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ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) — The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced last week that it plans to adjust management protocols for the Colorado River in early 2022 to reduce monthly releases from Lake Powell in an effort to keep the reservoir from dropping farther below 2021′s historic lows.As of Jan. 6, the nation’s second-largest reservoir — part of a Colorado River system that provides drinking water to approximately 40 million people throughout the West — sat at an elevation of 3,536 feet, the Spectrum reported. That’s 27% of the reservoir’s capacity, 164 feet below full and just 11 feet above the bureau’s target elevation of 3,525 feet, designed to give a 35-foot buffer before “minimum power pool.” Below 3,490 feet of elevation, Lake Powell dips into a zone where the generation of hydropower by water flowing through the Glen Canyon Dam becomes unreliable. At 3,370 feet, the reservoir hits “dead pool,” at which point water can no longer be released by gravity from the dam.Hub peek embed (apf-science) - Compressed layout (automatic embed)According to a Bureau news release, the modified delivery schedule will not alter the total amount of water let through Glen Canyon Dam over the course of the year but will hold back a cumulative 350,000 acre-feet between January and April to help Lake Powell recover from lows that left many boat ramps unusable at the popular recreation site last summer.Despite a wet October giving water managers hope that the region might make some progress towards recovery amidst a 22-year drought, this past November was the second-driest on record and inflows came up 1.5 million acre-feet short of the Bureau’s projections from the previous month. When adjusted December projections anticipated Lake Powell dropping below 3,525 feet as soon as this February, the agency convened partners from the basin states, Tribes, federal agencies, non-governmental organizations and water managers to devise a new management scheme.“The adjusted releases are...
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