Historically low water levels at Lake Powell could have big impacts on boaters

Local News

BULLFROG, Utah (KDVR) — Record low water levels this week at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area could prompt more closures at Lake Powell according to park officials. 

Dropping water levels prompted the U.S. National Park to close Halls Crossing boat launch to motorized vessels Wednesday and shut down entry for house boats at the main launch at Wahweap July 17. 

“Please be aware that due to the ongoing effects of climate change induced drought, lower water levels are forecast to impact Lake Powell for the foreseeable future and will impact water access points and launch areas,” a news release from park officials said. 

As water levels drop, boaters are being warned to watch for significant changes to the shoreline and water channels. Park officials say boaters should use caution in all areas of Lake Powell as the availability of fuel, pump out stations and floating walkways will vary. Halls Crossing stopped selling fuel on the lake last week.

Officials have temporarily extended launch ramps to accommodate boaters, but warn the lake is within feet of making additional extensions impossible.  

As lower water levels are predicted, The National Park Service is now offering a new page on their website that includes updated information about what is open and closed. 

According to The Bureau of Reclamation data, Lake Powell’s pool elevation is at 3,554 feet or 52 feet below this time last year.  The last 20 years have been a challenge for the lake with a record low set in 2005 at 3,555.1 feet above sea level. 

“Lake Powell’s elevation is expected to drop another two feet by the end of July, and will likely continue to decline until next year’s spring runoff into the Colorado River begins,” the bureau said.

Boat ramps with barriers due to dropping lake levels

Currently, water data shows 28 tracked reservoirs above Powell are at 69% of capacity.  In August, three Colorado reservoirs; Blue Mesa, Flaming Gorge and Navajo will send water to Powell for 60 days to keep the lake producing hydropower.   

Lake Powell started forming in 1963 when Glen Canyon Dam began trapping the Colorado River. Current water data on Lake Powell is tracked here.

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