Not Just Water Over the Dam

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PAGE, ARIZONA: Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt opened an outlet in the Glen Canyon Dam Tuesday, releasing an experimental flood into the Colorado River designed to bring back wildlife destroyed by the damming of the river. Scientists who planned the test monitored the impressive jet of water gushing 710 feet above the ground from an 8-foot wide valve. The dam provides electricity and water to millions of people in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. But sediment has settled behind the dam, turning the Colorado into a colder and clearer river from which native fish have disappeared. Scientist hope that the release of some 117 billion gallons of water over the next week will provide a nutrient-rich sediment that will create sandbanks and provide food for fish and birds. They also hope that shallow waters created by sandbanks will allow indigenous warm water fish to thrive. "Water must be managed with an eye to what's 200 miles downstream," said Babbitt. "It's not just water over the dam, it's water with consequence."