Grand Canyon Flows - Mountain Buzz

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Old 05-26-2010   #1
nicho's Avatar
North Denver, Colorado
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Grand Canyon Flows

How much do flows in the Canyon fluctuate from month to month? I would guess high in the summer and medium to low in the fall/winter, or does the flow stay failry consitent with the dam. I read on the NPS site that flows change from night to day like a tide. More water is released during the day when power demand is higher for ACs and such.

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Old 05-26-2010   #2
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If only there was a gauge.
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Old 05-26-2010   #3
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I believe most of the daily operations on Glen Canyon have to do with WAPA demands for power generation and will fluctuate daily. Equilization was not triggered this year, so I think the releases will be close to average.

Bureau of Reclamation - Upper Colorado Region Water Operations: Current Status: Lake Powell
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Old 05-26-2010   #4
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Thanks for the link.
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Old 05-26-2010   #5
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There's more to it. For most of the year, the daily flow is determined by contract, and the hourly flow is determined by demand. This is why we experience "the tides" every day. From about 11 pm to 10 am, power demand is lower. Starting at 10 am, when the air conditioners start up in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, the flow quickly increases by about 4-5,000 cfs. All the way down the river, you will need to know whether you are on high tide or low tide--especially when you tie your rafts for the night. On some of the most challenging rapids, the tide makes a big difference in how you run them and how difficult they are.

For most of the summer season, the flow will fluctuate between 10,000 and 15,000 cfs (more or less). Then starting on Sept 1, the daily flow is cut, so that you fluctuate between 7,000 and 12,000 cfs. These are daily fluctuations. You will experience this every day. The morning rise tends to come pretty fast.

As you go downstream, you need to calculate when high and low tides will occur at your location. Figure the speed of the water at 5 mph. So if you're at Crystal Rapid, mile 97, your tidal shift is 19.5 hours. That is, the water you are in passed through Glen Canyon Dam 19.5 hours ago. That means that the transition from low tide to high tide starts at about 5:30 am (10:00 yesterday plus 19.5 hours).
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