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Mar 14 / Dave Schumaker

Grand Canyon Flood Successful

Preliminary analysis indicates that last week’s manmade flood of the Grand Canyon was a success. The three day flood redistributed sediment in the canyon, modifying old sand bars and creating many new ones as well (some of which are the size of football fields).

From the article:

During the flood, flows in the Grand Canyon increased to 41,000 cubic feet per second for nearly three days – four to five times the normal amount of water released from the Glen Canyon Dam. Water levels along the river rose between 2 and 15 feet and left sediment behind when the four giant steel tubes releasing the water from the dam were closed.

Officials released similar manmade floods into the canyon in 1996 and in 2004.

But those floods actually resulted in a net reduction in overall sandbar size because they were conducted when the Colorado River was relatively sand-depleted, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Officials believe this year’s flood will be beneficial because sand levels in the river are at a 10-year high and are three times greater than 2004 levels.

Whatever benefits come from this year’s flood, however, will be eroded within 18 months without additional floods every year to 18 months depending on the amount of sediment available, Martin said.

In its environmental assessment on Glen Canyon Dam releases, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation calls for no other high-flow releases until after 2012.

The benefits of the flooding are obviously beneficial. It’s a shame they don’t actually have plans to do this every year (probably due to the demands that must be met by the Colorado River Compact).

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