SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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JOINT HEARING ON THE SIERRA CLUB'S PROPOSAL TO DRAIN LAKE POWELL OR REDUCE ITS WATER STORAGE CAPABILITY
SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS AND PUBLIC LANDS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON WATER AND POWER
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
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TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 1997, WASHINGTON, DC
Serial No. 10556
Printed for the use of the Committee on Resources
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
DON YOUNG, Alaska, Chairman
W.J. (BILLY) TAUZIN, Louisiana
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
JOEL HEFLEY, Colorado
JOHN T. DOOLITTLE, California
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
KEN CALVERT, California
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
BARBARA CUBIN, Wyoming
HELEN CHENOWETH, Idaho
LINDA SMITH, Washington
GEORGE P. RADANOVICH, California
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCWALTER B. JONES, Jr., North Carolina
WILLIAM M. (MAC) THORNBERRY, Texas
JOHN SHADEGG, Arizona
JOHN E. ENSIGN, Nevada
ROBERT F. SMITH, Oregon
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
KEVIN BRADY, Texas
JOHN PETERSON, Pennsylvania
RICK HILL, Montana
BOB SCHAFFER, Colorado
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
MICHAEL D. CRAPO, Idaho
GEORGE MILLER, California
EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
BRUCE F. VENTO, Minnesota
DALE E. KILDEE, Michigan
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
NEIL ABERCROMBIE, Hawaii
SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas
OWEN B. PICKETT, Virginia
FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey
CALVIN M. DOOLEY, California
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCCARLOS A. ROMERO-BARCELÓ, Puerto Rico
MAURICE D. HINCHEY, New York
ROBERT A. UNDERWOOD, Guam
SAM FARR, California
PATRICK J. KENNEDY, Rhode Island
ADAM SMITH, Washington
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
CHRIS JOHN, Louisiana
DONNA CHRISTIAN-GREEN, Virgin Islands
RON KIND, Wisconsin
LLOYD DOGGETT, Texas
LLOYD A. JONES, Chief of Staff
ELIZABETH MEGGINSON, Chief Counsel
CHRISTINE KENNEDY, Chief Clerk/Administrator
JOHN LAWRENCE, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah, Chairman
ELTON, GALLEGLY, California
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
JOEL HEFLEY, Colorado
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCHELEN CHENOWETH, Idaho
LINDA SMITH, Washington
GEORGE P. RADANOVICH, California
WALTER B. JONES, Jr., North Carolina
JOHN B. SHADEGG, Arizona
JOHN E. ENSIGN, Nevada
ROBERT F. SMITH, Oregon
RICK HILL, Montana
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
BRUCE F. VENTO, Minnesota
DALE E. KILDEE, Michigan
FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey
CARLOS A. ROMERO-BARCELÓ, Puerto Rico
MAURICE D. HINCHEY, New York
ROBERT A. UNDERWOOD, Guam
PATRICK J. KENNEDY, Rhode Island
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
DONNA CHRISTIAN-GREEN, Virgin Islands
RON KIND, Wisconsin
LLOYD DOGGETT, Texas
ALLEN FREEMYER, Counsel
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCP. DAN SMITH, Professional Staff
LIZ BIRNBAUM, Democratic Counsel
Subcommittee on Water and Power Resources
JOHN T. DOOLITTLE, California, Chairman
KEN CALVERT, California
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
HELEN CHENOWETH, Idaho
LINDA SMITH, Washington
GEORGE P. RADANOVICH, California
WILLIAM M. (MAC) THORNBERRY, Texas
JOHN B. SHADEGG, Arizona
JOHN E. ENSIGN, Nevada
ROBERT F. SMITH, Oregon
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
MICHAEL D. CRAPO, Idaho
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
GEORGE MILLER, California
OWEN B. PICKETT, Virginia
CALVIN M. DOOLEY, California
SAM FARR, California
ADAM SMITH, Washington
RON KIND, Wisconsin
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCLLOYD DOGGETT, Texas
ROBERT FABER, Staff Director/Counsel
VALERIE WEST, Professional Staff
CHRISTOPHER STEARNS, Democratic Counsel
C O N T E N T S
Hearing held September 24, 1997
Statements of Members:
Cannon, Hon. Chris, a Representative in Congress from the State of Utah
Chenowith, Hon. Helen, a Representative in Congress from the State of Idaho
Doolittle, Hon. John T., a Representative in Congress from the State of California
Prepared statement of
Gibbons, Hon. Jim, a Representative in Congress from the State of Nevada
Hansen, Hon. James V., a Representative in Congress from the State of Utah
Prepared statement of
Hefley, Hon. Joel, a Representative in Congress from the State of Colorado
Pickett, Hon. Owen B., a Representative in Congress from the State of Virginia
Shadegg, Hon. John, a Representative in Congress from the State of Arizona
Prepared statement of
Stump, Hon. Bob, a Representative in Congress from the State of Arizona, prepared statement of
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Statements of witnesses:
Bautista, Melvin F., Executive Director, Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources
Prepared statement of
Brower, David Ross, prepared statement of
Additional material submitted for the record
Campbell, Hon. Ben Nighthorse, a Senator in Congress from the State of Colorado
Elliott, Robert, America Outdoors and Arizona Raft Adventures
Hacskaylo, Michael S., Acting Administrator, Western Area Power Administration, Department of Energy
Prepared statement of
Hatch, Hon. Orrin G., a Senator in Congresss from the State of Utah, prepared statement of
Hunter, Joseph, Executive Director, Colorado River Energy Distribution Association (CREDA)
Lochhead, Jim, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Natural Resources
Martinez, Eluid L., Commissioner, Bureau of Reclamation
Prepared statement of
Pearson, Rita, Director, Arizona Department of Water Resources
Prepared statement of
Stewart, Ted, Executive Director, Utah Department of Natural Resources
Prepared statement of
Tarp, Larry E., Chairman, Friends of Lake Powell
Prepared statement of
Wegner, David, Ecosystem Management International
Prepared statement of
Werbach, Adam, President, Sierra Club
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPrepared statement of
Whitlock, Mark, Executive Director, FAME Renaissance
Prepared statement of
Additional material supplied:
Let the River Run Through It, Sierra Magazine, March/April 1997
JOINT HEARING ON THE SIERRA CLUB'S PROPOSAL TO DRAIN LAKE POWELL OR REDUCE ITS WATER STORAGE CAPABILITY
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 1997
House of Representatives, Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands and the Subcommittee on Water and Power, Committee on Resources, Washington, DC.
The Subcommittees met, pursuant to notice, at 10 a.m. in room 1324, Longworth House Office Building, Hon. James V. Hansen [chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands] and Hon. John Doolittle [chairman of the Subcommittee on Water and Power] presiding.
Mr. HANSEN. This meeting will come to order. Good morning. The Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands and the Subcommittee on Water and Power will come to order.
John Doolittle of California is the Chairman of the Committee of Water and Power and is sitting to my right. And together we will conduct this hearing.
I ask unanimous consent that all of the testimony from Members of Congress and Senate be allowed in the record. Is there objection? Hearing none, so ordered.
STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES V. HANSEN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF UTAH
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HANSEN. We are conducting this joint oversight hearing to explore the proposal of draining Lake Powell as passed unanimously by the Sierra Club Board of Directors on November 16, 1996. Any discussion of the issue brings some disbelief from some observers. However, we have with us today Mr. Adam Werbach, President of the Sierra Club, who is a strong proponent of the idea. We expected to have Mr. David Brower with us today, but, unfortunately, his wife is ill, and he is unable to attend. Our best wishes go out to the Browers and we hope everything is fine.
We look forward to the testimony this morning. There will be many questions asked. And I hope that the witnesses can provide answers for the serious consequences this proposal would bring. There are concerns from the States of Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California. Millions of people could potentially be affected with water shortages, electric power outages, and loss of millions of hours of recreational enjoyment.
There is a long history behind the development of the Colorado River. And the Glen Canyon Dam provides perhaps the most interesting history. This Nation's urge to move West spawned the taming of the Colorado River and turned this one unpredictable resource into a water energy and recreation source for millions of people.
Mr. Brower played an important role in the policy to build Glen Canyon. I was hopeful we could hear some of that history today. However, Congress and the President made the policy decision in 1956 to build this dam. And millions of people now utilize the resources Glen Canyon provides.
Today, over 2.5 million people visit Lake Powell each year. Prior to the filling of the lake, only a few hundred people had ever seen Rainbow Bridge. Now tens of thousands of people visit Rainbow Bridge annually, see Hole-in-the-Rock, and thousands of other spectacular views from Lake Powell.
I have to admit I boat Lake Powell and have since its first year it was allowed and been going back ever since. I've witnessed a change from an isolated desert lake to one of the most popular national park units in the Nation. Thus, I have to say I am personally somewhat concerned about Lake Powell, but I'm also concerned about the people who enjoy its recreation, people who use the power it generates, and the people who need the water that it stores.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now, 40 years later, the Sierra Club proposes to turn back the clock and drain the lake in an attempt to restore Glen Canyon. This would be a complete reversal of the policy path this country chose many years ago.
This hearing is designed to put all the facts on the table and analyze the potential impacts of such a proposal. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and we respect that. And I have nothing but respect for the Sierra Club and their members. We simply want to explore fully this idea so that Congress, the public, and the media understand the consequences such a policy change would have on the Colorado River and the States that benefit from his resource.
There are three agencies in the Federal Government here to testify this morning. Furthermore, the Executive Directors of Natural Resources for two States and the Navajo Nation will testify on the need for Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell for the well-being of the people they represent.
And, finally, we will hear from the board an array of users of the power, water, and recreation this reservoir provides to millions of people.
I look forward to the testimony we will receive this morning and to the statements and questions of my colleagues. Due to the numbers of Members that I think will be dribbling in that we will have here today, I think we will have to stay strictly to the 5-minute rule for opening statements, testimony of witnesses, and followup round of questions.
I would, before recognizing my colleague, Mr. Doolittle of California, I would somewhat like to just outline how we are going to do this today. We would urge our colleagues to be brief in their opening statements, if they would be. Keep in mind the respect we have for everyone here in the room. And then I understand there is a possibility of, possibly, a couple of Senators coming over. We will insert them when they come over.
Then, we will go to panel one, which will be Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, Dennis Galvin of the National Park Service, and Mr. Hacskaylo, Acting Director of the Western Area Power Administration.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC On panel two, we were going to have Mr. David Brower. We will have on panel two Mr. Adam Werbach, the President of the Sierra Club; Mr. Ted Stewart, Executive Director of Utah Department of Natural Resources; Rita P. Pearson, Director of Arizona Department of Water Resources; and Mark Whitlock, Executive Director of FAME.
And then we will go to panel three, Jim Lochhead, Executive Director of Colorado Department of Natural Resources; Melvin Bautista, Executive Director of the Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources; Larry E. Tarp, Chairman of Friends of Lake Powell.
Then we will go to panel four: Robert Elliot, Arizona Raft Adventures; Joseph Hunter, Executive Director, Colorado River Energy Distribution Association; and David Wegner, Ecosystem Management International.
We may mix you up a little bit. So if that is all right with everyone, we will try to work this out so that it is fair and reasonable for all people concerned.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Hansen follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES V. HANSEN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF UTAH
Good Morning. The Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands and the Subcommittee on Water and Power will come to order.
We are conducting this joint oversight hearing to explore the proposal of draining Lake Powell as passed unanimously by the Sierra Club Board of Directors on November 16, 1996. Any discussion of this issue brings disbelief from many observers, however, we have with us today Mr. Adam Werbach, President of the Sierra Club who is a strong proponent of this idea. We expected to have Mr. David Brower with us today but unfortunately his wife is ill and he is unable to attend. Our best wishes go out to the Brower's and we hope everything is fine.
We look forward to the testimony this morning. There will be many questions asked, and I hope that the witnesses can provide sensible answers for the serious consequences this proposal would bring. There are concerns not only from my State of Utah, but Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California. Millions of people could potentially be affected with water shortages, electric power outages and loss of millions of hours of recreational enjoyment.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There is a long history behind the development of the Colorado River, and the Glen Canyon Dam provides perhaps the most interesting history. This Nation's urge to move West spawned the taming of the Colorado River and turned this once unpredictable resource into a water, energy, and recreation resource for millions of people. Mr. Brower played an important role in the policy to build Glen Canyon dam and I was hopeful we could hear some of that history today. However, Congress and the President made the policy decision in 1956 to build this dam and millions of people now utilize the resources Glen Canyon dam provides. Today, over 2.5 million people visit Lake Powell each year. Prior to the filling of the lake, only a few hundred people had ever seen Rainbow Bridge. Now, tens of thousands of people visit Rainbow Bridge annually, see Hole-in-the-Rock, and thousands of other spectacular views from Lake Powell. I boated on Lake Powell the first year it was allowed and have been going back ever since. I have witnessed the change from an isolated desert lake to one of the most popular National Park units in the Nation. Thus, I am personally very concerned about Lake Powell, but am also concerned about the people who enjoy its recreation, people who use the power it generates and the people who need the water it stores.
Now, forty years later, the Sierra Club proposes to turn back the clock and drain the lake in an attempt to restore Glen Canyon. This would be a complete reversal of the policy path this country chose many years ago. This hearing is designed to put all of the facts on the table and analyze the potential impacts of such a proposal. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I have nothing but respect for the Sierra Club and their members. We simply want to explore fully this idea so that Congress, the public and the media understand the consequences such a policy change would have on the Colorado River and the States that benefit from its resources.
There are three agencies of the Federal Government here to testify this morning. Furthermore, the Executive Directors of Natural Resources for two states and the Navajo Nation will testify on the need for Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell for the well-being of the people they represent. And finally, we will hear from a broad array of users of the power, water, and recreation this reservoir provides to millions of people.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I look forward to the testimony we will receive this morning and to the statements and questions of my colleagues. Due to the number of Members and witnesses we have here today, I will strictly adhere to the five minute rule for opening statements, testimony from witnesses, and follow-up rounds of questions.
I recognize my colleague, Mr. Doolittle of California, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Water and Power for his opening remarks.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN T. DOOLITTLE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you. We will hear today many facts and figures concerning Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. All are important as a part of the discussion. But I want to add my own personal sense of the importance of Lake Powell. Standing on the shore of the lake or gliding quietly over the surface of the water deep in one of the many canyons or flying over the majestic reach of Lake Powell, you have an opportunity to experience a unique natural resource. From the quiet canyons to secluded vistas to remote beaches, Lake Powell provides one of life's truly refreshing pleasures.
I, along with tens of millions of others, have had the chance to experience this beauty and grandeur. It would not exist and could not be enjoyed if we had not had the foresight and courage to create this wonder. I, for one, would not support any step to destroy this beautiful gem that has meant so much to so many people.
Beyond its scenic and recreational qualities, Lake Powell is a source of both clean hydropower as well as water storage. Draining Lake Powell would have negative environmental impacts, eliminate water stored for millions of people throughout the Southwest, and destroy the delicate balance of water rights between the upper and the lower Colorado River basins. It would eliminate a renewable power source serving businesses and residences all over the Western United States.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Among all sources of electric power today, hydropower provides an unusual ability to enhance the reliability of our electric system. And the hydropower lost would be replaced by burning fossil fuels at a time when the Federal Government is looking to use our resources efficiently and to reduce our deficit. Draining Lake Powell would result in lost revenues measured in the billions of dollars.
For decades, the water laws governing the Colorado River have evolved to meet the competing needs of the Western States. Those laws are based in the existence of Lake Powell as a major water storage resource. Elimination of this foundational piece in the interlocking water puzzle would throw the entire Colorado River system into chaos.
The decision to build Glen Canyon Dam and create Lake Powell was made after many years of review, years when informed people on many sides of the debate had an opportunity to weigh the choices.
When that process was finished, huge commitments of time, money and resources were made. History recorded a decision. People, States, businesses, populations all relied on that decision. To those who did not like that decision who wish to rewrite that history, we can only say there is a time when all of us must let go.
Glen Canyon Dam was built. The beautiful and serene Lake Powell was formed. It fulfills the diverse needs of millions of Americans. Let us make the best use of this magnificent resource. It is a decision we can live with.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Doolittle follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN T. DOOLITTLE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
We will hear, today, many facts and figures concerning Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. All are an important part of the discussion. But I want to add my own personal sense of the importance of Lake Powell. Standing on the shore of the lake, or gliding quietly over the surface of the water deep in one of the many canyons, or flying over the majestic reach of Lake Powell you have an opportunity to experience a unique natural resource. From the quiet canyons, to secluded vistas, to remote beaches, Lake Powell provides one of life's truly refreshing pleasures. I, along with tens of millions, have had the chance to experience this beauty and grandeur. It would not exist and could not be enjoyed if we had not had the foresight and courage to create this wonder. I for one would not support any step to destroy this beautiful gem that has meant so much to so many people.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Beyond its scenic and recreational qualities, Lake Powell is a source of both clean hydropower as well as water storage. Draining Lake Powell would have negative environmental impacts, eliminate water stored for millions of people throughout the southwest, and destroy the delicate balance of water rights between the upper and lower Colorado River basins. It would eliminate a renewable power source serving businesses and residences all over the western United States. Among all sources of electric power today, hydropower provides an unusual ability to enhance the reliability of our electric system. And the hydropower lost would be replaced by burning fossil fuels. At a time when the Federal Government is looking to use our resources efficiently and to reduce our deficit, draining Lake Powell would result in lost revenues measured in the billions of dollars.
For decades, the water laws governing the Colorado River have evolved to meet the competing needs of the western states. Those laws are based on the existence of Lake Powell as a major water storage resource. Elimination of this foundational piece in the interlocking water puzzle would throw the entire Colorado River system into chaos.
The decision to build Glen Canyon Dam and create Lake Powell was made after many years. Years when informed people on many sides of the debate had an opportunity to weigh the choices. When that process was finished huge commitments of time, money, and resources were made. History recorded the decision. People, states, businesses, populations all relied on that decision. To those who did not like that decision, who wish to rewrite that history we can only say there is a time when all of us must let go. Glen Canyon Dam was built. The beautiful and serene Lake Powell was formed. It fulfills the diverse needs of millions of Americans. Let us make the best use of this magnificent resource. It is a decision we can live with.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you. The gentleman from Michigan, Mr. Kildee.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. KILDEE. Mr. Chairman, for the sake of time, I will not have an opening statement and look forward to listening to the witnesses.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you. The gentleman from Utah, Mr. Cannon.
STATEMENT OF HON. CHRIS CANNON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF UTAH
Mr. CANNON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As you know, my district contains the entire Utah portion of Lake Powell. Today, you will hear several witnesses testify as to the logical reasons for preserving the integrity of the lake.
As the Committee will hear, Lake Powell provides substantial power, drinking and irrigation water, and protection from ravenous floods for millions of people, people whose lives now depend upon the lake's existence. Not to mention the fact that Lake Powell is incomparable in scale and quality to any other recreational area in America, providing world renowned water recreation to some 3 million people every year.
Chairman, draining the lake is a ridiculous idea. I remember the debate before Glen Canyon Dam was built. The environmental effects were discussed. Frankly, I was offended at the idea that we would build a dam there and destroy what I think was a wonderful area, even though I was quite young at the time. The damage to the canyon was acknowledged at that time. The decision to go forward was made. It is too late to change that now simply because some have grown sentimental for Glen Canyon.
What existed then could never be restored. To suggest otherwise is silly. I dare say this could be the silliest proposal discussed in the 105th Congress.
Mr. Chairman, I have seen environmental proposals in my district that can only be described as dumb, some monumentally dumb. But now, Mr. Chairman, we have dumb and dumber. In that spirit, I would like to introduce my top 10 environmental ideas that might be even dumber than draining Lake Powell.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Number 10, remove the Statute of Liberty and reclaim Liberty Island. Number 9, return New Orleans and Southern Louisiana to its natural wetlands state. Number 8, dismantle all white houses cluttering our Nation's shorelines. Number 7, return Mount Rushmore to its pristine state. Number 6, repack Manhattan's linking tunnel. Number 5, remove the Golden Gate Bridge from the San Francisco Bay. Number 4, rip up the interstate highways that litter our landscape. Number 3, fill in Lake Erie Canal. Number 2, return Washington to its original and swampy wetlands, a proposal that might well be received around the country. And Number 1, designate a 1.7-million-acre national monument in Southern Utah without any hearings. Thank you.
Mr. HANSEN. I caution the gentleman here that everyone's entitled to their viewpoint, and we'll treat everybody with respect.
The gentleman from Arizona.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN SHADEGG, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ARIZONA
Mr. SHADEGG. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me first say that I have grave reservations about this hearing. I did not hear, nor did my staff learn of this hearing until a little over a week ago. And I did not have a chance to invite witnesses until all of the witnesses from Arizona had been invited. I was not afforded that opportunity until last Thursday.
So I have grave concern that those of us who are in opposition to this idea have not had sufficient time to prepare and, with that, may at some point want to request a future hearing. But with that, let me give you my opening statement.
We will hear testimony today about how some people think it would be wonderful to turn back the clock. And, indeed, sometimes, we would perhaps all like to do so. At times, we all wish we could do things differently in retrospect. But it cannot happen. Time moves in only one direction.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The wishful thinking and the ill-conceived proposal which brings us here today calls to mind the lines from Edward Fitzgerald's ''Rubiyat of Omar Khayyam:'' ''The moving finger writes; and having writ, moves on: Nor all your piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all your tears wash out a word of it.''
Time moves in one direction, and that is how God intended it. In this life, each of us is called to look forward, not backward.
We will hear testimony today claiming that one of God's creation has been destroyed by man and one of man's creations. No one here is so arrogant as to say that man's works can replace those of God. But I am here to stand foursquare in favor of Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam as beautiful and functional works, albeit man-made. Let us not forget as we consider this issue that man is one of God's creations and that man's creations often honor his God.
Ultimately, why is this issue before us? It is certainly within the purview of Congress to right wrongs. And there will be testimony claiming that the dam and the lake are wrong. The Sierra Club President has called the dam a horrible mistake of humanity and an arrogant symbol of technology. Though, in my mind, technology has raised humanity to extraordinary heights.
There also will be testimony as to how right the dam and lake are, from solving water and power needs in seven Western States, to the beauty and recreational opportunities afforded to all citizens. I can assure you firsthand they are a wonder. I have spent more than two dozen nights on Lake Powell and explored every canyon from Wahweap to Bullfrog.
One man who will testify here takes credit for raising the issue to national prominence. He has said that he virtually alone is responsible for Glen Canyon Dam and that he has suffered 40 years of guilt over it.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC One organization, the Sierra Club, has acknowledged that it is suffering from decline in younger membership and believe this is the kind of high profile litmus test issue that will boost its youthful membership.
Another man, who will not testify here today, but who has founded an institute to study the issue and provide reliable data says, and I quote, ''At its heart, this is a religious issue.''
We will hear testimony from others which will provide hard facts and scientific data upon which we may draw valid conclusions. But I submit to you, Mr. Chairman, this issue is before us for the most spurious of reasons. This issue is driven by ego, sentimentality, guilt, and a desire for profit. That is hardly a good basis on which to build public policy.
I am hopeful that a meaningful discussion of issues regarding dam safety, long-term siltation studies, the future of remediation and mitigation will be raised and discussed here. But I state as unequivocally as I possibly can, Lake Powell should not be drained. It is an ill-conceived proposal that appears to be advanced for personal and institutional gain, and I will oppose it with every ounce of energy I have.
Even a Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club, arguably the chapter most affected by this plan, acknowledge that time has rendered the issue moot. Ann Wechshler, leader of the Utah Chapter said, and I quote, ''We were not consulted. We do not support the draining.''
Current habitats both above and below the dam are stable, thriving and providing for the rebound of such endangered species as the peregrine falcon and bald eagle. Lees's Ferry in my State is home to a world class trout fishery.
Flow controls from the dam in last year's simulated flood has shown the Grand Canyon can be maintained as a thriving ecosystem. The amount and variety of wildlife supported by Lake Powell has been cataloged and studied to ensure its success. Were the lake to be drained, all that would be lost. The lack of scouring floods through the Grand Canyon has allowed a rich variety of plant and animal life to make a home there. It is true that the habitats have changed, but that does not make them worse. And by most accounts, they are better.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There are many problems that must be resolved in this debate. For instance, the sediment contained in Lake Powell likely contains toxic concentrations of heavy metals and uranium that could destroy the Grand Canyon as well as Lake Mead if we were to drain Lake Powell as proposed.
Of greater concern than that, however, is the silt not carried away in the water, but which dries out and becomes airborne in many violent storms within the region. As many as 12 times a year, the dry Owens Lake in California is whipped by winds that cut visibility to zero and put 25 times the EPA maximum amount of particulates into the air.
Do we drain Lake Powell only to visually obscure the Grand Canyon and other surrounding national parks? Do we drain Lake Powell only to expose hundreds of thousands of citizens to toxic dust?
Proponents attempt to counter the enormous economic loss that draining Lake Powell would cause, from lost power generation, water storage, tourism, and more, by stating that one million acre feet of water evaporate from the lake each year. What they don't say is that those million acre feet are the result of storage, not wasted flows.
The Colorado is already fully used, fully apportioned. Eliminating the dam will not cause one more gallon of water to flow. It will simply cause water hardships in dry years and water waste in wet years.
The total loss by evaporation which they claim, if the figures are even accurate, is a mere 4 percent of Lake Powell's capacity. And of course, water lost to evaporation is not lost at all. Even school children know it rises to form clouds and fall as rain somewhere else.
Mr. Chairman, we are a Nation built on the principle that to look forward is to grow and to thrive. To dwell in the past is to wither and die. Not all change is perfect and good and true, but change is inevitable. And to learn from our mistakes is noble and right. To turn our backs on progress for the sake of sentimental wishing is suicide, indeed.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Sierra Club's board of directors, without consulting its membership, has embraced an irresponsible proposal that is not only economically disastrous, but environmentally dangerous. I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Shadegg follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN B. SHADEGG, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ARIZONA
We will hear testimony today about how some people think it would be wonderful to turn back the clock . . . and indeed sometimes we would perhaps all like to do so. At times we all wish we could do things differently, in retrospect.
