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Officials Warn Colorado River Levels Could Fluctuate To Meet Summer Energy Needs


Federal water managers are warning hikers and river runners below Glen Canyon Dam that Colorado River levels could suddenly fluctuate in the coming weeks. Officials plan to release more water from the dam to meet increasing summer electricity needs in the Southwest. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation recommends river runners secure their vessels to withstand changing levels and campers should set up tents in areas out of reach of the river. Officials plan to release higher-than-normal amounts of water from Glen Canyon Dam, possibly without notice, which will cause rapid changes to the Colorado River’s flow.

The Western Area Power Administration says there’s a possibility that Glen Canyon Dam will be needed to augment regional power supplies in the event of a system emergency. Releases could last a couple hours or even longer and the fluctuations will be more noticeable on weekends.

Glen Canyon Dam’s power output varies, and managers say the facility can respond almost immediately to changes in electricity demand.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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