Our last panel is
Robert Elliot, Arizona Raft Adventurers; Joseph
Hunter, Executive Director of Colorado River
Energy Distribution Association, CREDA, and David
Wegner, Ecosystems Management International.
So we're grateful for you folks for being here.
We'll get you all labeled here so we know who you
Mr. Elliott, we will start with you and then Mr.
Hunter and, Mr. Wegner, you can be the cleanup
Mr. ELLIOTT. Mr. Chairman, distinguished
members of the Committee
Mr. HANSEN. You know the rules. We would
appreciate it if you could stay within your time.
Mr. Elliott, we turn to you, sir.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT ELLIOTT, AMERICA OUTDOORS AND
ARIZONA RAFT ADVENTURES
Mr. ELLIOTT. Mr. Chairman and illustrious
members of the Subcommittees, thank you kindly
for inviting me to testify today.
My name is Rob Elliott. I represent America
Outdoors, a national trade association comprised
of 600 small businesses which outfit back country
trips for the public on lands managed by
government agencies across the Nation. I am also
the President of Arizona Raft Adventures, a river
runner in the Grand Canyon.
Knowing what we know today, and on balance with
all the myriad considerations, I am adamantly
opposed to the draining of Lake Powell and I will
document my position in a few moments.
grew up in Glen Canyon. I have lived and worked
and played on the Colorado plateau most of my
adult life, and I have outfitted over 30,000
people on river trips through the Grand Canyon. I
have represented the outfitting industry and the
transition work group for several years working
directly with the Bureau of Reclamation and the
dozen or so cooperating agencies in the
development of the Glen Canyon Dam EIS.
In the spring of 1962, I was twice blessed when I
floated through Glen Canyon with David Brower.
Before dawn one morning, I left alone for the
6-mile hike up Aztec Creek to see Rainbow Bridge
and upon returning to camp I had an epiphany. I
cried out loud and apologized to God for our
flooding of Glen Canyon. That experience forever
annealed the environmental ethic to my soul.
The second blessing was meeting and coming to
know David Brower, a personal hero of mine. David
Brower taught me that one person can make a
monumental difference in the world.
My first reaction to the notion of draining Lake
Powell and freeing the Colorado River to its
pre-dammed condition was, wouldn't it be
wonderful to turn back the clock? And what a
My more studied reaction to the proposal to drain
Lake Powell is that the riparian habitat in Grand
Canyon downstream from the dam is today amazingly
vibrant, rich in biodiversity, nonetheless
legitimate because it is a highly managed
ecosystem. And it is threatened by both the
prospect of draining Lake Powell and the
possibility that nature may act first to blow out
Glen Canyon Dam, with or without the
authorization of Congress.
With the control of annual flooding in Grand
Canyon, there has been a dramatic increase in
riparian vegetation with a corresponding increase
of biodiversity, including supportive habitat for
threatened and endangered species. By accident,
we have created a refuge for Neotropical birds of
regional significance, and the cold clear water
below the dam supports a blue ribbon trout
fishery. A highly regulated river has produced
high biodiversity and new recreational
What are the
environmental consequences of draining Lake
With the draining
of Lake Powell and the freeing of Glen Canyon
from beneath megatons of potentially toxic
sediments, restoration would begin immediately
and take perhaps a millennium for nature to
restore Glen Canyon to, to what? We don't know.
But not likely to its original splendor.
Glen Canyon would be an unstable environment for
a very long period of time, and the first species
to reclaim the land would very likely be
invasive, nonnative specious such as tamarisk and
camel thorn. Restoration to a natural condition
may neither be possible nor desirable. We know
very little about the environmental consequences
of draining Lake Powell, but we do know some
things about river sediments and delta deposits
As river sediments accumulate, various naturally
occurring compounds and heavy metals concentrate
to toxic levels.
What do the proponents of draining the lake
suggest we do with these potentially toxic
sediments? The Colorado River flowing into Glen
Canyon would carry the same sediments it does
today. Upon entering the former Lake Powell, the
river would pick up newly exposed lake sediments.
At best, the mix of lake sediments with upstream
sediments is a black box scientifically.
If the sediments flow through Glen and Grand
Canyons, then Lake Meade will fill all the more
quickly. And then are we to decommission Hoover
Dam as well? Is the only ultimate answer to let
the sediments run through to the Sea of Cortez?
To use the water, we must remove the sediments.
