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Test wells under construction at Phantom Ranch through April 5
Park officials move to Level 2 water restrictions, Camper Services reopens

Phantom Ranch is located beside Bright Angel Creek on the north side of the Colorado River. It is the only lodging facility below the rim of the Grand Canyon.
Photo/NPS

Phantom Ranch is located beside Bright Angel Creek on the north side of the Colorado River. It is the only lodging facility below the rim of the Grand Canyon.

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — On March 29, the National Park Service (NPS) began installing one test well and two monitoring wells next to Bright Angel Creek near Phantom Ranch. The NPS will use a K-MAX helicopter to fly in a drill rig, supplies and other equipment. The wells will help NPS determine if this is a feasible water source option for the replacement of Grand Canyon National Park’s critical drinking water supply, the Transcanyon Waterline (TCWL).

Replacement of the TCWL is in the preliminary design phase. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance is underway to identify the preferred alternative and evaluate the environmental consequences of the range of alternatives.

In one alternative, wells along Bright Angel Creek near Phantom Ranch would replace the water supplied by Roaring Springs via the TCWL. The test well will help determine how much water can be drawn from the area, the water quality characteristics needed for design, and will also help NPS more fully understand potential impacts to Bright Angel Creek. During the test, water drawn from the well will be returned to Bright Angel Creek about 300 feet downstream from the work area.

As proposed, the new system could provide drinking water to Phantom Ranch, Indian Garden and the South Rim. The North Rim, Manzanita Rest Area and Cottonwood Campground would continue to have water from Roaring Springs.

During installation of the wells, all trails to and through Phantom Ranch will remain open to trail users; however, the lower campground bridge will be closed during work hours and may be closed overnight. Work hours will be from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day and the drill rig will shut down while mules enter the construction zone.

An on-site program manager will oversee the test well installation and will answer visitor questions about the project.

While in the park, the K-MAX will also remove several vehicles from below the rim of the canyon.

Residents and visitors to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park over the last week and a half have reduced their water consumption, resulting in the ability of the park to refill water storage tanks to sustainable levels. As a result of water conservation the park has reached near-sustainable levels and the South Rim will scale back to Level 2 water restrictions.

Restaurants and cafeterias operated by Delaware North Companies (DNC) and Xanterra South Rim LLC, will begin phasing out the use of disposable paper products immediately. Additionally, Camper Services, which provides showers, laundry and an RV dump and fill station, has reopened. The park will continue to monitor water levels in storage tanks to ensure they remain at sustainable levels and may modify water restrictions in the future to address water sustainability.

Visitors and residents are reminded that other Level 2 water restrictions remain in place. Water to employee and public sinks are now turned back on. Visitors are reminded that turning all the sinks back on may take a day or two. Park staff said it is aware of and currently fixing several leaks on the South Rim.

The park is reminding everyone to continue to be mindful of their water use by turning off water when brushing teeth or shaving, collecting water in buckets while waiting for the shower to heat up, washing only full loads of dishes or laundry, selectively flushing toilets, and reporting wasteful water use and leaks. Residents are also reminded to use non-potable water for plants and lawns and to not fill large-capacity water tanks in the park.

Drinking water is available at Phantom Ranch and Indian Garden. Hikers in the backcountry should plan to carry all their water or methods to treat water.

Information provided by the National Park Service.

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