Environmental Science Division (EVS) a Division of Argonne National Laboratory
Program Highlights Index

Glen Canyon LTEMP EIS

Glen Canyon Dam, a 1,300-MW water-storage and hydroelectric facility is located on the Colorado River upstream of the Grand Canyon. EVS is evaluating the effects of dam operations on the Colorado River.

A comprehensive evaluation of Glen Canyon Dam operations and their effects on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon is being conducted by the Department of the Interior with EVS assistance. The Long-Term Experimental and Management Plan (LTEMP) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) – the first such evaluation in over 15 years – will examine flow regimes to meet the goals of supplying water for communities, agriculture, and industry and will protect the resources of the Grand Canyon, while providing clean hydropower.

The LTEMP EIS, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2013, will determine dam operations and management actions for the next 15 to 20 years. A significant portion of the LTEMP will be planning for system-wide experimental manipulation of flow, temperature, and other variables, to evaluate uncertainties and improve understanding of the available resources and the system's response to dam operations.

Argonne efforts for this project include:

  1. Synthesizing existing information and scientific findings during the past 15 years;
  2. Identifying alternative dam operations and other actions to be considered in the LTEMP EIS;
  3. Developing an experimental approach to addressing uncertainties; and
  4. Analyzing the effects of alternatives.

The Argonne LTEMP EIS team consists of aquatic and terrestrial ecologists, hydrogeologists, cultural and tribal resource specialists, recreation scientists, socioeconomists, and power systems engineers. The Argonne team will use both preexisting and project-specific models to evaluate the effects of operations on sediment transport, beach building, water temperature and quality, endangered fish populations, socioeconomic effects, and the market value of power resources.

EVS staff participated in a sand bar and riparian vegetation monitoring trip with U.S. Geological Survey Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center staff in October 2012.
EVS staff participated in a sand bar and riparian vegetation monitoring trip with U.S. Geological Survey Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center staff in October 2012. [Source: Argonne National Laboratory]

Argonne staff members have considerable expertise in studying the effects of hydroelectric generation on downstream resources in the Colorado River basin. Since the early 1990s, Argonne has conducted a number of important activities in the basin that have established the Laboratory's reputation for science-based environmental protection compliance. These activities include a study of flow regime effects downstream of Flaming Gorge Dam using multispectral aerial videography, habitat and modeling studies of endangered fish species in the middle Green River (a tributary of the Colorado River), studies of the effects of annual flood flows on endangered fish habitats, participation in a multi-agency task force to develop flow and temperature recommendations below Flaming Gorge Dam, and numerous science planning efforts for other hydroelectric facilities in the basin.

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photo of Kirk LaGory
Senior Program Manager, Ecological Resources and Systems
Capabilities: Research, analysis, and modeling of human impacts on ecological resources and systems; mitigation and monitoring of impacts on habitats and species populations.