A River Reunited: The Colorado River Flows to the Sea

May 14, 2014
Chandler Clay, 202-572-3312, cclay@edf.org

The Colorado River is expected to reunite with the sea – a destination it hasn’t seen in many years – thanks to the “pulse flow.”

Scientists monitoring the flow expect the two waters to meet during high tide tomorrow, May 15, 2014. It will be the first time that water from the Colorado River has completed its journey to the Upper Gulf of California since 1998.

“It is invigorating to know that water from the Colorado River will reach its natural end,” said Jennifer Pitt, Colorado River Project Director at Environmental Defense Fund. “We’ve been missing that connection for a long time.”

“The prospect of the river completing its journey and reconnecting with the sea signals that, if only briefly, a fundamental disruption of nature has been made whole again,” Pitt added.

The pulse flow was made possible by Minute 319, an exemplary water-sharing agreement between the United States and Mexico to provide multiple benefits for water users on both sides of the border. In addition to the pulse flow, the policy framework more broadly allows the U.S. and Mexico to share surpluses in times of plenty and reductions in times of drought, provides incentives for leaving water in storage, and conserves water through joint investments in projects from water users in both countries.

“The pulse flow goes beyond the Colorado River Delta,” Pitt said. “It represents a model for dealing with a changing climate in water stressed regions globally.”

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