And I admit, that fact poses very tough questions
for future generations. It is not too soon to
start looking for the answers today.
I am a strong advocate for deepening scientific
inquiry at Lake Powell. What is the composition
of lake sediments and how fast are they
accumulating? Do the lake sediments pose a health
and safety concern for our or future generations?
How much water is really lost to evaporation
percolation? What about meromixis, the
accumulation of deep water conditions with high
salinity and very low oxygen levels which some
day could kill fish and corrode turbines?
Scientists can answer these questions and we need
to give them all the support and the funding we
can reasonably pull together to look at those.
Included in the
scope of this hearing is the reduction of water
storage capability of Lake Powell. I also would
like to urge both Committees to strongly advocate
a governmental risk analysis to determine the
competency of Glen Canyon Dam and flood control
capacity in Lake Powell to withstand a 500-year
How long did the engineers design the dam to
last? Was it smart to put it in sandstone in the
first place? There is a lot of speculation as to
how long the dam will be there. We almost lost it
in 1983 when El Nino produced 210 percent of
normal snowpack in the early spring and a warm
June brought it all down the first 10 days of the
Meteorologists tell us the coming El Nino event
building off the coast of South America is
expected to be the biggest of the century. A
500-year flood run events aboutflood event
runs about 250,000 cubic feet per second and
sedimentologists with the Bureau of Reclamation
point to evidence of prehistoric floods of up to
400,000 cubic feet per second. With all tubes and
spillways flowing, Glen Canyon Dam can release
270,000 cubic feet per second.
Back in 1983, the dam flowed 93,000 cubic feet
per second. So when reviewing these figures, we
have a potential 500-year flood eventwho
knows if El Nino will bring it or notof
250,000 to 400,000 cubic feet per second. We did
pass 93,000 cubic feet per second through the dam
in 1983 with some serious, serious corrosive
erosion effects to the bypass tubes.
So now we are talking about the possibility of
passing 250,000, 270,000 cubic feet per second
through the dam in a major flood event for flood
control purposes. That is three times the amount
of water that we passed through the dam in 1983.
My view is that the Subcommittees can
productively focus time and resources on assuring
the public that the risk analysis of managing a
500-year flood is addressed. Whether the lake is
drained by man or the dam is blown out by nature,
the riparian resources in both Glen Canyon and
Grand Canyon will recover in a few hundred years.
If we fail to accommodate the eventuality of a
500-year flood, we may have created a situation
with unacceptable risks to society.
I thank the
Committees very much for the opportunity to
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Elliott. We
appreciate your testimony.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Elliott may be
found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Mr. Hunter.
STATEMENT OF JOSEPH HUNTER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,
COLORADO RIVER ENERGY DISTRIBUTION ASSOCIATION
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I
appreciate the opportunity to appear today on
behalf of the Colorado River Energy Distributors
Testimony from several of today's witnesses
include references to the hydropower produced at
Glen Canyon Dam and the value of that hydropower.
CREDA, the organization I represent, represents
the more than 100 nonprofit public utilities and
rural electric cooperatives who purchase that
power from the United States and distribute it to
consumers throughout the Colorado River Basin.
Clearly, when we are talking about draining Lake
Powell we get rather interested.
Over the past several months I have heard a
wide-range of opinion as to the impact draining
the lake would have on the generation of
electricity. The basic facts are well documented.
Glen Canyon Dam is capable of generating more
than 1,300 megawatts of hydropower each year.
That electricity is sold by the United States at
cost-based rates to nonprofit public utilities,
government organizations, and Native American
utilities. Ultimately, millions of families,
farms, and businesses depend upon this clean,
relatively economical source of energy.
Appearing today as the representative or a
representative of the local utilities and
electric co-ops, we are responsible for making
sure the lights stay on. I would like to focus
primarily on the practical implications of
removing Glen Canyon Dam as a hydropower
First, I have
heard with some amusement the claims that the
generation that would be lost at Glen Canyon Dam
could be offset through conservation. Such claims
demonstrate a remarkable lack of understanding of
the role Glen Canyon Dam plays in the overall
scheme of power supply in the West. The
importance of hydropower generation goes far
beyond the raw number of megawatts it provides.
Unlike most conventional generation sources,
hydropower is variable. It provides a critical
opportunity to generate more or less electricity
as demand changes from hour to hour. This load
following potential is not something that can be
offset through conservation.
