Water an Issue at Canyon's South Rim Due to Pipeline Problems

The Trans-Canyon Pipeline spans the Colorado River beneath Silver Bridge in a 1965 photo. | Courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park

A pipeline break and a pump failure have forced Grand Canyon National Park to implement water conservation measures.

A break in the Trans-Canyon Pipeline, which carries water to the South Rim from a spring on the North Rim, was discovered Tuesday, park officials said in a news release. In addition, a water pump at Indian Garden that provides water to the South Rim's storage tanks has failed, the park said.

All South Rim visitors and residents are being asked to turn off the water while they shave or brush their teeth; run their dishwashers with full loads, and in "eco" mode if possible; take shorter showers; and refrain from watering lawns or washing cars. The measures apply to homes, hotel rooms and campgrounds at the South Rim.

The pipeline break means no water is available at Cottonwood Campground or Manzanita Rest Area below the Canyon's rim. All hikers should be prepared to carry all necessary drinking water or treat creek water for drinking. That's particularly vital this time of year, when temperatures in the Canyon can exceed 115 degrees. An excessive-heat warning was issued for parts of the Canyon this week.

Phantom Ranch, at the bottom of the Canyon, does have water but is operating under the same conservation measures described above. The North Rim is unaffected by the pipeline problems.

As Annette McGivney wrote in Across the Great Divide, a story in our March 2016 issue, the Trans-Canyon Pipeline is two decades past its original life expectancy of 30 years, and expensive pipeline breaks happen every year. Replacing the pipeline would cost an estimated $150 million, and it's unclear where that money would come from.

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