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Lakes Mead, Powell Remain Open Even Through Drought

September 01, 2002|Jane Engle

Drought-induced drops in the water levels of Lake Mead in Arizona and Nevada and Lake Powell in Arizona and Utah are keeping the National Park Service and concessionaires busy hauling away silt, relocating anchor points--and trying to correct what they say are misleading reports on lake conditions.

Further decreases are expected this month as parts of the West cope with a record drought.

"There's plenty of water to boat on," Kay Rohde, spokeswoman for the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, said last week. "You just have to watch the hazards." Rock formations are closer to the surface now in some areas, park officials said.

At the Las Vegas Bay Marina, the closest one on Lake Mead to the gambling city, boat rentals have been down at least 25% this summer compared with 2001, manager Gail Kaiser said.

"Many people have called from California and said, 'We heard the lake was closed,' " Kaiser added.

In fact, although the Government Wash and Pearce Ferry launch ramps were closed earlier this year, eight others remained open last week, Rohde said. For updates, call (702) 293-8907 or visit

At Lake Powell, all launch ramps were open last week, said Marianne Karraker, spokeswoman at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Some boat routes have been changed to avoid hazards, she added. For updates, call the Carl Hayden Visitor Center, (928) 608-6404.

The water level at Lake Powell has dropped about 38 feet in the last year, including about 15 feet since May 28, officials said. At current rates, the level could reach 3,618 feet by January, enough to threaten at least two launch sites but just shy of the record 1993 low of 3,612 feet, they said.

At Lake Mead, the water level has dropped 23 feet in a year and is expected to lose nearly 3 more feet by the end of this month, officials said; exact losses depend on weather.

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