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Feds Commit To Further Use Of Glen Canyon Dam

The federal government is committing to at least another 20 years of use of a huge Colorado River dam that officials call crucial to states in the West, but that critics say is unstable and should be removed.

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell signed an agreement in Las Vegas allowing the federal Bureau of Reclamation to manage Glen Canyon Dam and the Lake Powell reservoir in Arizona through 2036.

The agreement "provides certainty and predictability to those that use water and power from the dam," Jewell said, while also providing environmental protection for fish and wildlife in the Grand Canyon, through which the dam sends water to Lake Mead and Hoover Dam near Las Vegas.

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Jewell told reporters the agreement received five years of study about economic, technical, social and environmental factors, and was supported by states, the National Parks Conservation Association, Western Area Power Administration, the Navajo Nation and six other tribes, Grand Canyon river rafting groups and the public.

She said the so-called Long-term Experimental and Management Plan won't change water allocations for the basin states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — or Mexico.

But drought might. Jewell spoke several times of a 50-50 chance that a drought declaration will be made next August, forcing cuts in water deliveries beginning in January 2018 to Arizona and Nevada.