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

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Pauline Murphy
Unburied Truth: Exposing the Church’s Iron Chains on Ireland
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Franklin Lamb
Update from Madaya
Dan Bacher
Federal Scientists Find Delta Tunnels Plan Will Devastate Salmon
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Louis Proyect
What Caused the Holodomor?
Max Mastellone
Seeking Left Unity Through a Definition of Progressivism
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
David Yearsley
Ear of Darkness: the Soundtracks of Steve Bannon’s Films
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail