some funds to do such an
assessment. But of course, we would prefer if the
administration were willing to pay for it and
would feel more comfortable with the numbers and
the science that would come out of it.
Ms. CHRISTIAN-GREEN. Thank you for your
answers. Are any of the other panelists
objecting? Do you oppose having the environmental
assessment done? I understand that you may oppose
the draining of the lake, but are you also in
opposition to the environmental assessment?
Congresswoman Green, we feel that, clearly, we
must leave Lake Powell alone. But as we examine
Lake Powell and the efficacy, efficiency of
draining or not draining, I think we would like
to remind the panel and certainly our committee
that there are innovative programs that are
available, practical water conservation programs
that deal with resource management.
And I think if we focus time and certainly our
dollars at resource management, then we don't
have to go to the extreme of considering draining
the beautiful Lake Powell. Our water conservation
program creates jobs. But at the same time, it
saves the Colorado River. And that's the real
goal here I think. And I end with that.
Ms. CHRISTIAN-GREEN. Would anyone else
like to respond?
Ms. PEARSON. Congresswoman, I would have
to agree with Mr. Whitlock and add that we live
in a time of very, very many priorities. And
unless we hear a proposal that has merit, why
spend taxpayer dollars on something that has not
yet been justified. I think the burden is on
them. And if a private organization wants to fund
the study, they're welcome to do so. But as a
taxpayer, I would not appreciate having my money
spent that way.
I think we know enough and we are capable of
modifying the system and protecting endangered
species today without conducting an additional
study and a proposal that can go nowhere and cost
Ms. CHRISTIAN-GREEN. I thank you for your
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you. Mr. Shadegg from
Mr. SHADEGG. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'll
try not to be too intense about this. But I find
what happened here is rather shocking. Let me
begin by thanking Rita Pearson for her thoughtful
testimony and for all of her work and to ask
unanimous consent that the photographs of Lake
Powell which she brought and the other material
which she has brought here which show the beauty
of that lake and which reveal, quite frankly,
that a tremendous amount of the beauty of Glen
Canyon is, in fact, not only not inundated, but
as seen now by between somewhere between 3 and 4
million people per year and that it is a
tremendous asset that those all be included in
the record with unanimous consent.
[The information referred to may be found at end
Mr. SHADEGG. Mr. Werbach, I have to tell
you that I am stunned by this proposal. I am
stunned by some of the remarks that you make. And
I'm a little concerned about what's happening
Your testimony concludes with what I consider to
be a kind of a reasonable proposal. ''The Sierra
Club supports evaluating the tradeoffs and
opportunities and through an environmental
assessment.'' Perhaps no one could disagree with
that. But I want the record precisely clear that
the board of directors of the Sierra Club voted
not to study, but rather to drain Lake Powell.
That's correct, isn't it?
Mr. WERBACH. To advocate the draining;
Mr. SHADEGG. And the mission statement of
the Glen Canyon Institute specifically proposes
draining, not studying, draining Lake Powell; is
Mr. WERBACH. I can't speak to the mission
Mr. SHADEGG. It does. And I would like to
put it in the record without objection, Mr.
Mr. HANSEN. Is there objection? Hearing
none, so ordered.
[The information referred to may be found at end
Mr. SHADEGG. I also would like to point
out that the Sierra Club did not, in fact, though
your testimony suggest you represent their
600,000 members, did not, in fact, survey its
members before taking this involvement. In point
of fact, the President of the Utah chapter
unequivocally stated in the press that she
opposes this idea and that she was not consulted.
Are you aware of that, and do you acknowledge it?
The board of directors of the Sierra Club
represents the membership of the Sierra Club.
We're elected by the membership in an annual
election. And the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club
advocates the studying of this issue as well.
Mr. SHADEGG. You answered neither of my
questions. Are you aware that she said she
opposes it and the chapter opposes it? And you, I
believe, just did concede that the membership did
not vote on the issue.
Mr. WERBACH. No, the membership did not
vote on this issue.
