Grand Canyon Limits Visitors To Phantom Ranch During Wastewater Plant Overhaul

Jul 1, 2020

Grand Canyon National Park officials have limited visitation and water use at Phantom Ranch as they overhaul a wastewater treatment facility. It comes more than two years after park and state officials agreed to upgrade the aging system. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

The Phantom Ranch wastewater treatment plant during its construction in 1981.
Credit Grand Canyon National Park/Flickr

In order to reduce water use at Phantom, the park has cut the number of reservations at the Bright Angel Campground in half, closed hiker dormitories, limited flush toilet use and prohibited visitor showers at least through 2021.

The Phantom Ranch wastewater treatment plant was installed in the early 1980s and designed for only a small number of users. But with deferred maintenance projects and a major uptick in rim-to-rim runners and hikers the system has begun to fail in recent years. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality reported several code violations in 2018 and gave the park until later this year to come up with a plan to fix them.

Grand Canyon officials are urging visitors to use composting toilets in the inner canyon. The project’s cost is estimated at about $3 million and will take up to two years to complete.