PAGE – U.S. Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, along with Congressman Tom O’Halleran sent a letter to Col. James J. Handura at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on May 26.
Representatives at USACE said, “As Memorial Day approaches, it is imperative that boaters are able to access the marinas at Lake Powell.”
According to the letter, the National Park Service and its concessionaires have a short-term plan to compensate for Lake Powell’s low water levels. Approval from the Army Corps is needed to proceed.
“In previous drought years, NPS has been granted a letter of permission from the Army Corps to mitigate issues related to low water,” the letter stated. “This type of agreement enables the NPS and concessionaires the latitude to work quickly within certain parameters without a reporting requirement. We would request that a similar approval be granted in this drought year.”
As of May 30, Lake Powell is 34.24% full. It’s projected to drop to 29% over the summer, a record low since the lake was created. The letter urged, “With these extremely low levels, current boating facilities including docks, ramps and utility extensions must be moved as soon as possible to allow recreation to proceed on the lake this summer.”
Page City Manager Darren Coldwell told the Chronicle Friday he’s been working with former Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans, Kelly’s regional director for northern Arizona. Coldwell said NPS is working with USACE so they can extend boat launches. He said, “Wahweap is concerned that if the water levels decrease, as they’re expecting, that they potentially could be in dry dock.”
Page has always been an outlier community, off the radar of state and federal decision makers. Coldwell sees improvements. He said, “I think the big difference that we have now that Page hasn’t had in the past, is in the last couple of years, the city of Page has really made an effort to create working relationships at the state level and the federal level.”
Coldwell said, “When we pick up the phone, and we start to express concerns, we’re starting to get a response. Page has always kind of flopped that. They’ve always kind of been the Lone Ranger, and I don’t know if that’s always the best path to take. I think creating these strong relationships in both the state delegation and at a federal level can be really helpful with some of the stuff we have going on.”
Kelly’s representatives are scheduled to visit Page next to witness the conditions at Wahweap and Antelope marinas. They will also discuss not only the drought but other Page concerns, like public housing, the needed roundabouts on U.S Highway 89, water infrastructure, and the economic impact of Navajo Generating Station’s closing.
Coldwell said, “We are going to take them Antelope boat launch as well as the Wahweap boat launch. Just looking at those alone is very eye-opening from where the water should be and where it isn’t.”