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A Sacred Reunion: The Colorado River Returns to the Sea

After coursing through its delta for nearly eight weeks, the fresh waters of the Colorado River have touched the high tides of the salty sea. It is the first time in sixteen years that the Colorado River, which flows 1,450 miles (2,334 kilometers) from its headwaters in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado  to the Sea…

Landscapes Transform With the Arrival of the Colorado River

It’s a rare event to see a river literally form before your eyes. But each day that we ventured out to find the leading edge of the Colorado River as it advanced through its delta during this historic “pulse flow,” we were treated to exactly that phenomenon: a dry, sandy channel that hasn’t seen water…

Monitoring the Pulse of the Colorado River

Now in its 14th day, the historic pulse flow coursing through the Colorado River Delta toward the sea is under the careful watch of dozens of scientists who fan out across the landscape to measure and track its vital signs – from flow rates and salinity levels to seed dispersal by native cottonwoods and willows.…

A Colorado Delta Community Reconnects with its River

On Tuesday afternoon, March 25, 2014, word got out that the river was coming. Kids, parents, dogs and teenagers began gathering at the bridge in San Luis Rio Colorado, a border town of about 160,000 people. Young people had never seen the river that gives this town its name flow beneath the bridge. They waited. …

Witnesses to History at Morelos Dam on the Colorado River

A dozen dignitaries faced a crowd of more than two hundred gathered yesterday at Morelos Dam in the Mexican city of Los Algodones, Baja California, to proclaim the release of a “pulse flow” of Colorado River water to its dry delta a momentous occasion for both the river and binational relations. (See “Historic Pulse Flow…

This World Water Day, Something Big to Celebrate

On Monday, March 24, I leave on a trip to witness an event I never thought I’d see:  the Colorado River flowing through its delta toward the sea. Except in years of unusually high precipitation in its watershed, the Colorado hasn’t coursed through its delta for most of the last half century. Its entire flow…

Help Return the Colorado River to the Sea

Imagine if one day you couldn’t get home.  Your journey stopped short of where you were supposed to be. That’s the story of the iconic Colorado River, which sculpted the Grand Canyon and today sustains 30 million people, but now stops flowing 90 miles before reaching the sea, its final destination. With partners, Change the…

Scientists Plan for Grand Experiment in the Colorado River Delta

Once written off as dying of thirst and beyond revival, the delta of the Colorado River is slated to get a rejuvenating flood that for scientists offers a unique opportunity: the chance to study how plants, trees, birds, fisheries, and the vast delta ecosystem as a whole respond to an experimental pulse of river water.…

A Red List for Ecosystems: Will it Aid Conservation?

The most devastated ecosystem I’ve ever seen is the Aral Sea in Central Asia. Once the world’s fourth largest lake, the Aral spanned an area the size of Ireland. It harbored more than twenty species of fish, and its fishery sustained an annual catch of 44,000 tons and 60,000 jobs. Lush wetlands along the lake’s…

Once a Smelly Nuisance, Mexicali’s Wastewater Now Brings Life to the Colorado Delta

This post is part of a series on the Colorado River Delta. If there is one place that transforms wastewater from trouble-maker to life-saver it’s the site of Las Arenitas sewage treatment plant in the Mexican state of Baja California. There, nasty urban wastewater that once made a smelly health hazard of the New River near…

Locals Help Restore the Colorado Delta

This post is part of a series on the Colorado River Delta. The Colorado River Delta once boasted a million acres of lush cattail marshes and riverside forests of cottonwoods and willows.  But today, due to dams and diversions upstream, the river rarely flows through its delta anymore, and only ten percent of that verdant…

Bringing New Life to the Colorado Delta’s Fisheries

This post is part of a series on the Colorado River Delta. The Colorado River sustains more than 30 million people and vast areas of farmland.  But with no flow reaching the delta and the sea in most years, those last in line for the river in Mexico are suffering. For the fishing town of…

A Water Bank Helps Revive Colorado Delta Willows and Wetlands

This post is part of a series on the Colorado River Delta. In the delta community of Miguel Alemán, situated along the Colorado River corridor that forms the border between Mexico and Arizona, we arrive at an unlikely enterprise in this parched environment: a tree nursery. A few thousand cuttings of willow, mesquite, and cottonwoods…

Returning the Colorado River to the Sea

This post is part of a series on the Colorado River Delta. Once teeming with life and spanning some two million acres, the delta of the Colorado River ranked among the planet’s greatest desert deltas. But more than half a century of damming and diverting the river’s flow to supply the burgeoning farms and cities…

Colorado River Delta Restoration Is Ken Salazar’s Keystone Water Achievement

Departing Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar shared a few thoughts at his exit ceremony about the keystone accomplishments of his four years and three months in office, and called out restoration of the Colorado River Delta as his signature achievement in water management (see our ongoing series on the delta): “The fourth keystone I spoke…