But it cannot happen. Time moves in only one direction.
The wishful thinking and the ill-conceived proposal which brings us here today calls to mind the lines from Edward Fitzgerald's ''Rubiyat of Omar Khayyam'':
The Moving Finger writes; and having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it hack to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
Time does move in one direction and that is how God intended it. In this life each of us is called to look forward and not backward.
We will hear testimony today claiming that one of God's creations has been despoiled by man and one of man's creations. No one here is so arrogant as to say that man's works can replace those of his God. But I am here to stand foresquare in favor of Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam as beautiful and functional works, albeit man-made.
Let us not forget, as we consider this issue, that man is one of God's creations and that man's creations often honor his God.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ultimately, why is this issue before us? It is certainly within the purview of Congress to right wrongs, and there will be testimony claiming that the dam and the lake are wrong. The Sierra Club President has called the dam a ''horrible mistake of humanity'' and ''an arrogant symbol of technology,'' though, in my mind, technology has raised humanity to extraordinary heights. There will also be testimony as to how right the dam and the lake are. From solving water and power needs in seven western states to the beauty and recreational opportunities afforded to all citizens, I can assure you, first-hand, they are a wonder. I have spent more than two dozen nights on Lake Powell and explored every canyon from Wahweap to Bullfrog.
One man, who will testify here, takes credit for raising this issue to national prominence. He has said that he, virtually alone, is responsible for Glen Canyon Dam and that he has suffered 40 years of guilt over it.
One organization, the Sierra Club, suffering from a decline in younger membership believes this is the kind of high-profile ''litmus test'' issue that will boost its youthful membership.
Another man, who will testify here, founds an institute to ''study'' the issue and provide reliable data, yet says: ''At its heart, this is a religious issue.''
We will hear testimony from others that will provide hard facts and scientific data upon which we may draw valid conclusions, but I submit to you, Mr. Chairman, that this issue is before us for the most spurious of reasons. This issue is driven by ego, sentimentality and guilt. That's hardly a good basis on which to build public policy.
I am hopeful that a meaningful discussion of issues regarding dam safety, long-term siltation studies, and future remediation and mitigation will be raised and discussed here. But, and I state this as unequivocally as I possibly can: Lake Powell should not be drained. It is an ill-conceived proposal that appears to be advanced for personal and institutional gain and I will oppose it with every ounce of energy I have.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Even the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Clubarguably the Chapter most affected by this planacknowledges that time has rendered this a moot issue. Ann Wechshler, leader of the Utah Chapter, said: ''We were not consulted. We don't support the draining.''
Current habitats, both above and below the dam, are stable, thriving and providing for the rebound of such endangered species as the peregrine falcon and bald eagle. Lee's Ferry is home to a world-class trout fishery. Flow controls from the dam and last year's simulated flood have shown that the Grand Canyon can be maintained as a thriving ecosystem. The amount and variety of wildlife supported by Lake Powell has been cataloged and studied to ensure its success. Were the lake to be drained, all that would be lost. The lack of scouring floods through Grand Canyon has allowed a rich variety of plant and animal life to make a home there. It is true that the habitats have changed, but that does not make them worse. And by most accounts, they are better.
There are many problems that must be resolved in this debate. For instance, the sediment contained in Lake Powell likely contains toxic concentrations of heavy metals and uranium that could destroy the Grand Canyon as well as Lake Mead if we were to drain Lake Powell as proposed. Of greater concern than that, however, is the silt that is not carried away, but which dries out and becomes airborne in the many violent storms within this region. As many as 12 times a year, the dry Owens Lake in California is whipped by winds that cut visibility to zero and put 25 times the EPA maximum amount of particulates into the air. Do we drain Lake Powell only to visually obscure the Grand Canyon and other surrounding National Parks? Do we drain Lake Powell only to expose hundreds of thousands of citizens to toxic dust?
Proponents attempt to counter the enormous economic loss that draining Lake Powell would cause, from lost power generation, water storage, tourism and more, by stating that one million acre feet of water evaporate from the lake each year. What they don't say is that those million acre feet are the result of storage, not wasted flows.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Colorado is already fully used, fully apportioned. Eliminating the dam will not cause one more gallon of water to flow. It will simply cause water hardships in dry years and water waste in wet years. And, of course, water lost to evaporation is not ''lost'' at all. Even school children know that it rises to form clouds and falls as rain elsewhere.
Mr. Chairman, we are a nation built on the principle that to look forward is to grow and thrive; to dwell in the past is to wither and die. Not all change is perfect, good and true; but change is inevitable and to learn from our mistakes is noble and right. To turn our backs on progress for the sake of sentimental wishing is suicide, indeed. The Sierra Club's board of directors, without consulting its membership has embraced an irresponsible proposal that is not only economically disastrous but is environmentally dangerous.
Mr. HANSEN. I thank the gentleman from Arizona. I am always embarrassed to see you folks standing over there. We won't be using this lower tier. You are welcome to come up and sit here, if you would like. And I instruct the clerk to pick up these packets, if they would. If you folks would like to come up and sit down. I would hate to see you stand through this. It is going to be a long hearing. If you plan to stay the entire hearing, you are going to pass out; I hope not from boredom.
Senator Campbell, it is a pleasure to have you, sir. We will take Senator Campbell and then go to Congressman Hefley, Congresswoman Helen Chenowith and Congressman Jim Gibbons in that order.
I ask unanimous consent that the testimony of Senator Campbell be included in the record. Without objection, so ordered.
[The information referred to follows:]
Mr. HANSEN. Senator Campbell, it is always a pleasure to see you. I hope that a lot of you folks realize it wasn't too many years ago that Senator Campbell was sitting here with us in this room. I will turn the time to you, sir.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENT OF HON. BEN NIGHTHORSE CAMPBELL, A SENATOR IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF COLORADO
Senator CAMPBELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I remember those days very well in which we fought many a battle that is fought in the so-called debate over the new West versus the old West. And I certainly thank you for holding this very important hearing and allowing me the opportunity to make a brief comment on the Sierra Club's proposal to drain Lake Powell.
We are in a series of votes over on the Senate side now, so I won't stay long. But I did talk to several other Western Senators before I came over to kind of get their ideas about how they felt. And I'm sure you can imagine how many of them felt.
You, I am sure, are going to have many witnesses today, who will have much more expertise and knowledge from a technical standpoint than I have when they speak about this water project. Some of them will be able to tell you how many cubic feet of water is stored, how much goes to different States and how important it is to a great many Western people.
Some will be able to tell you specifically how many kilowatts of power are generated every day and the demand on power in the Los Angeles basin and the other places where it supplys. And certainly we all know that it has provided a reasonable quality of life for the people that get that rather inexpensive power.
Well, I am certainly not here to try to speak from a technical standpoint. But I am here, I think, to voice the opinions of millions of westerners, some who sit on this Committee, in proclaiming it to be a certifiable nut idea.
It is true that Lake Powell, when it was built, forever changed an incredibly beautiful place. But so did building New York City on Long Island. And we simply can't go back in time and undo all of the projects that have been built.
Now, in fact, I think it would just plain be silly to even contemplate it, but I don't mean that to disparage the remarks that may come later in favor of it. It is just my personal opinion.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC When I first heard about it, in fact, I thought it was a joke, as many westerners did when we read it in the paper. But then, on the other hand, after I realized the Sierra Club was supporting it, I knew they were serious because I know that it was no joke when they reduced the timber industry's ability to harvest resources. And, in fact, in the name of environmental purism, they have made great strides in reducing most of our land-based industries while making us more dependent on foreign resources, particularly energy.
And if there is anybody on that panel that doesn't know what that war in Kuwait was about, let me enlighten them. It was about energy. There is no question about it.
There are just too many good reasons to keep that lake and not enough to destroy it. The Glen Canyon Lake has produced tens of thousands of jobs, first of all, not only in construction, but in the current maintenance of it, too, and the recreational services it provides in energy and water-related activities.
It has also produced a great deal of clean energy. To my understanding, the Sierra Club is very concerned about global warming. It factors no contribution, to my knowledge, of global warming, and no air pollution, either one, as there is coming from the eastern coal-fired plants or the Northern coal-fired plants. Therefore, it reduces demand for strip money to get the coal, which they also claim they dislike.
Now, I haven't seen a nuclear project that produces power that they support. I haven't seen a coal-fired project that they support. And there is no question in my mind that, if we did something as crazy as this sounds to me, the cost of power would skyrocket.
It also provides an awful lot of water for all of our folks that live out in our area. I come from the Four Corners area, as you know, Mr. Chairman. And you also know coming from our neighboring State of Utah in the West, we store 85 to 90 percent of our yearly water needs, unlike here in the East where it rains so much that they only have to store about 15 percent of the water needs.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But your State, mine, as well as Arizona, Nevada, and Southern California simply won't have available options if we cutoff both the power and the water, or reduce both the power and water, except one, and that is they will be moving to your State and mine.
So we end up, I think, if we follow the Sierra Club's line of thinking to tear down that dam and drain the lake, we would put another set of circumstances in place that is going to make it difficult when you have a huge inward migration into the mountain States, which currently does have a lot of water.
I live down near the cliff dwellings, as you know, Mr. Chairman, Mesa Verde it's called. And most historians will tell you that the reason they moved down river a thousand years ago wasn't from massive social upheaval. It was simply because they droughted out. They had no way of storing water when they went through years of drought, and they had to leave.
The Sierra Club also, I think, betrays a basic underlying elitism. It wants to drain Lake Powell so the spectacular Glen Canyon is once again accessible, as I understand it. But who would it be accessible to, a few thousand hikers that can go in there. Certainly they wouldn't support wheelchairs going in there. They never have for our wilderness areas. And it would certainly cutoff the elderly, the people that can visit it by boat, the thousands of recreational tourists that go there now.
I think also the consequences of the Grand Canyon also need to be measured. Without flood control provided by the dam, the Grand Canyon would be subject to dangerous torrential flash floods much of the year. Year-round rafting and hiking would simply be out of the question. Access to the canyon would be reduced. And the risks associated with flooding would also be increased. And only the wealthiest of Americans would be able to appreciate that area.
As you know, there are many tragedies in those canyons and during flood season. In fact, just recently, several hikers were killed in a flash flood. Imagine what the Colorado would do to all communities downstream during raging spring floods that have been built since the canyon was damned and the flood waters have been controlled. To simply tear that down and release torrential floods of water downstream to small communities all the way down to the ocean, I think, is absolutely nonsense.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I also would like to just say in closing, Mr. Chairman, that, if this were to go forward, and I have a hunch it is going nowhere, but if it were to go forward, what would be the next project? Would it be Hoover Dam or any of the dams in the West, all the dams in the West? Would we then talk about maybe returning the Utah project and the Arizona project back to its former natural environment? Would we talk about tearing down Hetch Hetchy, there was kind of a joke made about that a few years ago, which supplies water and power to the city of San Francisco.
This project, when people hear all the testimony for and against, I would hope that they will realize it is something absolutely ridiculous to contemplate. With that, I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Senator Campbell. It is always a pleasure to see you. And I appreciate you coming over. We are going to be quite busy this morning. So instead of giving questions to Senator Campbell, you are welcome to join us if you are so inclined. I know you are very busy.
Senator CAMPBELL. I appreciate it, Mr. Chairman. We are on the floor, too. Thank you.
Mr. HANSEN. The gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Hefley.
Senator CAMPBELL. May I also just maybe mention one thing? I have on our side, I have asked Senator Murkowski of the full Committee on Energy if he would hold similar hearings to this, too. So we are not trying to simply lock people out on the Senate side. Those westerners whowe believe debate is healthy. But we want you to know that we have asked Senator Murkowski to hold a hearing.
Mr. HANSEN. I may add to what you just said. If this idea goes forward with some of our Members of Congress, as I have told the Congressman from Arizona, we truly intend to hold additional meetings and hearings, possibly out in the West. The gentleman fromdid you want to have him yield to you?
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SHADEGG. If he would yield for just a moment.
Mr. HEFLEY. Surely.
Mr. SHADEGG. Mr. Chairman, I simply want to thank Senator Campbell. I reached out to him this weekend to assure that he would be here. I think his testimony adds greatly to this hearing, and I want to express my personal appreciation for his attendance. I yield back.
Mr. HEFLEY. Mr. Chairman, I believe Mrs. Chenowith was here before I was.
Mr. HANSEN. If I made that mistake, I surely apologize to both of you.
Mrs. CHENOWITH. Mr. Chairman, I would be happy to yield to seniority. Thank you.
Mr. HANSEN. I apologize. I was just going by my sheet here. And we had you down. I want you all to see this, because I don't want to do that purposely.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOEL HEFLEY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF COLORADO
Mr. HEFLEY. Mr. Chairman, I don't have a prepared statement. I would like to just say a few things. I guess I am surprised that the Committee is taking time with a nutty idea like this. I don't know anyone that really takes it seriously. I suppose we will hear some testimony today from some folks that do. But it kind of ranks in my mind with the idea that came out a few years ago of taking the whole plains of the West and Midwest and turning them back into a buffalo preserve, because that is what they were originally, and move people out of those areas. And that would be many, many States. Maybe we will have hearings on that as well. It is kind of a similar idea.
I don't need to educate you, Mr. Chairman, on Western water, because you are the expert on it. I think Senator Campbell and others have pointed that out. Our water comes in the form of snow in the wintertime. And if we don't capture that water and store it for use throughout the year out there in the West, we just simply don't have water. And maybe it becomes a buffalo preserve. Maybe we do move everybody off the land, because there is simply no water there for us to live on or to support the populations that are out there.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now, it might have beenmight have been nice if we could have had a Garden of Eden type setting in the world and that man didn't disturb that setting, but when you have populations that we do, you do make changes. And we do have technology. And just like I think that canyon is God-given, I think our ability to use technology is God-given as well. And I think we have used it rather well with Lake Powell.
I am a little surprised, I guess, at the Sierra Club. I don't know if they realize what this does to their credibility. Because there areI would hope all of us consider ourselves environmentalists, but there are responsible environmental groups, and there is the nutty fringe of environmental groups. There is the fringe that always has to buildup straw men to fight against in order to get their donations so they can stay in business. I never thought of the Sierra Club as being in the nutty fringe. But with this idea, I begin to wonder, Mr. Chairman.
And I guess it is OK for us to have these hearings and to hear the viewpoints. I would hope this idea goes absolutely nowhere. And I hope this Committee would not spend its time on these kinds of craziness in the future, because this is something that is not going to happen. We are not going to drain Lake Powell. And we can discuss it. You can raise money with it. But we are not going to do it. It simply isn't going to happen, because the West cannot afford that kind of activity. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. As the Senator, my friend from Colorado, said, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
STATEMENT OF HON. HELEN CHENOWITH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF IDAHO+
Mrs. CHENOWITH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. You know, sometimes those of us who work in this body find the most audacious and arrogant ideas coming in front of us; but I will tell you, this one takes the cake. The fact that we would even start with the hearing on draining Lake Powell and then move on into other areas that have impoundment facilities and working activity on our rivers, which has been historic from the beginning of the founding of this country, to even start pulling the plug on America's commerce with these kinds of visions is unthinkable.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC However, when groups like the Sierra Club, who, by the way, has become very powerful in the U.S. Congress, very, very powerful, and I am going to begin to make an appeal, Mr. Chairman, to those corporate entities who support these ideas, and appeal to them to look to America first, because what is happening with the beginning of the pulling of the plug at Lake Powell, there is also, right next to that, the pulling of the plug of several dams on the Colombia River whichand the Snake River which affect my district very, very directly.
Yes, this is audacious, arrogant, and very self-centered on the part of an organization who wants to make sure that they have an issue that takes on national proportions that will help them with their fund-raising capabilities.
Lake Powell was built around 1922, and it contains $.2 billion worth or stimulates $.2 billion worth of agriculture industry stretching across seven States.
It produces a thousand megawatts, utilized by 20 million residents in California, Arizona, and Nevada. And it is worth $800 million industry annually.
The Navajo project, as part of the Glen Canyon system, provides power for 3 million customers and employs 2,000 people. For recreation, the Glen Canyon National Recreation area has almost 3 million visitors annually, which brings in $500 million annually to the regions of 42,000 people who also annually float the river below Glen Canyon. Thirty thousand anglers enjoy the blue ribbon trout fishery.
And one of the most important items, Mr. Chairman, is that Glen Canyon Dam was built also for the purpose of flood control on a river that experiences runoff flows up to 400,000 cubic feet per second. That can be very devastating.
We have already dealt with the environmental issues. But I would ask these members who are making these proposals whoand this type of proposal will devastate the income ability of thousands and hundreds of thousands of people, take away their life-style, and change the face of the commercial activity and the environment drastically. What is going to happen to your healthy wages? What is going to happen to your steady employment, those members of the Sierra Club who are dreaming up these ideas?
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Unfortunately, their vision is notwe don't really count in their vision. I am not sure what their vision is, but I don't believe that it is healthy for America. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you.
The gentlelady from the Virgin Islands.
Ms. CHRISTIAN-GREEN. No questions or comments, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you. The gentleman from Nevada, Mr. Gibbons.
STATEMENT OF HON. JIM GIBBONS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEVADA
Mr. GIBBONS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I first want to applaud you for your interest and your effort here today to hold this hearing and your leadership on this issue.
It seems that, seldom in the history of Congress, indeed perhaps even seldom in the history of mankind, do we have an opportunity to hear extreme proposals like this one. And, in fact, this is an extremely bad proposal.
This Nation, years ago, went through considerable or great lengths and a considerable amount of money to construct the Glen Canyon Dam and for good reasons. But this proposal to drain Lake Powell fails even in the very simplest of terms to understand that the issues that Lake Powell provide for the humanity in Southwestern United States is at stake with this extreme proposal.
Lake Powell is an issue of storage. And it was constructed for the issue of storage. Storage, which includes municipal and agricultural uses, maybe not directly from Lake Powell, but for downstream users. Millions of people reside in Nevada, Arizona, California, and Utah.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Sensitive ecosystems along the banks and riverways of the Colorado River will be at stake and at risk without the storage and the flood prevention and flood control efforts of the Lake Powell Dam.
This is just totally unacceptable to have a group propose such an extreme position without taking into consideration the needs of both the environment and humanity along the way. And I am not even speaking yet of the resource of recreation that is provided to millions of Americans every year.
Mr. Chairman, this proposal, at first glance, seems to be so far out on a limb that it should not even be considered as part of our hearing today. But, indeed, it runs the risk that, if we fail to address this issue, we have failed to do our job in terms of the future of America. And I thank you for your leadership on this issue.
Mr. HANSEN. I thank the gentleman from Nevada.
The gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Pickett.
STATEMENT OF HON. OWEN B. PICKETT, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF VIRGINIA
Mr. PICKETT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And while this project is considerably removed from my district, I share the sentiments that have been expressed here today about the need to preserve it.
I say it is impossible today and in the future to build any kind of major infrastructure project in our country. And to come here and talk about beginning to dismantle the ones that our forbearers had the good sense and vision to create is absolute nonsense. And I just hope that you will conduct this hearing with that in mind. Thank you.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you. I previously read the number of witnesses that were here. And I am sure you heard your name. It is the policy of the Chairman of the full Committee to swear in people on oversight hearings, so why don't, instead of doing that one panel at a time, could I ask you all to stand, and we will just do this right now.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Witnesses sworn.]
Mr. HANSEN. Our first panel is Eluid L. Martinez, Commissioner of Bureau of Reclamation, accompanied by Dennis Galvin of the National Park Service and Mr. Michael Hacskaylo, Acting Administrator, Western Area Power Administration, Department of Energy.
We are grateful for all you folks being here. As has been evident by the opening statements, there is some diversity of thought on this particular issue. But keep in mind, there is on about every issue that comes around here. So that is the way we do our business.
Again, before you start, let me point out that, if you folks standingwe have still got some chairs up here in the lower tier if you would like to use them. You are more than free to do it. We just won't let you talk is all.
OK. We will start with Mr. Martinez. And we are grateful for you being here.
Mr. MARTINEZ. Thank you.
Mr. HANSEN. Let me point out, Mr. Martinez is accompanied by Charles Calhoon, Regional Director of Upper Colorado, Regional Director of the Bureau of Reclamation. Mr. Calhoon, we appreciate you being here.
Mr. Martinez, the floor is yours. Let me ask you, can everybody do it in 5 minutes? That is kind of our rules. And if you have just got a burning desire to go over, I am not going to stop you. But if you watch the little things in front of you there, it is just like a traffic light, you know, when you drive your car. Just do the same thing. Mr. Martinez.
STATEMENT OF ELUID L. MARTINEZ, COMMISSIONER, BUREAU OF RECLAMATION
Mr. MARTINEZ. Mr. Chairman, Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the invitation to be here today in this oversight hearing. I have submitted my written statement for the record. And if appropriate, I would like to summarize that statement.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, the Department of Interior is committed to a management process at Glen Canyon Dam that implements the 1996 record of decision, which resulted from the environmental impact statement on the operation of Glen Canyon Dam developed pursuant to the Grand Canyon Protection Act of 1992. I might state that the level of public participation and development of that document was unprecedented.
Two weeks ago today, the adapted management group, which is a Federal advisory committee to the Department concerning management and scientific applications in the Grand Canyon, began its work. The management group includes a full spectrum of public interest, including the seven basin States, tribal governments, and the Federal agencies.
The Glen Canyon National Recreation area was established by Congress in 1972 to encompass Lake Powell and surrounding lands, encompassing some 1.2 million acres that was established to provide for public outdoor recreation use and to preserve State, scientific, and historic features of the area.
Information provided by the National Park Service estimates that, this past year, the recreation area drew 2.5 million visitors and that the annual recreational economic value of Lake Powell exceeds $400 million.
The city of Page and much of northern Arizona and southern Utah are dependent in some way on the recreation area for economic well-being. Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam are key units in the water infrastructure that has evolved in the seven basin States.
Mr. Chairman, recognizing the numerous interrelated factors, laws, and histories concerning Glen Canyon Dam, the law of the Colorado River, and the 1922 Colorado River Compact, draining or reducing the storage capacity of Lake Powell is unrealistic.
Acting Deputy Director, Mr. Denis Galvin from the National Park Service and Reclamation Lower Colorado Regional Director, Mr. Charles Calhoon, are here with me to assist me in answering any questions you might have. And I took 2 minutes, Mr. Chairman.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Mr. Martinez may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Well, Mr. Martinez, you just set a record in here. And I want you to know how much I appreciate that.
Denis, you've been before us many times. It is always good to see you. Does the National Park Service have a statement?
Mr. GALVIN. No. Our perspectives in the opening statement are incorporated into Mr. Martinez's statement, Mr. Chairman. I am simply here to answer questions if the Subcommittee has them.
Mr. HANSEN. I appreciate that. Mr. Hacskaylo, I turn the time to you, sir.
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL S. HACSKAYLO, ACTING ADMINISTRATOR, WESTERN AREA POWER ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
Mr. HACSKAYLO. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittees. My name is Michael Hacskaylo. I'm Acting Administrator, Western Area Power Administration. And I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the power-related impacts of draining Lake Powell. I have submitted a written statement for the record. If I may, I will summarize my comments.
The power plant at
Mr. HANSEN. Hold that mike just a little closer to you, please, sir. We would appreciate it.
Mr. HACSKAYLO. Yes, sir. The power plant at Glen Canyon Dam has a maximum operating capability of 1,356 megawatts. That is approximately 75 percent of the total electric capacity of the Colorado River Storage Project.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Western Area Power Administration markets that power to over 100 municipalities, rural electric cooperatives, irrigation districts, and Federal and State agencies in the States of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Wyoming.
In fiscal year 1996, of the $126 million of total power revenues from the Colorado River Storage Project, Rio Grande Project and Collbran Project (known collectively as the Salt Lake City Area Integrated Projects) we have received about $93 million of that amount from sales of Glen Canyon Dam power. If the Glen Canyon power plant is no longer available, it is highly likely that the capacity that is lost would be replaced by fossil-fired power plants. Certainly, conservation might help in reducing some of that lost capacity, but additional fossil-fired generation capacity would need to be utilized, we believe.
If the Glen Canyon power plant is no longer available, there would be adverse financial impacts on our power customers. There would be rate increases, we believe, because of the replacement of the Glen Canyon Dam power with what we expect would be higher cost power. Those rate impacts would vary considerably depending on how much power our customers buy from Western Area Power Administration and the cost of replacement power.
There also would be impacts to the Federal Treasury if the power plant is no longer available. Through fiscal year 1996, power revenues have repaid $537 million of the cost allocated to power for the Colorado River Storage Project.
Right now, we have $503 million left to repay. In addition, there is $801 million of cost allocated to irrigation. Without revenues from the power plant, we would have a very, very difficult time in ensuring repayment.
In closing, we estimate that over the next 50 years, if the power plant is not available, if we are not able to sell that power, there would be a loss of $1.3 billion from power revenues not collected, not available to the Federal Treasury.
That is the end of my summarized statement. I would be happy to answer any questions.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Mr. Hacskaylo may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Hacskaylo. We appreciate the statement. This is a very brief panel here.
Mr. Doolittle, questions for the panel. We will limit the Members to 5 minutes in their questioning.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Were you passing over your
Mr. HANSEN. No, I was going to be the clean-up batter here.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. That is fine. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Commissioner, are you aware of any instance where a dam has been torn down by the government or authorized to be torn down? Isn't there such a dam in the State of Washington?
Mr. MARTINEZ. I am not aware of any dam that's been torn down, but there is a proposal for Elwa Dam in the State of Washington, for a small structure.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. I've heard a number of the Members express surprise at the absurdity of this idea of tearing down dams, but at a hearing we held with our Subcommittee in Mrs. Chenowith's district, why the engineer for the Corps of Engineers indeed admitted in testimony that they're actively studying the proposal involving five dams to return the river level. I believe it is the Snake River, to its natural level by bypassing, not one, but five dams.
