Grand Canyon National Park Is Replacing Portion Of Trans-Canyon Pipeline
February 15, 2015
Grand Canyon National Park began replacing a portion of the Trans-Canyon Pipeline at Phantom Ranch beginning in late January. Ortega Plumbing and Heating of Albuquerque, NM has been awarded a contract for replacement of this section of the pipeline.
The project area will replace up to a half mile section of the Trans-Canyon Pipeline (TCP) including pipeline from the lower Campground Bridge north to the Phantom Ranch Cantina and a short section around the NPS mule corral.
Construction crews, supplies, and heavy equipment were transferred from the South Rim to staging areas near Phantom Ranch. To help reduce the number of flights, a Type 1, heavy lift helicopter, was utilized to assist with moving materials to the construction site. The heavy lift helicopter was used until the equipment transfer was complete.
Completion Estimate: End of July
It is currently anticipated that construction will be complete by the end of July 2015. During this time period, all hikers and backcountry users should expect to encounter detours, possible delays, and closures while traveling near the construction zone. Visitors should follow all posted signs, detour routes, and verbal instructions of personnel on-site.
Hikers and backcountry users should be prepared treat creek water while in the inner canyon. Construction will require intermittent shutdown of the pipeline, temporarily shutting down the drinking water system along the corridor trails. All hikers should check in at the Backcountry Information Center, prior to starting their hikes, for up-to-date information on trail conditions, construction detours, and water availability.
Phantom Ranch, the Cantina, and the Bright Angel Campground will all remain open during construction. Visitors to the Phantom Ranch area should be aware that work may take place between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on any day of the week. Moderate daytime noise and dust impacts are expected due to the construction activities and associate equipment use.
If You Have Reservations, Questions
Individuals who have campground reservations and have questions about impacts of construction work on their trip should contact the Backcountry Information Center at (928) 638-7875. Guests with advance reservations at Phantom Ranch should contact the Xanterra Central Reservations at 1-888-297-2757 with any questions about their reservations.
The Trans-Canyon Pipeline was built in the mid-1960s and feeds water to Grand Canyon National Park from Roaring Springs. Sixteen miles in length, the aging pipeline is constructed of 6-8" aluminum pipe that, over the past decade, has suffered numerous leaks, fissures, and breaks.
Full replacement of the TCP is currently estimated at $100-150 million dollars. This current project replaces only a very small section and addresses immediate issues where breaks occur frequently with the highest risk to visitors and facilities at Phantom Ranch.
Frequency Of Breaks
Since 1978, major pipeline breaks have occurred anywhere from five to 30 times annually and the frequency of breaks continues to increase as the pipeline ages. A flash-flood in 1995 caused extensive damage to the pipeline, shutting it down for 28 days while it was repaired.
During that time, the park implemented emergency water hauling measures and trucked in 23 million gallons of water (85 trucks per day) from outside sources at a cost of approximately $5 million dollars. More recently, multiple breaks along the TCP in late June 2013 required the closure and evacuation of guests and employees from Phantom Ranch. This past December another large break required the temporary closure of Phantom Ranch for several days while crews dealt with weather related delays in repairing the pipeline.
Every effort is being made to minimize impacts to park visitors and residents during this important infrastructure improvement. Questions about the Phantom Ranch pipeline replacement project should be directed to Greg MacGregor at (928) 638-7360.