At the busiest part of the Grand Canyon, the South Rim, site to millions of tourists every year, water sometimes is a little hard to come by.
Restaurants rely on paper goods so they don’t have to wash dishes. They don’t serve glasses of water unless asked. Hotels switch to low-water cleaning methods for their rooms.
The desert isn’t the problem—it is the pumps, and it has been for years. At least as far back as the 1990s the park’s water pumps have failed 10 to 12 times a year, with each outage costing $15,000 to repair. The problem is still outstanding, and the park hasn’t had the money needed to fix it, now estimated to be $52 million, according to the National Park Service.
After years in which billions worth of undone maintenance like this backed up across the National Parks system, President Trump signed a bill into law Tuesday that guarantees investment larger than anything the national parks have received in decades, park advocates say. It is the culmination of a decadeslong push from conservationists that had only limited success under prior Democratic and Republican administrations.
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