So these ideas are very strange, but I think one has to treat them seriously, especially when an agency of our government, not the Bureau in this casein fact, I don't know. Is the Bureau involved in that study, Commissioner?
Mr. MARTINEZ. On the Snake River dams? No, we are not. That is a Corps of Engineer's study, as I understand it.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DOOLITTLE. Right. Are you familiar with the Navajo generating station.
Mr. MARTINEZ. Yes, I am.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Let me just ask you to recall as best you can. It was my understanding that the Navajo generating station was built as the result of another compromise, just like we heard about Glen Canyon was a compromise. That was a happy compromise as far as I am concerned. But the Navajo generating station impressed me, when I viewed this area, as being completely incongruous for the area. These enormous smokestacks rise.
And when we toured the facility, we went to the 20th story and got out and walked on the roof. And we looked up, and the towers, the tops of the towers were 57 stories above our heads even at the 20th story level. And there are three of these. And thanks to the new scrubbers that are being built, there are now six smokestacks. I guess we will tear down the other three when the new ones are completed.
But the thing that struck me as interesting about this was that this was itself, in fact, compelled by some of these environmental groups, perhaps not the Sierra Club in this case. I don't remember which one it was. But that Navajo generating station was built to replace the power that would have been generated by two dams to have been constructed downstream of Glen Canyon. Is that your recollection?
Mr. MARTINEZ. Mr. Chairman, and if I'm wrong, I'll have Mr. Calhoon correct me, but my understanding is that the power that was contemplated to be generated by dams on the Colorado River was to drive principally the water delivery mechanisms to the central Arizona project as well as provide some electricity to that part of the United States.
In the absence of those two other dams you're referring to, there was this power plant constructed. The Bureau of Reclamation owns part of that facility. And we use power to drive the pumps on the central Arizona project. But directly to answer, yes, it was built as a way of delivering power that was originally contemplated as being produced by, I believe, two other dams on the Grand Canyon.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DOOLITTLE. So when the committees of Congress hear testimony later on, which I am sure we will hear in the next few years, about how detrimental the air quality of the Navajo generating station is and how it's necessary to remove it as a blight in the environment, we can thank the very environmental groups themselves for giving us that taxpayer expense. Of course, the Navajo generating station in its 77-story tall towers and daily consumption of something like 20,000 tons of coal per day. A special railway was built to make sure that the coal could be delivered day after day, plus a number of trucks that bring it in.
So I just want to confirm with you your understanding of how that got built. And I think this is a lot of unintended consequences sometimes. Because no one who visits that beautiful area would, I think, be pleased to see this huge coal-fired plant sitting there. But the dams that would have produced the clean hydroelectric power were nixed by the environmental groups. So I thank you for your testimony, and I yield back my time, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. The gentlelady from the Virgin Islands, Ms. Green.
Ms. CHRISTIAN-GREEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have a question for Mr. Martinez. And I would like to welcome all of the panelists this morning.
Mr. Martinez, you said in your testimony that proposals to drain Lake Powell are unrealistic. Has the Bureau of Reclamation done any analysis of the costs and benefits of these proposals? And is there any reason that private citizens shouldn't do such an analysis?
Mr. MARTINEZ. Mr. Chairman, Madam, we have not seen specific proposals, and we have not done any studies of those proposals.
Ms. CHRISTIAN-GREEN. OK. Anotherthose who propose lowering Lake Powell argue that the current evaporation losses from the reservoir are about 1 million acre feet per year. Is that about accurate?
Mr. MARTINEZ. Mr. Chairman, Madam, any structure, any dam results in evaporation. A lot of it is dependent on the location of the reservoir. There is approximately 800,000 acre feet of evaporation that occurs at this reservoir. And that is not unusual for the area and was anticipated.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. CHRISTIAN GREEN. OK. A question for Mr. Hacskaylo.
Mr. HACSKAYLO. Hacskaylo.
Ms. CHRISTIAN-GREEN. Hacskaylo. I'm sorry. In your testimony, you referred to payment of irrigation assistance by Glen Canyon Power customers as a benefit from Glen Canyon Dam. Can you tell us in what year that irrigation assistance payment might be made and what is the present value of a payment.
Mr. HACSKAYLO. I do not have that information available. We would be happy to work with the Bureau of Reclamation and supply it for the record.
[The information follows:]
IRRIGATION ASSISTANCE PAYMENTS
The $801 million of unpaid irrigation assistance as of the end of fiscal year 1996 that is an obligation of Colorado River Storage Project power customers is projected to be paid over many years. The fiscal year 1996 power repayment study for the Colorado River Storage Project projects that the vast majority of the payments will occur between the years 2010 and 2023. The present value of these payments as of September 30, 1996, is $203 million using a 7 percent discount rate.
Ms. CHRISTIAN-GREEN. Thank you. And one other question. You gave the total amount of power generated from Glen Canyon Dam in fiscal year 1996. Was that a higher than average water year? And what is the average amount of power generated each year from Glen Canyon Dam?
Mr. HACSKAYLO. I can provide that information for the record.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCAVERAGE ANNUAL GLEN CANYON DAM POWER GENERATION
The average amount of power generated annually at Glen Canyon Dam since Lake Powell filled in 1981 is 5.2 billion kilowatt-hours (KWhs). Therefore, the 5.5 billion KWhs generated at Glen Canyon in 1996 is above average.
Ms. CHRISTIAN-GREEN. Thank you. Thank you,
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you. The gentleman from Utah, Mr. Cannon.
Mr. CANNON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Martinez, in his written statement, Mr. Brower has asserted that Glen Canyon Dam nearly failed in 1983, and this could happen in the future as a result of poor engineering, flood lands, flood, landslide, earthquake, or human intent. Do you agree with Mr. Brower about the vulnerability of Glen Canyon Dam?
Mr. MARTINEZ. Mr. Chairman, Congressman, to the extent that that question implies that the dam is unsafe, I do not agree with it. It is a safe structure. However, we did experience, in 1983, some problems with our spillways. We had sustained some cavitation. We have corrected those problems and don't anticipate any future problems with the spillways.
Mr. CANNON. I thank you. Mr. Brower also talks about the dam nearly being filled with sedimentation over time. What is the current projected life of the reservoir behind the dam?
Mr. MARTINEZ. Chairman, Congressman, the Glen Canyon Institute estimates that it will be completely full within 250 to 350 years. Bureau of Reclamation estimates indicate a life-span from 5 to 700 years.
Mr. CANNON. So recreation and power generation will be effective for that kind of period of time.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MARTINEZ. If theseyou know, one thing about figures, depending on which expert you talk to, he'll give you different opinions. But our belief from the Bureau of Reclamation is that that facility will be functioning from a siltation standpoint for several hundred years.
Mr. CANNON. My understanding is the Department of Interior spent about $100 million since 1982 on studies on the Glen Canyon. Now, is that about right?
Mr. MARTINEZ. Mr. Chairman, Congressman, if you're referring to the studies conducted for the EIS for Glen Canyon operation, there was approximately $100 million spent for that.
Mr. CANNON. Have you had a chance to look at the citizen-led environmental assessment that Mr. Brower refers to?
Mr. MARTINEZ. I have not.
Mr. CANNON. Thank you. Mr. Galvin, how many visitor days a year do we have at Glen Canyon Dam?
Mr. GALVIN. We havein 1996, we had over 2 1/2 million visits. An important subtext there is that Glen Canyon has the second most overnight visits in the entire system. Of those 2 1/2 million visits, 2 million visitors spend at least one night in Glen Canyon. So in that respect, it's one of the most heavily visited areas in the system.
Mr. CANNON. What are the other opportunities in the area for flat water recreation that are now served in by Lake Powell?
Mr. GALVIN. In that general area, while there are 8 or 10 other national park areas, there is very little in terms of flat water recreation.
Mr. CANNON. If Lake Powell ceased to exist, what would the impact be on Lake Mead and its resources that are now served by Lake Powell for recreation and other things?
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GALVIN. I am not absolutely certain how the two dams interact. Perhaps one of my colleagues would have a better idea. But we have obviously similar facilities at Lake Mead. And if we experienced higher water levels at the recreation area, we would have to do a considerable amount of reconstruction of the infrastructure there, which is quiteits marinas and that kind of thing.
Mr. CANNON. Do you know how many people visit Lake Mead per year?
Mr. GALVIN. I don't. But it is on the same order of magnitude or more than Glen Canyon. But not as many overnight visits.
Mr. CANNON. Would it be possible for all those people who now use Lake Powell to go down to Lake Mead?
Mr. GALVIN. Not with our present capacity, no question about it.
Mr. CANNON. Mr. Hacskaylo, Mr. Brower asserts in his written statement that we can replace the power currently generated at Glen Canyon Dam through reduced demand. Is that realistic in your assessment?
Mr. HACSKAYLO. Mr. Chairman and Mr. Cannon, the Glen Canyon environmental impact statement assessed the impact of conservation and saving electricity. And the estimates range from zero percent savings to, best case, of 20 percent savings based on the assumptions used. So there could be some conservation savings. But we do not believe that the capacity and the energy generated at Glen Canyon Dam could be replaced in its entirety by conservation.
Mr. CANNON. When was that study done?
Mr. HACSKAYLO. In 1994, as part of the Glen Canyon EIS.
Mr. CANNON. Do you happen to know what has happened to our power usage since that study in America?
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HACSKAYLO. Not in the general area of the Glen Canyon Dam, in that part of the United States. Power usage has increased slightly. Demand has increased.
Mr. CANNON. Isn't it likely this lost generation would have to be replaced with some form of fossil fuel generation? And has anyone calculated the air quality impacts of a replacement for the dam with fossil fuel generation?
Mr. HACSKAYLO. It is likely that fossil fuel generation would be utilized to replace the lost capacity at Glen Canyon Dam. And I'm not aware of any studies as to air impacts.
Mr. CANNON. Great. Thank you. And
Mr. HANSEN. Will the gentleman yield for just one moment?
Mr. CANNON. Absolutely.
Mr. HANSEN. Mr. Hacskaylo, how many tons of coal would it take to replace the power that is generated by the hydropower on the dam?
Mr. HACSKAYLO. Our best estimate, based on the entire replacement of all the capacity of Glen Canyon Dam, is one million tons of coal annually.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you.
The gentleman from Arizona, Mr. Shadegg.
Mr. SHADEGG. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Martinez, let me begin with you. Let me followup on a point made on the other side. Your written statement does, in fact, have you saying that the proposals to drain Lake Powell are unrealistic. I note that word because, in the July issue of National Geographic, which contains a thorough evaluation of the Grand Canyon, and touches extensively on this issue, Wayne Cooke of the Upper Colorado River Commission is quoted as saying: If Powell goes, growth in the upper basin States from a water standpoint is over. There would be no storage for our obligations under the Compact.
It then goes on to say: Secretary Babbitt, referring to Secretary of Interior, Bruce Babbitt, agrees in self-arguing that Lake Powell is, quote, ''essential to the economies of those States, and that draining the reservoir is unrealistic.''
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I guess I would like to put into the record those statements from Secretary Babbitt from this article, Mr. Chairman. And I would like to have Mr. Martinez confirm to us that is, in fact, the Secretary's position and the administration's position.
Mr. MARTINEZ. Mr. Chairman, I am aware of that article. I have not specifically discussed this issue with the Secretary, but I am aware of that article where he was quoted. And I was present at a budget hearing earlier this spring where the Secretary basically stated the same position.
Mr. SHADEGG. OK. Could I request that, if that is not the Secretary's position, the President's position, the administration's position, that you advise the Committee within two weeks.
Mr. MARTINEZ. I'll pass that on to the Secretary.
Mr. SHADEGG. Let me move to some other statements that I would like to focus on. In his seminal paper on this issue, and I regret that Mr. Brower is not going to be here. A paper entitled, ''Let the River Run Through It,'' Mr. Brower makes a series of factual assertions which I find stunning, some of which I find not sustainable.
With regard to water, which I consider to be your focus, in the fourth paragraph of the article, he states, and I quote: ''Lake Mead's Hoover Dam can control the Colorado River without Lake Powell.''
Let me ask you, it certainly could not control the Colorado River if we did not create some flood storage capacity at the top of Lake Mead. That is, we would have to drain some portion of Lake Mead, would we not?
Mr. MARTINEZ. Theit gets somewhat complicated, but let me put it this way: If what you're saying is, in order for flood control, we would have to hold a greater pool for flood storage at Lake Mead, that would be the case.
Mr. SHADEGG. Thank you.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MARTINEZ. Which would make less water available for downstream uses.
Mr. SHADEGG. So as a result of that, we would not only lose the water stored for future use in the event of a drought, which we have in Lake Powell, but we would also lose some of the water currently stored at the top of Lake Mead, because Lake Mead is nearly full; is it not?
Mr. MARTINEZ. You would lose the ability at Lake Mead to store more water for purposes other than flood control.
Mr. SHADEGG. And also lose the storage we have at Lake Powell.
Mr. MARTINEZ. That's correct.
Mr. SHADEGG. He also makes a statement toward the end of his article, and again I will quote, because I think there is a stunning statement that may persuade people who are not paying attention or thinking the issue through: ''Draining Lake Powell means more water for the Colorado River States and Mexico, especially Colorado and Utah.''
It is beyond me how draining Lake Powell could possibly mean more water. Can you explain his statement, or do you have an understanding of it?
Mr. MARTINEZ. It would appear to me, for the short term, it would appear as a high flow. It could probably provide more water in terms of volume. But over time, it would appear to me that storage would provide the opportunity to capture more of that flow and provide it to the system. In other words, the storage, as was indicated earlier this year in the Southwestor earlier today, in the Southwest, is necessary in order to make better use of high spring runoff.
Mr. SHADEGG. There is no question, but that we created Lake Powell to store water in the event of droughts. It seems to me there's also no question but that we experience droughts in the West, and that to empty it could not create more water.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And insofar as he is addressing the evaporation issue, which I think is, quite frankly, the issue on which turned the minds of the board of directors, it seems to me that Lake Powell is an insurance policy against a future drought and that, just as when you purchase an insurance policy, it isthere is a price so that you have that insurance pool there in the event of a catastrophe. Evaporation and bank storage, which Mr. Brower seems deeply concerned about, is the price we pay so that we will have a storage reservoir there. And I guess there are more points.
I see I am running short on time, but I would like to ask Mr. Hacskaylo a question. Mr. Brower also makes a statement in his paper that Lake Mead's Hoover Dam can produce more power if Powell's water is stored behind it. How could it be that storing Lake Powell water behind Lake Mead, which is already full, could produce more power than the combination of Lake Mead and Lake Powell?
Mr. HACSKAYLO. I do not know, sir.
Mr. SHADEGG. It simply doesn't make sense, does it?
Mr. HACSKAYLO. Not to me.
Mr. SHADEGG. Let me ask a second question. Proponents of this idea say point blank that we could reengineer Navajo generating station, which is also essential for the economies of the Southwestern United States, so that the tubes, which now take the cooling water out at a level of about 250 feet above the river, could take them out at river level. Given that the river fluctuated dramatically and had very low flow in the wintertime, does that idea appear realistic to you?
Mr. HACSKAYLO. Sir, I would have to defer to the Commissioner of Reclamation on that question.
Mr. SHADEGG. Two other quick questions, if I might. There's been some reference to conservation here and that we might save some of the power lost by shutting down Glen Canyon Dam by conservation. Would we not be better off to use that conservation to defer the construction of future dirty coal or oil or natural gas fired-power plants?
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HACSKAYLO. That certainly is an option for the policymakers to consider.
Mr. SHADEGG. I guess the last point I would like to make, Mr. Duncan goes back to you, with regard to how fast the lake will fill up. I understand the Lake Powell Institute says it's only 100 yearone or 200 years. I simply want to note that Bill Duncan of the Bureau of Reclamation, who is the engineer that manages the dam, has said that sedimentation in the lake is very slow. And he said, and I quote, ''At current rates,'' he predicted ''dredging would be needed to clear the tubes for the turbine intake pipes in about 500 years'' He's saying not that the lake will be full in 500 or 700 years, but that dredging won't even be necessary to clear the intake tubes for 500 years. He's on the site. It would seem to me he would make a pretty good estimate of what's required, wouldn't you agree?
Mr. MARTINEZ. Mr. Chairman, I've been around this business long enough. Like I said, different folks will give you different figures. It's my feeling that, or at least for the next three to four or 500 years, we will not have siltation unless the climate of the world changes to a point where it causes chaotic problems. But that structure, from my best information I have available, will not get into a siltation problem at least for 4 or 500 years.
Mr. SHADEGG. I thank you each for your testimony and I thank the Chair for his indulgence.
Mr. HANSEN. Mr. Martinez, let me quickly insert a question. I started, as we were flying in here, I read in a report from one of the river runners magazines, that if not one more drop came into Lake Powell, that it could sustain the flow on the other end for 4 years. Do you agree with that?
Mr. MARTINEZ. My understanding that both Lake Mead and Lake Powell are capable of impounding the average flow of the Colorado River for about 4 to 5 years.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HANSEN. So together you could keep it going for 4 or 5 years. So there's that much water stored behind those two reservoirs; would that be correct, Mr. Calhoon?
Mr. CALHOON. Yes, Mr. Chairman. Approximately 26 million acre feet of water are presently stored in Lake Powell. And the average inflow to Lake Powell is something on the order of 12, 13 million acre feet. So it wouldn't be quite the 4 years, it would be more like 2 years.
Mr. HANSEN. Quite an insurance policy that the gentleman from Arizona talked about.
The gentlelady from Idaho, Mrs. Chenowith.
Mrs. CHENOWITH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. For the record, I would like to make a correction to my opening statement if it wasn't clear. It's my understanding that in 1922, the Colorado Lower Basin Water Compact and Colorado River storage projects were established out of that. Eventually, in the fifties came the construction of the Grand Canyon Dam and the culmination of the substantial construction of the recreational facilities in the seventies. And I hope the record will reflect these changes.
I'm very interested, Commissioner, in knowing what effect draining Lake Powell would have on our ability to live up to our obligations to deliver water to the lower basin and to Mexico?
Mr. MARTINEZ. It is my understanding that the deliveries to the lower basin States, except for periods of extensive drought, could be met without Lake Powell being in place. However, if there is extended drought, the deliveries could not. What is more important, from my perspective, is that, without Lake Powell, the upper basin States would not be able to develop their entitlement.
Mrs. CHENOWITH. Would not
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MARTINEZ. There is two answers to that question. One is, in periods of extensive drought, Lake Powell would be needed to meet deliveries to the lower States. In other situations, without Lake Powell, the upper basin States would not be able to develop their water that they're entitled to under the Colorado River Compact.
Mrs. CHENOWITH. The ability to deliver water to Mexico, is that a higher right than the right to deliver water for irrigation and hydropower flood control?
Mr. MARTINEZ. Mr. Chairman, I would defer to the attorneys on that issue, but that is an international treaty. And we have obligations under the international treaty to deliver water.
Mrs. CHENOWITH. So what I'm asking you, Commissioner, is there is only so much storage capacity without Lake Powell. And within that storage capacity, there is the capability of delivering for previous filing water rights, such as for energy or for agriculture or flood control.
Are you saying that, under international treaty, that the filling of a water interbasin or international water, transfer of water comes as a higher priority in the first in time, first in right doctrine established in the West if we have less storage capability without Lake Powell?
Mr. MARTINEZ. If you have a stream system that's overallocated, especially in the West, first in time, first in right, the question Ithe issue I raise is I would defer to the attorneys. That if we have an international treaty in place, whether the international treaty would go first in terms of water shortage, I believe that it would. But I think, going back to the question that was asked, was that
Mrs. CHENOWITH. If the gentleman would yield, you believe that the international treaty would require a higher and more senior right, is that correct, above irrigation rights filed previously?
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MARTINEZ. The water rights in the West are apportioned by prior priority.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Right.
Mr. MARTINEZ. Prior priority.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Right.
Mr. MARTINEZ. Prior rights get first crack at limited water supplies. The point I am raising is that, if you have an international treaty, that's why I say I would defer to the attorneys in the audience, but it would appear to me that, if you have an international treaty, you have international obligations, which might require that water to go downstream. But I would be glad to provide that direct answer for the record.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I would appreciate that, Commissioner. I would be very interested in seeing what your legal analysis on that would be with regards to seniority and rights.
[The information referred to may be found at end of hearing.]
Mrs. CHENOWETH. A very interesting question was asked earlier about whether the Bureau had done a cost benefit ratio analysis on draining Lake Powell. Your answer didn't surprise me. But I thought it was a very interesting question in that I wanted to followup and ask you: Does an agency have an obligation to do a cost-benefit analysis or an environmental impact statement or any other of those costly studies when an outside organization is requiring an action such as this?
Mr. MARTINEZ. To my knowledge, the Bureau of Reclamation has not undertaken any studies on evacuation of reservoirs across the West as a course of business. Or if Congress so directs, we shall undertake such study.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. So you would say your obligation comes from Congress?
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MARTINEZ. Ithe Bureau of Reclamation will do what Congress tells us to do.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Commissioner, I would like to submit that question in writing. I see my light is on. And so with regards to the obligation of the Bureau, I will submit that in writing. Thank you very much.
Mr. HANSEN. I thank the gentlelady. The gentleman from Nevada, Mr. Gibbons.
Mr. GIBBONS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Martinez, continuing on the same line, I noticed in the previous testimony that a million acre feet of evaporation is one of the considerations for draining Lake Powell. In other words, the waste of that water through evaporation. Would you agree or would you disagree that evaporation should be a consideration in the draining of a water storage area?
Mr. MARTINEZ. It could be, but to the extent that you're going to replace that storage someplace else, you have the same problem. And if it's the storage occurs downstream at Lake Mead, the evaporation rates would be even higher. Mr. Chairman, what I said earlier on, Congressman, was that any structure across the West and in ponds of water suffers evaporation. That's part of the physical process.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Would the gentleman yield for just a minute?
Mr. GIBBONS. I'd be glad to yield.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Commissioner, this figure of a million came from the Sierra Club. Do you accept that it's a million? Is that the Bureau's estimate of the amount of evaporation? Is it a million acre feet?
Mr. CALHOON. Mr. Chairman, the million acre feet a year is a high figure. We feel like it's less than that. The total loss of water from Lake Powell for evaporation and bank storage is less than a million. It's something on the order of 950,000 acre feet a year.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DOOLITTLE. Oh, so then your testimony isthat's different than what I understood, then. It nearly is a million.
Mr. CALHOON. For bank storage and evaporation. Evaporation is on the order of a little under 600,000 acre feet a year. Bank storage is another 350,000 acre feet a year.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. OK. But the bank storage, you believe, comes back as the level of the reservoir drops.
Mr. CALHOON. That is essentially correct.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. So then it wouldn't be fair to say that we're losing banksI apologize to Mr. Gibbons. Can we give him a couple extra minutes.
Mr. HANSEN. Without objection, we will just give him two additional minutes.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. OK. Let me just get the rest of the answer. So the bank storage, if we set aside the bank storage, what is the loss, then, due to evaporation?
Mr. CALHOON. In 1996, the evaporation loss for Lake Powell was computed at, I believe, 585,000 acre feet.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. OK. Thank you. I thank the gentleman.
Mr. HANSEN. The Secretary will give two additional minutes to the gentleman from Nevada.
Mr. GIBBONS. I appreciate that, Mr. Chairman. Hopefully, I won't take that long. If the evaporation rates are a condition of consideration for removal of a water storage area, is there a criteria upon which the amount of the evaporation is a determining factor in making a recommendation to eliminate a water storage area? Is there a percentage or a criteria in that area?
Mr. MARTINEZ. Mr. Chairman, Congressman, I think thatI'm not aware of evaporation being considered as a criteria for removing the structure or evacuating a structure. It is criteria that is considered at the time you construct the structure.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It would appear to me that, if the evaporation rate is so great, you would not construct the structure in the first place. So those issues from an engineering perspective should have been addressed at the time the dam was constructed and designed.
Mr. GIBBONS. Sure. I understand that. And it's based on the size of the impoundment area, whether it's wide and thin or wide and shallow versus deep?
Mr. MARTINEZ. It's based on the
Mr. GIBBONS. Total quality of water versus the evaporation rate would be under consideration?
Mr. MARTINEZ. Mr. Chairman, it's based on the exposed surface area and the location of the structure. For a given area, the evaporation rates would be higher at Lake Mead than they would be at Glen Canyon Dam.
Mr. GIBBONS. OK. Mr. Galvin, how many units of the national park system would be impacted by this proposal?
Mr. GALVIN. Well, we startup in canyon lands, so there areand Lake Mead, of coursewell, let's just go uplet's go up the river. We have Lake Mead National Recreation area, Grand Canyon National Park, Glen Canyon National Recreation area, and Canyon Lands.
Now, that covers the length of the river. But there are otherthere are other units that are on these drainages, Capital Reef and Dinosaur upstream, although that is notI mean, theoretically, because the water flows change, they could be somehow impacted.
Mr. GIBBONS. So the national park system has a very, very active participatory interest in this hearing today?
Mr. GALVIN. Yeah. We'veyou know, we manage recreation on the Colorado River for a very significant length of that and on the tributaries of the Colorado River.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GIBBONS. Now, you were requested by the Committee to appear here today, were you not?
Mr. GALVIN. Yes.
Mr. GIBBONS. And, originally, you intended just to submit a written statement. Did you have any discussions with the Department of Interior about your appearance here today?
Mr. GALVIN. The committee invited the National Park Service to appear as an expert witness. And, originally, in preparing for the hearing, we prepared two separate statements. It was the decision of the Department of Interior simply to incorporate the perspectives of the National Park Service under Mr. Martinez's statement.
Because of schedules, we did have some discussion about who the witness would be. And I was the witness, then I wasn't the witness. Then we discussed with the Subcommittee. And they wanted a high-ranking management official, so I agreed I would be the witness.
But it was largely a consideration of schedules that wasthere was no direction from the Department one way or the other.
