On April 22, 2022, the seven Colorado River Basin State Governor’s Representatives sent a letter to Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo in response to a DOI proposal for cooperative actions that could be taken to protect critical infrastructure and critical elevations at Lake Powell. The Representatives’ letter acknowledged the unprecedented dry conditions occurring within the Colorado River Basin and their shared concern over historically low storage and elevations at Lake Powell. They expressed their support for the proposed activities, including the release of 500,000 acre-feet from Flaming Gorge Reservoir as part of a 2022 Drought Response Operations Agreement (DROA) Plan, and Reclamation’s implementation of reductions to the water year’s annual release volume by 480,000 acre-feet.

“It is our collective judgment that additional cooperative actions should be taken this spring to reduce the risk of Lake Powell declining below critical elevations. Important ongoing efforts to implement the proposed 2022 Drought Response Operations Plan are underway pursuant to the Upper Division States’ April 21, 2022, recommendation to release 500,000 acre-feet of water from Flaming Gorge reservoir, and we share your optimism that final decisions pursuant to this process can be completed within the next few weeks. In addition to these important ongoing efforts, we support the proposal in your April 8, 2022, letter that Reclamation implement the 480,000 acre-foot reduction to the 2022 water year release from Glen Canyon Dam to reduce the risks we all face. We acknowledge that such temporary adjustments would be implemented within the provisions of Sections 6 and 7.D. of the 2007 Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead (73 FR 19873). Additionally, given the increased probabilities that Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell will be operating in low reservoir conditions, we urge Reclamation to implement the timely evaluation of any needed maintenance or feasible modifications to water delivery or hydropower generation infrastructure at the facility.”

The letter goes on to request that such reductions in releases from Glen Canyon Dam be implemented in a manner that is operationally neutral for tier and release determinations and that such future releases should be subject to consultation with the Basin States to preserve the benefits of both actions (the release volume reduction and the 2022 DROA Plan releases) to Glen Canyon Dam facilities and operations.

Read the full Basin States letter here.