Experiment With Grand Canyon Sandbars Sort Of Goes Smoothly

By Jessica Rawden 2 years ago
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Last November, the government pursued a plan to create a manmade flood that would hopefully build sandbars in the Grand Canyon. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (yes, this is a real agency) took 24 hours to release water from the Glen Canyon Dam's to mess with the sand and allow another government agency, the U.S. Geological Survey, to take notes. Maintaining the sandbars may be tougher than you might think, though.

Apparently, the experiment did what it was supposed to do: create larger sandbars and beaches in the Colorado River that can provide shelter for those rafting the river. Additionally, the large, sandy spaces can provide species, including the endangered humpback chubs, shelter from the river. It all sounds like big bonuses for the Colorado River, but actually, the results have been mixed.

Sandbars have been built up in the area before and, according to The Arizona Republic, they usually erode in a matter of six months to a year. However, ideally, advocates would like to get back to the pre-dam years, when sand flowed normally. When the most recent experiment went into effect, estimates are that the 24-hour experiment cost $1.4 million in power generation to simply build up a few sandbars. Additionally, to build a sand pipeline would cost taxpayers over $100 million dollars. These are problems most of us donít consider on a daily basis, but if youíve ever wondered where some of our random tax dollars go, the Grand Canyon sandbar project may give you a little insight into that idea.
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