Colorado River Reunites With Sea

Experiment restores natural path for first time in years

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted May 20, 2014 5:43 PM CDT | Updated May 24, 2014 7:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Colorado River has been reunited with an old friend—the sea. Thanks to an agreement between the US and Mexico, water from the river has reached the Sea of Cortez in northwestern Mexico for the first time since either 1998 (according to National Geographic) or 1993 (according to AP). Either way, it's been a long time, and conservationists hope last week's milestone becomes a regular occurrence. The water was released in March from the Morelos Dam near the US-Mexico border, and it took about 8 weeks to complete the journey to the sea.

The idea is to restore life to the Colorado River delta, which has pretty much dried up since the advent of the big-dam era. In fact, the experiment is the first time water from the river has been diverted solely for environmental purposes, reports Arizona Public Media. While the initial "pulse flow" is now shut off, smaller amounts of water will be released to the delta over the next few years, and conservationists think it can revive the dormant habitat. (They've been busy planting trees, timed to germinate with the water's release.) "It is sort of overwhelming, and I think it sheds light on a sort of global interest in the Colorado River completing that journey again," says Jennifer Pitt of the Environmental Defense Fund's Colorado River Project. (In other water-related news, scientists have found an underwater "graveyard.")

The Colorado River winds through Arizona.   (Shutterstock)
This April 14, 2013 photo shows a kayak in the Black Canyon on the Arizona side of the Colorado River.   (AP Photo/Karen Schwartz))
This April 13, 2013 photo shows the Colorado River snaking through the Black Canyon near Boulder City, Nev.   (AP Photo/Karen Schwartz)
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