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Officials fear 'complete doomsday scenario' for drought-stricken Colorado River

• www.washingtonpost.com, By Joshua Partlow

It could happen if the surface of Lake Powell, a man-made reservoir along the Colorado River that's already a quarter of its former size, drops another 38 feet down the concrete face of the 710-foot Glen Canyon Dam here. At that point, the surface would be approaching the tops of eight underwater openings that allow river water to pass through the hydroelectric dam.

The normally placid Lake Powell, the nation's second-largest reservoir, could suddenly transform into something resembling a funnel, with water circling the openings, the dam's operators say.

If that happens, the massive turbines that generate electricity for 4.5 million people would have to shut down — after nearly 60 years of use — or risk destruction from air bubbles. The only outlet for Colorado River water from the dam would then be a set of smaller, deeper and rarely used bypass tubes with a far more limited ability to pass water downstream to the Grand Canyon and the cities and farms in Arizona, Nevada and California.


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