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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.

Composting Restroom, Spencer Canyon Beach, non-point source pollution prevention, 
      Grand Canyon, dnr


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.    

  1. 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 planned. 

    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.


  3. Action Plan:

    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 Review Committee.


  5. Monitoring Activities:

    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.


  7. Public Outreach and Education:

    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.

Please click here to read final report

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