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Posts Tagged ‘Morelos Dam’

By KEVAN WILLIAMS

2013 aerial view of Morelos Dam in the Colorado River with Mexico in the background. Photo:  Bureau of Reclamation

A 2013 aerial view of the Morelos Dam on the Colorado River. Mexico is in the background. Photo: Bureau of Reclamation.

The once expansive and vibrant Colorado River Delta has been dry for a long time. Most of the river’s water is currently captured and siphoned off at numerous upstream dams, leaving empty riverbeds and dry land where once there was a vast estuary. But as part of an agreement between the United States and Mexico known as “Minute 319,” a spring pulse flow has returned the dry Lower Colorado River to life, at least temporarily. The pulse flow is an artificial release of water from upstream dams, designed to mimic the sustained high flows of a snow melt or significant rainfall. More than 100,000 acre-feet of water is now moving down the old river channel, making steady progress toward the sea.

Although occasional high flows have washed down the river, for many decades it’s been largely dry, with devastating ecological consequences. Invasive plants such as tamarisk (also known as salt cedar) have been creeping into the region, taking advantage of changing conditions, and native species have struggled to hold on.

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