Officials are in the process of a four-day, controlled experiment that started on November 5, 2018. The flood, which was started by opening the Glen Canyon Dam through a bypass tube will continue until November 9th.
The reason for this experiment is so that the sediment and sand will be pushed down the Colorado River. The flood simulates the natural flow of the river, which will peak at 38,100 cubic feet per second. When the dam is activated, the water flow fluctuates between 8,000 and 25,000 cubic feet per second.
Fortunately, the flood will not be a waste of all that precious water. In fact, the opposite effect will occur. The water will find a home in Lake Mead. This lake is responsible for providing water to millions of people throughout Arizona, Nevada, California, and Mexico.
Unfortunately, since the dam was constructed, most of the sand and sediment is stuck upstream. Ninety percent of the natural particles that were once found in the river now reside in Lake Powell. There is not much that researchers or the National Park Service can do about most of the lost sediment. However, the controlled floods help to reintroduce the particles, at least partly, back to the Colorado River.
The controlled floods are a big deal that takes a good amount of planning. Yet, these floods are only about half the magnitude of pre-dam floods. In addition to returning a portion of sand and sediment, the floods also serve to release built up the pressure. Runoff from the Rocky Mountains and other raising water conditions contribute to the pressure buildup. By controlling the floods, researchers can prepare for the timing. Plus, the controlled floods cut the timeframe of the flood down from weeks to days.
This ensures that people and property remain unharmed by the flood. Plus, due to the dam being built, vegetation has returned to the banks of the river. Even though the controlled floods, the vegetation remains vigilant.
However, there are certain people who believe that anything these, “tiny floods” accomplish is not worth the drain on hydropower. Critics believe that the Band-Aid that is the tiny floods are not helping the issue. Although, for now, this is the best solution that officials have, to preserve the safety and sanctity of the area.