FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Rearranging Deck Chairs at Glen Canyon Dam

by JOHN WEISHEIT

The experimental flood releases last month from Glen Canyon Dam was merely another public relations façade staged by the Department of the Interior believing three times is a charm. Luck is not how one restores the Grand Canyon.

The first media hoopla was in 1996, then again in 2004, and now in 2008. Twelve years, three experimental floods, same results: a degraded ecosystem for this prized national park.

These experiments do nothing but rearrange the furniture and most of the shuffling occurs in Marble Canyon, which is the first 52 miles of Grand Canyon National Park.

What were the beaches like in Marble Canyon before Glen Canyon Dam? According to the USGS, as reported at the Technical Work Group meeting on April 8, 2008, the total storage of sand in Marble Canyon prior to the dam was 16,000,000 metric tons. All that is left today is 2,600,000 metric tons.Between the passage of the Grand Canyon Protection Act in 1992 and the 2008 experimental flood, 6,000,000 metric tons have been removed from Marble Canyon.

The odds are clearly against the players.

Even if Interior operated the dam with the sole intent of just rebuilding the beach and habitat conditions that existed in 1992, it would take 40 to 45 years to achieve the goal.

Why is this charade tolerated? Why does Interior continue to stage farcical media sensations instead of providing results that are tangible and real?

The scientists explained in 2005 that the sand replenishment hypothesis from the 1995 EIS is flawed. The scientists recommended that mechanical sediment augmentation may need to be implemented afterall. Mechanical sediment augmentation is physically extracting sediment that is currently being stored in the reservoir, Lake Powell.

A system of dredges and pipelines would need to be funded and built to pump a slurry of sediment into the river below Glen Canyon Dam or 15 miles downstream at Lees Ferry.

If not a slurry pipeline, the alternative would be 500 trucks a day hauling sediment over roads.It is clear: there will never be enough sediment for the ecosystem until different applications are seriously examined. Namely, mechanical sediment augmentation and restoring a free-flowing river through Grand Canyon by dismantling Glen Canyon Dam.Before the big dams of the upper Colorado River basin were built, the total annual amount of suspended sediment in the river from 1925 to 1940 was 195 million tons.

Scientists noted how a change in climate patterns (the intensity of summer storms have decreased overall) occurred around 1940. From 1941 to 1957, the annual sediment load in the river dropped to 85 million tons. After the upper Colorado RIver basin dams were completed the flow of sediment that enters Lake Powell is now 44 million tons annually.

Very few people have seen Cataract Canyon above Lake Powell. Those who have, like myself, will tell you how the sediment passing through Cataract Canyon creates ample beaches and sandbars every year. And, yes, Cataract Canyon has endangered species too, but at least they are not extirpated (regionally extinct) as they are in Grand Canyon. Scientists are not studying Cataract Canyon sediment dynamics at all, even though the National Research Council has advised they do.

Meanwhile, behind the curtain of these staged events, Interior continues their bureaucratic stalling, obstructionism, lying to the public, and wasting their revenues on useless programs. No different than a polluter paying the fine, instead of correcting the problem.

John Weisheit, the Colorado Riverkeeper, is director of Living Rivers. He can be reached at: john@livingrivers.org

This article originally appeared in On the Colorado.

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
William Hughes
From Sam Spade to the Red Scare: Dashiell Hammett’s War Against Rightwing Creeps
Raouf Halaby
Dear Barack Obama, Please Keep it at 3 for 3
Charles R. Larson
Review: Paulina Chiziane’s “The First Wife: a Tale of Polygamy”
August 25, 2016
Mike Whitney
The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives Up on Empire
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
The Louisiana Catastrophe Proves the Need for Universal, Single-Payer Disaster Insurance
John W. Whitehead
Another Brick in the Wall: Children of the American Police State
Lewis Evans
Genocide in Plain Sight: Shooting Bushmen From Helicopters in Botswana
Daniel Kovalik
Colombia: Peace in the Shadow of the Death Squads
Sam Husseini
How the Washington Post Sells the Politics of Fear
Ramzy Baroud
Punishing the Messenger: Israel’s War on NGOs Takes a Worrying Turn
Norman Pollack
Troglodyte Vs. Goebbelean Fascism: The 2016 Presidential Race
Simon Wood
Where are the Child Victims of the West?
Roseangela Hartford
The Hidden Homeless Population
Mark Weisbrot
Obama’s Campaign for TPP Could Drag Down the Democrats
Rick Sterling
Clintonites Prepare for War on Syria
Yves Engler
The Anti-Semitism Smear Against Canadian Greens
August 24, 2016
John Pilger
Provoking Nuclear War by Media
Jonathan Cook
The Birth of Agro-Resistance in Palestine
Eric Draitser
Ajamu Baraka, “Uncle Tom,” and the Pathology of White Liberal Racism
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt and the New Financial Imperialism
Robert Fisk
The Sultan’s Hit List Grows, as Turkey Prepares to Enter Syria
Abubakar N. Kasim
What Did the Olympics Really Do for Humanity?
Renee Parsons
Obamacare Supporters Oppose ColoradoCare
Alycee Lane
The Trump Campaign: a White Revolt Against ‘Neoliberal Multiculturalism’
Edward Hunt
Maintaining U.S. Dominance in the Pacific
George Wuerthner
The Big Fish Kill on the Yellowstone
Jesse Jackson
Democrats Shouldn’t Get a Blank Check From Black Voters
Kent Paterson
Saving Southern New Mexico from the Next Big Flood
Arnold August
RIP Jean-Guy Allard: A Model for Progressive Journalists Working in the Capitalist System
August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail