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Interior Dept. begins massive release from Glen Canyon

A spectator stands above the thundering torrent of water from Glen Canyon Dam Monday during the experimental high flow release gets under way.

The U.S. Department of the Interior triggered the first "high-flow experimental release" at Glen Canyon Dam since 2008 on Monday.

The release is part of a new long-term protocol announced in May by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to meet water and power needs, as well as:

• to allow better conservation of sediment downstream,

•more targeted efforts to control non-native fish predation,

•and continued scientific experimentation, data collection, and monitoring to better address the important resources in the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam.

In cooperation with five Interior agencies, the release is designed to take full advantage of sediment deposited by Colorado River tributaries as a result of recent rainstorms and monsoons.

Scientists have determined that the right conditions exist to conduct a high-flow release to benefit downstream resources, including camping beaches, sandbars, backwater habitats, riparian vegetation, and archeological sites.

The total maximum release from the dam will reach approximately 42,300 cubic-feet-per-second, consisting of 27,300 cfs of full powerplant capacity releases and a bypass release through the four river outlet tubes sending an additional 15,000 cfs of water out over the Colorado River.

The duration of the high-flow release will be nearly five days.

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