When the Grand Canyon Park opened in 1919, it started out attracting around 35,000 visitors. Today, more than 6 million people travel to the Canyon each year to witness the majesty of one of America’s most important sites. The Grand Canyon is synonymous with American beauty and wonder, yet infrastructure that is vitally important to the park has been in need of comprehensive repair for years. Since 2010, a water pipeline that supplies residents, resorts, and the millions of annual visitors has broken 80 times. The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) is calling for a fix that would help preserve the system for decades to come.
In the past, breaks to the water pipeline have been sutured, allowing use to continue without having to fully renovate and repair. This is no longer enough, according to a Grand Canyon spokesperson, who noted that a comprehensive repair of this infrastructure is necessary. The plan would include a new water intake system, new water treatment facilities, and the use of smaller pipe where possible. The temporary fixes that have been used in the past are no longer sufficient to ensure that water can be safely transported where it needs to go, and the decades old water pipeline is due for a top down overhaul.
With more than 6 million visitors coming to the Grand Canyon each year, it is vitally important that guests have access to an efficient and safe water supply. Not only is this important for restrooms and water fountains, but also for the year-round residents and resorts that operate in the area bringing much needed tourism dollars. An overhaul of the system would cost $124 million for a longer term solution – a small price to pay compared to the current annual amount spent operating and patching repairs.
This is just one example of the many important infrastructure projects that need long term solutions. For decades now we have pushed these issues off until tomorrow, choosing to tackle them in the future instead of today. The importance of infrastructure cannot be overstated, and projects like the Grand Canyon Pipeline, which brings water to residents and guests alike, can act as examples for what needs to be done. The GAIN coalition would like to see this project, and many others like it, move forward, improving the lives of the 6 million visitors to the Grand Canyon, and those Americans who live next door.