While conservation can be an effective tool for
reducing the need for base-load generation, it
does nothing to reduce the need for peaking
resources such as Glen Canyon Dam. If power
consumption in the West were cut in half
tomorrow, we would still have the same need to
adjust generation to meet varying load
An excellent example of this very fact occurred
last summer, during the widespread and widely
publicized power outages. Glen Canyon Dam was one
of the more critical tools that was available to
help restore service to much of Arizona and
Southern California. Even the harshest critics of
historic dam operations have long agreed that if
some type of system failure threatens power
supply, Glen Canyon Dam should be available to
pick up the slack.
Could this capability be replaced? I suppose it
could. Absent Glen Canyon Dam power generation,
greater dependence could be placed on other
existing hydropower facilities. Each of those
dams, however, has its own set of environmental
concerns. And I suspect that the potential
consequences of using other dams for increased
load following would be unacceptable to the same
interests who are today advocating the draining
of Lake Powell.
The other potential alternatives to Glen Canyon
Dam are technologies that are either immature or
significantly more costly. And for those who
believe that there is currently an abundance of
generation available in the Western States, I
would suggest they take a look at the projected
growth rates in areas today served by Glen Canyon
Dam, and would remind them that short-term
planning in the electricity business is measured
Mr. Chairman, many
witnesses have told you the ramifications of this
proposal for meeting the current and future water
needs of an entire region. You have heard of the
value of Lake Powell itself as a magnificent
recreation and tourism resource. Customers
throughout the Colorado River Basin spend more
than $100 million per yearsend more than
$100 million per year to the United States
Treasury for the privilege of using the clean
renewable and economical electricity generated
with the water that is stored in Lake Powell.
Under any scenario, the loss of that power
resource would have far-reaching impacts on the
electric bills of families, ranchers, and small
Further, the entities represented at this
hearing, along with many others, have just
completed a difficult process of environmental
study, cooperation and compromise regarding the
operation of Glen Canyon Dam. Those studies have
consumed more than a decade of time and more than
$100 million of electric ratepayers' money. This
effort, whether one agrees with the outcome or
not, represents one of the most significant
environmental programs in the history of this
Nation. The draining of Lake Powell would render
that effort moot.
In short, the benefits of Glen Canyon Dam and
Lake Powell are tremendous and far-reaching. At
the same time, we have gone to extraordinary
lengths to make these facilities as compatible as
possible with the natural and environmental
values they impact. To seriously consider
sacrificing all of those benefits, imposing so
much cost on millions of consumers, and impeding
our ability to meet the electric needs of a
rapidly growing region, in order to revisit a
decision made more than 30 years ago, seems more
than a bit absurd.
Surely, we have more pressing items on our
environmental ''to do'' list than draining Lake
Powell. Thank you.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Hunter.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Hunter may be
found at end of hearing.]
Mr. Wegner, we are happy that you have had the
patience to stay with us.
Mr. WEGNER. Finally.
Mr. HANSEN. We will turn the time to you
STATEMENT OF DAVID WEGNER, ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT
Mr. WEGNER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and
members of the Committee. My name is Dave Wegner.
I am here representing the Glen Canyon Institute
today. I am also the owner of a small business in
Flagstaff, Arizona, called Ecosystem Management
I have provided to the Committee my testimony,
which again it is here. And also I didn't know it
was going to be a show and tell, but we brought a
book that you can have, also. So please take it
and look at it.
I am going to ad-lib a little bit because of all
the comments that I heard today, and I have to
commend my fellow panelists here and all the
panelists today. I have known of most of these
gentlemen and ladies for years. We have worked on
many issues together involving the Colorado River
and Glen Canyon Dam.
For the past 22 years, I have been privileged to
work for the Department of Interior, to look at
the issues associated with the Colorado River
drainage. It is an area that I have studied
extensively. I am a scientist by training. I am
not a politician. I am not a businessman. I am
not a bureaucrat. All I am is a simple scientist
trying to get to the facts. Those facts, gathered
over the last 14 years that Mr. Hunter referred
to, is that the Grand Canyon and the Colorado
River are in serious need of some restoration. We
cannot sustain the environmental resources, the
endangered fish and the endangered bird with the
present level of effort and the operation of the
questions came out today, and I really commend
the panelists and the Committee for asking them.
I guess as the author of the primary document,
the proposal to develop the citizens'
environmental assessment, we are going to use
every one of these questions that came up today.
