STEVE INSKEEP, host:
So I've been looking at Web cam images from inside the Glen Canyon National Recreational Area in Utah and Arizona. During daylight hours you can see live images of spectacular rock formations and millions of gallons of water. The water is part of Lake Powell. The lake is part of an enormous network that captures water from the Colorado River and distributed it to several dry states. This summer the lake is only half full, or half empty, depending on your point of view. So we're checking in with Lake Powell as part of this week's focus on water.
Let's start by getting more of the view from Daniel Kraker of member station KNAU.
DANIEL KRAKER: I'm standing here at Wahweap Marina on the shore of Lake Powell in the middle of nowhere on the Arizona-Utah border. I'm actually standing a few feet in Lake Powell to cool off a little bit because it's hot here. I can feel the 90-degree sun baking on my neck. To get here you have to drive through miles of desert, sagebrush and red sandstone cliffs. Then you crest a hill and Lake Powell spreads up below you like a digitized blue mirage.
I'm actually standing at the bottom of a huge concrete boat ramp. It looks like an airport runway jutting down into the lake at a 30-degree angle. And it's a lot longer than it was just a few years ago. The ramp has been extended as the level of the lake is dropped. The drought in the Southwest has taken its toll on this manmade lake.
Across the bay, huge sandstone cliffs tower along the lake's edge. As the water level has dropped, it's left a chalky white residue behind on the canyon walls, sort of like a ring around a bathtub. That ring is now literally 100-feet high above where boaters are cruising around the surface of the lake. Still, there's a lot of water here, and there are a lot of people coming here to enjoy it.
There's a constant stream of people launching and taking out ski boats, Jet Skis, WaveRunners, fishing boats, even giant houseboats. I'm walking out now on a long pier into the lake.
Sir, what's your name?
Mr. PAUL TOFT (Arizona Resident): Paul Toft.
KRAKER: Where are you from?
Mr. TOFT: Prescott, Arizona.
KRAKER: Are you concerned at all as the level of the lake has dropped in recent years?
Mr. TOFT: Very much. But down there where I'm from, at Prescott, they just don't seem to care. They keep building and using more water all the time, and sooner or later it's going to be all gone.
KRAKER: Lake Powell is the second largest reservoir in the country. It took 17 years to fill after water started backing up behind Glen Canyon Dam in 1963. It's only taken about eight years for half of that water to disappear.
For NPR News, I'm Daniel Kraker at Lake Powell.