May 13, 2014

Pulse Flow on CO River Delta in Final Days

105K acre feet, under 1% of annual average flow, has been released into delta; much smaller base flow will continue to deliver water to restoration sites over next 4 years.

CO Delta flow spot A "pulse flow," the first stage of a pilot project to bring life back to the Colorado River delta, flooded parts of the delta in Mexico’s Baja California state in 2014. (PHOTO: Vanessa Barchfield, AZPM)

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The first stage of a pilot project to bring life back to the Colorado River delta will come to a close this weekend.

For the past two months, the pulse flow has been flooding parts of the delta in Mexico’s Baja California state.

Water hasn’t flowed regularly in the once-lush delta since 1960. Environmental groups say the drying up of the delta has had a disastrous impact on the region’s ecosystem and the economic livelihood of communities that relied on the water.

A team of environmental groups and academics has been closely monitoring the impact that a flow of water is having on the desiccated region.

The Sonoran Institute’s Francisco Zamora Arroyo said the teams have already observed the return of birds that once flourished in the delta and the establishment of native tree seedlings – though both were expected outcomes.

“The next level in terms of what I call next level of success was the expectation that water will reach the lower portion of the river," he said. "And it has and so for us, for many groups that have been working here in the delta, it’s very exciting to see water reaching the lower portion of the river.”

The pulse flow has released 105,000-acre feet, just under 1 percent of the annual average flow of the Colorado River, into the delta. Though it ends on Sunday, a much smaller base flow will continue to deliver water to restorations sites in the delta over the next four years.

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