A massive experiment is underway in the Grand Canyon. It is essentially an artificial flood. The experiment is an effort at environmental restoration in the canyon, but it is coming with some controversy. I-Team Reporter Mark Sayre was at the dam and has the details.More>>
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Billions of gallons of water will pour into the Grand Canyon and eventually into Lake Mead. The Bureau of Reclamation is planning a massive water release by opening the flood gates at the Glen Canyon Dam at Lake Powell starting Wednesday.
The release will create a springtime flood along the Colorado River, like ones that occurred before the dam was built. The bureau says it will improve the ecology and recreation in the Grand Canyon.
But some believe the flood could harm sensitive areas.
The Glen Canyon Dam is upstream from Hoover Dam. Water that leaves that dam flows through the Grand Canyon and then ultimately ends up in Lake Mead before reaching the Hoover Dam.
Wednesday morning, the Bureau of Reclamation plans to open up the dam to send a massive amount of water flooding into the Grand Canyon.
It will come out of four massive jet tubes, which bypass the dam's hydroelectric plant. The hope is to mimic natural floods which occurred before this dam was completed in the 1960's, scouring miles of river banks in the depths of the Grand Canyon.
To give an idea of how much water is being released during that time, the total amount of water released will amount to about 2/3 of what Nevada is entitled to draw from the Colorado River over an entire year.
This experiment is set to last for a total of 60 hours.
Water managers hope it will help create a better environment for a 3 million-year-old fish called the Humpback Chub.
"It is an experimental flow and the intent is to take some of the sand that has accumulated on the river bottom, or washed into the river, and move that sand up onto the beaches and the banks to reestablish the beach habitat -- to recreate and restore some of the areas where the recreational campers go. And it also helps clean out the backwaters, so you can get some of the endangered fish species in those backwaters and they can be safe from predators in the main stream of the river," said Bob Walsh with the Bureau of Reclamation.
A similar experiment was held in 1996. As in the 1996 experiment, U.S. Geological Survey personnel will be staged in the Grand Canyon to monitor to the water flow and both its short and long term impacts on the floor of the canyon.
Less water will be released from Glen Canyon Dam during the rest of the year to make up for the water released over the next several days. In the end, all of the river water allotments will be exactly the same.