High flow experiment aims to restore Colorado River sandbars

The Grand Canyon and Colorado River
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April 26, 2023 — The Bureau of Reclamation has initiated a high flow experiment Opens in a new tab.to rejuvenate sand dunes along sections of the Colorado River near the Grand Canyon. Water was released from the Glen Canyon Dam at four to five times the standard rate, causing a 72-hour flood of the river before returning to regular flow.

The experiment aims to transport sediment from the Paria River to beaches and sandbars in Marble Canyon and the eastern Grand Canyon, restoring the Colorado River corridor within the eastern Grand Canyon National Park. Lake Powell’s water level will decrease by approximately 4.5 feet, while Lake Mead’s level will rise by around 4 feet by the end of May. However, Lake Mead’s total water intake will remain consistent with the previous year.

The release is designed to create more camping-friendly sandbars and supply sand to protect archaeological sites in the eastern Grand Canyon. Officials deemed the hydrological conditions and high sediment loads suitable for the release, marking the first such experiment since November 2018.

During the experiment, some riverside campsites may be unreachable due to elevated water levels. National Park Service officials have cautioned river users about potential changes in the river’s behavior around rapids. The Bureau of Reclamation will reduce the outflow tomorrow morning, with river flows expected to return to normal levels by tomorrow night.


Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

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