Transcanyon Water System
Serving 3 Million Park Visitors per YearHistory
Indian Gardens—former site of Havasupai
farms. Year round availability of water from
Garden Creek made this the first inner canyon
source of water for the South Rim. Environmental
impact was lessened with this project
by burying the pipeline, building the pump
station out of native materials, and removing
the arial tramway that brought personnel and
supplies into the canyon. Completion of the
Indian Gardens Pump Station meant that water
did not have to be hauled by rail to the park.
Water is a precious commodity on the Grand
Canyon's South Rim. Kaibab limestone, the
rock which forms the canyon rim, is highly
permeable and allows most of the snow and
rain that falls to quickly penetrate below the
ground. Tilt of the land is away from the rim.
As a result, surface water and below rim
springs are scarce.
Water needs of the few visitors who made it
to the park prior to 1901 were supplied by low-
yield wells. With the arrivl of the railroad and
increased visitation, these small wells proved
to be inadequate. In 1901, water began to
arrive by rail. Through the early 1930's, nearly
all of the South Rim's requirements were met
by shipping water in tank cars.
In 1926, the National Park Service
constructed a recycling plant for reclaiming
waste water for irrigation and other utility
Annual visitation exceeded 100,000 by the
1930's. Water delivery by rail became an
increasingly difficult and expensive solution.
Recycling could only stretch supplies so far.
Other sources were clearly needed. The pump
station at Indian Gardens, built in 1932,
supplied the South Rim with water taken from
Garden Creek. Rail delivery ceased until
demands could not be met by this pipeline
Development of a system to utilize water
available from the North Rim of the Grand
Canyon began in the 1960's. During this
construction phase, water supply was
supplemented with rail delivery. The Trans-
canyon Water System was completed in 1970.
Increasing visitation to the South Rim created
water demands in excess of the existing
system's ability to provide reliable service. A
new water pipeline routed west of Yavapai
Museum was constructed in 1985.
The complex system which has evolved to
serve the water needs of the South Rime of the
Grand Canyon is diagrammed to the right.