The policy was put into place after a careful assessment of the impact on both visitors and the environment, as well as vendors. The Grand Canyon has a number of outdoor activities in a hot, dry climate and proper hydration is important for visitor safety and health.
Garbage in the Grand Canyon
Disposable plastic bottles make up about 20% of the waste stream at the Grand Canyon and about 30% of the park’s recyclables. Plastic bottles have increasingly gotten stuck in unreachable areas along the canyon, destroying many of the lovely views that people travel to see.
Last year, Grand Canyon park officials planned to stop the sale of bottled water in the park in order to reduce the amount of time and money spent cleaning up the park. Coca-Cola and other vendors asked the park service to reconsider the ban, but were ultimately overruled.
Visitors to the Grand Canyon will still be able to bring their own bottles with them, but the new policy should significantly reduce the amount of garbage in the park. Less garbage will mean lower costs for trash removal. Staff will be able to spend more time improving the park and talking to guests, rather than picking up after visitors.
Reusable Bottles and Free Water Filling Stations
The gift shops at the Grand Canyon National Park sell reusable, souvenir water bottles for $1.99 each and several water bottle filling stations have been installed in high traffic areas of the park. People can also bring their own reusable water bottles and fill them at the filling stations.
The filling stations provide Grand Canyon spring water. They are free to use and have water available year-round.
Bottled Water Bans in Other National Parks?
Bottled water bans in other national parks is a possibility, though not any time soon. A new National Park Service policy says that a park must complete a rigorous impact analysis including an assessment of the effects on visitor health and safety.
The National Park Service policy requires a park to recycle and reduce the amount of plastic bottle garbage through visitor education. Free water must be readily available to park visitors before the bottled water ban can be considered.
Grand Canyon waterfall photo via Shutterstock