GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — The National Park Service (NPS) is seeking public comment on a proposal to replace the obsolete Trans-Canyon Water Distribution Pipeline. The analysis of the project to replace the pipeline and development of alternatives through an environmental assessment (EA) is required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
“The pipeline is critical to the operation of the park and is the only infrastructure we have to distribute water from our water supply to the South Rim,” said Christine Lehnertz, superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park. “We invite the public to share ideas and insights about our preliminary proposal, and other approaches the park could consider.”
Opened in 1965 and designed to last for 40 years, the pipeline delivers water from Roaring Springs on the north side of the Grand Canyon, across the bottom of the canyon and up to the South Rim.
The Pipeline leaks regularly and has serious breaks each year that often force it to be shut down for repairs. Pipeline breaks in the remote canyon, accessible only by helicopter or trail, take days or weeks to repair. There have been more than 80 pipeline breaks since 2010.
There are currently two proposals identified to address the purpose of the pipeline. The first calls for replacing the old trans-canyon pipeline with a new one along its existing route from the current intake system at Roaring Springs to the Indian Garden Pump Station. From there, the existing Pipeline would continue to deliver water to the South Rim storage tanks. The second plan calls for installation of a new water intake system near Bright Angel Creek at Phantom Ranch, replacing the pipeline from Phantom Ranch to Indian Garden Pump Station and building water treatment facilities at Phantom Ranch, Indian Garden and the South Rim Village. The existing trans-canyon pipeline would continue to deliver water to the South Rim storage tanks from Indian Garden. A smaller diameter pipe would be installed from Roaring Springs to serve the Cottonwood Campgrounds.
The park’s current preference for the proposed action is to install the new water intake near Bright Angel Creek, construct water treatment facilities, and replace the pipe between Phantom Ranch and Indian Garden, but no decision has been made yet.
Public comments on the proposals will be accepted until Aug. 7. Comments that provide insights about the project purpose and the park’s current proposal would be particularly useful. New ideas and proposals are also welcome. Following the public comment period, NPS will analyze and consider all feedback and begin preparation of the EA.
NPS will not select an alternative for implementation until after the analysis of the alternatives and their potential impacts has been completed. There will be a second opportunity for public comment on the draft document in 2018.
Any individual or group can submit scoping comments electronically, in person at public scoping open house events or via the U.S. Postal Service.
A public scoping newsletter with project details, preliminary alternatives and instructions for how to comment online are available at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/grcatcwl.