Mr. SHADEGG. Let me turn quickly to the
point that Mr. Doolittle brought out. I would
just simply say, with regard to your comment and
your testimony, which I've read in many other
places in the press, that in the not too distant
future, Lake Powell will be filled and useless
is, quite frankly, I think misleading the
American people who read those comments in the
press because, by your own admission, not to
distant future is, in the early estimates, 250
years. By the long estimates of the Bureau, it's
700 years; and by the gentleman who manages the
dam, it will be 500 years before you will even
have to dredge to open up the intake tubes.
Let me turn to another comment. In the Salt Lake
City paper in this year, you were quoted as
saying in an article in the Salt Lake Tribune on
Sunday, August 3rd: If the Club succeeded,
succeeded in draining Lake Powell, it would,
quote, ''take 10 years for the lake to drain and
another 25 years for Glen Canyon to be cleaned up
and restored to its former beauty.''
What basis do you have for the claim that it
would be completely restored or would be restored
to its former beauty in just 25 years?
Mr. WERBACH. Well, in 1992, there was a
significant drawdown of the lake. And what we did
see was that a lot of the natural features of
Glen Canyon actually came forward again. There
was a bathtub ring, as some people call it,
around it. But I have every faith in the world
that America would have jumped into the idea of
supporting this amazing restoration project.
I was on the lake in 1992 and saw the bathtub
ring. I have spent many, many days there. Do you
have a scientific study that establishes that it
would all be restored in 25 years?
Mr. WERBACH. What we are doing is
assessing this at this point.
Mr. SHADEGG. OK. I apologize for being
rude, but I've got a lot of ground to cover here.
The answer is you do not have a study that
Mr. WERBACH. Not that I know of.
Mr. SHADEGG. OK. In another article
published inactually repeated in a number
of places, you say that proposing to drain Lake
Powell is the perfect test of someone's true
colors, and I quote, quote, ''it is the job of
the Sierra Club to show what being green really
Rob Elliot from my State, a noted
environmentalist himself, is here to testify
strongly against this proposal. Are you
sayingis the Sierra Club saying that anyone
who opposes this is not, quote-unquote, ''really
Mr. WERBACH. I would not tend to
sayI would not make calls on people's
environmentalness. I don't do that.
Mr. SHADEGG. Let me turn to some other
comments. In an article in Outside Magazine,
written by Bill Donohue this year, April 1997,
you say: ''We are going to do the science.'' I
take it that means that, when the Sierra Club
board voted, you had not, in fact, already done
the science; is that correct?
Mr. WERBACH. That is correct. We are
advocating environmental assessment.
Mr. SHADEGG. Well, that's not what your
resolution said. It didn't say that. Your
statement here today says you're doing that. But
the vote of your board was to drain Lake Powell.
Because we believe that is the best way to
advocate the draining of Lake Powell, because we
believe the science will bear us out.
Mr. SHADEGG. Yeah, well, I guess maybe
that then fits with the title of your forthcoming
book, which is mentioned in another article that
we found, which says that your forthcoming book
is going to be titled: ''Act First and Apologize
Later.'' I suggest you don't think that Congress
should act first and apologize later.
Mr. WERBACH. The idea is that sometime
when ideas are controversial, they're hard to
look at, they're hard to swallow. Sometimes
society needs to take a moment and move forward.
Sometimes we need to assess things that may seem
unpopular, that may seem controversial because
these issues are critical to our future.
Mr. SHADEGG. Mr. Chairman, may I request,
since this is an important topic
Mr. HANSEN. Is there an objection? Hearing
none, the gentleman is recognized for two
Mr. SHADEGG. Thank you very much.
In that same article in Outside Magazine by Mr.
Donohue, the question was raised as to why the
Sierra Club is really doing this. And Mr. Donahue
asks you point-blank, he says: ''One logical
answer is that the Sierra Club is simply
genuflecting before its aging Arch Druid,'' I
can't pronounce that word, ''David Brower.''
