Celebrating the Water Flowing in the Delta: The travelogue continues

It’s been a little while since our last update on water deliveries flowing in the Colorado River Delta! Back on May 1, the governments of Mexico and the United States began delivering water specifically for the environment of the Colorado River Delta. This travelogue shows how the water continues to travel on its way to meet the sea, re-hydrating the soil, seeds, plants, animals and communities along its way. Let’s get up to speed!

Kids playing in the flowing Colorado River at Vado Carranza in the Mexicali Valley. July 2021.
Kids playing in the flowing Colorado River at Vado Carranza in the Mexicali Valley. Summer 2021.

May 13, 2021

The river continues to fill Vado Carranza, that spot by the road where a lot of families continue to gather on weekends to picnic, grill, swim and relax. We saw something that we could not be missed—families connecting with nature. Generations enjoying the water together. Wherever there is water there is life.

To keep the place clean and safe, some large metal trashcans were installed. And guess what? They were stolen. Keeping trash out of the river will help keep people and the environment healthier. Please help by packing out your trash and chipping in to clean what others left behind.

May 15, 2021

The science team has been out on the field since before sunrise following the water by foot through the desert and by air with a drone. Scientists, including Sonoran Institute scientists, are courageous, dedicated and never stop looking for ways to reach an important goal: to connect the river and the sea.

Staff walking the path of the water to come.

Historically, this part of the Colorado River branched off in many smaller streams and rivulets, creating braided paths and forming lagoons. Because of this unique geography, when the river dried out the sandy soil shifted easily or was blown around by the wind blocking the flow of future streams.

A channel of water is seen between two berms of earth with vegetation visible in the background. The sky is blue and clear.
The clear path for the river is now flowing with water.

A few days earlier our engineering team dredged some of the original river channel in preparation for the water deliveries. We selected promising paths where the river used to flow and dug out the sand, silt, and debris that would block the path to reach the estuary. On May 15, the water reached this section. As the water rushed in, our team witnessed small fish, a type of shad, swimming right at the front of the brand-new flow. Drop by drop, the crispy, dry channel started coming back to life. The team that worked so hard could see the change happening before their eyes.

Guadalupe finds the drone.

At almost 5:00 PM it’s more than 100°F and the team is a few miles from the truck. Just as the adventure should be ending for the day, the signal to the drone drops as it is flying back to Angela, the pilot and GIS coordinator. The drone disappears, landing in the middle of nowhere—out of sight. Angela and Guadalupe, the field supervisor, set out on foot sweeping the area for miles. Just as the sun is setting they find it! What a day! At last, they walk back to the truck.

June 4, 2021

The Cucapá are the people of the river, people of the Colorado River.

In México, they now only live in a few sparse communities around the Colorado River Delta, and out team is lucky enough to know some of its members. This time we met with Antonia Torres González, daughter of the late Inocencia González Sainz, one of the last Cucapá who spoke the language.

A woman in traditional Cucapá dress and young man stand near a body of water. The brown dirt is visible through the clear water and trees are in the background. Antonia Torres and son, Jaziel, visit the flowing Colorado River. June 2021.
Antonia Torres and son, Jaziel, visit the flowing Colorado River. June 2021.

Antonia and her son, Jaziel, met with our communications team at Vado Carranza to talk about the importance of the river for their community. Do you know the feeling when you see a long-lost cousin? That is what Antonia felt when she saw water in the river again. The water and the river is like a family member whom they care for and love.

Antonia told the team that she grew up seeing the river die and now that she is getting older, she is seeing the river come back to life. Good thing it was hot out and our team was sweaty, so you could not tell our tears from sweat. We felt joyous sharing the experience of the river coming back to life, and glad to be here to see it.

Antonia Torres stands next to the flowing Colorado River, June 2021.

Esta publicación de blog está disponible en español: Crónica 2: Celebrando los flujos de agua en el delta

There are three parts to this story. This is part 2.
Part 1: Spring Flows are Headed to the Sea: A travelogue
Part 3: Water is on the Way: The travelogue completes

Blog Post By: Gabriela González, Environmental Education and Research Coordinator and Corinne Matesich, Marketing Communications Manager