Lake Powell at Lowest Level Since Filled

Lake Powell at Lowest Level Since Filled

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Lake Powell is at its lowest level since 1970, when it still was filling, and is at just 42 percent capacity -- but it still has enough water to meet needs for another three drought years, a Bureau of Reclamation official said.

"We get asked a lot, `How does this drought compare with the Dust Bowl (of the 1930s)?" or the (droughts) of the '50s and the '70s," said Barry Wirth, bureau spokesman in Salt Lake City. "The period of the year 2000 through 2004 is the driest five consecutive years since record-keeping began, making it drier than the Dust Bowl and drier than the '50s."

Designers of Glen Canyon Dam planned for the reservoir to have enough carryover water for a drought. It has been able to fill the needs for the past five years.

"Our preliminary calculations show that we can handle (upward) of three more years of drought beyond 2004 before the situation becomes critical," Wirth said.

Wirth said states that share Colorado River water are collaborating to explore possible solutions if the drought should extend beyond that.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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