Low water levels in Lake Powell have revealed a much bigger problem with quagga mussels than was previously believed.
The invasive mussels have been spreading through waterways across North America. They can damage dams and power plants as well as fisheries. Mark Hadley with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says the water level in Lake Powell has dropped by about eight feet over the past year, and that’s revealed some huge numbers of the tiny shellfish clinging to exposed rocks.
The new study in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association estimates about 380,000 acre-feet of water a year is lost when it soaks into the lake's sandstone banks each year. That’s more than the state of Nevada is entitled to take from the river under a 1922 interstate compact.
The head of the University of Utah's environmental and sustainability studies program says he's optimistic about the future of rivers across America. In his new book River Republic, Professor Dan McCool argues this is happening because Americans are learning the value of their rivers, not for irrigation or hydropower or transportation, but for their own sake. He spoke with KUER's Dan Bammes. Information about River Republic on Columbia University Press website.