They are going to help us frame this whole
Let me give you a little brief history of Glen
Canyon Institute. We are a volunteer
organization. None of us get paid. There is
nonone of us get wages to deal with this.
We are private citizens. We are scientists. We
are environmentalists and boaters, but there is
one common thread. We are all concerned about
Glen Canyon and the Colorado River.
The proposal to develop the citizens' EA, which
flows out of the environmental studies that were
done at Glen Canyon Dam over the past 14 years,
is our way of trying to document the science,
document the information. Today we are here
seeking wisdom, we are here in this place of
power and trappings to look at how we can move
forward with this whole proposal.
Yesterday at 6 p.m., I was on the Animas River,
and I wish Senator Campbell was still here. This
is a little water from his river. I was there
talking to students about the value of our
resources, about the value of our endangered
Yes, Congressmen, it is all about water. It is
about water that supplies not only development,
not only power, not only recreation, but this is
the lifeblood of the species that depend upon it.
And, yes, we are looking at diminishing species.
The Upper Basin in particular is putting millions
of dollars into endangered species programs. The
single most important thing we could do would be
to develop more habitats for these endangered
fish. If you develop the habitats, the fish and
the birds will use them.
The system, specifically the Colorado River
system, is compromised. The heart of the Colorado
River, Glen Canyon, has been drowned. It has been
drowned for almost 35 years now.
The proposal that
the Glen Canyon Institute is putting forth is not
developed by a group of bureaucrats. We are not
being developed by corporations. None of us own
river companies. We are just private people who
are concerned about looking at the issues. What
we do represent are people who are interested in
the river, interested in the canyon, and
interested in finding ways not only for this
generation but for future generations to protect
our rich natural heritage.
We are people who believe in the resources. We
are people who believe in the fish. We are people
who speak for the birds. We also are asking
through this environmental assessment, which we
are not asking a dollar from Congress for, to
allow us the freedom of free speech that several
of the panelists have asked and talked about in
the past to explore these issues.
We believe that the United States is founded on a
democratic process of asking questions, gathering
data, and evaluating the information, and we want
to do that successfully. And we invite anybody,
anyone on the panels, any citizen, who wants to
be involved to join us. Come on, let's talk about
it; let's debate it.
Yes, it is all about water. It is all about
habitats. It is all about that area and that
sense of place called Glen Canyon. And I wish to
heck David Brower was here today, because he is
much more eloquent at expressing those particular
We need tono, let me rephrase that. We must
ask the question of what are we going to do with
these dams for the future? Not only for us, but
for the future generations, our kids, our
grandkids, their grandkids? We are committed to
the process. We are committed, most importantly,
to the resources.
We are not here today asking you for money. We
are not here asking you for wisdom. We are not
even asking you for validation. All we are asking
is for the right to look at it, to look at it
with a citizens' environmental assessment and to
move forward with the issues for the future.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Wegner may be
found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. The gentleman from California,
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Mr. Wegner, it is my
understanding the Sierra Club has called for the
use of public funds in certain respects
pertaining to the draining of Lake Powell. Do you
concur with that request or do you disagree with
Mr. WEGNER. We are raising funds
independently of the Sierra Club.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Do you concur with their
support for public funds or do you not?
Mr. WEGNER. We would like to get public
funds if we could, but I am notwe are not
depending upon them and that is why we have
initiated on our private level.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. So do you support their
suggestion that public funds should be used?
Mr. WEGNER. If you can get it, you bet.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Mr. Hunter, has anyone
actually calculated the cost to decommission a
dam the size of Glen Canyon Dam?
Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Chairman, not that I am
aware of. I would be happy to check, but
Ito my knowledge, a decommissioning of that
magnitude has never been seriously contemplated.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Given that it is a
relatively new dam, how much is the outstanding
repayment on the dam?
Mr. Chairman, I am going to have to provide you
with exact dollar figures because, as you know,
the Colorado River Storage Project itself, of
which Glen Canyon Dam is only one piece, is what
the repayment is of.
The total repayment of the entire project, and
this would be far greater than the dam itself, is
well over $1 billion.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. OK. Well, maybe you can
supply the answer specifically for the record.
Mr. HUNTER. Certainly.