You respond: ''That's a huge part of it.'' Do you
think that we ought to drain Lake Powell as
ain order to pay respect to Mr. Brower for
which he reports draining Lake Powell is somewhat
of a grail?
Mr. WERBACH. Congressman, I have great
respect for those people who are older than me,
as there are many of them.
Mr. SHADEGG. Including me.
Mr. SHADEGG. Including me.
Mr. WERBACH. I rely on their advice to
move forward. Now, Mr. Brower fought this battle
during this time. And he knew the issues. And
many times he corrected the Bureau of
Reclamation, which was wrong on a lot of figures.
They admit that now. There are many times when he
was right and they were wrong.
Now he says his action was a mistake at the time.
And it would seem strange not to take the advice
of someone who has such sage wisdom and who has
helped protect so many fabulous places in
Mr. SHADEGG. As a matter of fact, he's
gone around the Nation saying that he has worn
sack cloth and ashes for 40 years. And it seems
to me that that may be his perspective. That's
not a good comment on public policy. I think he's
dead wrong now.
Let methe one last point I want to make out
of this article goes to the question of what's
going on here. And I raised this in my opening
statement. Mr. Donahue says the real motive, they
say, these are critics of the Sierra Club, is
that the Sierra Club, who's average membership is
now about 45, is desperately trying to appear
fresh and hip.
According to Mark Dowy, author of ''Losing
Ground,'' a Pulitzer Prize nominated study on
U.S. environmentalism, the Club's board feels
that the best way to attract more youthful
supporters is to enhance this kind of blind
You wouldn't agree with that assessment and you
wouldn't suggest we make public policy on that
basis, would you?
Mr. WERBACH. The Sierra board of directors
did not look at this issue at all when it was
considering this issue in any way. I will
mention, though, that there is extremely high
support of this among young people. Young people
do understand that they have not had the chance
to see those canyons. And the Congressman to your
left said that he has had a chance. Frankly, I'm
jealous. I've seen Cataract Canyon. I was able to
raft it twice this summer. And I, one day, would
like to be able to raft Glen Canyon as well.
You can see Glen Canyon if you go there today.
Mr. HANSEN. I thank the gentleman from
The gentlelady from Idaho, Mrs. Chenowith.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I join the gentleman from
Arizona and the gentleman from Utah in still
trying to understand your specific reasons. As I
understand the reasons why you would like to see
Lake Powell drained, first of all, you propose
that we drain the lake, but leave the impoundment
facility there, right?
Mr. WERBACH. That's correct.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. And then there would be
about 15,000 people who would be hiking or
floating the river in its natural state?
Mr. WERBACH. I'm not quite sure where you
get that number. If you look at places like Moab,
Utah, you see incredible amounts of recreational
activities taking place in canyons.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. You also indicated that
one of the reasons why you would recommend or the
Club recommended that we drain Lake Powell was
because of the humpback chub and the sucker fish;
is that correct?
Mr. WERBACH. I'm sorry. Can you ask that
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Another reason that you
suggested that we should drain Lake Powell is
because of the humpback chub fish and a sucker
fish; is that correct?
Mr. WERBACH. Yes. We believe that
destroying species that God created is not
something that humanity should be doing.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. And then finally we heard
testimony about being able to view the bathtub
ring; is that correct?
Mr. WERBACH. Being able to view it?
Mrs. CHENOWETH. The bathtub ring.
Yes. We believe that there would be a bathtub
ring for all of the garbage and crud that's been
thrown out of those houseboats for all these
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Golly, I just find that
amazing. I mean, you want what's natural but
you're willing to drain the lake and leave the
impoundment facility standing there. Absolutely
Right now, they have an outstanding trout fishery
because the water is cooler. And so with the
water warming up, there would be the greater
stripe bass population, which, in turn preys, on
the chub and the sucker. And I'm sorry, sir, but
your logic just doesn't add up. But I find your
testimony and your proposal very interesting. And
believe me, I take it seriously.
