Fraught with controversy from the beginning, the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam was undertaken to provide a cheap source of hydroelectric power and to regulate the flow of water to downstream areas of the Southwest that needed a more consistent supply during drought years. Even to this day, there are environmental impact studies to gauge the effect of the dam on riparian environments downstream and the accumulation of vast amounts of sediment behind the dam that may be rendered eventually inoperable if dredging is not undertaken in the near future.
We took the Glen Canyon Dam tour where we found out more about the dam’s engineering and economic benefits and the role it played in the creation of Page as a workers’ town. We learned, for example, that the creation of Lake Powell, the vast reservoir created by the dam, has transformed the economy of the area and introduced recreational opportunities, mainly house boating and water skiing, where none existed before, good or bad. It took an astounding 18 years to fill the reservoir after the dam was completed.