[The information referred to may be found at end
Mr. DOOLITTLE. How do youlet me just
ask you this: How do you think the debt would be
handled if the dam were no longer producing
Mr. HUNTER. Congressman, as Acting
Administrator Hacskaylo said this morning, I
don't have an answer for that. Essentially, if
you remove Glen Canyon Dam from the system, you
are removing the facility that produces 75
percent of the revenues for the entire project,
the entire Upper Colorado River Basin. If you
simply lift that piece out of it, to me it is
inconceivable that you would somehow place the
remaining burden, which would still be over $1
billion, on the remainder of the project power
facilities. It simply wouldn't work to try to
market that power and repay it.
By default, I would have to believe that that
burden would fall on the taxpayers, most likely.
I don't know who else would pay it.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you.
Mr. Elliott, do you think that the summer
conditions that would exist on the river in the
Grand Canyon, without the Glen Canyon Dam, that
you described in your testimony, would be
appealing to many of your current rafting
I don't think it would be either better or worse,
but let me paint the following picture: Both
pre-dam and post-dam, at Lee's Ferry, where we
embark down the river, in the month of August,
for example, we would havethe water
temperature would be maybe 80 degrees. It would
be perhaps 10 percent mud and we would no longer
have the ability to get clean. We would no longer
have the ability to help keep our perishable
foods cold for another 2 weeks down the river, et
We happen to think right now that the condition
that we have below the dam is a preferred
condition both in terms of the richness of the
biodiversity of specious, as well as the colder
water, the cleaner water, as more suitable for
Mr. DOOLITTLE. You do getwhen you
get far enough down the river, even now you get
into those muddy kinds of conditions; don't you?
Mr. ELLIOTT. We certainly do, from the
inflow from the Paria River and also, especially
this time of year, from the inflow from the
Little Colorado River. But it is one thing to
look out and have a muddy river; it is another
thing to dip your arm into it and pull your arm
back and have all of your hair follicles
completely full of silt. That is an entirely
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Do you know, prior to the
time the dam was built, how many people floated
down that stretch of the river from, I guess from
Lee's Ferry down?
Mr. ELLIOTT. It could be measured in terms
of the hundreds as opposed to the tens of
thousands. The critical year is about 1968, 1969,
where if you look at a curve of all of the use,
it was about 1968 or 1969 where as many people
went through the canyonI think it was about
3,000 people in 1969as had gone in all of
history. That is when the use just skyrocketed,
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you.
Mr. HANSEN. The gentleman from Arizona,
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Let me begin by saying, Mr. Wegner, I certainly
acknowledge your expertise in the field. I
suppose in all the world you are one of the most
renowned experts on the Grand Canyon.
I would comment, based on your testimony, that
thanks to the first amendment you don't have to
ask us for permission to study this or to
research it, and I hope you will research it
thoroughly and debate it, and I wish you all the
best in that.
Mr. WEGNER. Thank you.
Mr. SHADEGG. With regard to your comment
about developing more habitat for native species,
I encourage you in that effort as well. I think
indeed we have lost some native species. That is
My concern is, how many species will we lose that
are not native that are still productive and
useful and have a great value if we go overboard
in trying to restore habitat for native species?
So I would urge you to, in looking for ways to
restore habitat for native species, figure out a
way not to drain Lake Powell.
Mr. Elliott, I want to compliment you. I think
your testimony is some of the most thoughtful we
have here and I think, in terms of rafting the
river, going down the river and taking people
down the river, you probably have more expertise
than any witness we have had today.
In that regard, I want to walk you through a
series of questions. I mentioned earlier today,
and I put in the record, this National Geographic
issue of July of this year. It has a discussion
of this whole issue, and I want to focus in part
on some comments about the Grand Canyon Trust,
and you served on the board of the Grand Canyon
Trust, but I also want to focus on this
particular chart which is in the magazine.
As I understand your testimony, it really is much
along the lines of my opening remarks, which is
that we don't have the option of going back; that
we have what we have at this point in time and
that the issue isn't, could we snap our fingers
and have Lake Powell never have been constructed
but rather what can we do now?
I want to just ask
you if you have seen this magazine?
Mr. ELLIOTT. No, I haven't.
Mr. SHADEGG. OK. Maybe I can get somebody
to bring it to you.
It shows, on the page that I have it open to, a
very verdant and vibrant ecosystem in the river
now, which in fact supports, albeit different but
from what is shown there, more habitat, more
wildlife, more plant life than prior to the dam.
Is that your understanding of the facts?
