Next stop for the river utah. The utah portion of the river’s course starts on the colorado plateau before heading to moab. The water sweeps by arches and canyonlands national parks, both amazing landscapes, eroded into canyons and mesas by the colorado and green rivers which combine into one downstream after those rivers combined they head here lake powell, the lake formed behind the enormous glen canyon dam lake powell is 189 miles long with more than 1900 miles of shoreline alone, so it’s from the air, where you get the best vantage point, this section we’re going over is the historic colorado river channel national park service. Pilot nick herring is our tour guide, even finding a bit of home. For us. You see that little mountain there that’s called castle rock, but the real star here is the water. The lake is probably the largest economic generator in this part of the country. The boating and all the infrastructure to boat to support boating and recreation is uh, pretty significant. The colorado river, you know, feeds so much water into lake powell. Here i mean it’s, you know it’s. What fills the lake. I mean absolutely that that and the san juan river, the two major tributaries, colorado being number one for sure. So, from the time the dam was built to now i’m, not sure early on. They really recognized what the potential was for the growth that it has spurred over the years. Glen canyon was not the first choice for this dam in reservoir.
That story is fascinating to me because we could have this reservoir right now in colorado park. Superintendent billy shot says the first plan would have put a dam along the green river in echo canyon in colorado’s dinosaur, national monument, creating a giant reservoir by filling the green and yampa river valleys. There was such a well organized and political fight to keep that from getting washed under it really kind of activated a lot of different, well organized movements in the west and starting to look at how land is used and especially how water is used. The water is used in parts of the five states that make up the upper basin of the colorado, arizona, colorado, new mexico, utah and wyoming, where the green river starts before joining the colorado. Fishing and boating are just some of the activities that attract more than 3 million visitors to lake powell. Every year, visitors like dorothy and bill bowersox of new jersey, it’s, unbelievable. How big this lake is? Well later today, we’re going to go to the dam and we’re going to go through the tunnel and take the raft the rafts down the river, not down into this. We don’t want to go to the route or you know the rough part, but that part is just great. The bauer socks have already been downriver from the glen canyon dam on this trip and they like what they’ve seen and that’s amazing the colorado river. I mean it’s beautiful.
We did the sunrise yesterday at the grand canyon, oh out of this world. It was before that water gets to the grand canyon. It passes a critical point, lee’s ferry, which is just downstream from glen canyon dam. Now this is the spot where the river is divided into two basins for water rights purposes. The upper basin, which eric just mentioned, includes parts of utah, arizona, new mexico, colorado and wyoming there’s, also the lower basin that includes other parts of utah, arizona and new mexico. As well as parts of nevada and california, water rights laws regarding the colorado river are as complicated as they are old. In fact, the colorado river compact that divides the river into these two basins was signed into law in 1922.. Once the river leaves glen canyon and makes its way through lee’s ferry, it begins to wind its way through the 217 mile long grand canyon it’s taken the colorado river, some six million years to carve the mile deep canyon in northern arizona after the grand canyon, the Colorado stops here, hoover dam lake, mead and when it’s at capacity it’s, one of the largest reservoirs in the nation, pretty pretty cold. I mean you don’t, see something like this. In des moines, iowa ron tischer brought his family out from iowa to see the hoover dam while he grew up in nearby las vegas it’s everyone else’s first time seeing the dam in lake mead, fond memories for ron.
It was more of us going to lake mead. You know in boating and fishing and doing skiing and stuff, like that. Still what he sees today is a bit disturbing. It is a lot lower than what i’m used to seeing you can see the water line and usually it’s a little bit. You know below that. Normally rose davis works for the bureau of reclamation, which operates hoover dam. This lake is really a lifeline. In fact, water is the lifeblood of the southwest and hoover dam and its regulating dams downstream. Make sure that those deliveries get to the right people that have water right, allotments hoover dam serves water estates in the lower basin of the colorado, which includes parts of california, arizona, new mexico and nevada, including las vegas. 90 percent of the water used in las vegas comes from lake mead, which is about an hour away from the city visitors. This may be hard to believe, but most of the water is used for residential areas, not hotels and casinos. All the hotels here are good at conservation just about all the water used at hotels like the bellagio here is captured, treated and then reused or sent back to lake leeds. They have cleaned it up so much that not only do they recycle and reuse for las vegas purposes and homeowners and surrounding areas, but they can put some back in lake mead with water levels, low and more people moving to the area conservation is on everyone’s mind.
I think lake mead will always be here. I think there isn’t a chance that lake mead is ever going to go away. I think we continue to face challenges in water allocation. We continue to face challenges with climate change, we’re doing a lot of studying about how that’s altered the way the snow has come and the rains have come, but i don’t think lake mead is going anywhere from the hoover dam.