Glen Canyon Dam Update

Releases from Glen Canyon Dam in June will be moderately higher than in May. A total of 747,000 acre-feet will be released from Glen Canyon Dam during June 2002. On Mondays through Fridays in June, daily fluctuations due to load following will likely vary between a low of about 9,500 cfs (during late evening and early morning off-peak hours) to a high of about 15,500 cfs (during late afternoon and early evening on-peak hours). On Saturdays during this period, releases will likely vary between a low of about 9,500 cfs during off-peak hours, to a high of about 14,000 cfs during on-peak hours. On Sundays, releases will likely vary between a low of about 9,500 cfs during off-peak hours to a high of about 13,800 cfs during on-peak hours.

July releases will be moderately higher than June. A total of 895,000 acre-feet is scheduled to be releases in July, 2002 which averages out to 14,600 cfs. August releases will likely be the same as July.

Water year 2002 is turning out to be an extremely dry year in the Colorado River Basin. Basinwide precipitation has been significantly below average and snowpack in the Upper Colorado River Basin, except for a few high altitude locations, is essentially gone. The June final inflow forecast issued by the National Weather Service is calling for 1.45 million acre-feet of unregulated inflow to Lake Powell during this year's April through July runoff. This is only 18 percent of average. Since the completion of Glen Canyon Dam, there has been only one year where April through July inflow was below the level projected for 2002. This was the very dry year of 1977 when April through July inflow to Lake Powell was only 1.3 million acre-feet. It is possible that 2002 April through July inflow could end up being below the 1977 total.

Unregulated inflow to Lake Powell during May, 2002 was the lowest ever recorded during the month of May since closure of Glen Canyon Dam in 1963. Only 312,000 of unregulated inflow reached Lake Powell, breaking the previous low of 328,000 acre-feet, which occurred in May of 1977. Inflow to Lake Powell has been significantly below average throughout 2002. Unregulated inflow to Lake Powell in January, February, March, and April of 2002 was 69, 53, 45 and 39 percent of average, respectively. May's record-breaking inflow volume was only 14 percent of average.

Drier than average conditions have now prevailed for the past three years in the Colorado River Basin. Both water years 2000 and 2001 were below average inflow years. Total unregulated inflow into Lake Powell in water year 2000 was 62 percent of average, while water year 2001 registered inflow at 59 percent of average.

On April 24, 2002, members of the Glen Canyon Adaptive Management Work Group (AMWG) recommended experimental flow tests similar to the 1996 Beach/Habitat-Building Test Flow in which high flows (45,000 cfs) were released to test the ability of those flows to create beaches and conserve sediment for resource management purposes in the Grand Canyon. The new test would be triggered if substantial new sediment inputs come into the system, and if the monitoring and research shows that the antecedent conditions have retained that sediment so it is available for beach/habitat building. The AMWG is a federally chartered advisory group to Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton. The AMWG will forward the recommendation to Secretary Norton. More information on the recommended experimental flows can be found at

Three consecutive years of below average hydrology have reduced water storage in Lake Powell. The current elevation of Lake Powell is 3,644 feet (56 feet from full pool). Current storage is approximately 16.5 million acre-feet (68 percent of capacity). Under the 18 percent of average inflow forecast, Lake Powell will not increase in elevation during the April through July time period as it normally does. It is likely that the elevation of Lake Powell will remain near its current level for the first half of June. By late June, however, the water surface elevation will begin to again decline. The current projection is that by the end of the calendar year, the water surface elevation of Lake Powell will be below 3,620 feet (over 80 feet below full pool). Hydrologic conditions often change, however, and the actual end-of-year elevation of Lake Powell will depend, in large part, on weather conditions in the Colorado River Basin from now through the end of the year.

Because of the draw down condition of Lake Powell, and this years expected low runoff, releases from Lake Powell in water year 2002 are being scheduled to meet the minimum objective release of 8.23 million acre-feet. This is consistent with the requirements of the 1970 Criteria for Coordinated Long-Range Operation of Colorado River Reservoirs.

This release courtesy Tom Ryan