Testimony for the subcommittee on National Parks & Public Lands
and the Subcommittee on Water & Power on the proposal to drain Lake Powell.
Hearing to be held Tuesday, September 23, 1997 at 10:00 a.m.,
Committee Room 1324, Longworth HOB.
This Testimony has been prepared by:
Larry E. Tarp, President
Friends of Lake Powell
P. O. Box 7007
Page, AZ 86040
Friends of Lake Powell
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committees:
As the chairman of the "Friends of Lake Powell, I thank you for the opportunity to
speak on behalf of the millions of people that support maintaining Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam. This testimony might normally be a very trying experience for a laymen, but while you can not see them, I feel I
have a million people standing by my side. To begin, let me paraphrase our Mission Statement; We support the preservation of Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam for the generations, and we will provide the public factual
information about its social, entertainment, environmental and economics, we will solicit members to support our efforts, we will create maximum public awareness of attempts by any group to alter its status, we will
support environmental improvements and represent the millions of people who love the area.
The Facts about Lake Powell
Lake Powell and the surrounding area is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Lake Powell rests in the northern part of Arizona and the southern part of Utah. Approximately
90% of the lake is in Utah. The lake surface is well below the surrounding mountain formations and is the major reason for its extreme beauty. Blue waters contrast the red sandstone cliffs. There is truly nothing else
like it anywhere on the planet. Lake Powell was created following the decade long construction of Glen Canyon Dam beginning in 1956. Lake Powell is named for Major John Wesley Powell. Lake Powell is surrounded by Glen
Canyon National Recreational Area, operating under the National Park Service, it has 1,236,800 acres, the size of Delaware, preserving 650 million years of history, its mission is; to preserve all existing scenic,
scientific and historical features, which certainly includes the lake and dam.Lake Powell is 186 miles long, with 1,960 miles of shoreline, has 96 side canyons. Before I go on about the area, for the record, I must
point out some of the misleading information proponents of draining Lake Powell have issued. First, evaporation. Claims of as much as 1 million acre feet a year have been voiced.
Official figures are half that, or
less. It must be understood that evaporation is not elimination. Its a natural part of the cycle of weather. All bodies of water are subject to evaporation, even mud puddles, when exposed to atmospheric changes, but
then it simply becomes clouds, that in the case of Lake Powell, drop rains to water fields and farms in places to the east such as Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and others.. The proponents of draining would seek to allow
the water to flow down into the Sea of Cortez, where it to would evaporate and probably water Mexico's crops, not our heartlands. They also think "Bank Storage" bad, that is the waters that seep in and out of
the sandstone around the lake, storage yes, not elimination. They talk about "restoring" the canyon walls, knowing full well not all the Kings Horses and all the Kings Men can not put the iron oxide back in.
The so called "Bathtub Ring" seen as the waters recede extends from top to the bottom and all around the lake. We would be left with the biggest bleached white hole on Earth, and the draining proponents would
be long gone. Statements have been made claiming the Powerplant, Dam and Lake have only 30 to 100 additional years of useful life. Bureau of Reclamation figures say an additional 500 years for Powerplant, and 700 years
for lake and dam with a "do nothing" posture. If no new super doper sources of power and energy are developed over the next 500 years, I submit to you that dredging out the build up of sand is not rocket
science. They say simply "Pull the Plug" in Glen Canyon Dam. Impossible, as the original diversion tubes were completely filled with concrete from end to end and their outlets redirected to make them the
spillway outlets. Draining the lake and leaving the dam intact is simply not possible. The claim the dam is unstable is so ridicules, I won't even address the issue. For the record, you should know, the Sierra club task
force charged with studying this lake draining idea were invited by the Bureau Of Reclamation to come see the lake, the dam and talk to the local people, but they declined the invitation. Ignorance must be bliss! Now
that the record reflects the facts about these mattes, let me continue by telling you the entire lakes shoreline is protected from development by the National Park Service. No buildings choke the shorelines, destroying
the view. Glen Canyon Powerplant controls the complete upper Colorado River Storage Project. It is operated by Interior so as "produce the greatest practicable amount of power and energy that can be sold at firm
power and energy rates..." The dam is 710 feet in high, 300 feet thick at its base and 35 feet thick at its crest. It the Water "Savings Account" for the upper basin states to meet the Compact agreement
commitments to the lower basin states and guarantees the lower basin have water in time of drought or plenty. Without it, in a drought period, Arizona, California and Nevada would have water shortages. According to the
Compact Agreement, without the lake, the upper basin states would by law have to give their water allocations away and suffer shortages.
It should be noted that laws in many of the Colorado Compact states direct
Water Management Agencies to not allow water to run downstream to the ocean without first being put to use. Glen Canyon Powerplant produces enough electricity to supply over 400,000 households, 75% of the total
generated by the entire CRSP.
