Repaired Pipeline Again Carrying Water Into Grand Canyon National Park's Inner Canyon

Rest easy hikers, water is once again flowing into the Inner Canyon at Grand Canyon National Park.

Less than two weeks after a trans-canyon pipeline that carried water into the canyon broke in three places, crews have repaired them and put them back in service, park officials said Wednesday afternoon.

While the breaks were being repaired, it was not possible to supply potable water to the Roaring Springs and Cottonwood Campground areas along the North Kaibab Trail.

The first two breaks were discovered on Friday, May 25. Then, on Thursday, May 31, an additional break in the pipeline washed out a 45-foot section of the North Kaibab Trail, necessitating the trail’s closure to through-travel.

By Saturday, June 2, a temporary route through the damaged section of trail had been established, and the trail closure was lifted; but repair of the third and final break in the pipeline still needed to be completed.

Repairs to the trans-canyon pipeline are now complete and potable water is once again flowing to all areas of the park, including all filling stations on the North Kaibab and Bright Angel Trails.

However, repair of the damaged section of the North Kaibab Trail is ongoing. Hikers should be aware that temporary closures may be necessary for repairs to progress, and may occur with little or no notice.

For the most current information on trail conditions and water availability, please contact one of the park’s Backcountry Information Centers at: South Rim – 928-638-7875, or North Rim – 928-638-7868. You may also visit the park's backcountry webpages for updates.

Comments

The life span of the welded joint tempered aluminum alloy Transcayon Pipeline was expected to have a useful life of less than 50 years when it was installed in the late 1960s at a cost in excess of $5 million (1965 dollars). In 1993 it was estimated that it would cost in excess of $40 million to replace the entire pipeline, therfore the cost in today's dollars must be far beyond any annual construction budget for the National Park Service. Even attempting to replace a section at a time is almost an impossibility due to the location and terrain involved and the need to assure that the South Rim has adequate water supplied during construction.

I offer these comments as a former NPS engineer/inspector for the original pipeline project and as a past Chief of Maintenanace and Engineering at Grand Canyon National Park.