A hiker on the S. Kaibab Trail about half-way to Phantom Ranch. NPS/MICHAEL QUINN/File Photo
GRAND CANYON — Effective immediately, the National Park Service (NPS) is initiating water conservation measures on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park to ensure that the area’s facilities can remain open until the repairs are made to the damaged water pipeline.
Rockslides from the most recent wintery weather caused a new break to the North Rim water pipeline for the sixth time this year. Due to continued poor weather and difficulty accessing the location of the pipeline break, crews will not be able to begin repair work until Saturday, May 25.
The pipeline transports water from within the canyon at Roaring Springs to the North Rim, providing potable water to seasonal facilities open from May into November.
North Rim facilities remain open with water limitations for some services. The NPS campground will operate normally with available potable drinking water and portable toilets.
The public laundry and public shower facilities will be closed. All other facilities are open, with the addition of portable toilets in place of public flush toilet facilities.
The Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim will continue to operate its overnight accommodations and day use facilities with water conservation measures in place. These include using disposable plates and utensils in all dining facilities as part of prioritizing water use for drinking over washing dishes. Portable toilets will be placed in the common areas utilized by day users and overnight guests.
“A break in the water pipeline creates a serious situation for the operations on the north side of the canyon,” said acting Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum.
“By initiating water conservation measures, the National Park Service and its partners can continue to provide the majority of services to visitors while crews work on pipeline repairs when it’s safe to do so. It’s important that everyone on the North Rim has water for drinking, and that we also have water available for structural fire and other public safety needs. ”
The only public water supply for the North Rim is stored in water-holding tanks. Park staff anticipate that it may take 10 or more work days to repair the most recent break in the pipeline, address other leaks and begin pumping water back up to the North Rim tanks.
Access to the work area is extremely challenging, as the broken pipeline location is on the side of a steep cliff. Helicopter support, fall-protection equipment and other required safety materials must be utilized for work crew safety.
The National Park Service has initiated the contracting process necessary to begin hauling water via tenders to fill the water-holding tanks by early next week.
This will provide an extra margin of security for an uninterrupted water supply, and ensure that workers have adequate time to do the necessary repairs, especially if more breaks are discovered.