Water is returning to the Delta.
With it – life and hope.
When we started this program nearly 20 years ago, our goals were audacious. We hoped to: Restore the Delta’s habitats through on-the-ground projects; Renew hope and the environment for this dying ecosystem by promoting community engagement and long-term stewardship; and Reconnect the Colorado River to the Sea. And now, this has become a reality.
In the spring of 2014, more than 100,000 acre-feet of water surged through the gates of the Morelos Dam at the U.S.-Mexico border. For the first time in a decade, the river flowed through the Delta, reaching the Upper Gulf of California in mid-May 2014. This monumental event (which at one point, seemed impossible) is breathing new life into the Delta region. The Sonoran Institute is proud to be a leader of this impactful program. We theorized that sending a surge of water down the Colorado for the first time in decades would allow nature to take over and spur natural germination of native species like cottonwoods, willows and mesquite. And it turns out, we were right.
Since the pulse, there has been a nearly 25% increase in plant growth, reversing a decade of decline. With new plants have come more and different kinds of river-dependent birds, good news for both the Delta’s environment and the ecotourism industry.
While very positive overall, the results show that the Delta still needs our help. With the help of bulldozers and other equipment, we’ve been able to tear out the invasive plant growth that is choking the riverbed. Areas we cleared ahead of the pulse had much higher germination success than those left alone. But progress is clear, and so is hope for more water: the Colorado River Delta Water Trust remains on track to meet its water delivery goals under Minute 319.
Witness the impact of the pulse flow in this amazing video narrated by Robert Redford.