A noteworthy event not getting much media attention in parched Western states dependent on Colorado River for water is the release --- which started March 23 --- of that river’s output through Mexico’s Morelos Dam, near Yuma, Ariz. That water is now gushing southward from the U.S. border toward the Gulf of California, observes Grumpy Editor.
As an Associated Press story puts it: “Conservationists hope the water will bring back trees, wildlife and aquatic life that were once abundant in the region when it was teeming with water decades ago.”
With recent, heavily-played stories on how the Colorado River flow ---along with a lower water level at Lake Mead near Las Vegas --- is ebbing and residents of the seven dependent “dry” states, including California, Nevada and Arizona, being told to be frugal with water usage, one wonders about the timing of the release, or "pulse," of water that started a week ago, reaching its peak Thursday when water rushed through the south-of-the-border dam at about 4,200 cubic-feet per second.
A Las Vegas Sun story on the Web yesterday paints a glum future of Lake Mead, fed by the Colorado River. “Lake Mead is drying up. At the rate we use water in the valley, the reservoir — the largest in the country --- could be drained and arid by 2050,” reads the lead.
Earlier, a New York Times story in January focuses on the 1,450-mile Colorado River “being sapped by 14 years of drought nearly unrivaled in 1,250 years” with the writer adding, “many experts believe the current drought is only the harbinger of a new, drier era in which the Colorado’s flow will be substantially and permanently diminished.”
The current water release, expected to last until May 18 into Mexico, stems from an addendum to a 1944 treaty that defines how the U.S. and Mexico share the Colorado River. The addendum calls for a five-year pilot program to provide a total of 158,088 acre-feet of water to the lower river and its delta.
South of Morelos Dam, the water channel travels about 75 miles to the Gulf of California.
The fresh release of Colorado River water into Mexico triggers an excited Los Angeles Times writer to report, “The water experiment has gone so well that it's spilling over banks and into secondary canals. The seeds of willows and cottonwoods, which rain down this time of year, have been riding the currents. Normally, they would just collect in the arid riverbed.”
The writer concludes: “After the release ends, experts from both countries will study its effects. Will water be left standing or will it be absorbed into the soil? No one knows.”
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