A 60-hour flood of water is being released from Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River in what is supposed to be renewal of the Grand Canyon’s dwindling sandbars, beaches, vegetation, and habitat for rare and endangered fish.

This is the third time such a flood has been created since the giant dam and reservoir was built in the 1960s. The project turned the warm, silt-laden Colorado into a cold and clear river that eroded away the beaches and backwaters during the artificial daily rhythm of generating hydropower.

It was felt that major releases of water every so often would mimic the floods that now longer occured and restore the river, but many who were once-hopeful say the floods have failed because they are too rare and not big enough. Others say no manipulation can restore the river from a dam that should have never been built.

Nevertheless, Secretary of Interior Dirk Kemphthorne is making a big show of the big release of water.

Questions on Grand Canyon ‘Blow Out’, By Mike Nizza. New York Times.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

2 Responses to Artificial flood released on Colorado River. Effort promoted as renewing Grand Canyon ecosystem.

  1. April Clauson says:

    Kempton is only worried about electricity being low (less money in someones pocket that day) But, being a Arizonan it was proved that after the first flood they did really did not help at all. Actually after some time it made it worse. The sand would not stay put cause it never had time to “settle permanent” like the natural way, killed alot of new plant growth, and the fish are still dying. No idea what to do, except realize that Humans need for water and creating dams has done its damage and always will…..

  2. mikarooni says:

    Two facts to consider are 1) Lake Mead is very low and 2) there is proportionately far less evaporation loss when water is sent down from reservoir to reservoir is a large flood over a short period than as a smaller steady stream over a longer period. I personally am not sure how much of this “artificial flood” is really intended to rebuild anything in the canyon and how much of it is driven by the two facts above.


March 2008


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey