Grand Canyon National Park

State: Arizona

The fragility of Grand Canyon's seeps and springs epitomizes the water issues sprinkling the arid landscape of the Greater Grand Canyon region. A good portion of the Colorado Plateau receives less than 10 inches of rainfall per year. This number is expected to drop even further as climate change continues to affect weather patterns.

Uranium mining also threatens to deplete and contaminate aquifers that discharge into Grand Canyon National Park and the Colorado River. As a result of past mining, the National Park Service now warns against drinking from several creeks in the canyon exhibiting elevated uranium levels.

Water levels in the Colorado River, the force that created the canyon, are also a concern. This desert river is the primary source of water for more than 30 million people in California, Arizona and Nevada - including Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, Los Angeles and San Diego. However, the dams that make that possible have profoundly changed the flows, sediment dynamics, and the water temperature of the river through the canyon. This has substantially altered the natural condition of the Grand Canyon, and threatens native species and hundreds of archeological sites.

In 2012, the Wilderness Society, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, and the Center for Biological Diversity submitted a Proposal for National Monument Designation of the Grand Canyon Watershed to the BLM. The proposal covers about 1.7 million acres, 7000 of which are held privately. The land also contains four federal endangered species, 3000 archaeological sites, and nearly 300,000 acres of Ponderosa Pine forest.