From a Raft in the Grand Canyon, the West’s Shifting Water Woes Come Into View

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Sunday, August 8, 2021

Floating in the bottom of the Grand Canyon last spring, I was traveling back in time in more ways than one. In a narrow section, where the Colorado River runs deep and quiet, Vishnu schist offers a window onto the world as it was here 1.7 billion years ago, give or take a couple of hundred million years. Little about the redrock walls seems different from when I first marveled at the scenery as I rafted past many years ago. But for the water that carries travelers through the national park, the changes have been dramatic even though they’ve occurred over just 31 years and barely amount to a tick in geologic time. It used to be that the big problem was managing so much water on the Colorado.

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