High Flow to Help Grand Canyon's Ecosystem

Nov 12, 2014

Colorado River managers are releasing nearly a third more water than usual this month from the Glen Canyon Dam. As Arizona Public Radio’s Justin Regan reports, the high flow will restore parts of the Grand Canyon’s environment.

Glen Canyon Dam
Credit U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

The simulated flood is moving sediment down river to restore beaches and create backwater habitats for native fish. According to Glen Knowles, the adaptive management group chief with the Bureau of Reclamation, the flow can also flush out some invasive species.

“What we found with these high flows is they tend to wash out the non-native mud snails. So when these high flows wash them down stream they make room for other things like midge larva and black fly larva that provide good food, good forage for the Trout,” Knowles said.

Since 2012, high flow experiments have been conducted every year in the canyon, to replicate floods that occurred before the construction of Glen Canyon Dam. Despite the extra water being released, the flow won’t increase the total annual output of the dam, keeping Lake Powell’s level the same.