Mr. GIBBONS. Has the National Park Service an interest in the endangered species that exist along the Colorado River?
Mr. GALVIN. Yes. In fact, we were a participant on the environmental impact statement on the management of the river that was referred to in previous testimony.
Mr. GIBBONS. Are there a number of endangered species that exist upstream but not downstream or vice versa because of the existence of Glen Canyon Dam?
Mr. GALVIN. I am aware of endangered species downstream because the environmental impact statement principally covered the management of the Colorado River below the dam. And an importantthe endangered species thing sort of cuts both ways, because the temperature of the water is influenced, obviously, by the dam. But there are clearly endangered species downstream of the dam that wouldthat would become more endangered if the canyon was drained. On the other hand, there are some that perhaps would benefit from warm water.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GIBBONS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. The gentleman from Nevada, Mr. Ensign.
Mr. ENSIGN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Martinez, the part that you raised about extensive drought, could you just give me your definition of what extensive drought would be.
Mr. MARTINEZ. I refer to Mr. Calhoon.
Mr. CALHOON. Mr. Chairman, Congressman, we've experienced several significant droughts. The droughts in the thirties are of historical record. And the droughts of the fifties were very significant. More recently, we experienced a 6-year drought on the Colorado River beginning in 1986 in which we realized approximately two-thirds of the normal runoff during that 6-year period.
Mr. ENSIGN. And you're saying that that is a significant enough drought period to have an effect on the lower basin States on the supply of water that they would get.
Mr. CALHOON. Mr. Chairman, particularly the earlier droughts of the thirties and fifties, the droughtif the 6-year drought in the eighties had gone on longer, I am sure that would have been the case then also.
Mr. ENSIGN. So am I safe in saying that, with a reasonable degree of certainty, the drainage of Lake Powell will have, within the next 30 or 40 years, almost assuredly based on at least the last hundred years, will have a severe affect on the lower basin States?
Mr. CALHOON. Mr. Chairman, experience would indicate that would be the case.
Mr. ENSIGN. Thank you. Also, can you address why Lake Mead's evaporation rate is greater. We're saying, you know, if you drain Lake Powell, Lake Mead has a greater evaporation rate.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CALHOON. Mr. Chairman, Lake Mead is at a lower elevation and experiences a much higher temperature year-round. And that would be the primary reason for the higher evaporation loss.
Mr. ENSIGN. So you're saying that, by draining Lake Powell and putting the water into Lake Mead, because of the increased temperature and the lower elevation, then we increase even more evaporation. So some of the benefit that the Sierra Club seems to think by draining Lake Powell is actually negated because of the increased evaporation rates in Lake Mead; is that correct?
Mr. CALHOON. Mr. Chairman, that is correct.
Mr. ENSIGN. Have you seen anything put out by the Sierra Club that would address that issue, that wouldin other words, that they address that maybe countercounters the argument against that.
Mr. CALHOON. Mr. Chairman, no, I have not.
Mr. ENSIGN. OK, thank you.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. ENSIGN. Yes.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. I just want to understand this. Lake Mead is, I think, the largest reservoir in the country, right?
Mr. CALHOON. Mr. Chairman, that is correct.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. OK. And that's, what, twentiesif Powell is 27 million, what is Lake Mead?
Mr. CALHOON. It's slightly more than 27. It's larger.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. OK. I'm just wondering how are you going to put all thatand assume Lake Mead is full. How are you going to put another 27 million acre feet of water in Lake Mead?
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CALHOON. Mr. Chairman, that would be physically impossible. Additional water supplies, when Lake Mead is full, would flow through the system over the spillway.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. I mean, there is no way you could do it, right? So you would be cutting, I don't know what it would be, but you would be making a dramatic cut in your obviously 27 million acre foot cut in your reservoir storage capacity. But, I mean, you couldn't justyou just can't add water into Lake Mead beyond what it can hold, right?
Mr. CALHOON. That is correct.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. I mean, theoretically, you shouldn't be able to add another drop beyond its 27 million acre feet of storage, is that right, without flooding something or causing some damage?
Mr. CALHOON. Mr. Chairman, that is essentially correct. Of course, Lake Mead is not completely full all of the time.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Right. But I mean the point is that you're going to lose, I don't know, if you took an average, I mean, how much is typically available for added storage in Lake Mead when it's notlet's say it's not full all the time, like if it's 80 percent full or what percentage would it be normally?
Mr. CALHOON. Mr. Chairman, we could supply that for the record. I don't have that information.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. OK. I just think it's important for the Committee to understand that it's not like you can just get rid of Lake Powell and have it all in Lake Mead, and we're all just fat, dumb, and happy. Thank you.
Mr. HANSEN. We're pleased to have J.D. Hayworth, past Member of our Committee and Member of Congress and a gentleman from Arizona. Do you have any comments to make?
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HAYWORTH. Mr. Chairman, only to say that I hope the description of my colleague from California won't be used for me because I'm a little bit nutritionally challenged from time to time. And there are those that would say the same thing about my intellectual capacities. But I thank you for the chance to be here with you. And I'm sure my colleague from California was not referring to me.
Mr. HANSEN. We'll accept that. Mr. Galvin, I didn't get it straight when somebody asked you the question. Does the National Park Service and this administration have a position on this proposal?
Mr. GALVIN. Well, Mr. Martinez used the word ''unrealistic.'' And Mr. Shadegg quoted the National Geographics article. I believe that is, to the extent that we offer positions at an oversight hearing, that's our position.
Mr. HANSEN. You stated earlier the amount of visitation, and you used overnight figures. Did I hear you correctly that you said it was one of the highest or second highest?
Mr. GALVIN. It is actually second to Yosemite National Park in terms of overnight stays. And I suspect, this year, because of the fewer facilities at Yosemite, it will be the highest number of overnight stays in the national park system.
Mr. HANSEN. You say it will be the highest of the entire Park Service?
Mr. GALVIN. Yes.
Mr. HANSEN. All 375 units, huh?
Mr. GALVIN. Right. And that is because of the nature of the visitation. It's notunlike Lake Mead, which is primarily day use, near major metropolitan areas, people come to Glen Canyon and stay overnight. They take the house boats down the lake, as you know. So they tend to be overnightthere are 456 hotel rooms. There are 600 camp sites.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HANSEN. Last time I was there, I talked to the superintendent, and he indicated to me that about 400,000 people launched boats there last year. Is that a correct statement?
Mr. GALVIN. If the superintendent said that, it's undoubtedly true, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. OK. Never cross the superintendent, do you?
Mr. GALVIN. Well, I wouldn't say that.
Mr. HANSEN. Mr. Hacskaylo, which areas are specifically treated with power? Would you identify those that receive this hydropower?
Mr. HACSKAYLO. Yes, sir. From the Glen Canyon Dam and the Colorado River Storage Project, our customers are located in Utah, Colorado, Wyominga few in Wyoming, a few in New Mexico, Arizona, and I believe one customer in Nevada. We do have a map which we'd be happy to provide for the record showing the locations of our customers.
Mr. HANSEN. We previously asked the question as to how many tons of coal would have to make up for the loss. How many generating plants do you think would have to be created in order to fill the gap that we would lose from the hydropower? How many kilowatts, sir? Would you have any
Mr. HACSKAYLO. Right now, the maximum operating capability of Glen Canyon power plant is 1,356 megawatts. I'm sure the consulting engineers could give any sort of variations on what would be needed to replace that lost capacity. I do not have an answer for that.
Mr. HANSEN. And you would assume that would have to be done by fossil fuels or coal
Mr. HACSKAYLO. This is correct.
Mr. HANSEN. [continuing] or nuclear?
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HACSKAYLO. That would be a reasonable assumption, yes, sir.
Mr. HANSEN. I see.
Mr. Shadegg had one more comment he wanted to make. We'll give him a minute to do that.
Mr. SHADEGG. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just noticed that there was some significant discussion here about the issue of bank storage and the Bureau of Reclamation claiming that some of that can be regained. And I simply want to make a couple of points.
I noted earlier that I was not able to get the witnesses here as a result of the short timing of this hearing that I thought ought to be here. One of the witnesses I think deserves to be here is the representative of the Hopi tribe. Congressman Stump, who represents the Hopis, is not a member of the this Committee, but is deeply concerned about this issue.
And I want to make this point: Again, in his seminal paper on this issue, ''Let The River Run Through It,'' Mr. Brower, the principal proponent or leading proponent of this idea, diminishes the idea of bank storage by saying, quote: ''All too likely, the region's downward slanting geological strata are leading some of Powell's waters into the dark unknown,'' close quote.
I believe were there a Hopi witness here, he would tell you or she would tell you that, in point of fact, the dark unknown is a very viable aquifer that underlies the Hopi reservation and which is currently supplying water to the Hopi. And the Hopi are greatly concerned, as I know Congressman Hayworth knows, about the loss of that water, and have indeed come to the Congress and said, not only are we worried about the depletion of that aquifer over time, but we would like it supplemented by a pipeline from Lake Powell.
And I would suggest very strongly that the dark unknown that Mr. Brower refers to is, in fact, an aquifer underlying the Hopi and Navajo reservations and is important to their lives and economies. And I look forward to asking the representatives of the Navajo nation here if they share that concern about damage to that aquifer were the lake drained. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Mr. Stump follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. BOB STUMP, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ARIZONA
Chairman Hansen, Chairman Doolittle, distinguished members of the Resources Committee, panelists and interested parties,
Lake Powell, while not a natural lake, has a very positive presence in Northern Arizona and in Southern Utah. World renowned for its outstanding scenic beauty and extraordinary recreational opportunities, the Lake also serves as an important water storage body, whose Glen Canyon Dam is an essential generator of critically needed electrical power.
Draining Lake Powell to ''restore'' the Colorado River is simply destruction for destruction's sake that would irreparably harm fish and wildlife that today accept Lake Powell as their home. It would also have grave consequences for river towns whose economies depend upon recreational tourism. The uncertain water supplies brought on by draining would harm downstream users and would create unnecessary spikes in electrical generation and distribution costs, all without giving U.S. taxpayers one sound reason for the need to do so.
Aren't taxpayers sick enough of costly, ill-advised government initiatives? As a Member of Congress, I urge my colleagues here at this oversight hearing to let taxpayers know that Congress has heard their pleas. I will stand with you in telling taxpayers that Congress will not pull the plug on Lake Powell.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you. We'll excuse this panel. Thank you so much for being here.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Brower may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Our next witnesses are Mr. Adam Werbach, President of the Sierra Club; Mr. Ted Stewart, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources; Rita P. Pearson, Director of Arizona Department of Water Resources; Mark Whitlock, Executive Director of FAME. And David Wegner was asked by Mr. Werbach if he could sit with him. I have no objection to that if you want to bring him up.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DOOLITTLE. Mr. Chairman, are you going to ask unanimous consent to bring up Mr. Wegner, because I intend to object.
Mr. HANSEN. Well, I'll tell you what, we'll have him sit there, and we won't call upon him to testify until the third panel. Is that all right?
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Or even the fourth panel.
Mr. HANSEN. Mr. Wegner, if you would like to sit up there, we won't call upon you to testify until the third panel.
You all realize that in this setting there is some strong feelings on both sides of every issue. And they are most of the time in this area. So Mr. Werbach, we're pleased that you could join us today. And we'll turn the time to you for your testimony, sir.
STATEMENT OF ADAM WERBACH, PRESIDENT, SIERRA CLUB
Mr. WERBACH. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, my name is Adam Werbach, and I am the President of the Sierra Club. I thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.
I represent the Sierra Club's 600,000 members across America in supporting the restoration of one of the most special places on earth, Glen Canyon, for our families and for our future.
Last November, the Sierra Club's national board of directors voted unanimously to advocate the draining of the Lake Powell Reservoir. This might have surprised some people, but it was a natural decision for the Sierra Club.
The Sierra Club has been protecting unique natural resources throughout the Colorado River basin for the last 50 years. Throughout our history, we have urged protection of the Green and Yampa Rivers and Dinosaur National Monument, the Animas River in Colorado. And we have always stood for the river canyons along the Colorado.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Flooding Glen Canyon was never a good idea. And the Sierra Club never thought that it was. But we had no idea how wrong it was at the time it was proposed. David Brower, who could not be here today because of health problems with his wife, Anne, called Glen Canyon the place that no one knew.
While the canyons of Dinosaur National Monuments were world famous, only a few people had experienced the transcendent natural majesty of Glen Canyon. Few people had rafted its waters. Few people had explored its mysterious side canyons. Few people experienced Glen Canyon's quite soulful magic.
Those who did experience Glen Canyon were lucky. I regret that I was born too late to see one of God's masterpieces. I hope my children will have that chance.
The sense of remorse spreads beyond the Sierra Club. Former Senator Barry Goldwater recently reflected in the PBS documentary ''Cadillac Desert'' that, quote, ''I'd vote against it. I have become convinced that, while water is important, it's just not that important,'' end quote.
We are simply not being good stewards of the river. By inundating Glen Canyon, we have eliminated some of the most productive habitat for native Colorado fish, many of which have been smothered forever from the face of this earth. The remaining species hang on as isolated and aging populations in only a few places along the river.
The Colorado River Compact promises more water to the basin States and to Mexico than what nature provides. And most of that water goes to water plants, not people. Many of these plants, like cotton, are not native to the desert, are heavy water users, and would not be grown at all if their cultivation was not supported by a complex web of tax breaks, subsidies, and Federal price supports.
Perhaps most appalling is that the Grand Canyon is suffering from the effects of Glen Canyon Dam. This dam has turned its waterits warm water native fish habitats cold, cutoff the supply of sediments needed to rebuild its beaches and shorelines, and prevented the cleansing seasonal floods.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We have only a short window of time to act to protect the native species of the Grand Canyon that are on the verge of extinction. Let us not be known as the generation that sacrificed the Grand Canyon.
In the not-too-distant future, Lake Powell, like all reservoirs, will be rendered useless for water storage and power by incoming silt. Between seepage into the canyon walls around Lake Powell and evaporation from this vast, flat high-elevation reservoir located in one of the driest areas in the country, water loss is estimated at almost one million acre feet of water per year according to the Bureau of Reclamation, enough for a city the size of Los Angeles. This is no way to run a river. And it's not the legacy to leave for our children.
Now, there is good news. Changes are possible without massive shortfalls in water or power. I would like to submit to the hearing record a study just completed by the Environmental Defense Fund entitled, ''The Effect of Draining Lake Powell on Water Supply and Electricity Production.''
Now, EDF used the Bureau of Reclamation's own hydrologic model for managing the Colorado River to assess the impacts of the river system with and without Lake Powell and even assumed growth in water use through the year 2050. The analysis shows that, quote: ''On average, the drained Lake Powell scenario reduces deliveries to the lower basin by only 91,000 acre feet per year, approximately 1.15 percent of all lower basin deliveries. The Colorado River's ability to meet upper basin obligations does not depend on whether Lake Powell is drained.''
Regarding hydropower, EDF finds that most, quote, ''most power users in the Southwest would not be affected,'' end quote. And the estimated cost to all Americans of restoring Glen Canyon by foregoing power revenues from the dam is only 37 cents a piece per year, a bargain for what we would get back.
EDF concludes that, quote: ''A comprehensive study of all effects of the proposal to drain Lake Powell is clearly warranted.''
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We believe that these preliminary analyses show that draining Lake Powell is possible without major dislocations, that it's affordable, and that it's not too late to consider this option.
The power generation loss from Glen Canyon Dam can be replaced by natural gas or conservation elsewhere. And the cost spread over the rate base of the western power grade should not be prohibitive.
Today, society is reevaluating our past fascination with dams. Congress has directed that the Elwa Dam in Washington State be removed to restore the rivers. Reservoirs in the Colombia and Snake River basins are being proposed for drawdown to restore salmon runs. Glen Canyon Dam itself has been re-regulated by 1992 legislation.
The Sierra Club supports evaluating the tradeoffs and opportunities of draining Lake Powell through an environment assessment. We urge the administration to undertake this review. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, it clearly makes sense to examine the facts. The fate of the Grand Canyons is at stake. Our goal is to make the place no one knew the place that everyone knows about. We believe that the American public would choose in favor of Glen Canyon. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for beginning this conversation.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Werbach may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Werbach.
Mr. VENTO. Mr. Chairman, apparently the EDF study I would ask unanimous consent to be included in the record.
Mr. HANSEN. Without objection, so ordered.
[The information referred to may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Ted Stewart, Executive Director, Department of Natural Resources, State of Utah. Mr. Stewart, we'll recognize you, sir.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENT 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 towith the other upper basin statesmeet 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.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC 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 mentionedthe 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.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC 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.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Stewart may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Stewart.
Rita Pearson. I turn the time to you, madam.
STATEMENT OF RITA PEARSON, DIRECTOR, ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES
Ms. PEARSON. Good morning, Chairman Hansen and members of the joint Subcommittees. My name is Rita Pearson, and I am the Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of the State of Arizona. My testimony today will focus on Arizona's primary concerns with the draining of Lake Powell, a proposal which we adamantly oppose. I've submitted written testimony that provides additional details. And I will refer to it periodically during my testimony.
I would also like to acknowledge the submission of testimony from Governor Jane Hull, Arizona's Governor, on behalf of the State of Arizona as well.
Draining Lake Powell cannot be seriously considered for many reasons. But the principal reason is because life as we know it here in the West would be impossible without Lake Powell Reservoir. It is one of the keystone facilities used in managing the Colorado River basin system and the hydroelectric power resources generated from it.
Draining Lake Powell would have serious impacts on water supplies in the lower basin States, Arizona, California, and Nevada, as well as creating environmental and economic hardships, specifically in the State of Arizona.
As has been mentioned a number of times this morning, Lake Powell can store 25 million acre feet or more of Colorado River water. That's 42 percent of the storage capacity of the entire Colorado River system.
Lake Powell is the upper basin's insurance policy, because with it, the upper basin cannot guarantee annual deliveries to the lower basin of 7 1/2 million acre feet pursuant to the 1922 Interstate Compact.
The Colorado River is one of the most erratically flowing rivers in the United States. It has flows as high as 23 million acre feet in 1 year and as low as 5 million acre feet in another.
With my testimony today, I submitted a chart which shows annual inflows into the Colorado River above Glen Canyon Dam. You will see that it's a roller coaster. No 2 years are alike. In fact, talking about averages as we have heard today from the Sierra Club is absolutely meaningless without a reservoir system. And because of this, if the storage capabilities of Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell are eliminated, future Colorado water supplies in the lower basin States will be critically jeopardized. It will be a water resource feast or famine.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Seventy percent of the natural inflows flowing into Lake Powell occur during the months of May, June, and July. The only way we can capture the runoff is through reservoir storage. Without Lake Powell, the Bureau of Reclamation's modeling indicates that shortages in the lower basin could occur as early as the year 2006, almost 20 years earlier than had been projected. And I note, we are projecting shortages today without the elimination of Lake Powell. But eliminating that storage capacity reduces supplies and makes shortage a possibility much sooner.
Arizona is particularly vulnerable to shortage. As a result of the 1968 Colorado River Basin Project Act, the water supply through the central Arizona project into central and southern Arizona is the lowest priority water in the lower basin.
During such a shortage, as a result of Lake Powell drainage, the CAP could see diversions reduced to zero as early as 2051. Without Lake Powell, as I mentioned, as early as 2006, the probability of shortage jumps to 25 percent or once in every 4 years. By 2051, shortages could occur one-third of the time.
We have noted that 600,000 acre feet of evaporative storage disappears every year from Lake Powell. That is a costthat's the insurance premium that we buy in order to guarantee 27 million acre feet of storage. That is a very important storage capacity for the lower basin system.
To give you an idea of how important the CAP is to Arizona, it provides water to Maricopa, Pinal, and Pima Counties where 3 1/2 million acre people live. More than 2.4 million people live in Maricopa County alone, which is the home to Phoenix, Arizona, the sixth largest city in the United States.
Currently, the majority of our water is delivered to agriculture, but with each passing year, more and more of that water is delivered to cities, cities that do not have the flexibility of retiring ag. land. There is an ongoing demand that does not cease regardless of drought conditions.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would also point out, the Southern Nevada Water Authority would be greatly jeopardized as well. Their intake pump is set at 7.3 million acre feet of storage in Lake Mead. If all of the demand is drawn off of Lake Mead, we would have serious shortages in both Southern California and Southern Nevada.
The drought referred to earlier between 1986 and 1993 took 20 million acre feet of storage out of the system. If that was borne solely by Lake Mead, Nevada's intake pumps would have been left high and dry. Twenty million people are served by supplies in the lower basin by water from the Colorado River.
In addition to drainage problems from Lake Powell, that would also cause problems from Lake Mead. Annual storage in Lake Mead would be reduced as well. And you would have to manage the system either for a drought condition or for a flood condition. In other words, if you're managing for a drought, you have to maximize the storage in Lake Mead. But when the flood hits, you have nowhere to put the water. It goes down streams. And downstream communities like Yuma, Bull Head City, Lake Havasu City would be greatly jeopardized.
In addition to that, you have more than 30 years of sediment trapped behind Glen Canyon Dam. The estimates are that between 65,000 and 100,000 cubic yards of sediment are annually gathered behind Glen Canyon Dam.
When Lake Powell dries out, the sediment will evaporate. It will move into the air. We will have air quality problems throughout the West as well as water quality problems from the selenium and heavy metals in the sediment.
Three years ago, the lower basin States entered into a multistate State habitat conservation plan. That plan is designed to protect over 100 plant and wildlife species dependent upon the lower Colorado.
Our ability to protect those species is directly dependent upon the water supply. If we lose Lake Powell, all of our flexibility in the system is managed off of Lake Mead. We will be unable to protect those species as we have planned to in joint agreements with the Interior Department, environmental groups, and Indian tribes as well. Mr. Chairman, I see I am out of time. I have a bit more testimony, but I would be happy to stop.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HANSEN. How much time do you need?
Ms. PEARSON. Probably another 2 minutes.
Mr. HANSEN. I'll give you an additional 2 minutes.
Ms. PEARSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me briefly touch upon the visitation at the Glen Canyon recreational area, including Lake Powell. We've talked about 3 million people a year visiting there. The canyon is now open in a way it never was before. As has been talked about by the previous panel, it has the second largest number of overnight stays of any park in the national system. Forty-two thousand people annually float the river. Seventy thousand now visit Rainbow Bridge, a national monument that was not readily accessible because it was 6 miles into very difficult territory.
The annual economic impact to the tiny Arizona communities like Marble Canyon and Vermillion Cliffs that are associated with the Lees Ferry fishery are estimated to be $5 million alone. Draining Lake Powell would shut down the blue ribbon trout fishery known as Lees Ferry. And 8,000 people reside in Page, Arizona, where tourism and the Navajo Generating Station are the principal types of employment there.
Mr. Chairman, I could go on and on about the impacts of draining Lake Powell. But let me first and finally point out that there is an old saying that they use in the West, that water is just around the corner. It is just over the next hill. That is no longer the case in the West. We have identified and quantified all of the available supplies of water. We are facing shortages today without the draining of Lake Powell. To exacerbate it would be irresponsible. I would like to suggest that we use history as a guidepost, not a hitching post. Thank you.
[The preparerd statement of Ms. Pearson may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you very much. Our next witness is Mark Whitlock. He's accompanied by Shelia Reed, Project Manager, Environment Protection Department of FAME Renaissance. Mr. Whitlock.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
STATEMENT OF MARK WHITLOCK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FAME RENAISSANCE
Mr. WHITLOCK. Mr. Chairman, members of the Subcommittee, ladies and gentlemen, we appreciate the opportunity to be here today to share some of our concerns we have regarding the Sierra Club and the Glen Canyon Institute's proposal to drain Lake Powell.
My name is Mark Whitlock. And I serve as a minister of First A.M.E. Church led by Dr. Cecil L. Murray. We have some 14,000 members. And we are all on one accord with this issue.
We believe that water is important. We believe it sustains life, offers new life, provides a preservation of life. Thus, we believe we must retain Lake Powell. Certainly, as the city of Los Angeles grows by some 210,000 people per year, and possibly by the year 2020, we will have some 21.5 million people in the city of Los Angeles, State of California.
We're concerned that if there is not enough water available, then we will have to go out and spend an enormous amount of money finding the supplies for them. Clearly, Lake Powell provides that surplus, that water needed to sustain life.
If we have to spend more money on new water supplies, then there will be a cost incurred for that research, that new project. And that cost, unfortunately, reflects back on our ratepayers or our community, our constituents, whose water bills will increase.
Well, that's where the rubber meets the road for us. Clearly, in south central Los Angeles, where we suffer from the poverty of money, an unemployment rate of anywhere from 16 percent, in some areas of our community as high as 50 percent, a poverty rate in our community of 25 percent. So any increase in water, any increase in bills takes food out of the mouths of our children. So wewe clearly believe water is important. Thus, Lake Powell is important.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Why not look at another program? Why not look at another way to provide resources to continue working within the system? We support a project that we work closely on with the Metropolitan Water District and other agencies within the city of Los Angeles. That project, we call it a water conservation program.
Most toilets, shower heads in the city of Los Angeles are rather antiquated. One flush could result in a loss of 9 to as much as 16 gallons of water. Clearly, if you take a piece of tissue and put it down the drain, 16 gallons of water gone.
Well, a partnership with the Metropolitan Water District results in a savings of water. Five years ago, they offered us the opportunity to exchange the old guzzler, 9 to 16 gallons per flush for a new guzzler, 1.6 gallons of water per flush.
We thought it was a bit strange to offer that program to First A.M.E. Church, an organization that has allowed certainly ministerallowed Martin Luther King to come over our pulpit, Mandela, even President Clinton has offered a few words over our pulpit. We thought it a bit strange to talk about toilets over the pulpit at First A.M.E. Church.
Well, we did support the program. And they paid a small fee for that program. And out of that program, we were able to hire men, women who were unemployed or underemployed, some 30 of them, to be exact. And they started exchanging toilets.
