Grand Canyon Pipe Break Points To Larger Problem

May 16, 2014

A broken pipe that cut off a water supply for hikers at Grand Canyon National Park this week is just the latest in a series of problems that point to an aging park infrastructure.

A pair of pipelines feed water from a spring deep in the canyon to storage tanks for the use of park staff, visitors and area residents.

Park maintenance chief Tim Jarrell says a single break in one of the pipelines can cost $25,000 to repair.

But Jarrell says breaks like the one this week are just symptoms of a problem that could eventually cost $200 million to repair: the park’s aging infrastructure.

A series of breaks in the park’s Trans-Canyon Water Pipeline last summer left Phantom Ranch at the canyon bottom without water, forcing visitors to carry or treat all drinking water until repairs were made.

The park service says its stashing away money from entrance fees and doing engineering studies to determine the best way to fix the park’s infrastructure.