I want to ask Mr. Stewart, do you believe that
this particular proposal threatens the law of the
Mr. STEWART. I think the only way that the
obligations could be met by the upper basin
States to the lower basin States would be by
changing the Law of the River, which is an
extraordinarily complicated, delicate compromise
which has been worked out for that equitable
apportionment. And the potential for warfare
between States would be significant.
And one of the things that I try to keep in mind
is the fact that, as I count up the
numberthe numbers of the Members of the
U.S. House of Representatives plus the U.S.
Senate representing the upper basin States versus
those of the lower basin States, we lose by, as I
recall, about a 3 to 1 margin. And that's not a
real comforting thought for those of us in the
upper basin States.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. What would be the, in your
opinion, the environmental impact of this
proposal for wildlife and vegetation in Utah that
are dependent upon the reservoir?
Clearly, the habitats that have been established
since the reservoir was created would be
destroyed. And the impacts on a number of species
would be great. But I would indicate this
further. In order for the State of Utah to meet
its water needs that would be lost because of the
draining of Lake Powell, we would end up damming
other rivers elsewhere in the State. Other
habitats would be destroyed.
And, again, I ask the questionI asked the
question earlier where why is the right of 15,000
or 20,000 people to enjoy a hike or a river run
through Glen Canyon superior for the 3 million
who may enjoy the flat water? Why would the
destruction of additional river habitats in
northern Utah to meet our water supply be less of
a loss than a potential or questionable
restoration of a habitat in southern Utah? Those
are value judgments that are very difficult for
me to accept.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Stewart.
Ms. Pearson, the work that you do in your
capacity as director is admirable.
Ms. PEARSON. Thank you.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. And I have learned a lot
from all of those of you who have testified. But
you mentioned in your testimony that, without the
insurance of water that Lake Powell does provide,
that property values downstream could go down.
Could you, to the degree we have time, expound on
this and expand on this? And, in your opinion, if
we drain Lake Powell, and the property values go
down, wouldn't this require that the U.S.
compensate, under the constitutional
requirements, compensate for that loss?
Ms. PEARSON. Thank you, Congresswoman.
There would be very local impacts. And in my
testimony, I talked about the immediate impact to
Page and surrounding communities that rely on
tourism as a major source of income to those
communities. The property values, obviously,
adjacent to Lake Powell would be dramatically
impacted. There would be no resource base on
which to stimulate the economy. Those taxes, of
course, support the infrastructure. You would
have impacts on schools, medical care, et cetera.
It's a very local impact.
On a regional
basis, in particular, Arizona, we have a program
known as 100-year assured water supply program
which applies to all the major urban areas of the
State. And what that does is guarantee to
families, businesses that come into our area,
that before they can develop, there has to be a
100-year assured water supply, a committed stable
affordable water supply of high quality water
available to them.
We are assuming that we have the Colorado River
entitlement available to us to meet that demand.
Without it, we would be forced to go back on
groundwater. Groundwater is a finite source of
water. We would lose that supply of water in a
very short period of time. We would have
inadequate amounts of water to meet the long-term
demand in our communities. That would have a
dramatic impact on property values. Obviously, we
could not sustain our current population. Similar
concerns, I think, can be expressed both in
southern Nevada as well as southern California.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you. And, Mr.
Chairman, I want to commend Mr. Mark Whitlock on
his testimony and on the program that he has led
in embarking on the installation of
water-efficient shower heads and toilets. And
believe me, your testimony was refreshing to
hear. Keep up the good work. Thank you.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you for the testimony of
all the folks.
Mr. VENTO. Mr. Chairman, may I take my 2
minutes now? I'll take 2 minutes if I can have
Mr. HANSEN. The gentleman from Minnesota.
Mr. VENTO. I don't quite share the sense
of shock of my colleagues. I feel like it's a
scene out of Casablanca here. They're shocked
that the Sierra Club would be in favor. Frankly,
I mean, in terms of some of that idealism, while
I don't think, you know, that we're quite ready
to act on this particular proposal I think is a
good quality. And I hope that the Sierra Club and
other groups that are involved from
bothwhatever view maintain that.
