RRFW Riverwire – Latest Grand Canyon Flood Flow Shows Disappointing Results January
RRFW Riverwire – Latest Grand Canyon Flood Flow Shows Disappointing Results January 28, 2012
Two months after the end of the latest Grand Canyon flood flow, results were reported to the Technical Working Group of the Grand Canyon Adaptive Management Program by the Glen Canyon Monitoring and Research Center in Phoenix, Arizona last Wednesday.
Although it was hoped that the controlled high water flow would improve habitat for native fish and restore eroded beaches, it was found that just 55% of the target beaches showed improvements, while 36% remained the same and 9% were worse off. 25% of the sediment scientists had hoped to mobilize and distribute with the flood never moved and there is no evidence of improved nursery habitat for native fish.
Since 1963, 95% of sediment inflows to Grand Canyon National Park’s river corridor have been trapped behind Glen Canyon Dam. This has completely transformed habitat conditions for Grand Canyon native fish, leading to the extinction of the Colorado pikeminnow, razorback sucker, bonytail chub and roundtail chub, and the endangerment of the humpback chub.
“Secretary [of the Interior] Salazar claimed that this was going to be ‘A milestone in the history of the Colorado River’, but like the three previous experiments in 1996, 2004 and 2008, it too has shown that at best some beaches are temporarily improved, but the long-term prognosis for the Grand Canyon is a system without sediment,” says Living Rivers Conservation Director John Weisheit.
The November 19th 2012 flood is the first to occur in a ten-year time window that scientist have been granted to experiment with Glen Canyon Dam operations. Additional controlled floods can be attempted if certain conditions are met, mainly the existence of large amounts of sediment entering the Colorado River from two tributary rivers that feed into the upper part of Grand Canyon, the Paria and Little Colorado.
“Far too much public time and money is wasted on preparing for, publicizing, executing and monitoring these useless floods that do nothing but perpetuate a science welfare program masquerading as an endangered species recovery effort,” adds Weisheit. “Scientist know, but won’t publicly state, that the only real solution to addressing Grand Canyon’s sediment deficit is to transport it around Glen Canyon Dam or decommission the dam altogether.”
For more information, see: Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center www.gcmrc.gov, 928-556-7380. An entertaining and informative commentary blog can be read at www.charliechub.com. Living Rivers is the parent organization of River Runners for Wilderness and is based in Moab, Utah. The organization seeks to promote restoration and revitalization of the rivers of the Colorado Plateau damaged by dams, diversion and pollution. See more at www.livingrivers.org.
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I'LL DRIVE ONE OF THE BARGES, TO HAUL THE SAND FROM UP NEAR HITE, DOWN TO THE DAM. HECK, TOWNS ON THE JERSEY SHORE AND ELSEWHERE HAVE BEEN TRUCKING (HAULING) IN SAND TO FIX UP OCEAN BEACHES FOR DECADES - - WHY CAN'T WE DO THE SAME FOR THE GRAND CANYON? DUMP IT INTO THE OVERFLOW TUBES AND LET OUT THE WATER!
I get it that RRFW's position is that the dam should be removed, and I agree that is the best possible outcome, but that's really a glass-half-empty take on the flood flows.
It might be "science welfare", but those studies have shown:
-Sediment dumped in the main stem by the tribs settles on the channel bottom.
-Existing beaches erode onto the channel bottom, particularly in their feeder eddies.
-High flows move sand from the bottom back up to the shore where it is useful for boaters, particularly in large eddies where the sand will cycle from shore to submerged and back many times before being swept downstream.
If the alternative was an unchanging 12,000 cfs (or whatever flow would meet compact requirements), the beaches would be completely gone and you would have nothing but rocks to land on. It's a dynamic system, we're never going to get more than temporary improvements from the flood flows. Much like above the dam, where beaches wax and wane with the flood flows...
Please don't let perfect get in the way of good, it's why so many average folk think eviros just want to kill all the people.
Hope all the AZ weather is not wreaking havoc on the flood work this fall!?
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