Renewed water woes at Grand Canyon National Park on Tuesday forced conservation measures to be implemented on the South Rim, where water supplies have dipped due to pumping problems.
“Crews continue to investigate challenges with water treatment and cannot pump water from Roaring Springs to the South Rim to replenish water stores,” a park release said. “Water conservation measures require all park residents and visitors to conserve and reduce water usage wherever possible in homes, hotel rooms and campgrounds. Conservation measures require that all concessions operations switch to disposable dishes and utensils; alter menus to use less water for food prep and dish washing; adopt low water use for hotel room cleaning; and serve drinking water at restaurants by request only.”
The National Park Service has been working to replace the Transcanyon water pipeline because it is beyond its expected useful life, experiences frequent failures, and requires expensive and continuous inner canyon maintenance work to repair leaks. Since 2010, there have been more than 85 major breaks in the pipeline that have disrupted water delivery.
Originally built in the 1960s, the pipeline is a 12½-mile waterline that provides the potable water for all facilities on the South Rim and inner canyon facilities within the park. The rehabilitation project will move the water intake for the system from Roaring Springs to Bright Angel Creek near Phantom Ranch. This location will greatly reduce the length of the pipeline and eliminate a portion of the current waterline north of Phantom Ranch that experiences the most frequent failures.
The new pipe will carry one million gallons of potable water daily to serve not only the approximately six million annual visitors, including those who stay in the 1,000 lodging rooms and 400 campsites on the South Rim and canyon floor, but also the 2,500 year-round residents who work at facilities or attend the local K-12 school inside the park.
Although the park has entered water restrictions, park staff continue to encourage frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds using soap and water to prevent the spread of disease.
Mandatory water conservation measures include:
- No watering lawns/plants
- No washing cars, boats, bikes, or any outside vehicle
- Run dishwashers or washing machines with only full loads (in eco mode if available)
- Utilize dry precleaning methods to scrape off food items before thoroughly washing dishes.
- Fill the sink with water while washing dishes to avoid running water
- Take shorter or less frequent showers
- Turn water off while you shave or brush your teeth
- Use low water cleaning techniques and reduce toilet flushing to the minimum necessary
- Camper Services may implement limited hours for showers and laundry services
- Employee and concessionaire laundromats may implement limited hours
- Report drips, leaks, or other water loss to appropriate offices
- Remove outside hoses from spigots when not in use
Hikers in the backcountry should plan to carry all their water or methods to treat water. For the most up-to-date information on water availability in the inner canyon, please visit the park’s Critical Backcountry Updates webpage.