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© 1999 Friends of Lake Powell, Inc.
www.lakepowell.org
P.O. Box 7007
Page, AZ 86040 USA
(928) 645-2741  Fax: 928-353-2227

OPENING STATEMENT OF TED STEWART
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UTAH DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

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 painful debate.

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 here.

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 to—with the other upper basin states—meet that obligation to the lower basin States without Lake Powell storage. It is that simple.

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 mentioned—the 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 base?

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 endangered species.

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 million Americans?''

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.

For more information contact. friends@lakepowell.org