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Title image: UC Region Colorado River Storage Project

CRSP Benefits

There are many benefits associated with the multi-purpose Colorado River Storage Project.

  • The Colorado River Storage Project (CRSP) has been integral to the development of the arid West by providing water and hydropower for sustained growth and enhanced quality of life.
  • aerial photo: Lake Powell
    Lake Powell
  • Today, the water storage and other benefits of the CRSP contribute significantly to the needs of the growing population of the West.
  • The 1956 Act authorizing the CRSP, represents a key piece of the overall Colorado River management structure outlined by Law of the River.
  • The CRSP primary units and participating projects conserve the very limited precipitation which falls primarily in the form of snow in the high mountains for municipal, industrial, agricultural, and other beneficial use.
  • CRSP storage is allowing the Upper Colorado River Basin to develop its apportionments of the Colorado River while assuring the required water delivery to the Lower Colorado River Basin as defined in the 1922 Colorado River Compact.
  • The CRSP provides long-term carry-over storage that has a leveling effect on the erratic Colorado flows varying from four to 22 million acre-feet annually.
  • The dams associated with the CRSP initial units (Glen Canyon, Flaming Gorge, Blue Mesa, Morrow Point, Crystal, Navajo) have a total combined live storage capacity of 30.6 million acre-feet, providing for the water needs of millions of people in the seven Colorado River Basin states.
  • Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell, the key feature of the CRSP, function like a bank account of water that is drawn upon in times of drought. Without it, during drought periods, the Upper Basin states would realize additional shortages in order to meet Lower Basin delivery obligations.
  • photo: transmission towers - Glen Canyon Dam
    Power Transmission Towers - Glen Canyon
  • The CRSP is a key factor in finding solutions to increasing demands for limited water supplies.
  • The CRSP system is adaptively managed with an eye toward changing public values and greater societal awareness about the importance of healthy ecosystems.
  • Hydropower provided by CRSP facilities contributed to the modernization and urbanization of the West.
  • CRSP hydropower facilities provide enough clean, renewable hydroelectric energy to assist in serving the needs of approximately 5.8 million customers in seven Western states. CRSP facilities have the capability to generate over four billion kilowatt-hours of energy annually.
  • Revenues collected from hydropower generation at CRSP facilities are credited to the Upper Colorado River Basin Fund and used for several beneficial purposes including:
    1. Repayment of the initial construction costs of the project
    2. Help repay the construction costs of the participating projects allocated to irrigation, that are beyond the irrigators' ability to pay
    3. Pays for operation and maintenance of initial units
    4. Pays for several important environmental programs such as the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program and the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program
    5. Pays a portion of salinity control projects
    6. Purchases additional power to meet contractual obligations when CRSP power supplies are insufficient
  • CRSP facilities provide for a host of scenic and recreational opportunities that have significant economic benefits.
  • Recreation use at CRSP initial facilities totaled over four million visitor days in FY2005/2006, demonstrating the high value placed on outdoor recreation opportunities in the West.
  • Two CRSP reservoir areas were officially designated as national recreation areas by Congress to preserve the recreation value for the public: Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. The area surrounding the Aspinall Unit reservoirs is called the Curecanti National Recreation Area although it has not officially been designated as such by Congress.
  • Tribal lands have benefited by the construction of the Navajo Indian Irrigation Project, a CRSP participating project, which consists of a network of irrigation facilities that draw water from Navajo Dam and Reservoir (a CRSP initial unit) to serve the Navajo Reservation in northeastern Arizona.


Last updated: September 21, 2009