Mexico and U.S. Begin Dam Releases to Restore Colorado River

U.S. and Mexican policymakers, water agencies and conservation organizations are taking a major step to right the wrong that has been done to the Colorado river delta. For the first time in history, the United States and Mexico will send a modest volume of water into the Colorado River delta in the form of a temporary “pulse flow,” which will mimic the natural spring floods that once nourished the delta. Never before have we deliberately sent water below Morelos Dam — the last dam on the river just south of the U.S.-Mexico border — to benefit the environment.

Beginning this month, water from the Colorado river will literally pulse through the border as a sign to the rest of the world of what people can accomplish through cooperation between nations. It feels like a triumph of human optimism over acquiescence.

Some may grumble that this is not the time to send water to the environment, but that objection ignores the broader context of the recent binational agreement and the many benefits it brings to both countries. In addition to breathing life back into the delta, this new framework more broadly allows the United States and Mexico to share surpluses in times of plenty and reductions in times of drought, provides incentives for leaving water in storage, and conserves water through joint investments in projects from water users in both countries. These benefits extend to water users throughout the Colorado river basin — in all seven U.S. states feeding into the basin, and the two in Mexico.


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