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Title image: Glen Canyon Dam, Water and Power - yesterday, today, tomorrow...

Commemorating 50 Years Since Last Bucket of Concrete was Placed at Glen Canyon Dam



photo: Project construction engineer L.F. Wylie throws hat under last bucket of concrete to be poured
Project construction engineer L.F. Wylie
throws hat under last bucket of concrete
to be poured at Glen Canyon Dam

Fifty years ago on September 13, 1963, the last bucket of concrete was poured at Glen Canyon Dam, the principal water storage unit of the Colorado River Storage Project.  Built in a virtually inaccessible area, the dam is one of the major engineering and construction achievements in the United States. Glen Canyon Dam impounds Lake Powell, the second largest reservoir in the country. The water stored in Lake Powell supports municipal, industrial, agricultural users as well as providing vital hydropower production and recreation opportunities.

The water supply stored in Lake Powell represents about 80 percent of the total combined storage capacity of the four CRSP initial units. This vital storage reservoir functions like a bank account of water to be drawn upon in times of drought. Without Glen Canyon Dam, the annual water delivery obligations to the Lower Colorado River Basin could likely not be met during drought periods without creating significant shortages in the Upper Colorado River Basin.

Such drought-related challenges and potential long-term water supply issues were anticipated beginning in 2005. In November 2007, the Secretary of the Interior after extensive consultation with the seven Colorado River Basin states, Native American tribes, federal agencies, environmental organizations, and other stakeholders, signed the 2007 Interim Guidelines to establish a framework to support coordinated operations between Lake Powell and Lake Mead throughout a full range of reservoir levels through 2026.

The Colorado River Basin is experiencing the worst drought in recorded history with the current 14-year period (2000 – 2013) the driest period in over 100 years of record keeping.  In fact, the current drought is one of the worst in the 1200 + years of lows estimated from tree ring reconstructions.

Even with the challenges of the continuing drought, basin-wide storage is still at approximately half full. The Colorado River Basin reservoir system was built with a very large storage capacity to carry the basin through extended periods of drought by storing water in wet years for use in dry year. Despite the on-going drought, Reclamation continues to meet its Colorado River water delivery obligations.


photo: Last bucket of concrete being lowered into place
Last bucket of concrete being lowered into place
Workers gather around last bucket of concrete
Workers gather around last bucket of concrete

Glen Canyon Dam Facts
Construction Period 1956 - 1964
Final bucket of concrete September 13, 1963
Start of storage March 13, 1963
Initial filling completion June 22, 1980
Dam Type Concrete arch
Height above bedrock 710 feet
Crest Length 1,560 feet
Volume of concrete 4,901,000 cubic yards
Powerplant generating units Eight
Installed capacity 1,320 megawatts
Length of Lake Powell Reservoir 186 miles
Total capacity when full at 3,700 feet 26,215,000 acre-feet
Depth of water at dam when full 560 feet


photo: Dignitary pulls lever to release last bucket of concrete
Dignitary pulls lever to release last bucket of concrete
Workers place final bucket of concrete to complete dam
Workers place final bucket of concrete to complete dam

 

 

 

Last updated: September 12, 2013