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Free Water Soon To Be Available On North, South Rims of Grand Canyon National Park


In a development that would be great to see replicated across the National Park System, particularly in its more arid corners, you'll soon be able to relatively easily refill your water bottles for free at Grand Canyon National Park.

Crews currently are installing nine water bottle filling stations in the park in a move that park officials say makes "access to free Grand Canyon spring water easier than ever before."

The fillings stations are currently being installed in high traffic areas on both rims of the park.  Six will be located on the South Rim:

* Hermits Rest (located near the other public amenities)

* Bright Angel and South Kaibab Trailheads

* Grand Canyon, Verkamp’s and Desert View Visitor Centers

The South Rim filling stations will all be equipped to provide year-round access to water; and it is anticipated that they will be completed by the end of March.

Three water bottle filling stations will be located on the North Rim:

* North Kaibab Trailhead

* North Rim Visitor Center

* North Rim Backcountry Office

These filling stations are expected to be completed by the time the North Rim opens for the summer season.

In addition to the NPS filling stations, Delaware North Companies’ Desert View and Canyon Village Marketplaces have recently installed their own in-store, water bottle filling stations.  The new filling stations augment the water already available from sinks and water fountains in buildings and facilities throughout the park. 

Some existing water fountains are also being equipped with bottle filling spigots.  All of the water available at sinks, faucets, water fountains and filling stations can be used to fill bottles free of charge and is pure Grand Canyon spring water from the park’s “approved public water supply,” located at Roaring Springs on the North Rim.

The new filling stations are part of a green initiative being implemented to encourage park visitors and residents to think about the environmental impacts of the choices they make every day, starting with the water they drink.

“The amount of litter associated with disposable water bottles has been increasing along park trails and walkways. It’s one of the major contributors of trash below the rim, and it’s currently estimated that disposable water bottles make up as much as 30 percent of the park’s solid waste stream," says Tim Jarrell, the park's chief of facilities management.

Park concessioners, retailers and cooperating association bookstores (Xanterra South Rim, LLC, Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts at Grand Canyon, Inc., Forever Resorts, L.L.C., and the Grand Canyon Association) are also assuring that reusable water bottles at a variety of price points are readily available in their facilities throughout the park.

“Grand Canyon National Park is a climate friendly park,” Deputy Superintendent Barclay Trimble said in a press release.  “…which means that park staff, partners, concessioners and stakeholders have made a commitment to take a leadership role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and educating the public about what they can do to reduce their impacts on the park.  By simply refilling a reusable water bottle, you can reduce litter in the park and plastics in the waste stream.  At the same time, you can enjoy Grand Canyon spring water and save money.  Our water is free to anyone who wants to refill their bottle.”


Great idea.  Zion already has at least one such station outside the old visitor center.

On the other hand, down at Hovenweep, there is a big water bottle dispensing machine just outside the VC entrance filled with plastic bottles.  There are a couple of signs thanking the bottling company for their generous support of Hovenweep.

A little contradiction that points out the dangers of corporate sponsorship within our park areas.

Arches has these at their entrance and also at the entrance to Devil's Garden. It was really great a couple of years ago when we ventured out in 102 F heat. At least we were able to stay hydrated.

I pick up sooo many plastic bottles on the trail.  I mean, they weigh a whole 1/8 of an ounce!
When they are in the middle of the trail, I might assume they were dropped accidently.  When they are cleverly hidden under a rock, I know it was deliberate.  I hope the water stations encourage re-use, or even (gasp) buying a real canteen!

How is this any different than installing a water fountain?  We let all the water fountains from my childhood fall into disrepair, and now we are putting them back with a different kind of tap.  Why not have both?

Probably the thinking is:  a hiker who is prepared comes with water (and food, and sunblock, and etc.) but the hikers who will get into trouble show up with nothing.  If there is a water station at the trailhead, he/she might think, "Oh, maybe I should take something to drink on my 15 mile round-trip, vertical mile down and out day hike that they told me not to attempt".  If they also have to walk a whole quarter of a mile to the lodge to find a water fountain, well, that's asking too much.

Also, existing fountains and faucets at the trailheads are turned off in winter.  If these can be left on year-round, that benefits the off-season hikers.

It's a nice notion but anyone who is already planning a serious assault doesn't really need them additional reminder to top off or convenience of having a station close at hand.  And those who don't plan ahead and educate themselves on exactly what they're getting themselves into you can't help anyway.  But as is said, it's better than nothing.

A follow-up report.  So far this summer I have never walked past one of the water filling stations without also seeing people standing in line to fill their bottles. 

A lot of the kids are impressed because it says "pure spring water".  And it is nice and cold!

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