National Park Service to Begin Hauling Water; Overnight Lodging Delayed
Grand Canyon, AZ – The North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park will open as scheduled, on May 15, with limited visitor services and water conservation measures due to a break in the North Rim water pipeline. This damaged water line does not affect South Rim or Phantom Ranch operations.
A rockslide from a winter storm took out more than 300 feet of the North Rim water pipeline and damaged the North Kaibab Trail. This is believed to be the most significant damage to the North Rim water pipeline in the past 20-plus years. The North Rim pipeline transports water from within the canyon at Roaring Springs to the North Rim and is operated from approximately May to November.
Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Chris Lehnertz said, “Water is the source of life and the break in the North Rim water pipeline creates a serious situation for operations on the north side of the canyon. We want to ensure that everyone on the North Rim will have available drinking water and that water is available for public safety and structural fire requirements.”
Currently, the only public water supply available on the North Rim is stored in water-holding tanks located on the North Rim. It is anticipated that it may take approximately 45 work days to replace the missing water pipeline, repair other leaks and get water pumped to the North Rim. Access to the work area is extremely challenging, and the missing pipeline location is on the side of a dangerous and steep cliff. Helicopter support, fall-protection equipment and other required safety materials are being utilized for work crew safety. Lehnertz said, “The priority of the park’s response to the incident is minimizing risk and addressing the well-being of employees, partners and visitors, while doing all we can to mitigate this situation.”
The National Park Service is taking immediate actions to begin hauling water to the North Rim. Grand Canyon National Park crews and equipment, as well as personnel and equipment from other national park units, in addition to local contractors are being utilized to support the endeavor. Work is being coordinated with the Arizona Department of Transportation for truck activity on Highway 67.
Lehnertz said, “We are working in partnership with our North Rim concessioners, Forever Resorts and Grand Canyon Trail Rides, as well as partners such as the Grand Canyon Association, to determine an appropriate operating strategy without the availability of pumped water to the area.” Water conservation measures are being implemented by the park and all partners on the North Rim.
The Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim, a Forever Resorts property, will operate day-use operations with limited food and beverage services beginning May 15, with overnight accommodations to begin Friday, May 26. Lehnertz said, “We have put thoughtful consideration into managing this incident. It is unfortunate that overnight accommodations with the North Rim Lodge for 11 days are being cancelled, and we recognize the inconvenience this is for visitors.”
The North Rim Campground managed by the National Park Service will operate as scheduled beginning May 15 with available potable drinking water and portable toilets. The public laundry and shower facilities will not be open. The North Rim grocery store, gas station and post office will be open. Grand Canyon Trail Rides offered at the North Rim will begin operations May 15. The North Rim Visitor Center and Grand Canyon Association bookstore will be open as scheduled, 8 am to 6 pm daily, with a variety of ranger programs offered. The backcountry information center will be open 8 am to noon and 1 pm to 5 pm daily.
Crews are working on slope stabilization above the location of the pipeline break to ensure a safe work area for repairing the pipeline. The unstable rock and debris are falling down canyon and have potential to land on the North Kaibab Trail, including very large rocks. For the safety of hikers, the North Kaibab Trail is currently closed at Redwall Bridge from 8 am to 4:30 pm daily while crews are working. The Redwall Bridge is located about 2.5 miles above Manzanita Rest Area, four miles above Cottonwood Campground, and one mile below Supai Tunnel on the North Kaibab Trail.
Trail work is also being conducted to repair over 800 feet of trail and eight retaining walls that were damaged. The trail is anticipated to be open to all use by late April, but hikers should anticipate some minor delays as work may continue. The National Park Service emphasizes the importance of staying on designated trails at all times and hikers should not attempt to go over or around a closure. Trail users should pay attention to directions from park rangers, volunteers, and signs placed along the trail.