As far as studies
are concerned, I think we spend a lot of money,
at least we should be spending dollars on this
important resource. I think there are a lot of
questions raised by this in terms of what happens
with the soils and the accumulation of sediments
thatI heard some talk about various types
of heavy metals and other things that are
And these, frankly, represent like some of the
questions dealing with nuclear waste, you know,
it's almost a problem from the mining to the
disposal of the high-level waste.
And I think these dams and some of the other
water structures that we're involved with in the
West have some of the same sort of questions that
are being raised. So as far as environmental
assessment, which is aI would expect that
the Bureau of Reclamation and other authorities
there are almost on a constant basis looking at
the nature of the reservoir and the angle of
repose, the other soils and the rate at which
it's filling and other questions that are
important. You know, there is a blue ribbon trout
stream downstream. A lot of us who fish, we like
that particular quality.
So we have dramatically changed this area. There
are some positives to it, I guess, and a lot of
other aspects that are not. But as we get new
information, we have to be willing to look at it.
I understand the position of the Sierra Club in
this area, but I don't think that we should be
opposed to obviously getting adequate information
concerning this. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you. Mr. Stewart, in
your testimony, maybe I got this wrong, but you
said, in Lake Mead, as it was drawing down, that
a certain amount of willows were created, and
this became a habitat for willow flycatchers; is
Mr. STEWART. Southwest willow flycatcher,
Mr. HANSEN. And now one of the proposals
we have in front of us is to fill up Lake Mead
with the water from Lake Powell. But you also
stated that there was an environmental group that
had filed a lawsuit to prohibit Lake Mead from
coming up, as it would destroy that habitat; is
Mr. HANSEN. Is the Sierra Club enjoined in
that lawsuit, Mr. Werbach?
Mr. WERBACH. I am not sure. I will check
with my staff and get that into the record.
Mr. HANSEN. Kind of a little paradox
there. On one hand, you know, if you say that we
want to a fill Lake Mead with Lake Powell; yet,
we're in a lawsuit to prevent the flycatcher's
habitat. It would be just a tad of a paradox or
maybe an inconsistency. I don't mean to make a
big deal out of that. But it strikes me rather
odd that the environmental community who would
advocate draining Lake Powell and putting the
water into Lake Mead would also become an area
that is something that could not occur.
Mr. Werbach, you had a very powerful
organization. The Sierra Club is known
nationwide, has a lot of power. It's been
reported in Salt Lake papers that you folks are
prepared to come up with a half million to $3
million to push this proposal. Is that correct?
Mr. WERBACH. No, that is not correct.
Mr. HANSEN. What is correct, may I ask?
Mr. WERBACH. The Sierra Club is
notthe proposal to advocate the draining of
the lake or the environment assessment?
Mr. HANSEN. One or both.
Mr. WERBACH. We have no budget, per se,
for the proposal to advocate the draining of the
lake. Our first goal right now is to complete
this environmental assessment and thatthe
Sierra Club is not proposing to conduct that.
We're proposing to help the Glen Canyon
Institute. We're hoping that, with your help, the
administration will undertake that review.
Mr. HANSEN. If you accept what Mr. Shadegg
said about draining the lake and you folks are
serious about it, if I understand how that would
have to go, it would go through Congress, and
Congress would pass legislation. This place is a
rumor mill, we all know that, and it's a big
sieve anyway. It's like the Pentagon. There are
no secrets at all over there.
said that, we keep hearing you have a sponsor
toI've asked. Is anybody a sponsor? It's
none of my business, I guess. You don't have to
answer that. But do you have a sponsor on
draining Lake Powell or proposing this
Mr. WERBACH. We have not seeked a sponsor
Mr. HANSEN. You're not to that point yet
of talking to someone; is that right?
Mr. WERBACH. No.
