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Water pipes top Grand Canyon's maintenance list

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 16, 2014 at 4:16 pm •  Published: May 16, 2014

The steel pipeline that runs up to the North Rim dates back to the 1930s and is subject to rock falls and freezing in the wintertime because it sits above ground. The aluminum pipeline that feeds the South Rim was laid underground in the 1960s, but grit in the water scars the inside through its twists and turns, creating weak spots.

Other national parks, primarily in the eastern U.S., rely on municipal water supplies while more remote parks draw from wells or onsite water sources and have their own water treatment facilities.

Grand Canyon gets its water from an aquifer that feeds Roaring Springs on the northern end of the canyon and through the pipeline system unique to the national park by some 4.5 million people each year. Replacing the system is a top priority for the National Park Service's Intermountain Region, spokesman James Doyle said.

"The delivery system, the age of the system, going from rim to rim is a feat in and of itself," he said. "Certainly this delivery system wasn't designed to last this long, so that makes it challenging as well."

Jarrell said Grand Canyon officials hope to have a study completed this summer that will outline strategies for replacing the pipelines and the actual cost.

"If it's $200 million, it's going to take us a while," he said.