COMPOSTING RESTROOMS IN LOWER GRAND CANYON ON THE HUALAPAI RESERVATION
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Project description: We propose to construct
two composting restrooms similar to the Spencer Beach restroom at remote
tourist destinations along the Colorado River in Grand Canyon on the
Hualapai Reservation to prevent fecal coliform and E. coli
contamination of the river. We will also monitor water quality and
provide public information in the form of signs and flyers.
I. Expected Outcomes and Anticipated
Reduction of Pollution.
We expect to significantly reduce fecal coliform and E. coli pollution to the Colorado River through
construction of two composting restrooms, one at the helipad and one at
the boat dock tourist destinations on the Colorado River in lower Grand
Canyon at river mile 261.5 left (Figures 1, 2, 3 and 3a). Evidence
of our success will come from water quality monitoring of the Colorado
River at the site with reference controls upstream. Furthermore,
evidence that the facilities are being used will show that the project is
successful. In addition, we will inspect the surroundings of the
site for evidence of the deposition of human waste prior to, and
following, construction of the restrooms. All human waste will be
removed from the site prior to construction of the restrooms.
The Hualapai Tribe’s Draft
Lower Grand Canyon River Corridor Management Plan calls for the
installation of restroom facilities at the two sites described here to
prevent pollution to the reservation and the Colorado River. The
project proposed here would satisfy that need. The Hualapai Tribe
committed to providing maintenance of the Spencer Beach facility and would
likely fund similar services to the new facilities.
II. Method of Approach.
Water Quality Issue:
In 1998, the Hualapai Department of Natural Resources began
documenting fecal coliform pollution at Spencer Beach on the Colorado
River in lower Grand Canyon resulting from human waste deposited there.
Fortunately, ADEQ funded a project to construct a composting restroom
there to alleviate the problem. Since that time, no human waste
has been deposited at Spencer Beach and the facility is working as
A similar situation now exists at the helipad and boat dock tourist
destinations below Quartermaster Canyon on the Colorado River.
Several helicopter tour companies have negotiated with the tribe to land adjacent to the
river and allow their clients to enjoy refreshments while taking in the
splendor of Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon Resort Corporation (in
charge of monitoring visitor information for the destination) estimates
that, on average, 350 people per day visit the helipad and boat dock
site adjacent to the Colorado River in lower Grand Canyon. In addition,
a boat-tour company has three pontoon boats moored on the river at that
location and gives 30 minute boat rides to tourists that are flown in by
helicopter. The helipad area and boat dock with its helipad are
separated by one-quarter of a mile by impassable terrain (that is why we
are requesting to build two facilities; Figure 2). Furthermore,
Hualapai River Runner clients (approximately 50-125 per day) end their
raft trip at the boat dock site where they are flown to Grand Canyon
West and then bussed back to Peach Springs. After a full day on
the river, many could likely be in need of restroom facilities.
Unfortunately, there are no restroom facilities for the tourists to use
if needed. Consequently, the vegetation adjacent to the sites is
littered with human waste and toilet paper. When it rains, or when
the level of Lake Mead rises, this waste is washed into the Colorado
River thereby impairing the river.
Our plan is to construct two composting restrooms, one at each of these
tourist destinations to prevent the deposition of human waste there.
These facilities will be similar
to the one built at Spencer Beach with a rotating
carousel in which the waste composts with assistance from solar heating.
To monitor the success of the project, we will monitor water quality
downstream of the site and at control sites upstream. Our specific water
quality goals are to eliminate fecal coliform and E. coli
contamination of the Colorado River by runoff from the sites.
The exact locations of the
facilities will be determined through the National Environmental Policy
Act compliance process (preparation of an Environmental Assessment) and
through scoping of issues and concerns with ADEQ (potential site visit),
the tribe’s Interdisciplinary Team (IDT) and the Tribal Environmental
We propose to monitor water quality (fecal coliform and
E. coli presence) of the Colorado River just below the helipad
and boat dock sites on a quarterly basis, and immediately after
significant precipitation events (winter storms and summer monsoon
rains). In addition, we will concomitantly sample water upstream
from the sites as controls. Prior to, and during, construction of
the facilities, we will also monitor water quality on a weekly basis to
establish baseline data for comparisons to data collected after the
construction is complete.
Our goal is to achieve zero fecal coliform
contamination after two years.
Public Outreach and
In addition to preparing and placing signs
on the restroom facilities that describe the goals of the project,
we will prepare educational flyers that the helicopter companies will
give to each of their clients to make them aware of the facilities.
These flyers will be in English, German, Japanese and Chinese.
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