The agency wanted just 100 a week. These men, women started exchanging toilets to the tune of a thousand a week. And within a 2 1/2-year period, we exchanged some 84,000 toilets, resulting in a savings of 68,710 acre feet of water. They saved some billions of gallons of water. A program that works, a program that works within the system, certainly not the extreme of eliminating Lake Powell.
So, today, we support the retention of Lake Powell for all the right reasons. And we challenge, certainly, other agencies to develop a partnership, a partnership that saves water, a partnership that creates jobs, lowers water bills, and at the same time, preserves the Colorado River and certainly supports the continuation of Lake Powell.
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We thank you for the opportunity to be here today. We certainly welcome any questions that you may have, Shelia Reed and I. I'm Mark Whitlock. Thank you so much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Whitlock may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Whitlock. I appreciate the testimony of all of our witnesses. We'll now go to the Committee for questions of the witnesses. I would like to hold you to the 5 minutes, if I could. We'll start out with Mr. Doolittle.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Ms. Pearson, I would like to refer to yourthe graph you supplied with your testimony. If we were to drain Lake Powell and thus Hoover Dam and Lake Mead would become the main regulating reservoir in the Colorado River system, I'm just wondering, looking at this, it looks like in 1979 that you had 17 million acre feet. And yet, in 1980, there were 5 million acre feet for a difference of 12 million. And then you go into, it looks like, 1981, you had 8 million; and then 1982, you had 23 million for a difference of 15. I just can't imagine how would you ever purport to manage thisyour manager would have to be wrong at least half the time, I would think.
Ms. PEARSON. That's correct, Congressman. There is no perfect predictor out there. And so that's why we have the reservoir system. That is the only way we can manage this system.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Well, that would be a very substantial drawback, even for those who are arguing that this is a desirable to go to one. Certainly, this would seem to be irrefutable evidence that there would be no way you could ever manage. And ifI assume flood control would get the highest priority amongst the multiple uses. And if that's the case, then you're going to create plenty of flood reservation storage in case you get a year of 23 million acre feet flowing in as opposed to 5 million like the year before. Let me ask Mr.is it Werbach? Is that
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WERBACH. Werbach.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Werbach. Thank you. Mr. Werbach, how do you react to this chart?
Mr. WERBACH. Well, right now what we're asking for is solely an environmental assessment of this proposal. And all these things would need to be looked at very carefully. What this would require would be the Bureau to be a more effective manager of those water resources.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. So you're sayingI'm sorry. I was distracted. But you're indicating you're just calling for the study rather than making a claim that we can live with this?
Mr. WERBACH. The Sierra Club advocates the draining of the lake. But we believe right now we need to look at a lot of the facts that a lot of the other witnesses raised right here, to look into the issue and to examine them and to begin a conversation with society to see where we come out.
We believe that, after looking at the facts, people will believe this is the right course of action. But we wouldn't be so bold to say that all those facts are already in hand.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Well, given the testimony you've heard today, which I guess you could say we've begun the conversation, does this concern you, the ability to properly manage the river when you tear down theone of the main reservoirs on it and have this kind of annual fluctuation like history shows we've had?
Mr. WERBACH. That would certainly be one of the issues that we'd look into.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. OK. You state in your testimony in the not too distant future Lake Powell, like all the reservoirs, would be rendered useless for water storage and power by incoming silt. What do you mean when you say ''the not too distant future?''
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WERBACH. Well, if we use the Bureau's figures of 700 years for total filling of the silt of the dam, in about 250 years the outlet tubes would be inundated. And at that point, the dam's effective use as a power generation plant would be essentially useless.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. So you had in mind, then, their figures of say 250 to 500 years.
Mr. WERBACH. If we use those figures. There are other figures that suggest that those numbers would be between 70 and 125 years.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. All right. But, I mean, I'd say that 250 years is a fair way into the future.
Mr. WERBACH. Well, it depends on what your level of horizon is. Two hundred fifty years for the destruction of one of the canyons that took millions of years to create is really not that long. In a geologic sense, 250 years is really nothing.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Well, that is longer than we've been a country. It's long for Americans. Maybe it's not long for Europeans. Let me ask you this: If we do tear it down so that we have to have more storage, then, would the Sierra Club support the inundation of additional river miles that are currently upstream of Lake Mead in order to compensate for the loss of storage behind Glen Canyon Dam?
Mr. WERBACH. Well, we don't believe that you should fill up Lake Mead to an extraordinary level that would be unsafe. We wouldn't suggest that. And let me clarify one thing. The Sierra Club is not suggesting that we tear down Glen Canyon Dam. We are only suggesting that we bypass it.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. OK. Bypass it. That is true. Well, then, you've heard the testimony that it has to go somewhere. Wouldn't that be a necessary consequence of bypassing Glen Canyon Dam that you would have to store more water in Lake Mead?
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WERBACH. Well, some of the water would be used to fulfill our treaty obligations to Mexico. The water would flow through.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Well, our treaty obligation to Mexico is, what, 1 1/2 million acre feet? So I mean, out of the total number of acre feet in this system, that's relatively small. So we're going to have to put the water someplace. And I guess I'm just trying to see if the Sierra Club is going to advocate this, and if we were to act on it, then what would your complete proposal be? How would we provide for the storage needs? I mean, would you support the construction of a dam someplace else to store it?
Mr. WERBACH. Let me refer back to the EDF study that I have quoted. Let me read a paragraph from it. Let me use something that I cutoff from my testimony because I was running a little long. Information prepared by the Bureau of Reclamation itself in July 1997 addresses the issue of draining Lake Powell and says that the difference between the average annual inflow to the reservoir and current upper basin use is, quote, enough to satisfy the Colorado River Compact obligation of 75 million acre feet for 10 years to the lower basin without needing the storage of Lake Powell.
In addition, recovered evaporation losses from Lake Powell would help to meet any potential deficiency in the Mexican treaty obligation. That's in this document that was prepared by the Bureau of Reclamation.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. My question to you iscan I have a couple extra minutes?
Mr. HANSEN. The gentleman is recognized for two additional minutes.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you. How are wesinceI mean, yes, an average is just a theoretical number given the way the Colorado River actually works, as demonstrated by this chart. But how would we practically manage the river for flood control, water supply, power generation, to name three important things, not to mention the recreation and environmental aspects, but how would you manage those three things without having more storage?
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WERBACH. It is a river, and rivers flow. It's only our obstructions on the river that have stopped and made those impoundments. Now, as I said, you would be able to have enough water to fulfill the Compact obligations, but it would be letting more water flow through the river.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Well, yes, it's a river, and rivers flow. I think we'll all stipulate to that. The problem is sometimes they flow very slowly, and sometimes they flow in raging torrents. And the Colorado River is an extreme example from that. And it can go from one extreme in 1 year literally to the other in the next year.
So how do the river managers manage this river in such a way to meet the power and the water and the flood control needs? I don't see how they could possibly do it without having more reservoir storage?
Mr. WERBACH. There is plenty of water. The question is who gets it and how much they pay for it.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Well, sometimes there's too much water. Sometimes there's not enough. You heard testimony from Mr. Stewart that the upper basin will be without water in a sustained period of drought, which happens every few years. I think we heard testimony there was a 6-year drought for a while. Now, we've got El Nino hitting us in the West this year.
So I justI don't want to be argumentative with you, but I mean rivers flow. That's exactly the point. That's why we haveyou're going to tear downnot tear down. You're going to bypass the second largest reservoir on this Colorado River system. And when you do that, you're going to tremendously limit the flexibility to manage for all these other important values.
So telling somebody that has lost his house that, while rivers flow, or somebody that's, you know, on water rationing because they have flowed out trying to have enough reservation for flood storage, it turned out to be a miscalculation, I mean, that doesn't really satisfy for us.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think you're going tobefore you can move your idea, you're going to really have to come up with some answers for what you do when you eliminate essentially 27 million acre feet of storage that we presently have behind Glen Canyon Dam. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. The gentleman from Minnesota.
Mr. VENTO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I was not here earlier. I just wanted to make the observation that I think that this hearing sort of underlines the importance of land use decisions we make on the Committee. And that, very often, they are almost irreversible in terms of the consequences they have.
In this instance, as I look at the witness, the list of witnesses, both in recreation and economic and other factors, I mean, really, this dam has set down a land use patterna land use pattern in terms of population and use that is very difficult to change.
So it's one thing to look at the physical geography of this and the changed view of an individual, Mr. Brower, and then others to try and talk about how this is going to be or could be accomplished, because it makes it very difficult in terms of turning that away.
Of course I visited this site, realized tremendous recreation park designations have gone on based on the fact there is a reservoir there. It's one of those things we designate, I guess, parks for recreation purposes for certain.
So I think, though, as we look ahead, I mean, there may be physical or other problems that do exist with this. I realize there is some points aboutI mean, it is an efficient use. This water isn't going to be running into the ocean. It goes someplace before. And, as you said, for safety or for other reasons, if you were just doing this for safety reasons, you probably would have a much different type of facility than you have. And a lot of it is lost, as they point out through, evaporation. And the argument here is whether it's a million or half million acre feet that are lost and treaty obligations and other issues.
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But I think it's useful to have the hearing in the sense thatand further review of the issue. I don't know whatif, in fact, there is a real interest in doing an environmental impact statement or a study. I note that there is a volunteer group that is going to go ahead and move with that.
In fact, we have begun to modify in 1992 the policy path for thefor how the water levels in Glen Canyon were, in fact, managed, to look at the restoration of some of the beaches and some of the other. Because, you know, it dramatically has changed the whole system, the geography and the ecosystems down river. And I don't know the answers to this. It's pretty much if you just say you're going to bypass it and go without it, you left behind millions of people or moremillions of people and rate users and others that have obviously a vested interest. They have come to depend upon this. And so you clearly cannot move, you know, in that direction withoutwithout considering what the consequences are.
And I think, at this point, just as when Don Hodel, Secretary of Interior, I think was Secretary, then came in and said, let us take Hetch Hetchy down or bypass it or drain it. It was another question.
But I think there is a growing realization of some of the consequences of these type of structures of an ageI don't know what the age is on this one. I know that, looking at Elwa Dam, which had been there forsince the thirties, 50, 60 years, it looks like it would stand there another 100 to me the way it looked. It looked like it was in pretty good shape. Yet we're not using it. That's a much smaller scale problem than the problem that is clearly being presented here, a much different purpose, a much different use.
But these are expensive to maintain. They represent some serious problems in terms of what the consequences are as we look today. So, you know, one of our jobs is to get new information, to get new knowledge, and to translate it into public policy. That's what we do here. That's what we're supposed to do.
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And, obviously thisthere is certainyou know, recognizing our errors, and we all make them, I guess. If we pass perfect laws, we wouldn't have to be meeting here every year. But we know that they're imperfect.
But I think it's a viable question to raise. Everyone raises questions about what happens to the population of the West if you do this. This is a legitimate concern for certain as much as they might think that we'reyou know, most of us are concerned about that. We want to do reasonable and cognitive things.
So I think that's the spirit in which I take this. I understand that, right now, there are all sorts of technical questions we could ask about Glen Canyon, whether California is overappropriating water, whether Colorado is overappropriating water, whether there are treaty problems with Mexico. I think the answer to those are all yes.
So this is going to be an ongoing issue in terms of where we go, and the physical condition of this dam, whether it could meet the expectations and all the goals that it has. But we ought to be looking at alternatives. And certainly, you know, one of them may be looking at whathow we can better manage this to address some of the concerns and what we're going to do in the future in terms of this infrastructure as it ages. It won't happenI don't know if it's going to be 250 years. I would say more like 50 years. So I'm really scaring Mr. Doolittle.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Vento.
Mr. VENTO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. The gentleman from Utah, Mr. Cannon.
Mr. CANNON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Werbach, you suggested or said very clearly that the Sierra Club advocates the draining of Lake Powell and that your purpose now is to start a dialog. It seems to me that the chart that Mr. Doolittle is talking about which shows the annual variation in runoff in the Colorado River above Glen Canyon Dam is one of the most significant elements in any kind of decision to change the usage of the dam or eliminate the dam.
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And my normal course is to ask short questions and add to a record. What I would really like to do is give you some time to talk about that chart, those variations in yearly flow, and how, in this very complicated set of issues, you expect that to sort itself out.
I've truly been trying to understand what your position is. I've made a list of the various goals that you would like to change or balances that you would like to change. But it seems to me that, in the end, you come down to how you control the water that runs through it and what you do.
Would you mind just taking a few minutes? What I would like to do is give you the time to advocate that position. Whether this discussion goes on any further really is going to turn on that, I think.
Mr. WERBACH. I appreciate the opportunity. Once again, you know, there are very serious environmental issues at stake here. The fate of the Grand Canyon is at stake here. And we have issues that we need to talk about. What we're advocating now is that we look into these issues through an environmental assessment and examine what's happening. What I would like to do is turn it over to Dave Wegner, who is more familiar with these issues specifically to respond to your question. Dave.
Mr. CANNON. That would be fine, but let me just point out that you're advocating draining the lake. That's what the position of the Sierra Club is and that's what you voted on. And so I would very much like to hear from Mr. Wegner whathow the control of the extreme flows fits into the purposes that you're trying to accomplish here.
Mr. WEGNER. Well, Mr. Congressman, my name is Dave Wegner, and I am from Flagstaff, Arizona. And I'm a member, Vice President of the Glen Canyon Institute. And I'm here today to help with some of the technical issues
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Mr. Chairman
Mr. WEGNER. [continuing] that was just referred to.
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DOOLITTLE. Mr. Chairman, I do not wish to offend feelings here. I thought Mr.he was on the fourth panel. Is he now going to join the second panel?
Mr. HANSEN. Mr. Doolittle had objected to Mr. Wegner coming on to the second panel. And I allowed him to sit there if Mr. Werbach needed some information from him. No one objected to your objection, so I respectfully point out that you can respond to that in the following panel, third and fourth panel. I apologize. We don't want to offend you in any way. We do want to hear your testimony.
Mr. CANNON. Thank you. I'll look forward to that. If I can just then redirect my question to Mr. Werbach. You may just take the time to set forth, not the emotion behind this, but how the various factors that you're concerned about fit together. Let me just list them for you.
You're concerned about evaporation. The water presumably could be used to go into the Sea of Cortez. Concern about the danger of dam failure. The esthetics of the canyon are a major issue here, and I think may be the most important issue. And I'm not sure. I would like you to tell me that.
The concern with what is happening with the Sea of Cortez on the other side, this water is not likely to make it to the Sea of Cortez anyway except in those years when we have dramatic runoff. And the lost habitat versus some of the gained habitat that you have there, those are issues that I would like to hear you address for a few minutes.
Mr. WERBACH. Mr. Congressman, what I would like to say to you is that I am not an expert on the specifics of all these issues. That is why we do have a staff at the Sierra Club who works on the issues as well as experts who are on the other panels for you.
Mr. CANNON. But I'm not asking technical questions. We can get back to Mr. WerbachI'm sorry, Mr. Wegner, when he is on. What I would like from youwhat I want to do is just give you the opportunity to maketo present just a few more points, make a cogent case as to why we should actually begin the dialog that you're asking for.
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WERBACH. Absolutely. Well, let's speak about, first, the native fish populations in the Grand Canyon. We're already seeing die-off of isolated and aging populations, species like the humpback chub and the sucker fish that are in the Grand Canyon. The cold water that comes from Lake Powell, about 47 degrees, is too cold to support those fish. Now we need to figure out some way too deal with that.
A few years back, we tried a controlled release into the Grand Canyon to simulate a flood. Well, now our experience is that this was largely not a long-term success. We did not succeed in restoring the Grand Canyon, its beaches, and its native fish habitat. So we need to look at other options.
And when the EIS was done, when the EIS was completed for the Glen Canyon Dam, it really didn't look at the option of draining the lake. It didn't look at the option there because it was deemed infeasible at the time.
But with new information that we see, both in terms of the evaporation rates, which would seem to portend that, if there is more water available if you did not have this dam, then it would seem likely that we should take the chance to look at this issue and reflect and talk about it as a society and see what we come up with.
The Sierra Club has its position. But I understand that it will take longer for people to look at this and see the science and make these determinations on their own.
Mr. CANNON. Mr. Chairman, my time is almost up. Can I ask unanimous consent for additional minutes?
Mr. HANSEN. The gentleman is recognized for two additional minutes.
Mr. CANNON. Thank you.
Mr. HANSEN. You're welcome.
Mr. CANNON. What I would like to hear, and maybe Mr. Wegner later can do this or someone else may ask. I have asked sort of the general question, why should we continue the dialog? And what I've heard is that there are a couple of endangered species. This is the opportunity. This is the public forum for you to have the opportunity to say why.
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think the issues are much, much broader than that, especially when you consider that it's pretty clear now that the humpback chub is stable. The squaw fish was not common, even before the dam was in place. You have many other fish, as you alluded to. So but I think studies show that they're not dwindling particularly. On the other hand, you now have some endangered species that are thriving in the current habitat.
So I would just, as a plea, I'm sitting here trying to understand this. Now, I used some strong language earlier. Before the dam was done, I was very young, but it was a matter of grave concern because I love those canyons. Now many people get to see those canyons. They do it in boats instead of hiking, but they do see the beauty of those canyons, and it's a thrilling, wonderful experience.
I'm really trying to understand why we should have a dialog on the issue. And I hope that in the future, as others will ask questions, you will take the opportunity to sort of give me the broader picture on how it balances together. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. The gentlelady from the Virgin Islands.
Ms. CHRISTIAN-GREEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I first would like to thank the panelists for their testimony. And I would like to commend the First A.M.E. Church for the programs that they have undertaken on behalf of their congregation and the community.
Mr. Werbach, both your testimony and the written testimony of Mr. Brower points to a frightening picture of what could happen in the area served by Lake Powell and the dam. You also say in your testimony that we're not being good stewards of this resource. Do you see that we can avoid some of these untoward outcomes by being better stewards rather than by draining the lake?
Mr. WERBACH. Well, I think the consequence of being better stewards is draining the lake. And at first blush, it may seem like a strange idea. But the thing was not actually evaluated. There was notthe dam was built before NEPA, before the National Environmental Policy Act. So an environmental review was not done for the dam. In fact, the NEPA review was just nonexistent.
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So what we need to do was to look back and see it right now. Just because a mistake was made in the past and it would be difficult to change, I don't believe that's reason enough to say, well, let's ignore it. It would be difficult to do so, we should not look at this.
Ms. CHRISTIAN-GREEN. Thank you. You've partly answered my second question, and you've really answered it several times in responding to several other questions from other members from the Committee and Subcommittee.
But I did come here thinkingand as I listened to the earlier testimony, I thought we were talking about the Sierra Club having voted to drain the lake. But it's become increasingly clear, and I think it's an important distinction to make that what the Sierra Club actually did ask for was an environmental assessment; is that correct?
Mr. WERBACH. The Sierra Club did vote to advocate the draining of the lake, because we felt that was the way to began the conversation and to put it on people's radars. But right now what we're asking people to do is look at the issue, to begin an environmental assessment.
I understand the Glen Canyon Institute is interested in performing it if the administration is not.
Ms. CHRISTIAN-GREEN. I'm sorry, so you say the club is willing to do the environmental assessment themselves?
Mr. WERBACH. The Glen Canyon Institute is busy trying to raise some funds to do such an assessment. But of course, we would prefer if the administration were willing to pay for it and would feel more comfortable with the numbers and the science that would come out of it.
Ms. CHRISTIAN-GREEN. Thank you for your answers. Are any of the other panelists objecting? Do you oppose having the environmental assessment done? I understand that you may oppose the draining of the lake, but are you also in opposition to the environmental assessment?
Page 91 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WHITLOCK. Congresswoman Green, we feel that, clearly, we must leave Lake Powell alone. But as we examine Lake Powell and the efficacy, efficiency of draining or not draining, I think we would like to remind the panel and certainly our committee that there are innovative programs that are available, practical water conservation programs that deal with resource management.
And I think if we focus time and certainly our dollars at resource management, then we don't have to go to the extreme of considering draining the beautiful Lake Powell. Our water conservation program creates jobs. But at the same time, it saves the Colorado River. And that's the real goal here I think. And I end with that.
Ms. CHRISTIAN-GREEN. Would anyone else like to respond?
Ms. PEARSON. Congresswoman, I would have to agree with Mr. Whitlock and add that we live in a time of very, very many priorities. And unless we hear a proposal that has merit, why spend taxpayer dollars on something that has not yet been justified. I think the burden is on them. And if a private organization wants to fund the study, they're welcome to do so. But as a taxpayer, I would not appreciate having my money spent that way.
I think we know enough and we are capable of modifying the system and protecting endangered species today without conducting an additional study and a proposal that can go nowhere and cost millions.
Ms. CHRISTIAN-GREEN. I thank you for your answers.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you. Mr. Shadegg from Arizona.
Mr. SHADEGG. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'll try not to be too intense about this. But I find what happened here is rather shocking. Let me begin by thanking Rita Pearson for her thoughtful testimony and for all of her work and to ask unanimous consent that the photographs of Lake Powell which she brought and the other material which she has brought here which show the beauty of that lake and which reveal, quite frankly, that a tremendous amount of the beauty of Glen Canyon is, in fact, not only not inundated, but as seen now by between somewhere between 3 and 4 million people per year and that it is a tremendous asset that those all be included in the record with unanimous consent.
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HANSEN. Without objection.
[The information referred to may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. SHADEGG. Mr. Werbach, I have to tell you that I am stunned by this proposal. I am stunned by some of the remarks that you make. And I'm a little concerned about what's happening here today.
Your testimony concludes with what I consider to be a kind of a reasonable proposal. ''The Sierra Club supports evaluating the tradeoffs and opportunities and through an environmental assessment.'' Perhaps no one could disagree with that. But I want the record precisely clear that the board of directors of the Sierra Club voted not to study, but rather to drain Lake Powell. That's correct, isn't it?
Mr. WERBACH. To advocate the draining; that's correct.
Mr. SHADEGG. And the mission statement of the Glen Canyon Institute specifically proposes draining, not studying, draining Lake Powell; is that correct?
Mr. WERBACH. I can't speak to the mission statement.
Mr. SHADEGG. It does. And I would like to put it in the record without objection, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. Is there objection? Hearing none, so ordered.
[The information referred to may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. SHADEGG. I also would like to point out that the Sierra Club did not, in fact, though your testimony suggest you represent their 600,000 members, did not, in fact, survey its members before taking this involvement. In point of fact, the President of the Utah chapter unequivocally stated in the press that she opposes this idea and that she was not consulted. Are you aware of that, and do you acknowledge it?
Page 93 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WERBACH. The board of directors of the Sierra Club represents the membership of the Sierra Club. We're elected by the membership in an annual election. And the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club advocates the studying of this issue as well.
Mr. SHADEGG. You answered neither of my questions. Are you aware that she said she opposes it and the chapter opposes it? And you, I believe, just did concede that the membership did not vote on the issue.
Mr. WERBACH. No, the membership did not vote on this issue.
Mr. SHADEGG. Let me turn quickly to the point that Mr. Doolittle brought out. I would just simply say, with regard to your comment and your testimony, which I've read in many other places in the press, that in the not too distant future, Lake Powell will be filled and useless is, quite frankly, I think misleading the American people who read those comments in the press because, by your own admission, not to distant future is, in the early estimates, 250 years. By the long estimates of the Bureau, it's 700 years; and by the gentleman who manages the dam, it will be 500 years before you will even have to dredge to open up the intake tubes.
Let me turn to another comment. In the Salt Lake City paper in this year, you were quoted as saying in an article in the Salt Lake Tribune on Sunday, August 3rd: If the Club succeeded, succeeded in draining Lake Powell, it would, quote, ''take 10 years for the lake to drain and another 25 years for Glen Canyon to be cleaned up and restored to its former beauty.''
What basis do you have for the claim that it would be completely restored or would be restored to its former beauty in just 25 years?
Mr. WERBACH. Well, in 1992, there was a significant drawdown of the lake. And what we did see was that a lot of the natural features of Glen Canyon actually came forward again. There was a bathtub ring, as some people call it, around it. But I have every faith in the world that America would have jumped into the idea of supporting this amazing restoration project.
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SHADEGG. I was on the lake in 1992 and saw the bathtub ring. I have spent many, many days there. Do you have a scientific study that establishes that it would all be restored in 25 years?
Mr. WERBACH. What we are doing is assessing this at this point.
Mr. SHADEGG. OK. I apologize for being rude, but I've got a lot of ground to cover here. The answer is you do not have a study that establishes that.
Mr. WERBACH. Not that I know of.
Mr. SHADEGG. OK. In another article published inactually repeated in a number of places, you say that proposing to drain Lake Powell is the perfect test of someone's true colors, and I quote, quote, ''it is the job of the Sierra Club to show what being green really means.''
Rob Elliot from my State, a noted environmentalist himself, is here to testify strongly against this proposal. Are you sayingis the Sierra Club saying that anyone who opposes this is not, quote-unquote, ''really green?''
Mr. WERBACH. I would not tend to sayI would not make calls on people's environmentalness. I don't do that.
Mr. SHADEGG. Let me turn to some other comments. In an article in Outside Magazine, written by Bill Donohue this year, April 1997, you say: ''We are going to do the science.'' I take it that means that, when the Sierra Club board voted, you had not, in fact, already done the science; is that correct?
Mr. WERBACH. That is correct. We are advocating environmental assessment.
Mr. SHADEGG. Well, that's not what your resolution said. It didn't say that. Your statement here today says you're doing that. But the vote of your board was to drain Lake Powell.
Page 95 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WERBACH. Because we believe that is the best way to advocate the draining of Lake Powell, because we believe the science will bear us out.
Mr. SHADEGG. Yeah, well, I guess maybe that then fits with the title of your forthcoming book, which is mentioned in another article that we found, which says that your forthcoming book is going to be titled: ''Act First and Apologize Later.'' I suggest you don't think that Congress should act first and apologize later.