The majority of its work force are Native Americans. 18,000 people per month visit the Dam and Powerplant.
Lake Powell hosts 3,000,000 visitors a year. Families come from all over the
world. Water sports abound, as over 400,000 boaters a year come to Lake Powell. Arizona has more registered boats per capita than any other state. Lake Powell makes Rainbow Bridge National Monument just a boat ride away
so 325,000 a year can see the monument, compared to a 2 day walk before such that only 15,000 had ever seen it. Beach camping and photography abounds. I know each of you have seen dozens of pictures of Lake Powell in
magazines, on television programs and in motion pictures. Here's what Paul Harvey thinks about Lake Powell, "Time was running out on our search for silence when Steve steered his twin outboard into Cathedral
Canyon... Gradually, we wound our way deeper and deeper in the canyon until we could touch both walls. A thousand feet overhead in that narrow dark, the moon shines at midday...The ripples from the moving boat spent
themselves against the canyon walls, and then the water is still...In our dark retreat, the wind is holding its breath-as are we." What do other reporters who visit say "Lake Powell, one of the West's most
utilized tourist attractions, is a magnet for boaters, hikers, explorers, fisherfolk, archaeologists and those who just enjoy kicking back on a floating home-away-from-home as the sun chases yellow, orange, red,
rosy-pink and purple paint-box colors across the lake's startling stone monuments." Susan Bayer Ward, San Francisco Examiner. "There must be more pleasing adventures than a houseboat trip on Lake Powell, but I
don't recall any." Barry Burkhart, Arizona Republic.
You should know that the waters of Lake Powell and the surrounding area have become home to some 275 species of birds, including the endangered Peregrine
Falcon, which now breeds in more than 30 nesting areas around the lake. This bird is about to be removed from the endangered species list because of the population growth provided them by the lake. We are proud to say
the bald eagle is here because he is a fish eater. They would not be here without the lake. What about the golden eagle? Surveys indicate there is a perennial nesting pair on Cathedral Rock in Lake Powell. The lake is
important to migrating water fowl and shore birds. People from all walks of life and from around the world come to marvel at the bird populations and the variety of species. There have been more than 750 species of
plants identified around Glen Canyon and the lake. Within the area there are Bobcats, Fox, Black Bears, Coyotes, Mountain Lions, Sheep, Jackrabbits, Ground Squirrels, Beavers, Wood Rats, Badgers, Kangaroo Rats,
Porcupines, Lizards, Snakes and Bats.
Fishing in Lake Powell is available year around and dozens of different species abound. Record size fish continue to be taken from Lake Powell each year. Trout fishing is
available from Lees Ferry to the base of the dam. Lake Powell waters are the life blood of the Navajo Generating Station a major part of the Salt River Project. NGS has 2,250 megawatts capacity, twice the size of the
Glen Canyon Powerplant, bigger than Hoover Dam. Supplying no less than 500,000 families of four per year. NGS employs a large number of Native Americans from the nearby reservation.
In addition to the human, social,
wildlife and environmental values of the area there are tremendous economics associated with the goods and services provided by people, businesses and other enterprises. Electricity from the CRSP dams were more than
$130 million in 1996, $97 million from Glen Canyon. At the conservative retail rate of $.06/KWH, NGS has revenues of roughly $1 billion per year. NGS provides up to $8 million in school taxes. Lake and Area tourism
dollars approximate $350 million per year and an additional $150 million is fed into other areas of the Southwest. All of these dollars are subject to Federal, State County and City taxes, providing for education,
infrastructure, roads, and bridges. Waters stored in Lake Powell eventually flow into agriculture in Arizona, California and Nevada producing crops valued at $1.5 billion per year, providing jobs for tens of thousands
of people in the Southwest. Page, Arizona, Big Water and Kanab, Utah and sites such as Bullfrog, Halls Crossing and Hite, Utah all depend on water, recreation and tourism trade. More than 300 businesses dependent on the
lake. Lake concessionaire employs over 800 people. These businesses provide support base for human services such as hospitals, schools, libraries and other essential services. 23,000 Native Americans live on the Navajo
reservation that borders the area. The Navajo Nation is the largest segment of population in the area. Page area public school enrollments are 63% Native American. In closing let me say, it must be known, that the
people involved in daily family life, commerce and the free enterprise in our area will oppose until their deaths any person or persons that would attempt to disrupt their personal rights, freedoms and opportunities for
continued existence around Lake Powell. According to the intent of the articles of our Constitution, no one person or group has either the right or the power to impose their beliefs on others, in this, the great United
States of America. We the millions of "Friends of Lake Powell" as citizens and voters intend to see that these rights are upheld regardless of time or cost.