Mr. ELLIOTT. That is my understanding of
the facts. That is my understanding from talking
with scientists, most recently a Larry Stevens in
Flagstaff, for a couple of hours last week, who
is a foremost biologist having studied the
riparian habitat downstream from the dam. It is
also my observations from just antidotally.
Mr. SHADEGG. I think the point made in
your testimony is well taken and that is, you
know, one can argue whether it is better or worse
but in point of fact there is more animal and
plant life and wildlife now than then, albeit
To go to Mr. Wegner's point, it seems to me, if
the question is, well, we want to restore the
entire Grand Canyon to its, quote/unquote,
natural state, if you then posit the only way to
do that is to remove Glen Canyon Dam or the lake,
it is hard to argue that point; isn't it?
It is pretty hard to make the point that you
can't restore it to its pre-lake condition
without absolutely removing the dam or at least
allowing the water to completely flow around it,
Mr. ELLIOTT. Not in Glen Canyon. But are
you speaking of Glen Canyon now or the Grand
Mr. SHADEGG. I am sorry, the Grand Canyon.
Mr. ELLIOTT. OK.
In the stretch below the dam, where we now have
apparently a more verdant habitat, we could
hardly restore that if we didn't do what the Lake
Powell Institute advocates?
Mr. ELLIOTT. We get into a debate of
whetherof kind of a values debate, is the
natural condition preferred over the managed
ecosystem that we have today?
We could certainly attempt to restore the natural
condition in the Grand Canyon by letting the
sediments flow through.
Mr. SHADEGG. Good point.
Mr. ELLIOTT. And we could perhaps get to
that condition. It may or may not bring back the
endangered fish species, for example, but
certainly the spring floods that would be allowed
in a run-of-the-river scenario through the dam
would again flood the banks, would wipe out a
great deal of the vegetation which supports the
enrichment of the species' diversity today.
Mr. SHADEGG. We could also try to raise
the temperature perhaps by drawing water into the
turbines at a higher level or something along
that line; could we not?
Mr. ELLIOTT. We can do that.
One of the factors that has caused the enrichment
of the biodiversity is the clarity of the water.
Light is allowed to penetrate through to the
bottom of the river. It supports a plant called
cladophera, which in turn supports a tiny little
invertebrate, which in turn, supports the food
chain right on up the ladder. There is a new
abundance in waterfowl. In turn, the peregrine
falcon feed on the waterfowl that represents
about 80 percent of their diet, et cetera.
So we have aall starting with clear water
and sunlight penetrating through to the bottom of
the river, we have a much richer species
diversity in that area now. If we return to the
sediments, that could theoretically help
thecould help the beaches, could help even
some of the camping areas. But we would return to
lessvery likely I think we would return to
a reduced biodiversity and species.
If I could request 2 additional minutes? I will
Mr. HANSEN. The gentleman is recognized.
Mr. SHADEGG. I just want to make a couple
more quick points. I know you are on the board of
the Grand Canyon Trust which is concerned about
the ecological health of the Grand Canyon.
Your testimony raises in the most serious way the
question of the heavy metals and contamination in
the sediment on the bottom of the lake. I just
want to point out that in this National
Geographic article, Jeff Bernard, President at
least at that time of the Grand Canyon Trust,
says, draining Lake Powell could also be
dangerous. I quote, I think it is important to
stake out a vision of a free flowing Colorado
River but there are many problems right now.
He does, in fact, go on to address the sediment
and the heavy metals and contaminants in that
To your knowledgeI know the Grand Canyon
Trust has not taken a position on this issue. To
your knowledge, has the Grand Canyon Trust
studied the issue of airborne contaminants were
we to drain the lake?
Mr. ELLIOTT. No, they have not. And
thethis whole issue has not been debated at
the board level. And it is correct, I sit on the
board of trustees of the Grand Canyon Trust. They
have begun the evaluation in staff discussions to
look at it, and I think it is safe to say in
terms of the Grand Canyon Trust that they believe
very strongly in the science and they would want
to look at any scientific evidence that would
support the viability of this proposal. They do
not have a position at this time.
Mr. SHADEGG. I certainly am not a
scientist or an expert, and I don't know the
answer but I do know that what little
researchwhat research we have been able to
do in the short time for preparing for this
hearing gives us concern which I have adverted to
having to do with experience of Owens Lake and
the dust which rises off of it.