Mr. WERBACH. The idea is that sometime when ideas are controversial, they're hard to look at, they're hard to swallow. Sometimes society needs to take a moment and move forward. Sometimes we need to assess things that may seem unpopular, that may seem controversial because these issues are critical to our future.
Mr. SHADEGG. Mr. Chairman, may I request, since this is an important topic
Mr. HANSEN. Is there an objection? Hearing none, the gentleman is recognized for two additional minutes.
Mr. SHADEGG. Thank you very much.
In that same article in Outside Magazine by Mr. Donohue, the question was raised as to why the Sierra Club is really doing this. And Mr. Donahue asks you point-blank, he says: ''One logical answer is that the Sierra Club is simply genuflecting before its aging Arch Druid,'' I can't pronounce that word, ''David Brower.''
You respond: ''That's a huge part of it.'' Do you think that we ought to drain Lake Powell as ain order to pay respect to Mr. Brower for which he reports draining Lake Powell is somewhat of a grail?
Mr. WERBACH. Congressman, I have great respect for those people who are older than me, as there are many of them.
Mr. SHADEGG. Including me.
Page 96 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WERBACH. Say again?
Mr. SHADEGG. Including me.
Mr. WERBACH. I rely on their advice to move forward. Now, Mr. Brower fought this battle during this time. And he knew the issues. And many times he corrected the Bureau of Reclamation, which was wrong on a lot of figures. They admit that now. There are many times when he was right and they were wrong.
Now he says his action was a mistake at the time. And it would seem strange not to take the advice of someone who has such sage wisdom and who has helped protect so many fabulous places in America.
Mr. SHADEGG. As a matter of fact, he's gone around the Nation saying that he has worn sack cloth and ashes for 40 years. And it seems to me that that may be his perspective. That's not a good comment on public policy. I think he's dead wrong now.
Let methe one last point I want to make out of this article goes to the question of what's going on here. And I raised this in my opening statement. Mr. Donahue says the real motive, they say, these are critics of the Sierra Club, is that the Sierra Club, who's average membership is now about 45, is desperately trying to appear fresh and hip.
According to Mark Dowy, author of ''Losing Ground,'' a Pulitzer Prize nominated study on U.S. environmentalism, the Club's board feels that the best way to attract more youthful supporters is to enhance this kind of blind idealism.
You wouldn't agree with that assessment and you wouldn't suggest we make public policy on that basis, would you?
Mr. WERBACH. The Sierra board of directors did not look at this issue at all when it was considering this issue in any way. I will mention, though, that there is extremely high support of this among young people. Young people do understand that they have not had the chance to see those canyons. And the Congressman to your left said that he has had a chance. Frankly, I'm jealous. I've seen Cataract Canyon. I was able to raft it twice this summer. And I, one day, would like to be able to raft Glen Canyon as well.
Page 97 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SHADEGG. You can see Glen Canyon if you go there today.
Mr. HANSEN. I thank the gentleman from Arizona.
The gentlelady from Idaho, Mrs. Chenowith.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I join the gentleman from Arizona and the gentleman from Utah in still trying to understand your specific reasons. As I understand the reasons why you would like to see Lake Powell drained, first of all, you propose that we drain the lake, but leave the impoundment facility there, right?
Mr. WERBACH. That's correct.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. And then there would be about 15,000 people who would be hiking or floating the river in its natural state?
Mr. WERBACH. I'm not quite sure where you get that number. If you look at places like Moab, Utah, you see incredible amounts of recreational activities taking place in canyons.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. You also indicated that one of the reasons why you would recommend or the Club recommended that we drain Lake Powell was because of the humpback chub and the sucker fish; is that correct?
Mr. WERBACH. I'm sorry. Can you ask that question again?
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Another reason that you suggested that we should drain Lake Powell is because of the humpback chub fish and a sucker fish; is that correct?
Mr. WERBACH. Yes. We believe that destroying species that God created is not something that humanity should be doing.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. And then finally we heard testimony about being able to view the bathtub ring; is that correct?
Mr. WERBACH. Being able to view it?
Mrs. CHENOWETH. The bathtub ring.
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WERBACH. Yes. We believe that there would be a bathtub ring for all of the garbage and crud that's been thrown out of those houseboats for all these years.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Golly, I just find that amazing. I mean, you want what's natural but you're willing to drain the lake and leave the impoundment facility standing there. Absolutely amazing.
Right now, they have an outstanding trout fishery because the water is cooler. And so with the water warming up, there would be the greater stripe bass population, which, in turn preys, on the chub and the sucker. And I'm sorry, sir, but your logic just doesn't add up. But I find your testimony and your proposal very interesting. And believe me, I take it seriously.
I want to ask Mr. Stewart, do you believe that this particular proposal threatens the law of the river?
Mr. STEWART. I think the only way that the obligations could be met by the upper basin States to the lower basin States would be by changing the Law of the River, which is an extraordinarily complicated, delicate compromise which has been worked out for that equitable apportionment. And the potential for warfare between States would be significant.
And one of the things that I try to keep in mind is the fact that, as I count up the numberthe numbers of the Members of the U.S. House of Representatives plus the U.S. Senate representing the upper basin States versus those of the lower basin States, we lose by, as I recall, about a 3 to 1 margin. And that's not a real comforting thought for those of us in the upper basin States.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. What would be the, in your opinion, the environmental impact of this proposal for wildlife and vegetation in Utah that are dependent upon the reservoir?
Page 99 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. STEWART. Clearly, the habitats that have been established since the reservoir was created would be destroyed. And the impacts on a number of species would be great. But I would indicate this further. In order for the State of Utah to meet its water needs that would be lost because of the draining of Lake Powell, we would end up damming other rivers elsewhere in the State. Other habitats would be destroyed.
And, again, I ask the questionI asked the question earlier where why is the right of 15,000 or 20,000 people to enjoy a hike or a river run through Glen Canyon superior for the 3 million who may enjoy the flat water? Why would the destruction of additional river habitats in northern Utah to meet our water supply be less of a loss than a potential or questionable restoration of a habitat in southern Utah? Those are value judgments that are very difficult for me to accept.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Stewart.
Ms. Pearson, the work that you do in your capacity as director is admirable.
Ms. PEARSON. Thank you.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. And I have learned a lot from all of those of you who have testified. But you mentioned in your testimony that, without the insurance of water that Lake Powell does provide, that property values downstream could go down.
Could you, to the degree we have time, expound on this and expand on this? And, in your opinion, if we drain Lake Powell, and the property values go down, wouldn't this require that the U.S. compensate, under the constitutional requirements, compensate for that loss?
Ms. PEARSON. Thank you, Congresswoman. There would be very local impacts. And in my testimony, I talked about the immediate impact to Page and surrounding communities that rely on tourism as a major source of income to those communities. The property values, obviously, adjacent to Lake Powell would be dramatically impacted. There would be no resource base on which to stimulate the economy. Those taxes, of course, support the infrastructure. You would have impacts on schools, medical care, et cetera. It's a very local impact.
Page 100 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC On a regional basis, in particular, Arizona, we have a program known as 100-year assured water supply program which applies to all the major urban areas of the State. And what that does is guarantee to families, businesses that come into our area, that before they can develop, there has to be a 100-year assured water supply, a committed stable affordable water supply of high quality water available to them.
We are assuming that we have the Colorado River entitlement available to us to meet that demand. Without it, we would be forced to go back on groundwater. Groundwater is a finite source of water. We would lose that supply of water in a very short period of time. We would have inadequate amounts of water to meet the long-term demand in our communities. That would have a dramatic impact on property values. Obviously, we could not sustain our current population. Similar concerns, I think, can be expressed both in southern Nevada as well as southern California.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you. And, Mr. Chairman, I want to commend Mr. Mark Whitlock on his testimony and on the program that he has led in embarking on the installation of water-efficient shower heads and toilets. And believe me, your testimony was refreshing to hear. Keep up the good work. Thank you.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you for the testimony of all the folks.
Mr. VENTO. Mr. Chairman, may I take my 2 minutes now? I'll take 2 minutes if I can have unanimous consent.
Mr. HANSEN. The gentleman from Minnesota.
Mr. VENTO. I don't quite share the sense of shock of my colleagues. I feel like it's a scene out of Casablanca here. They're shocked that the Sierra Club would be in favor. Frankly, I mean, in terms of some of that idealism, while I don't think, you know, that we're quite ready to act on this particular proposal I think is a good quality. And I hope that the Sierra Club and other groups that are involved from bothwhatever view maintain that.
Page 101 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As far as studies are concerned, I think we spend a lot of money, at least we should be spending dollars on this important resource. I think there are a lot of questions raised by this in terms of what happens with the soils and the accumulation of sediments thatI heard some talk about various types of heavy metals and other things that are accumulating there.
And these, frankly, represent like some of the questions dealing with nuclear waste, you know, it's almost a problem from the mining to the disposal of the high-level waste.
And I think these dams and some of the other water structures that we're involved with in the West have some of the same sort of questions that are being raised. So as far as environmental assessment, which is aI would expect that the Bureau of Reclamation and other authorities there are almost on a constant basis looking at the nature of the reservoir and the angle of repose, the other soils and the rate at which it's filling and other questions that are important. You know, there is a blue ribbon trout stream downstream. A lot of us who fish, we like that particular quality.
So we have dramatically changed this area. There are some positives to it, I guess, and a lot of other aspects that are not. But as we get new information, we have to be willing to look at it. I understand the position of the Sierra Club in this area, but I don't think that we should be opposed to obviously getting adequate information concerning this. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you. Mr. Stewart, in your testimony, maybe I got this wrong, but you said, in Lake Mead, as it was drawing down, that a certain amount of willows were created, and this became a habitat for willow flycatchers; is that right?
Mr. STEWART. Southwest willow flycatcher, yes.
Mr. HANSEN. And now one of the proposals we have in front of us is to fill up Lake Mead with the water from Lake Powell. But you also stated that there was an environmental group that had filed a lawsuit to prohibit Lake Mead from coming up, as it would destroy that habitat; is that correct?
Page 102 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. STEWART. That's correct.
Mr. HANSEN. Is the Sierra Club enjoined in that lawsuit, Mr. Werbach?
Mr. WERBACH. I am not sure. I will check with my staff and get that into the record.
Mr. HANSEN. Kind of a little paradox there. On one hand, you know, if you say that we want to a fill Lake Mead with Lake Powell; yet, we're in a lawsuit to prevent the flycatcher's habitat. It would be just a tad of a paradox or maybe an inconsistency. I don't mean to make a big deal out of that. But it strikes me rather odd that the environmental community who would advocate draining Lake Powell and putting the water into Lake Mead would also become an area that is something that could not occur.
Mr. Werbach, you had a very powerful organization. The Sierra Club is known nationwide, has a lot of power. It's been reported in Salt Lake papers that you folks are prepared to come up with a half million to $3 million to push this proposal. Is that correct?
Mr. WERBACH. No, that is not correct.
Mr. HANSEN. What is correct, may I ask?
Mr. WERBACH. The Sierra Club is notthe proposal to advocate the draining of the lake or the environment assessment?
Mr. HANSEN. One or both.
Mr. WERBACH. We have no budget, per se, for the proposal to advocate the draining of the lake. Our first goal right now is to complete this environmental assessment and thatthe Sierra Club is not proposing to conduct that. We're proposing to help the Glen Canyon Institute. We're hoping that, with your help, the administration will undertake that review.
Mr. HANSEN. If you accept what Mr. Shadegg said about draining the lake and you folks are serious about it, if I understand how that would have to go, it would go through Congress, and Congress would pass legislation. This place is a rumor mill, we all know that, and it's a big sieve anyway. It's like the Pentagon. There are no secrets at all over there.
Page 103 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Anyway, having said that, we keep hearing you have a sponsor toI've asked. Is anybody a sponsor? It's none of my business, I guess. You don't have to answer that. But do you have a sponsor on draining Lake Powell or proposing this legislation?
Mr. WERBACH. We have not seeked a sponsor for this.
Mr. HANSEN. You're not to that point yet of talking to someone; is that right?
Mr. WERBACH. No.
Mr. HANSEN. I assume you do have some Members of Congress who find this an interesting idea, though; is that correct?
Mr. WERBACH. Frankly, we haven't had conversations with the Members of Congress on this yet. This is our first opportunity to do that. And we're not really looking for it. Right now what we're trying to do is to begin this assessment so that we'll have the facts to answer many of the good questions that you're asking right now.
Mr. HANSEN. If you were to put this in a category of importance of the many things that the Sierra Club is interested in, where would you put this?
Mr. WERBACH. I would put this of critical importance to the Sierra Club.
Mr. HANSEN. It is critical importance?
Mr. WERBACH. Uh-huh.
Mr. HANSEN. Top five maybe.
Mr. WERBACH. It's critically important to the Sierra Club.
Mr. HANSEN. Critically important to the Sierra Club. Well, I appreciate that. I appreciate your candor.
We have kept you folks here quite a while. We'll excuse this panel. Excuse me, Mr. Shadegg had an additional 2 minutes he wanted to take.
Page 104 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SHADEGG. Mr. Chairman, I hope not to take 2 minutes. But since Mr. Brower was to be on this panel, there are, although many quotes I might want to ask him about, there are at least three that I think are critical. And I would like to put them in the record and make a case for why I think they are important.
Mr. HANSEN. Is there an objection? Hearing none, so ordered.
Mr. SHADEGG. It's pretty clear that Mr. Brower is the single most dominant advocate of this idea. If you look at the history of the political struggles within the Sierra Club, he's been on the board and off the board. He was the executive director when the lake was built and wears sack cloth and ashes as he is quoted as saying, and he wants to now right this. His piece, ''Let the River Run Through It'' is the seminal piece on why this ought to happen.
There are, as I said, three quotes that have been published and attributed to him which I find shocking and which I would like him to respond to. The first appears in ''Environmental Overkill'' published in 1993 by Dixie Lee Ray. And by the way, in none of these quotes have I foundever have I found a statement by Mr. Brower disavowing them.
The first quote is: ''While the death of young men in war is unfortunate, it is no more serious than the touching of mountains and wilderness areas by human kind.''
The second quote is found in Dixie Lee Ray's book, ''Trashing the Planet.'' It is based on a subsequent book noted inor a prior book noted in her footnote. And this quote is: ''Childbearing should be a punishable crime against society unless the parents hold a government license. All potential parents should be required to use contraceptive chemicals, the government issuing antidotes to citizens chosen for childbearing.''
And the third quoteand I thought it would be impossible to trump the first two until I found this one. The third one is, quote, by Mr. Brower, the advocate of this idea: ''Loggers losing their jobs because of spotted owl legislation is, in my eyes,'' Mr. Brower says, ''no different than people being out of work after the furnaces of Dachau are shut down.'' That also appears in Dixie Lee Ray's book, ''Environmental Overkill,'' published in 1993, and was never disavowed by Mr. Brower. I think those are important quotes to get into the record. And I would like
Page 105 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DOOLITTLE. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. SHADEGG. Certainly.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. I would just like to ask Mr. Werbach if you agree with those quotes or which one do you disagree with, if any.
Mr. WERBACH. First of all, let me state my great offense at the suggestion David Brower would suggest those things. No, I do not agree with those things. I do not suggest that we take Dixie Lee Ray's view on the environment as gospel.
I will mention that David Brower served in a mountaineering unit in World War II along with former Senator Bob Dole, served our country well, and does not deserve to be slandered in that way.
Mr. SHADEGG. No, reclaiming my time, these are all quotes that appear on the Internet attributed to Mr. Brower and have been there since 1990 and 1993, respectively. We have thoroughly, as you might tell at this point in this hearing, we searched this issue and Mr. Brower and found not a single occasion where he has disavowed any of them. So if this is an opportunity for him to do so, I call upon him to do so.
Mr. HANSEN. The gentleman's time has expired. We appreciate the panel being with us. Mr. Werbach, Mr. Wegner, if you would stay there.
The next panel is Jim Lochhead, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. We have Melvin Bautista, Executive Director of the Division of Natural Resources of the Navajo Nation. And we have Larry E. Tarp, Chairman of Friends of Lake Powell.
We appreciate the panel being with us. You know all the rules. You can stay within 5 minutes. Thank you very much. Mr. Lochhead, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, you have the floor, as we say in our business. We recognize you for 5 minutes.
Page 106 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENT OF JIM LOCHHEAD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
Mr. LOCHHEAD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittees. I would ask the Chair's indulgence. Given the late time that I had for notice of this hearing, I wasn't able to prepare written testimony, and I would request to be able to do so after the hearing.
The purpose of my testimony today, Mr. Chairman, is to help express from an upper Colorado River basin perspective our grave concerns as to the effects of draining Lake Powell. To fully appreciate these concerns, Members of Congress should understand that this proposal is not just about one dam. Glen Canyon Dam was built and is operated as a key component of a complex framework of laws passed by Congress known as the law of the river.
These laws were born out of the necessity to provide secure water supplies. They are the product of two interstate Compacts, a U.S. Supreme Court decree, and a treaty with Mexico allocating the river's water.
They reflect the fact that for over a hundred years, the financial strength and national authority of the U.S. Congress has been absolutely necessary to avoid interstate disputes and to secure economic stability for the Colorado River basin.
Floods in the lower Colorado River in the first years of this century caused extensive damage and created the Salton Sea, bringing urgency to the desires of California irrigators for an all-American canal and a dam that would regulate the river. The California interests sought financial support for these projects from Congress.
The upper basin States were wary that the lower basin would develop at the expense of the upper basin, and successfully blocked these efforts in Congress. The upper and lower basins resolved their differences in 1922 when they signed the Colorado River Basin Compact.
The Compact divides the river's water between the basins and also sets a requirement that the upper basin not deplete the flow of the river below 75 million acre feet over any 10-year period.
Page 107 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Because of the erratic nature of the river (you heard the testimony on that previously) from year to year, the negotiators of the Compact in 1922 knew that the upper basin could not meet its burden without the comprehensive development throughout the basin of storage reservoirs.
The Boulder Canyon Project Act of 1928, by which Congress ratified the Compact, also directed the Secretary of Interior to develop a report to Congress, ''formulating a comprehensive scheme of control in the improvement and utilization of the waters of the Colorado water and its tributaries.''
The depression and World War II intervened, but in 1946, the Bureau of Reclamation completed its report. The Upper Basin Compact of 1948 allowed for Congress to implement that plan.
In the 1956 Colorado River Basin Project Act, Congress authorized the construction of so-called holdover reservoirs which would assure that the upper basin could meet its compact obligations. Lake Powell is the cornerstone of that system, supported by units at Flaming Gorge, Aspinall, and Navajo.
In the 1968 Colorado River Basin Project Act, Congress provided for the comprehensive operation of Lake Powell and the major facilities in conjunction with Lake Mead. This regulatory framework was implemented in the coordinating operating criteria by the Secretary of the Interior in 1970.
Without the ability to properly regulate river flow as provided by these facilities, Colorado and other upper basin States would face the prospect of a Compact call, which would entail the massive curtailment of water use by millions of people.
Throughout the development of this series of laws, Congress has also worked closely with the basin States and has explicitly recognized and affirmed the water allocations established under the law of the river.
Page 108 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In the Grand Canyon Protection Act of 1992, Congress directed that operations of the power plant in Glen Canyon Dam take into account downstream impacts. Those operations were the result of a $100 million environmental impact study that was alluded to earlier.
But that law also affirmed the critical role Lake Powell plays in meeting interstate water allocation needs. The Act makes operations for downstream purposes subject to the dam's primary water allocation function.
The Senate Energy Committee Report describes Lake Powell as follows: ''Glen Canyon Dam is the keystone of the Colorado River Storage Project, CRSP, and CRSP is the central vehicle for implementation of the congressionally approved Colorado River Compact. The Compact is in turn the basis for allocation of Colorado River water among the seven Colorado River Basin States.''
By storing water in the upper reservoirs at Flaming Gorge, Aspinall, and Navajo, regulating the water through Lake Powell, and delivering the water to Lake Mead, the Bureau of Reclamation has the facilities and operational flexibility to meet the needs first envisioned over 100 years ago. These facilities ensure a secure water supply for over 20 million people, and a hydroelectric and recreational resource.
As illustrated by the Grand Canyon Protection Act, the Bureau also has the ability to manage water to meet environmental goals. For example, the upper basin States, Bureau of Reclamation, Fish and Wildlife Service, and others have developed a recovery plan for four endangered fish species in the Colorado River Basin.
The plan is designed to recover these endangered species while allowing the upper basin States to fully develop our compact shares. Under this plan, the operation of these upper basin storage units has been changed to more closely approximate the natural hydrograph. Without Lake Powell, this reregulating flexibility would not be possible.
Page 109 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Other aspects of this recovery plan, including habitat acquisition, fish ladders, and stocking programs will need to be funded through a combination of hydropower revenues, congressional appropriations, and State and local funds. We need the help of Congress now more than ever to meet these national priorities of Colorado River management.
By directing the draining of Lake Powell, Congress would completely reverse its field from a direction in which it has steadily engaged for nearly 100 years. We believe that any proposal to drain the lake should take these concerns into consideration. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Lochhead. We appreciate it. Mr. Bautista, we'll turn the time to you, sir.
STATEMENT OF MELVIN F. BAUTISTA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NAVAJO NATION DIVISION OF NATURAL RESOURCES
Mr. BAUTISTA. Thank you. Good afternoon. My name is Melvin Bautista. I'm the Executive Director of the Division of Natural Resources for the Navajo Nation and also a member of the Navajo Nation. I would like to thank Chairman Doolittle of the Subcommittee on Water and Power and Chairman Hansen on the Subcommittee on National Parks, Public Alliance, as well as other distinguished Congressmen for extending an invitation for Navajo Nation to testify at this hearing.
We are gathered here to discuss Mr. Brower's and the Sierra Club's proposal to drain Lake Powell. To abide by the recommendation of the Sierra Club as articulated would wreak disaster upon the economic and social welfare of the Navajo Nation. It would also detrimentally and fundamentally alter a water preservation, delivery, and supply system crafted by many decades of planning and social compromise for the sake of a myopic, selfish, impractical environmental deal.
Page 110 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In short, the Sierra Club's proposal does not address all of the complexities of water administration under the upper compact and lower compact States. It also does not address the adverse impacts on Navajo water rights, Navajo economic development concerns, or Navajo social welfare.
Water is life in the western region of the Continental United States. Water considerations affect land and economic development plans and opportunities for all those who live here, including the Navajo Nation.
The Colorado River is a primary water supply and ground water resource in the Colorado Basin States. The Navajo nation has reserved water rights with a priority to date that relates back to creation of our reservation by the Federal Government.
The Navajo Nation entered into two treaties with the United States in 1850 and 1868. It set aside an exclusive reservation exclusive for the Navajo Nation.
Navajo water rights, however, must be quantified by a court of competent jurisdiction as part of a general stream adjudication unless the Nation authorizes a settlement approved by Congress. Thus the Navajo, like other water users in the region, is currently engaged in the general stream adjudication for a number of rivers and basins on or near the Navajo Nation, including the Colorado River.
In Arizona versus California, the Supreme Court adjudicated water rights of five Indian tribes. The Navajo Nation, however, was excluded from this litigation.
Two theories have been postulated to explain the exclusion of Navajo water rights. The first suggests that the Special Master limited his consideration of water rights on the main stream of the rivers below Lake Mead. The second envisions the surrender of Navajo water rights in exchange for monetary consideration and a promise of beneficial economic developments which made possible a construction of a Navajo generating station. Without Lake Powell, the Navajo generating station would not exist.
Page 111 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Moreover, in 1958, Congress authorized exchange of Navajo reservation lands for public domain lands occupied by Navajos. Glen Canyon Dam is located on former Navajo reservation lands.
The Navajo Nation still owns the mineral estate under Lake Powell. Lake Powell flooded Navajo religious and cultural sites forever destroying their use by Navajo people. The Navajo Nation has been deprived of its minerals and culture without compensation being paid by the Federal Government.
First and foremost, a proposal to drain Lake Powell would create hardship for the Navajo Nation securing any readily accessible water supply. The proposal, if it is accepted, would literally destroy mining and agri-business concerns that provide most of the financial resources the Navajo Nation expends to provide benefits to members of the Navajo Nation.
Secondly, the Navajo Agricultural Project Enterprise and Navajo Indian Irrigation Project, also referred to as NAPE, and NIIP, would be jeopardized because it is a largely dependent upon water availability from the mainstream of the San Juan River and its tributaries for farming activities.
Water availability for NAPE and NIIP would be reduced foreclosing the possibility about ever completing this project.
Third, the Navajo Nation believes dangerous and toxic concentrations of selenium, salt, and mercury left behind from a drained lake and airborne by wind would detrimentally affect health and safety of Navajo people living near Lake Powell.
Fourth, there would be a significant cost increase for the public by substituting other resources to provide energy and electricity now or in the future by hydroelectric facilities on Lake Powell. More coal may have to be burned to maintain electricity at production levels. This may contribute to increased air pollution in a strictly regulated clean air environment.
Page 112 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Fifth, since many, if not all, of the native species of plant and animal life have already been destroyed or affected by Lake Powell, nonnative species would merely inhabit the vacant space. It would be prohibitively expensive to return the environment to its original habitat. Instead, it has already been drastically affected.
Furthermore, the current endangered species of fish life would have greater risk by encroachment of nonnative fish if Lake Powell was drained.
Lastly, revenues from the tourism industry created by Lake Powell, the Glen Canyon area, and the Navajo Nation would be drastically affected. During the earlier years after the lake was drained, there would be no tourism attraction. Even if the environment were perfectly reclaimed, there would be only limited tourist attraction appeal, since the recreation utility potential of the site would be greatly limited.
Many members of the Navajo Nation sell food, beverages, jewelry to tourists. This accounts for most of their income for each year. Draining Lake Powell would absolutely destroy this means of income for Navajo vendors and enjoyment by those wanting to see and experience Lake Powell.
