States seek to continue successful efforts to improve the recovery of the endangered humpback chub in the Grand Canyon through an experimental management process.
The seven Colorado River Basin States (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming) this week submitted a proposal to the Department of Interior related to long-term operations of the Glen Canyon Dam.
The states, including Colorado, have submitted the alternatives at the invitation of Interior through the National Environmental Policy Act process, as part of the agency’s development of a Long-Term Experimental and Management Plan (LTEMP) for the dam. The long-term plan is part of the Environmental Impact Statement process associated with operations of Glen Canyon Dam. The plan would look back and forward – evaluating the dam’s operations over the past 15 years and providing a framework for operations and adaptive management of Lake Powell and the Grand Canyon for the next 15 to 20 years.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the initiation of the Environmental Impact Statement process in July 2011. The process is designed to achieve more efficient management of Glen Canyon Dam while remaining in compliance with the Grand Canyon Protection Act and the numerous interstate compacts and federal laws already governing dam operations (Law of the River) for water supply purposes that are critical to the seven Colorado River Basin States. Subsequently, Secretary Salazar encouraged the Basin States to work with the federal government to develop a States’ alternative. The DOI held public scoping sessions across the West in November 2011 to communicate the goals of the LTEMP process, as well as solicit input from interested States, non-governmental organizations, and other interested parties.
The States’ EIS alternative is a “resource targeted, condition-dependent strategy.” It provides a balanced and integrated approach for the recovery of the endangered humpback chub, and the benefit of natural, recreational, and cultural resources in the Grand Canyon. Moreover, this alternative assures compliance with the Law of the River for water supply operations in a manner that minimizes the impacts to hydropower generation at the dam. The States’ alternative relies heavily on structured decision trees, wherein certain scientifically important experiments can be conducted, depending on hydrologic and other resource conditions. The States’ alternative relies on the most current scientific information, and it was developed with significant, and diverse, scientific input. In addition, the States’ alternative received the benefit of input from the DOI agencies and other federal agency involvement.
Director Jennifer Gimbel of the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), said “the Basin States’ alternative will result in balanced operations of Glen Canyon Dam in a manner that will provide benefits for all of the key related resources on the Colorado River, given the current state of scientific knowledge.”
The management of the Colorado River requires striking a delicate balance between environmental compliance, tribal and cultural understanding, and providing efficient water management and stable water supplies for the arid West. With this complicated array of issues, the States are preparing this balanced alternative with the overarching Colorado River ecosystem in mind, as well as the everyday concerns of the basin water users. The preservation of stable water supplies and the renewable resource of hydropower inform the States’ proposed framework for management actions, with an eye to the potential for helpful scientific experiments and research.
The States have submitted their alternative to the Department of the Interior on July 2nd, 2012. For more information on the LTEMP process, please visit http://ltempeis.anl.gov/