Glen Canyon Dam releases flood waters in massive experiment

An extraordinary experiment got underway this past weekend, as four large valves at the base of Glen Canyon Dam in northern Arizona were cranked open to release up to 41,000 cubic feet of water a second. Scientists hope that the water will push sand, silt, and sediment downstream to rebuild beaches and sandbars along the Colorado River as it runs through the Grand Canyon. Said beaches and sandbars play a crucial role in the ecosystem, sheltering a number of species that have declined or disappeared since the dam was built in 1963 and Lake Powell filled up behind it, halting the flow of more than 90 percent of the sediment downriver. The $3.5 million experiment, involving more than a dozen groups and government agencies and more than 50 scientists, is being conducted because the feds are, by law, required to do all they can to preserve the Grand Canyon ecosystem. Except, you know, not build a monstrous dam that cuts off water flow to it.