In conclusion, if Lake Powell is drained, then the Navajo Nation still desires to proceed with settlements of issues with the National Park Service concerning the Navajo Nation's boundary along the Colorado River. The Nation still maintains that the shore line of the river in the vicinity of the Grand Canyon National Park is the northern and western boundary of the Navajo reservation, which includes the center line of the San Juan River as clearly defined in our treaty.
The National Park Service refuses to accept this, even though an Arizona State court made this finding when it dismissed the citation for fishing without a license, State license within the Grand Canyon National Park to a member of the Navajo Nation. He did possess a Navajo Nation permit.
Page 113 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The draining of Lake Powell would do nothing but harm the economic and social welfare of the Navajo Nation. This would greatly complicate and further delay use of Colorado River water by the Navajo Nation. As such, the Navajo Nation respectfully requests that you reject the Sierra Club's proposal. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Bautista may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Bautista.
Mr. Tarp. We'll turn the time to you. Do you want to pull the mike over there by you, sir.
STATEMENT OF LARRY E. TARP, CHAIRMAN, FRIENDS OF LAKE POWELL
Mr. TARP. Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, I have submitted my written testimony previously, and I assume it will be part of the record.
As the Chairman of the Friends of Lake Powell, I thank you for allowing me to speak on behalf of the people that support maintaining Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam.
This testimony normally would be a trying thing for a layman like myself. But while you cannot 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. We want to provide the public factual information about social, entertainment, environmental, and the economics. And we'll solicit membership to create maximum public awareness of these issues.
We will fight off any attempts by groups that seek to alter its status. We will support environmental improvements and represent the millions of people who love the area.
Let me tell you some facts about Lake Powell. This is a fact: Lake Powell and the surrounding area is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Lake Powell is in northern Arizona and southern Utah. Ninety percent of the lake is in Utah.
Page 114 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The lake surface is below the surrounding mountains and is the major reason for its extreme beauty. Blue waters contrast the red sandstone cliffs. There is nothing else like it on this planet.
Lake Powell was created by Glen Canyon Dam. Lake Powell was named for Major John Wesley Powell. Lake Powell is within the Glen Canyon national recreation area, which has 1,236,800 acres, the size of Delaware. It preserves 650 million years of history with a mission to preserve the existing scientific, scenic, and historical features, which certainly include the Lake and Dam.
Lake Powell is 186 miles long with 1,960 miles of shore line, more than the entire length of the West Coast of the United States. It has 96 major side canyons.
But before I go on, for the record, I must point out some of the misleading information that proponents of draining Lake Powell have issued. First, evaporation. Claims of one million feet have been voiced, even here today. The official figures are half that. Most importantly, evaporation is not elimination. It is a natural part of weather. All bodies of water evaporate when exposed to atmospheric changes. But the water becomes clouds in the case of Lake Powell, it rains on fields and farms in places East such as Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska.
The proponents of draining would allow this water to flow into the Sea of Cortez, where it would evaporate also and water Mexico's crops and not our heartland.
They talk about restoring the Canyon walls knowing full well that not all the king's horses and all the king's men can put the iron oxide back in.
The bathtub ring, as it is so-called, seen as the water recedes, extends from top to bottom and all around the lake. We would be left with the biggest, bleached, ugliest white hole on earth. And the proponents of lake draining would be long gone.
Statements have been made claiming the Power Plant and Dam have as little as 100 years or so. You have heard today that Bureau figures indicate 500 years for the Power Plant and up to 700 years for the Lake with a do-nothing policy.
Page 115 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If no superduper sources of power and energy are developed over the next 500 years, I submit to you that dredging is not rocket science.
They say simply pull the plug in Glen Canyon Dam. Impossible. As the diversion tubes are completely filled with concrete and their outlets were redirected to make spillway outlets, draining the Lake and leaving the Dam intact is not possible. Their claims that the Dam is unstable and subject to catastrophic failure are so slanderous, I refuse to discuss them.
Also, for the record, you should know that the Sierra Club's seven-member task force charged with studying this issue were invited by the Bureau of Reclamation, Mr. Bill Duncan, whose name was in the record this morning, to come to the Lake Powell, visit the Dam, and talk to the people, and they refused. Ignorance must be bliss.
Now, let me go on. Glen Canyon Power Plant controls the complete upper CSRP with six other power plants. Lake Powell is the water savings account as you've heard today for the upper basin States and for delivery to the lower basin States.
The Power Plant generates enough electricity for 400,000 people. Lake Powell hosts about 3 million visitors a year. As heard today, over 400,000 people a year come for boating activity.
The Lake now affords access to 325,000 people a year that can reach Rainbow Bridge National Monument. Before, it was about a 16-mile walk to get to that monument.
The lake is also home to about 275 species of birds, 700 species of plants. As mentioned earlier, the Peregrine Falcon is there. And, largely, the lake is the reason its population is being removed from the endangered species list. We have trout fishing. The lake waters supply the Navajo generating station, as was stated earlier.
Electricity is equal to about $100 million a year from Glen Canyon Dam. About a Billion Dollars a year from NGS. And all of these dollars are subject to Federal taxes, State taxes, County taxes, and City taxes.
Page 116 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The local commerce supports human services, hospital, schools, libraries, and other essential services. Nearly 23,000 Native Americans live on nearby reservations. Our public school enrollments are 63 percent Native American.
In closing, let me say that the people involved in daily life, commerce, and the free enterprise system surrounding the area will oppose until their deaths any person or persons that attempt to disrupt our personal rights, freedoms, and opportunities for 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 belief on others in this the great United States of America. We, the millions of Friends of Lake Powell, are citizens and voters and intend to see that these rights are upheld regardless of time and cost. Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Tarp may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Tarp. The gentleman from California, Mr. Doolittle, for the questions for this panel.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Mr. Bautista, I appreciated your testimony. And you indicated therein that Lake Powell is basically on your reservation's land. Didn't I read that?
Mr. BAUTISTA. Yes.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. You retain the mineral estate. I guess you've acceded the surface rights, but you have the mineral estate underneath it; isn't that correct?
Mr. BAUTISTA. Yes. When the exchange was done to create the McCrackin Mesa in Utah, the lands were taken from the Lake Powell area where Glen Canyon Dam was built. So, essentially, the subsurface estate still belongs to the Navajo Nation as well as the area. We always had arguments with the National Park Service in termsthe terms are basically saying that Navajo Nation still recognizes their boundary as being the edge of the Colorado River and center line for San Juan River. So that is where a lot of the issues come from. Thank you.
Page 117 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DOOLITTLE. You have there flooded over Indian burial sites and other heritage and cultural sites, do you not?
Mr. BAUTISTA. Yes, we do.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. And, yet, unlike the Sierra Club, you have not joined in this effort to drain the lake to recover those sites.
Mr. BAUTISTA. Well, the attempts were made to try to educate the Bureau of Reclamation at that time when that was being done. And they did try to work with us in terms of trying to take many of the items that were down in the canyon area out.
But, unfortunately, we lost some of the areas where basically prayers and offerings were made, so we could not do that anymore. The lake does exist now. And the areas around those places where we used for prayers are still used, but further away from their original site.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. I guess I'm just trying to draw out here, you would have a real vested interest, arguably, in draining the lake because of these sites; and, yet, you have not elected to do so, weighing the pros and the cons of such a drastic action.
Mr. BAUTISTA. We would not be interested in draining the lake, because that has veryit's a source of water supply for both the Navajos and the Hopi tribe. We're currently in litigation involving the lower Colorado River. And this is one area that both Nations have identified as being a source of water supply for our area.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. I noticed from your testimony that, in the litigation involving the lower basin States, the Navajo Nation was excluded from having its rights adjudicated at that point. Is that correct?
Mr. BAUTISTA. That is correct.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. So you're now involved in the negotiation of theof your own compact, I guess, with the Federal Government? How does thatwhere are we in those negotiations?
Page 118 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BAUTISTA. Essentially, we are still involved in terms of trying to settle many of the issues that the Navajo Nation has in terms of water rights, not only the Colorado River, but many of the tributaries that flow into the Colorado River.
And in many cases, the Navajo Nation does have the water rights, but we are trying to work with the various people, government, local governments, the city, the county governments, and whatnot to try to at least work out a way where we can share the water. So that's what we are currently working on now in terms of basically a settlement.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Does Lake Powell present the Navajo Nation with significant economic opportunities?
Mr. BAUTISTA. Yes, it does. Many of our Navajo vendors who basically don't have jobsthe Navajo Nation is about 45 percent unemployed. And people that live along the lake, that's the only source of employment that they have in terms of selling food, jewelry, and whatever they can use to do that, and also taking people on tours. Additionally, they try to assist in terms of working with people that do come to the area as well. Thank you.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. I also just mention, I noted when I visited the Navajo Generating Station, there were a number of Navajo employees there. And I gather that you depend upon Lake Powell for your water as well as for the livelihood that your people would hope to make in the future.
Mr. BAUTISTA. Yes. That's true. In terms of Lake Powell. And there is no water that comes from Lake Powell. It only goes to the city of Page currently. And we are trying to negotiate in the water litigation, or excuse me, water settlement discussions under the LCR, lower Colorado River, to try and take water out of the lake.
In terms of the Navajo generating station, we are currently negotiating Royalty re-openers with Peabody which supplies coal to the Navajo generating station, as well as Mojave, to allow us to sell more coal to them for revenue generation. But Lake Powell is one of the key ingredients of part of the negotiations.
Page 119 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you. Mr. Lochhead, could your upper basin States meet the obligation to deliver the 7 1/2 million acre feet to the lower basin States without Lake Powell?
Mr. LOCHHEAD. Mr. Chairman, I don't believe that we could, Congressman. And the testimony of Mr. Bautista, I think, illustrates also that there are a number of uncertainties regarding the regulation and allocation of the river system, the negotiation of tribal reserved rights among them, that we are trying to work on as States with the tribal nations and the Colorado River states. Those uncertainties present further challenges to our ability to reregulate water for these allocation purposes and additional demands on the system that would need to be addressed.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you. Mr. Tarp, my time is up. I just wanted to mention I appreciated very much your testimony. I thought you drew out a number of the important values about Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Doolittle.
The gentlelady from the Virgin Islands, Mrs. Green.
Ms. CHRISTIANGREEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I wanted to thank you for your testimony, also. I wanted to ask Mr. Werbach, Mr. Bautista in his conclusion of his testimony says that the Sierra Club's proposal views the destruction of Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell with justifications that benefit only a few members of the human community. Would you comment on that?
Mr. WERBACH. Well, the Sierra Club pays deference to the Navajo Nation and supports them reaching their treaty obligations and hopes that this Committee will help them do so.
We have spoken to some other Nations in the area, Haulapai, the Havasupai, and the Hopi, all of whom, while not having voted formerly on it, their departments of natural resources supports studying the issue and looking into options. At this time, as we said, there are lots of issues still at hand. And these are very, very important. Native American rights are critical to the success of this plan. Right now we want to do the assessment and take it from there.
Page 120 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. CHRISTIANGREEN. Thank you. And thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing. It has been very informative. And I can see that there are many difficulties and far-reaching impacts involved with drainingthe possibility of draining Lake Powell. But certainly, Mr. Chairman, I think we have an obligation, not only to this generation, but to those to come. And so, while in the end, I may or may not support the draining of the lake, I do support an environmental assessment. Because I believe that the people of Utah, California, Nevada, Colorado, and the other States that are involved do have a right to know. And so I would support Federal funds being used to fund either in part or in whole the environmental assessment. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you very much. Informative and provocative I probably would add to that. The gentleman from Arizona, Mr. Shadegg.
Mr. SHADEGG. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Bautista, I want to thank you for taking the time to travel here all the way from Arizona. I appreciate your being here. I made reference in my earlier comments to the fact that both you and the Hopi share an important aquifer which lies under your reservations and which I believe is, in part, as full or has the capacity it currently has because of the existence of Lake Powell.
I note in your testimony that you talk about adverse impact on Navajo water rights, Navajo economic development, Navajo social welfare, and go on to say that, in point of fact, the proposal would create great hardship and would literally destroy mining and agri-business that provide most of the financial resources of the Navajo Nation.
The Navajo Nation does not have a particularly strong economic base at the present time, does it, Mr. Bautista?
Mr. BAUTISTA. That is correct.
Mr. SHADEGG. What is unemployment on the reservation?
Mr. BAUTISTA. Unemployment runs approximately 45 percent.
Page 121 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SHADEGG. And if we were to rule out all of the recreation activities which now provide jobs and other associated jobs, the operation of the dam, the operation of the Navajo power plant, all of which or most of which have native American hiring preferences, that would be devastating to your employment base, would it not?
Mr. BAUTISTA. Yes, it would.
Mr. SHADEGG. Let me talk briefly. Peabody Coal has a Black Mesa mine that employes many Native Americans, both Navajo and Hopi, does it not?
Mr. BAUTISTA. Yes, it does.
Mr. SHADEGG. OK. And it is dependent upon the power generated at the Navajo generating station.
Mr. BAUTISTA. Yes.
Mr. SHADEGG. So if we were to lose the Navajo generating station because we had no cooling water, we would literally shut the mine.
Mr. BAUTISTA. Yes, it would.
Mr. SHADEGG. And, also, it is dependent upon the water from the aquifer that I have mentioned. If we were to lose that water, there would be no way to pump the coal and slurry where it is taken to the West; is that right?
Mr. BAUTISTA. That's correct.
Mr. SHADEGG. So we really can lose that mine in two different regards.
I note, and I'm glad you touched upon it, that in your testimony, you talk about the dangerous and toxic concentrations of selenium, salts, and mercury left behind from a drained lake and which the airborne wind would detrimentally affect the health and safety of the Navajo people. Are you familiar with the experience in California with regard to Owens Lake?
Mr. BAUTISTA. Not that familiar with it.
Page 122 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SHADEGG. Let me just point it out. And I want to ask some of the serious environmentalists who are here to talk to us today if they have thought through that issue, because, in point of fact, the experience at Owens Lake demonstrates that, were we to dry up Lake Powell, we would leave the sediment with all of these toxins in it, including, perhaps, nuclear toxins in it, which would be blown around by dust. And we can get into Owens lake later, but I appreciate your testimony and appreciate you coming here and thank you for that.
Mr. Tarp, I would like to turn to you. I believe you are familiar with Stan Jones, one of the premier chroniclers of Lake Powell.
Mr. TARP. Yes. He is called Mr. Lake Powell.
Mr. SHADEGG. He is called Mr. Lake Powell. This is one of his many books. I would, Mr. Chairman, like to put this into the record. Because it depicts some of the beauty of Lake Powell. I know that I spoke with Stan Jones forat length Sunday morning. And I know that Mr. Tarp spoke with him at length. So I would like to put that into the record.
Mr. HANSEN. Without objection, so ordered.
Mr. SHADEGG. He's quite an environmentalist in his own right; is he not?
Mr. TARP. Yes, he is. If I might just read a small statement that he gave me over the phone. He said: ''I submit to you that Glen Canyon and its 100 or more side canyons do not need to be restored. Why? Because they were never lost or destroyed by the waters of Lake Powell.
Every canyon is still there and in its full splendor. Yes, there may be 100 or even 200 feet of water on the floors, but when the walls go up, some straight up over 1,000 feet, it actually enhances them. Rather than think of it as spoiling them, think of it as having a reflective base that appears to double their height.
Plus, they are completely accessible by water. And still by land as well or by foot or by pack animal, if you prefer. The water access can make this trip short, full of additional splendor, and very calming.
Page 123 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In a week or two of concentrated boating effort, a person or group could see nearly all 100 of them. Without water access, I doubt a person or group could see them all in a lifetime.
I invite Adam Werbach, his family, and Mr. David Brower to come to Page, and we will personally show them the variety of splendor they never have nor never would see if they had to walk in, ride the river, or come on pack mules.
Mr. SHADEGG. I thank you for that.
Mr. Chairman, when I spoke with Stan Jones on Sunday by phone, he pointed out something to me that I was unaware of, and that is that there was a preinundation study of the lake and of the wildlife, both in the canyon and on Navajo Mountain. That study is, I believe, some 25 pages long. And Mr. Jones could not get it to me in time for this hearing.
He did, however, on Monday fax to me a three-page statement in which he lifts direct quotes from that study, which demonstrate, I think, quite vividly that, in the absence of a constant supply of water, there was really very little wildlife relatively speaking, very few birds in the area. And there are a number of quotes. And without objection, Mr. Chairman, I would like this inserted in the record.
Mr. HANSEN. Hearing no objection, so ordered.
Mr. SHADEGG. Let me just conclude by saying, as I mentioned earlier in my testimony or in my opening statement, I have camped in or explored virtually every canyon on Lake Powell from Wahweap to Bullfrog.
Speaking about Stan Jones' comment about the reflective ability, in the canyon immediately south of Rainbow Bridge on thewhat would be the southeast side of the lake, I have explored that canyon all the way up to where the boat we were in, which was 8 feet wide, was touching sandstone on each side.
We went off the front of the boat in a little what would be the kind of raft that you would lie on in a swimming pool and went further up the canyon to where we could touch both sides of the canyon and look. And, at that point, we were floating in water and looking straight up for sandstone cliffs that went 300 to 400 feet above our heads. It is magnificent. I suggest draining it would destroy an incredible natural wondering enjoyed by millions of people annually and makes no sense.
Page 124 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HANSEN. Thank you very much.
Mr. Tarp, you heard Mr. Werbach say that, in the eyes of the Sierra Club, this proposal was critically important. How important is it to your group?
Mr. TARP. Well, I think a lot has been said today about the water rights and what would happen, and I won't get into that discussion. But I believe the economics of the issue, the enjoyment, the human bonding, I think about a family going out on a houseboat for 3 or 4 days enjoying life together, sitting around the campfire together, which doesn't usually go on in a family home.
Getting back to the economic's side, I recently found out, although I was not able to include it in my testimony, the assessed value in the city of Page today, as of June is $370 million. And I submit to you that, without Lake Powell, the city would be valueless because, A: it has no other water source, and B: obviously they would have no source of revenue without the recreational activities associated with the Lake and Dam.
Mr. HANSEN. It's hard to put that in dollars, isn't it? But yet, as you look at it, the State of Utah claims they bring in $409 million a year because of the dam.
Every time I go down there, I stand at Waheap and look at the slips with just the boats there, for example, and then look out at the boats that are anchored. I've always tried to evaluate how much money is sitting there. Has anyone ever made a guess on that? Betweenforgetting Halls Crossing and Bullfrog and Hite and the money sitting at Dangling Rope, what would you estimate that as?
Mr. TARP. Well, I can only estimate. But I would say, on the south end of the lake, between the slip's and the buoy's, there are approximately 1,000 boats. And I would suggest to you that, with all the peripherals, insurance and the other costs, they probably have an average value of $100,000 or more each.
Page 125 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HANSEN. That's rather expensive, isn't it?
Well, I thank this panel for being with us. And we'll excuse you. And, Mr. Wegner, it's your turn now. We're going to get to you.
Now, Mr. Werbach can give you instructions as you go back and forth there.
Our last panel is Robert Elliot, Arizona Raft Adventurers; Joseph Hunter, Executive Director of Colorado River Energy Distribution Association, CREDA, and David Wegner, Ecosystems Management International.
So we're grateful for you folks for being here. We'll get you all labeled here so we know who you are.
Mr. Elliott, we will start with you and then Mr. Hunter and, Mr. Wegner, you can be the cleanup batter here.
Mr. ELLIOTT. Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the Committee
Mr. HANSEN. You know the rules. We would appreciate it if you could stay within your time.
Mr. Elliott, we turn to you, sir.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT ELLIOTT, AMERICA OUTDOORS AND ARIZONA RAFT ADVENTURES
Mr. ELLIOTT. Mr. Chairman and illustrious members of the Subcommittees, thank you kindly for inviting me to testify today.
My name is Rob Elliott. I represent America Outdoors, a national trade association comprised of 600 small businesses which outfit back country trips for the public on lands managed by government agencies across the Nation. I am also the President of Arizona Raft Adventures, a river runner in the Grand Canyon.
Knowing what we know today, and on balance with all the myriad considerations, I am adamantly opposed to the draining of Lake Powell and I will document my position in a few moments.
Page 126 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Spiritually, I grew up in Glen Canyon. I have lived and worked and played on the Colorado plateau most of my adult life, and I have outfitted over 30,000 people on river trips through the Grand Canyon. I have represented the outfitting industry and the transition work group for several years working directly with the Bureau of Reclamation and the dozen or so cooperating agencies in the development of the Glen Canyon Dam EIS.
In the spring of 1962, I was twice blessed when I floated through Glen Canyon with David Brower. Before dawn one morning, I left alone for the 6-mile hike up Aztec Creek to see Rainbow Bridge and upon returning to camp I had an epiphany. I cried out loud and apologized to God for our flooding of Glen Canyon. That experience forever annealed the environmental ethic to my soul.
The second blessing was meeting and coming to know David Brower, a personal hero of mine. David Brower taught me that one person can make a monumental difference in the world.
My first reaction to the notion of draining Lake Powell and freeing the Colorado River to its pre-dammed condition was, wouldn't it be wonderful to turn back the clock? And what a preposterous idea.
My more studied reaction to the proposal to drain Lake Powell is that the riparian habitat in Grand Canyon downstream from the dam is today amazingly vibrant, rich in biodiversity, nonetheless legitimate because it is a highly managed ecosystem. And it is threatened by both the prospect of draining Lake Powell and the possibility that nature may act first to blow out Glen Canyon Dam, with or without the authorization of Congress.
With the control of annual flooding in Grand Canyon, there has been a dramatic increase in riparian vegetation with a corresponding increase of biodiversity, including supportive habitat for threatened and endangered species. By accident, we have created a refuge for Neotropical birds of regional significance, and the cold clear water below the dam supports a blue ribbon trout fishery. A highly regulated river has produced high biodiversity and new recreational opportunity.
Page 127 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC What are the environmental consequences of draining Lake Powell?
With the draining of Lake Powell and the freeing of Glen Canyon from beneath megatons of potentially toxic sediments, restoration would begin immediately and take perhaps a millennium for nature to restore Glen Canyon to, to what? We don't know. But not likely to its original splendor.
Glen Canyon would be an unstable environment for a very long period of time, and the first species to reclaim the land would very likely be invasive, nonnative specious such as tamarisk and camel thorn. Restoration to a natural condition may neither be possible nor desirable. We know very little about the environmental consequences of draining Lake Powell, but we do know some things about river sediments and delta deposits elsewhere.
As river sediments accumulate, various naturally occurring compounds and heavy metals concentrate to toxic levels.
What do the proponents of draining the lake suggest we do with these potentially toxic sediments? The Colorado River flowing into Glen Canyon would carry the same sediments it does today. Upon entering the former Lake Powell, the river would pick up newly exposed lake sediments. At best, the mix of lake sediments with upstream sediments is a black box scientifically.
If the sediments flow through Glen and Grand Canyons, then Lake Meade will fill all the more quickly. And then are we to decommission Hoover Dam as well? Is the only ultimate answer to let the sediments run through to the Sea of Cortez? To use the water, we must remove the sediments. And I admit, that fact poses very tough questions for future generations. It is not too soon to start looking for the answers today.
I am a strong advocate for deepening scientific inquiry at Lake Powell. What is the composition of lake sediments and how fast are they accumulating? Do the lake sediments pose a health and safety concern for our or future generations? How much water is really lost to evaporation percolation? What about meromixis, the accumulation of deep water conditions with high salinity and very low oxygen levels which some day could kill fish and corrode turbines? Scientists can answer these questions and we need to give them all the support and the funding we can reasonably pull together to look at those.
Page 128 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Included in the scope of this hearing is the reduction of water storage capability of Lake Powell. I also would like to urge both Committees to strongly advocate a governmental risk analysis to determine the competency of Glen Canyon Dam and flood control capacity in Lake Powell to withstand a 500-year flood.
How long did the engineers design the dam to last? Was it smart to put it in sandstone in the first place? There is a lot of speculation as to how long the dam will be there. We almost lost it in 1983 when El Nino produced 210 percent of normal snowpack in the early spring and a warm June brought it all down the first 10 days of the month.
Meteorologists tell us the coming El Nino event building off the coast of South America is expected to be the biggest of the century. A 500-year flood run events aboutflood event runs about 250,000 cubic feet per second and sedimentologists with the Bureau of Reclamation point to evidence of prehistoric floods of up to 400,000 cubic feet per second. With all tubes and spillways flowing, Glen Canyon Dam can release 270,000 cubic feet per second.
Back in 1983, the dam flowed 93,000 cubic feet per second. So when reviewing these figures, we have a potential 500-year flood eventwho knows if El Nino will bring it or notof 250,000 to 400,000 cubic feet per second. We did pass 93,000 cubic feet per second through the dam in 1983 with some serious, serious corrosive erosion effects to the bypass tubes.
So now we are talking about the possibility of passing 250,000, 270,000 cubic feet per second through the dam in a major flood event for flood control purposes. That is three times the amount of water that we passed through the dam in 1983.
My view is that the Subcommittees can productively focus time and resources on assuring the public that the risk analysis of managing a 500-year flood is addressed. Whether the lake is drained by man or the dam is blown out by nature, the riparian resources in both Glen Canyon and Grand Canyon will recover in a few hundred years. If we fail to accommodate the eventuality of a 500-year flood, we may have created a situation with unacceptable risks to society.
Page 129 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I thank the Committees very much for the opportunity to testify.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Elliott. We appreciate your testimony.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Elliott may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Mr. Hunter.
STATEMENT OF JOSEPH HUNTER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COLORADO RIVER ENERGY DISTRIBUTION ASSOCIATION (CREDA)
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity to appear today on behalf of the Colorado River Energy Distributors Association.
Testimony from several of today's witnesses include references to the hydropower produced at Glen Canyon Dam and the value of that hydropower. CREDA, the organization I represent, represents the more than 100 nonprofit public utilities and rural electric cooperatives who purchase that power from the United States and distribute it to consumers throughout the Colorado River Basin. Clearly, when we are talking about draining Lake Powell we get rather interested.
