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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Restoring a Delta

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Thursday, March 27, 2014/Categories: photography, sustainability, environment

For the first time in nearly a century, water is flowing into the delta of the Colorado River. The famous ecologist, Aldo Leopold, called the region "a hundred green lagoons” when he visited it in the early 1920's. The hope is that the log dry river will be restored to a level of ecological productivity.

Under a pioneering agreement between the United States and Mexico brokered by the river conservation group,  Save the Colorado , a deal was struck allowing "pulses" of water to be released from the Morelos Dam on the border. The water would again flow into what used to be one of the most productive wetland ecosystems in North America. Water diversions for agricultural and urban uses turned the lush delta, that once supported myriad species of wildlife and birds, into a weed covered dust bowl.

A satellite image shows the contrast between the two sides of the shared border and the river that crossed it for millions of years.

US-Mexico Border adn Colorado River Dam  (credit: NASA)

The first release from the dam occurred last week. Prior to dams on the Colorado River, over 15 million acre-feet of water flowed down the river into the Gulf of California each year. The first releae over eight weeks will release approximately 100,000 acre-feet of water into the arid delta landscape. It is hoped that this will be enough to trigger dramatic ecosystem changes downstream.

Stay tuned for updates on the progress of delta restoration. This is a test of how to sustainably manage natural resources, particularly water, for long term benefit. It deserves everyone's support.


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