LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — As temperatures rise and reservoir levels decline, a new concern is on the minds of federal government officials: smallmouth bass.
The possible solutions could someday run headlong into government priorities to continue keeping Lake Powell at levels high enough to produce electricity at Glen Canyon Dam.
A news release from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on Friday seeks public comment on plans aimed at stopping the predatory invasive species from spawning and moving downriver below Glen Canyon Dam.
Smallmouth bass are not native to the Colorado River, but historic low water levels at Lake Powell have contributed to warmer water being released downriver, “creating ideal spawning conditions,” the bureau said. Smallmouth bass pose a threat to federally listed fish species and other native fish downstream of the dam.
The bureau is presenting four options designed to disrupt spawning between Glen Canyon Dam and the confluence of the Little Colorado River. “Reductions in water temperature combined with changes in flow velocity would be used to try and prevent smallmouth bass from successfully spawning and establishing downstream of the dam,” according to the release.
The options include using bypass tubes already in existence to release colder water below the lake’s surface. Water that flows through those tubes would lower the level of Lake Powell without producing any hydropower.
The 158-page draft environmental assessment is available online at https://www.usbr.gov/uc/DocLibrary/EnvironmentalAssessments/20230200-GCDSmallmouthBassFlowOps_Draft EA_508.pdf. Reclamation will consider all comments received by March 10. Submit comments to email@example.com.