Over the past several months I have heard a wide-range of opinion as to the impact draining the lake would have on the generation of electricity. The basic facts are well documented. Glen Canyon Dam is capable of generating more than 1,300 megawatts of hydropower each year. That electricity is sold by the United States at cost-based rates to nonprofit public utilities, government organizations, and Native American utilities. Ultimately, millions of families, farms, and businesses depend upon this clean, relatively economical source of energy.
Appearing today as the representative or a representative of the local utilities and electric co-ops, we are responsible for making sure the lights stay on. I would like to focus primarily on the practical implications of removing Glen Canyon Dam as a hydropower resource.
Page 130 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC First, I have heard with some amusement the claims that the generation that would be lost at Glen Canyon Dam could be offset through conservation. Such claims demonstrate a remarkable lack of understanding of the role Glen Canyon Dam plays in the overall scheme of power supply in the West. The importance of hydropower generation goes far beyond the raw number of megawatts it provides. Unlike most conventional generation sources, hydropower is variable. It provides a critical opportunity to generate more or less electricity as demand changes from hour to hour. This load following potential is not something that can be offset through conservation.
While conservation can be an effective tool for reducing the need for base-load generation, it does nothing to reduce the need for peaking resources such as Glen Canyon Dam. If power consumption in the West were cut in half tomorrow, we would still have the same need to adjust generation to meet varying load requirements.
An excellent example of this very fact occurred last summer, during the widespread and widely publicized power outages. Glen Canyon Dam was one of the more critical tools that was available to help restore service to much of Arizona and Southern California. Even the harshest critics of historic dam operations have long agreed that if some type of system failure threatens power supply, Glen Canyon Dam should be available to pick up the slack.
Could this capability be replaced? I suppose it could. Absent Glen Canyon Dam power generation, greater dependence could be placed on other existing hydropower facilities. Each of those dams, however, has its own set of environmental concerns. And I suspect that the potential consequences of using other dams for increased load following would be unacceptable to the same interests who are today advocating the draining of Lake Powell.
The other potential alternatives to Glen Canyon Dam are technologies that are either immature or significantly more costly. And for those who believe that there is currently an abundance of generation available in the Western States, I would suggest they take a look at the projected growth rates in areas today served by Glen Canyon Dam, and would remind them that short-term planning in the electricity business is measured in decades.
Page 131 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, many witnesses have told you the ramifications of this proposal for meeting the current and future water needs of an entire region. You have heard of the value of Lake Powell itself as a magnificent recreation and tourism resource. Customers throughout the Colorado River Basin spend more than $100 million per yearsend more than $100 million per year to the United States Treasury for the privilege of using the clean renewable and economical electricity generated with the water that is stored in Lake Powell. Under any scenario, the loss of that power resource would have far-reaching impacts on the electric bills of families, ranchers, and small businesses.
Further, the entities represented at this hearing, along with many others, have just completed a difficult process of environmental study, cooperation and compromise regarding the operation of Glen Canyon Dam. Those studies have consumed more than a decade of time and more than $100 million of electric ratepayers' money. This effort, whether one agrees with the outcome or not, represents one of the most significant environmental programs in the history of this Nation. The draining of Lake Powell would render that effort moot.
In short, the benefits of Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell are tremendous and far-reaching. At the same time, we have gone to extraordinary lengths to make these facilities as compatible as possible with the natural and environmental values they impact. To seriously consider sacrificing all of those benefits, imposing so much cost on millions of consumers, and impeding our ability to meet the electric needs of a rapidly growing region, in order to revisit a decision made more than 30 years ago, seems more than a bit absurd.
Surely, we have more pressing items on our environmental ''to do'' list than draining Lake Powell. Thank you.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Hunter.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Hunter may be found at end of hearing.]
Page 132 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HANSEN. Mr. Wegner, we are happy that you have had the patience to stay with us.
Mr. WEGNER. Finally.
Mr. HANSEN. We will turn the time to you now.
STATEMENT OF DAVID WEGNER, ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT INTERNATIONAL
Mr. WEGNER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of the Committee. My name is Dave Wegner. I am here representing the Glen Canyon Institute today. I am also the owner of a small business in Flagstaff, Arizona, called Ecosystem Management International.
I have provided to the Committee my testimony, which again it is here. And also I didn't know it was going to be a show and tell, but we brought a book that you can have, also. So please take it and look at it.
I am going to ad-lib a little bit because of all the comments that I heard today, and I have to commend my fellow panelists here and all the panelists today. I have known of most of these gentlemen and ladies for years. We have worked on many issues together involving the Colorado River and Glen Canyon Dam.
For the past 22 years, I have been privileged to work for the Department of Interior, to look at the issues associated with the Colorado River drainage. It is an area that I have studied extensively. I am a scientist by training. I am not a politician. I am not a businessman. I am not a bureaucrat. All I am is a simple scientist trying to get to the facts. Those facts, gathered over the last 14 years that Mr. Hunter referred to, is that the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River are in serious need of some restoration. We cannot sustain the environmental resources, the endangered fish and the endangered bird with the present level of effort and the operation of the river system.
Page 133 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Many good questions came out today, and I really commend the panelists and the Committee for asking them. I guess as the author of the primary document, the proposal to develop the citizens' environmental assessment, we are going to use every one of these questions that came up today. They are going to help us frame this whole document.
Let me give you a little brief history of Glen Canyon Institute. We are a volunteer organization. None of us get paid. There is nonone of us get wages to deal with this. We are private citizens. We are scientists. We are environmentalists and boaters, but there is one common thread. We are all concerned about Glen Canyon and the Colorado River.
The proposal to develop the citizens' EA, which flows out of the environmental studies that were done at Glen Canyon Dam over the past 14 years, is our way of trying to document the science, document the information. Today we are here seeking wisdom, we are here in this place of power and trappings to look at how we can move forward with this whole proposal.
Yesterday at 6 p.m., I was on the Animas River, and I wish Senator Campbell was still here. This is a little water from his river. I was there talking to students about the value of our resources, about the value of our endangered species.
Yes, Congressmen, it is all about water. It is about water that supplies not only development, not only power, not only recreation, but this is the lifeblood of the species that depend upon it.
And, yes, we are looking at diminishing species. The Upper Basin in particular is putting millions of dollars into endangered species programs. The single most important thing we could do would be to develop more habitats for these endangered fish. If you develop the habitats, the fish and the birds will use them.
The system, specifically the Colorado River system, is compromised. The heart of the Colorado River, Glen Canyon, has been drowned. It has been drowned for almost 35 years now.
Page 134 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The proposal that the Glen Canyon Institute is putting forth is not developed by a group of bureaucrats. We are not being developed by corporations. None of us own river companies. We are just private people who are concerned about looking at the issues. What we do represent are people who are interested in the river, interested in the canyon, and interested in finding ways not only for this generation but for future generations to protect our rich natural heritage.
We are people who believe in the resources. We are people who believe in the fish. We are people who speak for the birds. We also are asking through this environmental assessment, which we are not asking a dollar from Congress for, to allow us the freedom of free speech that several of the panelists have asked and talked about in the past to explore these issues.
We believe that the United States is founded on a democratic process of asking questions, gathering data, and evaluating the information, and we want to do that successfully. And we invite anybody, anyone on the panels, any citizen, who wants to be involved to join us. Come on, let's talk about it; let's debate it.
Yes, it is all about water. It is all about habitats. It is all about that area and that sense of place called Glen Canyon. And I wish to heck David Brower was here today, because he is much more eloquent at expressing those particular ideas.
We need tono, let me rephrase that. We must ask the question of what are we going to do with these dams for the future? Not only for us, but for the future generations, our kids, our grandkids, their grandkids? We are committed to the process. We are committed, most importantly, to the resources.
We are not here today asking you for money. We are not here asking you for wisdom. We are not even asking you for validation. All we are asking is for the right to look at it, to look at it with a citizens' environmental assessment and to move forward with the issues for the future.
Page 135 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Wegner may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. The gentleman from California, Mr. Doolittle.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Mr. Wegner, it is my understanding the Sierra Club has called for the use of public funds in certain respects pertaining to the draining of Lake Powell. Do you concur with that request or do you disagree with it?
Mr. WEGNER. We are raising funds independently of the Sierra Club.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Do you concur with their support for public funds or do you not?
Mr. WEGNER. We would like to get public funds if we could, but I am notwe are not depending upon them and that is why we have initiated on our private level.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. So do you support their suggestion that public funds should be used?
Mr. WEGNER. If you can get it, you bet.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Mr. Hunter, has anyone actually calculated the cost to decommission a dam the size of Glen Canyon Dam?
Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Chairman, not that I am aware of. I would be happy to check, but Ito my knowledge, a decommissioning of that magnitude has never been seriously contemplated.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Given that it is a relatively new dam, how much is the outstanding repayment on the dam?
Page 136 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Chairman, I am going to have to provide you with exact dollar figures because, as you know, the Colorado River Storage Project itself, of which Glen Canyon Dam is only one piece, is what the repayment is of.
The total repayment of the entire project, and this would be far greater than the dam itself, is well over $1 billion.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. OK. Well, maybe you can supply the answer specifically for the record.
Mr. HUNTER. Certainly.
[The information referred to may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. DOOLITTLE. How do youlet me just ask you this: How do you think the debt would be handled if the dam were no longer producing power?
Mr. HUNTER. Congressman, as Acting Administrator Hacskaylo said this morning, I don't have an answer for that. Essentially, if you remove Glen Canyon Dam from the system, you are removing the facility that produces 75 percent of the revenues for the entire project, the entire Upper Colorado River Basin. If you simply lift that piece out of it, to me it is inconceivable that you would somehow place the remaining burden, which would still be over $1 billion, on the remainder of the project power facilities. It simply wouldn't work to try to market that power and repay it.
By default, I would have to believe that that burden would fall on the taxpayers, most likely. I don't know who else would pay it.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you.
Mr. Elliott, do you think that the summer conditions that would exist on the river in the Grand Canyon, without the Glen Canyon Dam, that you described in your testimony, would be appealing to many of your current rafting customers?
Page 137 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ELLIOTT. I don't think it would be either better or worse, but let me paint the following picture: Both pre-dam and post-dam, at Lee's Ferry, where we embark down the river, in the month of August, for example, we would havethe water temperature would be maybe 80 degrees. It would be perhaps 10 percent mud and we would no longer have the ability to get clean. We would no longer have the ability to help keep our perishable foods cold for another 2 weeks down the river, et cetera.
We happen to think right now that the condition that we have below the dam is a preferred condition both in terms of the richness of the biodiversity of specious, as well as the colder water, the cleaner water, as more suitable for rafting.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. You do getwhen you get far enough down the river, even now you get into those muddy kinds of conditions; don't you?
Mr. ELLIOTT. We certainly do, from the inflow from the Paria River and also, especially this time of year, from the inflow from the Little Colorado River. But it is one thing to look out and have a muddy river; it is another thing to dip your arm into it and pull your arm back and have all of your hair follicles completely full of silt. That is an entirely different circumstance.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Do you know, prior to the time the dam was built, how many people floated down that stretch of the river from, I guess from Lee's Ferry down?
Mr. ELLIOTT. It could be measured in terms of the hundreds as opposed to the tens of thousands. The critical year is about 1968, 1969, where if you look at a curve of all of the use, it was about 1968 or 1969 where as many people went through the canyonI think it was about 3,000 people in 1969as had gone in all of history. That is when the use just skyrocketed, after 1969.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you.
Mr. HANSEN. The gentleman from Arizona, Mr. Shadegg.
Page 138 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SHADEGG. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Let me begin by saying, Mr. Wegner, I certainly acknowledge your expertise in the field. I suppose in all the world you are one of the most renowned experts on the Grand Canyon.
I would comment, based on your testimony, that thanks to the first amendment you don't have to ask us for permission to study this or to research it, and I hope you will research it thoroughly and debate it, and I wish you all the best in that.
Mr. WEGNER. Thank you.
Mr. SHADEGG. With regard to your comment about developing more habitat for native species, I encourage you in that effort as well. I think indeed we have lost some native species. That is indisputable.
My concern is, how many species will we lose that are not native that are still productive and useful and have a great value if we go overboard in trying to restore habitat for native species? So I would urge you to, in looking for ways to restore habitat for native species, figure out a way not to drain Lake Powell.
Mr. Elliott, I want to compliment you. I think your testimony is some of the most thoughtful we have here and I think, in terms of rafting the river, going down the river and taking people down the river, you probably have more expertise than any witness we have had today.
In that regard, I want to walk you through a series of questions. I mentioned earlier today, and I put in the record, this National Geographic issue of July of this year. It has a discussion of this whole issue, and I want to focus in part on some comments about the Grand Canyon Trust, and you served on the board of the Grand Canyon Trust, but I also want to focus on this particular chart which is in the magazine.
As I understand your testimony, it really is much along the lines of my opening remarks, which is that we don't have the option of going back; that we have what we have at this point in time and that the issue isn't, could we snap our fingers and have Lake Powell never have been constructed but rather what can we do now?
Page 139 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I want to just ask you if you have seen this magazine?
Mr. ELLIOTT. No, I haven't.
Mr. SHADEGG. OK. Maybe I can get somebody to bring it to you.
It shows, on the page that I have it open to, a very verdant and vibrant ecosystem in the river now, which in fact supports, albeit different but from what is shown there, more habitat, more wildlife, more plant life than prior to the dam. Is that your understanding of the facts?
Mr. ELLIOTT. That is my understanding of the facts. That is my understanding from talking with scientists, most recently a Larry Stevens in Flagstaff, for a couple of hours last week, who is a foremost biologist having studied the riparian habitat downstream from the dam. It is also my observations from just antidotally.
Mr. SHADEGG. I think the point made in your testimony is well taken and that is, you know, one can argue whether it is better or worse but in point of fact there is more animal and plant life and wildlife now than then, albeit different.
To go to Mr. Wegner's point, it seems to me, if the question is, well, we want to restore the entire Grand Canyon to its, quote/unquote, natural state, if you then posit the only way to do that is to remove Glen Canyon Dam or the lake, it is hard to argue that point; isn't it?
It is pretty hard to make the point that you can't restore it to its pre-lake condition without absolutely removing the dam or at least allowing the water to completely flow around it, correct?
Mr. ELLIOTT. Not in Glen Canyon. But are you speaking of Glen Canyon now or the Grand Canyon?
Mr. SHADEGG. I am sorry, the Grand Canyon.
Mr. ELLIOTT. OK.
Page 140 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SHADEGG. In the stretch below the dam, where we now have apparently a more verdant habitat, we could hardly restore that if we didn't do what the Lake Powell Institute advocates?
Mr. ELLIOTT. We get into a debate of whetherof kind of a values debate, is the natural condition preferred over the managed ecosystem that we have today?
We could certainly attempt to restore the natural condition in the Grand Canyon by letting the sediments flow through.
Mr. SHADEGG. Good point.
Mr. ELLIOTT. And we could perhaps get to that condition. It may or may not bring back the endangered fish species, for example, but certainly the spring floods that would be allowed in a run-of-the-river scenario through the dam would again flood the banks, would wipe out a great deal of the vegetation which supports the enrichment of the species' diversity today.
Mr. SHADEGG. We could also try to raise the temperature perhaps by drawing water into the turbines at a higher level or something along that line; could we not?
Mr. ELLIOTT. We can do that.
One of the factors that has caused the enrichment of the biodiversity is the clarity of the water. Light is allowed to penetrate through to the bottom of the river. It supports a plant called cladophera, which in turn supports a tiny little invertebrate, which in turn, supports the food chain right on up the ladder. There is a new abundance in waterfowl. In turn, the peregrine falcon feed on the waterfowl that represents about 80 percent of their diet, et cetera.
So we have aall starting with clear water and sunlight penetrating through to the bottom of the river, we have a much richer species diversity in that area now. If we return to the sediments, that could theoretically help thecould help the beaches, could help even some of the camping areas. But we would return to lessvery likely I think we would return to a reduced biodiversity and species.
Page 141 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SHADEGG. If I could request 2 additional minutes? I will be brief.
Mr. HANSEN. The gentleman is recognized.
Mr. SHADEGG. I just want to make a couple more quick points. I know you are on the board of the Grand Canyon Trust which is concerned about the ecological health of the Grand Canyon.
Your testimony raises in the most serious way the question of the heavy metals and contamination in the sediment on the bottom of the lake. I just want to point out that in this National Geographic article, Jeff Bernard, President at least at that time of the Grand Canyon Trust, says, draining Lake Powell could also be dangerous. I quote, I think it is important to stake out a vision of a free flowing Colorado River but there are many problems right now.
He does, in fact, go on to address the sediment and the heavy metals and contaminants in that sediment.
To your knowledgeI know the Grand Canyon Trust has not taken a position on this issue. To your knowledge, has the Grand Canyon Trust studied the issue of airborne contaminants were we to drain the lake?
Mr. ELLIOTT. No, they have not. And thethis whole issue has not been debated at the board level. And it is correct, I sit on the board of trustees of the Grand Canyon Trust. They have begun the evaluation in staff discussions to look at it, and I think it is safe to say in terms of the Grand Canyon Trust that they believe very strongly in the science and they would want to look at any scientific evidence that would support the viability of this proposal. They do not have a position at this time.
Mr. SHADEGG. I certainly am not a scientist or an expert, and I don't know the answer but I do know that what little researchwhat research we have been able to do in the short time for preparing for this hearing gives us concern which I have adverted to having to do with experience of Owens Lake and the dust which rises off of it.
Page 142 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Poor Mr. Wegner is dying to make a comment. I hope you will look at this issue, but let me afford you to make that comment briefly.
Mr. WEGNER. Well, we have, and that whole issue with the sediments is extremely important because we realize the high concentrations of mercury and selenium and a whole bunch of other heavy metals suites that are there. The issue here isand specifically would be dealt with in the EAis that as you would draw down the lake, you would start to mobilize those sediments and move them slowly downstream in the manner that the ecosystem could deal with.
We do not and will not propose to leave a whole expanse of drying out sediments there that would become airborne. I am very familiar with Owens Lake and all the issues in Kesterson.
Mr. SHADEGG. Let me just conclude by turning to Mr. Hunter. This whole issue of conservation, I personally believe that conservation is a little bit like the Congress saying we are going to save money. We talk about saving money through waste reduction and we never quite do it. It seems to me that if we can do conservation, we ought to be doing the conservation to avoid building future coal-fired or other power plants.
But I want to make the point about peaking. It seems to me that hydropower is uniquely suited to peaking. Peaking means that we use power at different levels at different times of the day; is that right?
Mr. HUNTER. That is correct.
Mr. SHADEGG. So if you were to conserve peaking power, what you really have to do is say to the people of Phoenix or Yuma or Los Angeles or San Diego, we have this idea; we are going to save peaking power, which means that during the 30 hottest days of the summer, when we need that peaking power, since we no longer have it, we don't want you to run your air conditioning from 4 p.m. to, say, 7 p.m., the hottest hours of the day. Pretty realistic?
Page 143 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HUNTER. You are absolutely correct. The only way to conserve peaking load would be to dramatically change behavior.
Mr. SHADEGG. I don't know how we are going to get the earth to make it not hotter between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. than it is, say, between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m.
Mr. Chairman, I have nothing further.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Shadegg.
It has been a very interesting hearing. I appreciate the patience of all of you.
Mr. Werbach, you know, if I was head of the Sierra Club, I think I would find a dam that didn't have so much multiple use to it. You have heard all of the things that this dam has.
Have you ever thought of Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite? Now, I could probably go along with that one. I think that probably has some real clout to it.
Of course, you would have 52 Members of the House and 2 from the Senate and the administration, because they are very interested in the political votes there as we saw on something called the Air Logistic Center of McClellan where they violated the law, but Hetch Hetchy, in my mind, would probably be aI mean, right there in the beautiful Yosemite National Park. I say that somewhat tongue in check, but I still think it was one that the Sierra Club ought to give peripheral thought about. You may find one of great interest there.
You know what, the proposal you have brought up is so critical to the entire southwest part of America, I mean, you have got the Upper and Lower Basin States, this is of utmost importance, and I think we could all see it here today, how it would affect so many, many, literally millions and millions, of people. So we would hope that you would look at it in a very critical way and be very careful on what you propose.
Of course, I don't give you folks instructions. You are perfectly capable of doing that, and you have a perfect right to come up with any proposal you have a bent to do.
Page 144 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I noticed that you were on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in September 1996 when President Clinton made 1.7 million acres of Utah a monument.
You know, I don't mean to differ with you but respectfully point out that if I have ever seen anybody shoot themselves in the foot, the environmentalists did it at that point, as we have researched that exhaustively. You used the 1916 antiquity law and therefore extinguished wilderness that would come under NEPA, come under the 1964 Wilderness Act, the FLIPMA act, and now it is wide open. And people are coming in there by the hundreds and they are colloquially referring to it now as ''toilet paper city.'' You know, if the President had worked with us on that we could have put in Fifty Mile Ridge and a few other areas and come up with a good piece of legislation.
And when you were there, I noticed that you spent some time withnot that I would want to tell you what you did, but some time with Vice President Gore and President Clinton. Are theydo they have any interest in this proposal to drain Lake Powell or was that something not considered?
Mr. WERBACH. We have not raised it with the administration.
Mr. HANSEN. I see. I would be curious to know where they are coming from.
Well, not to elaborate on things such as that, we will thank the witnesses. And, Mr. Werbach, we appreciate your patience for coming here and thank you for sitting through three panels. That is very kind of you.
And this hearing is now adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 2:10 p.m., the Subcommittees were adjourned.]
[Additional material submitted for the record follows.]
STATEMENT OF HON. ORRIN G. HATCH, A SENATOR IN CONGRESSS FROM THE STATE OF UTAH
Page 145 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to submit my views to your Subcommittee on the recent proposal to drain Lake Powell and to decommission the Glen Canyon Dam.
Frankly, Mr. Chairman, in all honesty, this proposal would wreak havocenvironmental as well as economicin the region. Even if we excluded from the argument the needs of people in the region, such as water, energy, and recreation, it would still be a terrible idea, based solely on the harm it would cause to the environment.
Whatever the ostensible benefits to the environment that could come from draining Lake Powell, they would surely be overpowered by the greater harm this proposal would cause. As it is currently managed, Mr. Chairman, this is one of the world's finest recreation and wildlife areas. As an ecosystem, the canyon has vastly improved since the days before the dam.
We all know the reasons the Glen Canyon Dam was proposed and built. As you know, Mr. Chairman, Utah is the second driest state in the Union; during dry years, there is simply not enough water in the Colorado River to meet our water needs and the needs of the other Colorado River Basin states.
By building the Glen Canyon Dam, we not only secured the necessary water during dry periods for all the basin states, but we created a world-class recreation area and an inexpensive, renewable, and clean source of energy. Revenue from the energy production pays back the cost of building the dam with interest and has helped to provide infrastructure to provide electricity to rural areas. There is no doubt, Mr. Chairman, that building the Glen Canyon Dam has made an impact on the lower Colorado River and on the riparian area within the Grand Canyon. But it is important to understand the delicate balance that is found in the Grand Canyon today, and how today's balance compares to the predam condition of the area.
Before the dam was built, the Colorado River would send gigantic torrents of water through the canyons in the spring. The high flows would leave the area devoid of vegetation and create immense beaches in its wake. In the winter months, the river would subside to a tiny flow. Because the beaches were reformed and redeposited each year, very little wildlife lived in the canyons before the dam. Even if the wildlife could have survived the floods, the lack of vegetation made it difficult to exist. Before the dam, the water was even siltier than today. The excess silt blocked out the sun, so that underwater vegetation was scarce, if it existed at all. Food was hard to come by for underwater life in the predam era.
Page 146 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC When the dam was built, new ecological benefits arose. The clearer water allowed for underwater vegetation to thrive below the dam and in shallow areas. This vegetation now breaks off, feeding underwater life for hundreds of miles. This has helped to create a world-class trout fishery in the river. In addition, the beaches have begun producing rich and diverse vegetation. This has attracted many species of wildlife that had previously not existed. The increase in trout and vegetation has attracted bald eagles, herons, ducks, and many other species of birdssome of which are endangered. In fact, the postdam lower Colorado River now hosts more peregrine falcons than anywhere else in the lower forty-eight states. This would not be possible without the stability and vegetation the dam provides for the area. Besides birds and fish, the dam has made the area a favorite of bighorn sheep and other big game.
During the early years of the dam, the water level of the Colorado would go up and down as society's energy needs peaked and fell throughout the day. The steady rise and fall of the river slowly ate away at the beaches. This was problematic on a number of counts. As the beaches shrunk there were fewer back eddies which provided calm shallow areas. These mini marshes were critical to the new insect and amphibious life that had come since the dam was built. The back shallow back eddies were also important spawning grounds for the endangered humpback chub. The fluctuating flows also became the bane of boaters, who would find their camps occasionally flooded or their boats stranded on dry land as the water receded.
Most criticisms of the dam revolve around the fluctuating flows. Yet, this problem has already been fixed. In 1982, the Departmnet of the Interior instituted controls that keep the wide variability out of the flows from the dam. Boaters are no longer stranded, and the erosion of the beaches has been kept to a minimum. Controlled flooding has also been instituted which periodically builds the beaches back up.
However, if the river were restored to its predam state much would be lost for the environment and for the boaters who float down the Grand Canyon. In addition, fewer people could enjoy the experience because the boating season would be cut back sharply due to the low winter flows and the unnavigable spring flows.
Page 147 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Needless to say without the dam we would lose Lake Powell. I consider Lake Powell to be a national treasure. I think any member of this Committee would be hard-pressed to find 2,000 miles of shoreline that are more beautiful. As the second largest man-made lake in the United States, it attracts over 2 million recreationists every year. Mr. Chairman, Lake Powell is as important to Utahns as the Atlantic beaches are to easterners as a therapeutic getaway. I haven't heard anyone suggest closing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to improve the environment on the Delmarva peninsula. Yet, that idea would be analogous to draining Lake Powell and, of course, equally as ridiculous.
Again, Mr. Chairman, thank you for this opportunity to express my views on this issue.
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