The U.S. and Mexico will cooperate later this month on a pilot project to release water from the Colorado River into its parched delta in Mexico’s northwestern Baja California state.
Water hasn’t flowed regularly in the once-lush delta since 1960.
Starting March 23, 105,000 acre-feet, which is just under 1 percent of the annual average flow of the Colorado River, will be released from the Morelos Dam, which straddles the U.S.-Mexico border near Yuma, Ariz.
Environmental groups on both sides of the border are heralding the project as historic, said Jennifer Pitt, director of the Environmental Defense Fund’s Colorado River Project.
“This is a unique agreement between countries, in that no where else in a treaty do you have two countries agreeing to deliver water specifically for the purpose of the environment and environmental benefit," Pitt said.
Scientists from both countries will measure the environmental impact of the water’s release, which is expected to restore plant and animal life to the delta.
Mitch Basefsky, spokesperson for the Central Arizona Project, said his organization supports the project, which will not affect CAP water supply.
“The CAP system has much more water than we need in order to meet the demands of all of the cities that rely on our water," he said.
Water will flow from Morelos Dam into the delta for an expected eight weeks.