Poor Mr. Wegner is
dying to make a comment. I hope you will look at
this issue, but let me afford you to make that
Mr. WEGNER. Well, we have, and that whole
issue with the sediments is extremely important
because we realize the high concentrations of
mercury and selenium and a whole bunch of other
heavy metals suites that are there. The issue
here isand specifically would be dealt with
in the EAis that as you would draw down the
lake, you would start to mobilize those sediments
and move them slowly downstream in the manner
that the ecosystem could deal with.
We do not and will not propose to leave a whole
expanse of drying out sediments there that would
become airborne. I am very familiar with Owens
Lake and all the issues in Kesterson.
Mr. SHADEGG. Let me just conclude by
turning to Mr. Hunter. This whole issue of
conservation, I personally believe that
conservation is a little bit like the Congress
saying we are going to save money. We talk about
saving money through waste reduction and we never
quite do it. It seems to me that if we can do
conservation, we ought to be doing the
conservation to avoid building future coal-fired
or other power plants.
But I want to make the point about peaking. It
seems to me that hydropower is uniquely suited to
peaking. Peaking means that we use power at
different levels at different times of the day;
is that right?
Mr. HUNTER. That is correct.
Mr. SHADEGG. So if you were to conserve
peaking power, what you really have to do is say
to the people of Phoenix or Yuma or Los Angeles
or San Diego, we have this idea; we are going to
save peaking power, which means that during the
30 hottest days of the summer, when we need that
peaking power, since we no longer have it, we
don't want you to run your air conditioning from
4 p.m. to, say, 7 p.m., the hottest hours of the
day. Pretty realistic?
You are absolutely correct. The only way to
conserve peaking load would be to dramatically
Mr. SHADEGG. I don't know how we are going
to get the earth to make it not hotter between 4
p.m. and 7 p.m. than it is, say, between 4 a.m.
and 7 a.m.
Mr. Chairman, I have nothing further.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Shadegg.
It has been a very interesting hearing. I
appreciate the patience of all of you.
Mr. Werbach, you know, if I was head of the
Sierra Club, I think I would find a dam that
didn't have so much multiple use to it. You have
heard all of the things that this dam has.
Have you ever thought of Hetch Hetchy in
Yosemite? Now, I could probably go along with
that one. I think that probably has some real
clout to it.
Of course, you would have 52 Members of the House
and 2 from the Senate and the administration,
because they are very interested in the political
votes there as we saw on something called the Air
Logistic Center of McClellan where they violated
the law, but Hetch Hetchy, in my mind, would
probably be aI mean, right there in the
beautiful Yosemite National Park. I say that
somewhat tongue in check, but I still think it
was one that the Sierra Club ought to give
peripheral thought about. You may find one of
great interest there.
You know what, the proposal you have brought up
is so critical to the entire southwest part of
America, I mean, you have got the Upper and Lower
Basin States, this is of utmost importance, and I
think we could all see it here today, how it
would affect so many, many, literally millions
and millions, of people. So we would hope that
you would look at it in a very critical way and
be very careful on what you propose.
Of course, I don't give you folks instructions.
You are perfectly capable of doing that, and you
have a perfect right to come up with any proposal
you have a bent to do.
I noticed that you
were on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in
September 1996 when President Clinton made 1.7
million acres of Utah a monument.
You know, I don't mean to differ with you but
respectfully point out that if I have ever seen
anybody shoot themselves in the foot, the
environmentalists did it at that point, as we
have researched that exhaustively. You used the
1916 antiquity law and therefore extinguished
wilderness that would come under NEPA, come under
the 1964 Wilderness Act, the FLIPMA act, and now
it is wide open. And people are coming in there
by the hundreds and they are colloquially
referring to it now as ''toilet paper city.'' You
know, if the President had worked with us on that
we could have put in Fifty Mile Ridge and a few
other areas and come up with a good piece of
And when you were there, I noticed that you spent
some time withnot that I would want to tell
you what you did, but some time with Vice
President Gore and President Clinton. Are
theydo they have any interest in this
proposal to drain Lake Powell or was that
something not considered?
Mr. WERBACH. We have not raised it with
Mr. HANSEN. I see. I would be curious to
know where they are coming from.
Well, not to elaborate on things such as that, we
will thank the witnesses. And, Mr. Werbach, we
appreciate your patience for coming here and
thank you for sitting through three panels. That
is very kind of you.
And this hearing is now adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 2:10 p.m., the Subcommittees were
[Additional material submitted for the record