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Colorado River reconnects with Sea of Cortez

The barren delta has seen inconsistent water flow for the last 50 years.
By Brooks Hays   |   May 16, 2014 at 1:42 PM   |   Comments

SONORA, Mexico, May 16 (UPI) -- The Colorado River Delta once again features flowing water, as the river and Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez, became reconnected after 16 years of separation.

The river was reinvigorated by an experimental flood of water released earlier this spring from the Morelos Dam just south of where California, Arizona and Mexico meet. The experiment, called a "pulse flow," slowly sent water traveling down more 100 miles of barren delta.

The dam release came after many years of lobbying by environmental groups. The dried-up delta has seen inconsistent water flow for the last 50 years. Conservationists hope the Colorado River's reconnection with the Sea of Cortez will spur new tree growth, restore habitat, and encourage birds and other wildlife to return to area.

"I think it's more important to us as human beings and our sense of what is right for our river, then it is in terms of a particular ecological goal that I could express to you," Jennifer Pitt, of the Environmental Defense Fund, told local radio station KJZZ.

Much of the West, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, is heavily reliant on the Colorado for its drinking water. But so are the Mexican states of Baja California and Sonora -- states that have seen very little of a once mighty river.

The latest pulse flow, at least momentarily, has altered that reality. Yesterday, children in San Luis Rio Colorado, a small town of Sonora, could be seen frolicking in the returning water.

"Maybe the more immediate impact was the story of the communities coming back to their river which had been missing for so long, and kids coming to see the river that they have never seen before," Pitt added.

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