The Colorado River runs through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California in the USA and continues into Mexico in South America. For many years there was enough water flowing down this channel to cause flooding to the surrounding areas. However, the restructure of this river throughout the years, has meant that very little water actually flows down the southern parts of this river. This is about to change. On 23rd March of this year, surrounding states and also Mexico will join efforts to replenish the water supply in the area and bring life back to the banks of the Colorado River.
At over 2000km in length, the Colorado River is the largest river in the west of the USA. Over the years, many man-made changes have taken place along its route, including the building of the Hoover , Parker and Davis Dams in North America, and the Morelos Dam in South America. These important structures will be used to help replenish the water supply, which will hopefully allow the water from the river to finally reach the sea. Before the dams were built, the Colorado River delta had an annual flood, and this injection of water will recreate the effects of this.
The Hoover, Parker and Davis Dams have been slowly releasing water from the date that the agreement was signed. The water that is collected from the three dams, will flow down the river until it reaches the Morelos Dam on the border of North and South America. On the 23rd March, this water will be released from the dam into the river delta, flooding it in the process. There will be a continuous flow of water into the delta for approximately three weeks, or until the ground is substantially flooded. The water supplied will replenish the dry and dusty surrounding land and will also be irrigated through the soil to farmland further afield. This experiment is the first of its kind, and if it is a success may be useful in other arid areas around the world.
The newly replenished lands will, in theory, attract flora and fauna back to the river delta, including native trees and wildlife that have been absent for decades. Species such as beavers and deer may return to the delta, as well as trees and shrubbery that thrive in flooded conditions. Mexico is in the middle of a very dry season, the return of animals and plants will be only one of the outcomes of the experiment. The farms that are situated close to the river delta will also benefit from the irrigation of the flood water into the soil, allowing crops to grow and animals to feed on the new pastures.
This experiment is a huge step forward, as the flow of water between countries is usually controlled by the geological authorities of each nation. The combined efforts of these two countries will overcome a task that would be challenging to do alone, and sends an important message to other nations that changing our environment for the better is a worldwide vision. If successful, the experiment could lead to many similar projects being undertaken , although it will be a few years before we see any results. This type of controlled flooding could be a possible step for other arid countries that are situated alongside countries where water is plentiful. With many productive outcomes including the return of an ecosystem and the drenching of dry, barren areas for farmland, this is a brilliant example of how we can change our environment for the better.
What species will be attracted to this new water source?