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Autumn artificial flood won’t take place in Grand Canyon

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

The Grand Canyon won’t see a beach-building flood this fall for the fourth year in a row. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports, river managers point to unprecedented low levels in Lake Powell.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation with advice from stakeholders determined that releasing an artificial flood from Glen Canyon Dam this year would create unacceptable risks to water delivery obligations and to hydropower.

But the number one concern was smallmouth bass, a nonnative fish discovered below the dam earlier this year. Agency spokesperson Clarence Fullard says they’re a threat to native fish.

"A high flow experiment would bump up flows and potentially redistribute those juvenile smallmouth bass downstream into the Marble and Grand canyons, where any sort of rapid response would be extremely difficult," he says.

Lack of sediment or lack of water has stymied the flood program since 2018. Scientists say periodic high-water releases are necessary to rebuild sandbars, which are vital for wildlife habitat and campsites.

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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