For the third time in a week, a pipeline carrying water below the rim in Grand Canyon National Park has broken. This time the break washed out a 45-foot section of the North Kaibab Trail, and park officials say that means cross-canyon travel won't be possible for the near future.
The breaks reflect the age of the pipelines, some of which date to the mid-1960s.
Park officials say the latest break occurred Thursday morning about a half-mile above the Cottonwood Campground. The break resulted in the closure of a one-mile section of the North Kaibab Trail between Roaring Springs and Cottonwood Campground, said park spokeswoman Maureen Oltrogge.
Last Friday, the Park Service reported a pipeline break near Phantom Ranch. The pipeline, known as the trans-canyon pipeline, broke in two separate places, Ms. Oltrogge said. One break occurred near the South Kaibab Trail south of Phantom Ranch and one south of the Colorado River on the Bright Angel Trail near the Pipe Creek Resthouse.
Since the latest break prevents cross-canyon travel, hikers with reservations at Cottonwood Campground and Phantom Ranch will need to use the South Kaibab or Bright Angel Trail to access those areas, the park announced.
As soon as trail crews can rebuild a stable base, the North Kaibab Trail between Roaring Springs and Cottonwood Campground will reopen to public use. Trail crew supervisors expect to have the trail reopened by next Friday, June 8, pending any unforeseen circumstances.
Potable water will not be available at Roaring Springs or Cottonwood Campground located on the North Kaibab Trail until the pipeline is repaired, which is anticipated to be by this Sunday. Hikers using those areas should be prepared to access and treat or filter creek water.
Because of large storage tanks on the North and South Rims of Grand Canyon, potable water is still available at those locations. Potable water is also available at Phantom Ranch as maintenance crews have been able to refill the storage tank between repairs.
Repairs have been completed on the break south of Phantom Ranch and maintenance crews expect to have repairs completed on the break south of the river within the next 24 hours. Repairs on the third break will commence with completion of the section of pipeline south of the river.
The pipeline, installed in the mid-1960s, feeds water from Roaring Springs, located approximately 3,500 feet below the North Rim. Water is piped from the springs to the South Rim via a 16 mile-long pipeline. Water is then gravity-fed to the Indian Gardens pumping station, located 3,000 feet below the South Rim, then pumped from Indian Gardens to South Rim water tanks. Water is also pumped from Roaring Springs to North Rim water tanks by a 7-mile-long pipeline. Portions of the pipeline are exposed and therefore can be susceptible to breaks.
For additional information about trail access, permit changes and water availability in the inner canyon, please contact one of the Backcountry Information Centers within Grand Canyon National Park at 928-638-7875 (South Rim) or 928-638-7868 (North Rim), or visit the park's website.