Mr. HANSEN. I assume you do have some
Members of Congress who find this an interesting
idea, though; is that correct?
Mr. WERBACH. Frankly, we haven't had
conversations with the Members of Congress on
this yet. This is our first opportunity to do
that. And we're not really looking for it. Right
now what we're trying to do is to begin this
assessment so that we'll have the facts to answer
many of the good questions that you're asking
Mr. HANSEN. If you were to put this in a
category of importance of the many things that
the Sierra Club is interested in, where would you
Mr. WERBACH. I would put this of critical
importance to the Sierra Club.
Mr. HANSEN. It is critical importance?
Mr. WERBACH. Uh-huh.
Mr. HANSEN. Top five maybe.
Mr. WERBACH. It's critically important to
the Sierra Club.
Mr. HANSEN. Critically important to the
Sierra Club. Well, I appreciate that. I
appreciate your candor.
We have kept you folks here quite a while. We'll
excuse this panel. Excuse me, Mr. Shadegg had an
additional 2 minutes he wanted to take.
Mr. Chairman, I hope not to take 2 minutes. But
since Mr. Brower was to be on this panel, there
are, although many quotes I might want to ask him
about, there are at least three that I think are
critical. And I would like to put them in the
record and make a case for why I think they are
Mr. HANSEN. Is there an objection? Hearing
none, so ordered.
Mr. SHADEGG. It's pretty clear that Mr.
Brower is the single most dominant advocate of
this idea. If you look at the history of the
political struggles within the Sierra Club, he's
been on the board and off the board. He was the
executive director when the lake was built and
wears sack cloth and ashes as he is quoted as
saying, and he wants to now right this. His
piece, ''Let the River Run Through It'' is the
seminal piece on why this ought to happen.
There are, as I said, three quotes that have been
published and attributed to him which I find
shocking and which I would like him to respond
to. The first appears in ''Environmental
Overkill'' published in 1993 by Dixie Lee Ray.
And by the way, in none of these quotes have I
foundever have I found a statement by Mr.
Brower disavowing them.
The first quote is: ''While the death of young
men in war is unfortunate, it is no more serious
than the touching of mountains and wilderness
areas by human kind.''
The second quote is found in Dixie Lee Ray's
book, ''Trashing the Planet.'' It is based on a
subsequent book noted inor a prior book
noted in her footnote. And this quote is:
''Childbearing should be a punishable crime
against society unless the parents hold a
government license. All potential parents should
be required to use contraceptive chemicals, the
government issuing antidotes to citizens chosen
And the third quoteand I thought it would
be impossible to trump the first two until I
found this one. The third one is, quote, by Mr.
Brower, the advocate of this idea: ''Loggers
losing their jobs because of spotted owl
legislation is, in my eyes,'' Mr. Brower says,
''no different than people being out of work
after the furnaces of Dachau are shut down.''
That also appears in Dixie Lee Ray's book,
''Environmental Overkill,'' published in 1993,
and was never disavowed by Mr. Brower. I think
those are important quotes to get into the
record. And I would like
Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. SHADEGG. Certainly.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. I would just like to ask
Mr. Werbach if you agree with those quotes or
which one do you disagree with, if any.
Mr. WERBACH. First of all, let me state my
great offense at the suggestion David Brower
would suggest those things. No, I do not agree
with those things. I do not suggest that we take
Dixie Lee Ray's view on the environment as
I will mention that David Brower served in a
mountaineering unit in World War II along with
former Senator Bob Dole, served our country well,
and does not deserve to be slandered in that way.
Mr. SHADEGG. No, reclaiming my time, these
are all quotes that appear on the Internet
attributed to Mr. Brower and have been there
since 1990 and 1993, respectively. We have
thoroughly, as you might tell at this point in
this hearing, we searched this issue and Mr.
Brower and found not a single occasion where he
has disavowed any of them. So if this is an
opportunity for him to do so, I call upon him to
Mr. HANSEN. The gentleman's time has
expired. We appreciate the panel being with us.