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Tag archives for Colorado River Delta

Nature Responds to Colorado River Delta Pulse Flow

The Colorado River has been flowing in its delta for more than three weeks, thanks to a cooperative effort by the United States and Mexico to deliver a “pulse flow” of water. The pulse flow is meant to mimic – albeit at a small scale – the spring floods that historically inundated the delta and…

Update From Colorado River Delta: A Community Gets its River Back

For more than two weeks, the Colorado River has been flowing in its delta, through more than 30 miles (48 kilometers) of recently bone-dry river channel choked with desert scrub.  The flow is all too brief, lasting only eight weeks in all.  The United States and Mexico are demonstrating how a “pulse flow” of water…

Will the Colorado River Delta Pulse Flow Make it to the Sea?

One of the big unknowns of the pulse flow of water currently working its way down the channel of the Colorado River in its delta is whether that water will reach the sea.  The mouth of the Colorado River drained historically into the Upper Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez), a unique body of water…

Chasing the Historic “Pulse Flow” Through the Colorado River Delta

For one week now, the Colorado River has been flowing into its delta.  It’s the first ever deliberate release of water here to benefit the environment. That the river is flowing again in its delta is somewhat astounding, all the more remarkable because it’s happening as the result of cooperation between the United States and…

Water Flows Into Colorado River Delta in Historic First

Sunday March 23, 2014, at a little after 8 am, the gates at Morelos Dam on the Mexico-Arizona border were opened for the first time in history for the purpose of allowing the Colorado River to flow downstream into its delta to water the plants and animals that live there.  A crowd of more than…

The U.S. and Mexico Partner to Save the Colorado River Delta

Since 1960, the Colorado River has not flowed regularly to the sea. While pockets of green remain, the Colorado in its delta is a parched river begging for relief. The dry, sandy channel glares in the bright sun, abandoned by the river that has been overtapped and overworked for too long. It’s hard not to think of the…

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell Honors U.S.-Mexico Colorado River Agreement

Sally Jewell, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior, took time today to recognize the heroic efforts of U.S. and Mexican citizens who spent years together negotiating a new Colorado River agreement between the two nations.  Jewell noted that “ecosystems know no borders” and acknowledged the importance of cooperation when addressing the challenge of caring…

The Missing Colorado River Delta: Rivers, Borders, and Maps

Water flows downhill, and you wouldn’t think that rivers would stop for political boundaries, not even when national borders intersect a river channel’s natural course.  The Mekong flows through China, Laos, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia before it drains into the South China Sea.  The Nile watershed includes Ethiopia, Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan, and Egypt,…

Colorado River, Meet the Sea

This post is part of a series on the Colorado River Delta. Walking the mudflats of the Colorado River Delta in northwestern Mexico, my feet touch silt and sediment that originated in the U.S. Rocky Mountains, hitchhiked with floodwaters through the Grand Canyon, and then, over the millennia, settled out here as the river slowed…

Wade Davis on Loss in the Colorado River Delta

Man always kills the things he loves, and so we the pioneers, have killed our wilderness. Some say we had to. Be that as it may. I am glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in. Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?

—Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, 1949

In 1922, having completed work on the first comprehensive management plan for the Grand Canyon, Aldo Leopold, along with his younger brother, set out by canoe to explore the mouth of the mighty Colorado. At the time the main flow of the Colorado reached the sea, carrying with it each year millions of tons of silt and sand and so much fresh water that the river’s influence extended some forty miles into the Gulf of California.

The alluvial fan of the delta spread across two million acres, well over three thousand square miles, a vast riparian and tidal wetland the size of the state of Rhode Island. It was one of the largest desert estuaries on earth. Off shore, nutrients brought down by the river supported an astonishingly rich fishery for bagre and corvina, dolphins, and the rare and elusive vaquita porpoise, the world’s smallest marine cetacean. At the top of the food chain was the totoaba, an enormous relative of the white sea bass that grew to three hundred pounds, spawned in the brackish waters of the estuary and swarmed in the Sea of Cortez in such abundance that even fishermen blinded in old age, it was said, had no difficulty striking home their harpoons.

The United States and Mexico Can Restore the Colorado River Delta

  Since 1960, when the gates were closed on the newly built Glen Canyon Dam, the Colorado River has only rarely flowed to the sea, and the river’s delta started to fade.  Water users in the United States saw Lake Powell, the reservoir behind the dam, as a bounty for booming cities in the desert. …