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Science and Innovations

Glen Canyon High-Flow Experiment Begins Today

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is releasing higher-than-normal flows from Glen Canyon Dam this week, as part of an experiment to rebuild sandbars on the Colorado River. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.

The high flow experiment will continue through Thursday. Marlon Duke of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says the goal is to improve the health of the downstream ecosystem.

"The reason we do it is so we can push sediment—sand, clay, other sediment in the river bottom— further down into the river system and further down in the Grand Canyon, where that sediment serves to rebuild beaches and rebuild sandbars," he says. Sandbars serve as a campsites for river runners and as wildlife habitat.

The artificial flood will peak at 38,000 cubic feet of water per second. River users should be prepared for higher flows than normal and quickly changing water levels for the entire week.

The experiment does not change the annual amount of water released from Lake Powell to Lake Mead.

The public is invited to see the high flow release from the Carl Hayden Visitor Center at Glen Canyon Dam today, tomorrow or Wednesday.

Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.
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