Colorado River Water Users Association Annual Conference recap

Lake Mead from Hoover Dam December 13, 2016.
Lake Mead from Hoover Dam December 13, 2016.

From HavasuNews.com (Sandra Dibble):

Water managers on both sides of the border say the accord [Minute 32x] will be crucial in spelling out how the U.S. and Mexico would take cuts when a shortage is declared on the river, a lifeline for some 40 million people in both countries.

The draft also contains provisions for continuing the restoration of wetlands in the Colorado River delta and extending agricultural water conservation programs in the Mexicali Valley, as well as allowing Mexico to continue storing water in Lake Mead.

The proposed agreement, known as a “minute,” is an extension of the 1944 U.S.-Mexico water treaty on the Colorado River that allots Mexico 1.5 million acre-feet annually — enough for up to 3 million households. The agreement would succeed an existing bilateral agreement, Minute 319, that is set to expire at the end of 2017.

“We’re trying to build on the trust that we had in Minute 319,” said Edward Drusina, who as head of the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) is the chief U.S. negotiator. The proposed minute “is good for the United States and good for Mexico, and we will do what we can to move it forward,” Drusina said in remarks delivered in Las Vegas this month at a conference organized by the Colorado River Water Users Assn.

Because many of the key players at the federal level are expected to leave office in January, there is rising uncertainty over how much support for such an agreement can be expected under future Trump appointees. Beyond that, some are fearful that the collaboration between the United States and Mexico on the issue could be tainted by the politically heated rhetoric that the new administration has brought to other bilateral issues with Mexico such as trade and immigration.

“This great example of binational cooperation should not be derailed by unrelated political issues,” said Anne Castle, a former assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of the Interior and now a senior scholar at the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment at the University of Colorado.

“The collaboration between the U.S. and Mexico on binational management of this river that we share is extraordinary, and that is something to be celebrated and continued and supported,” Castle said.

Members of Trump’s transition team did not respond to requests for comment.

While a shortage has never been declared on the river, water managers say this could happen as early as 2018 if the levels in Lake Mead continue to drop. Earlier this year, the reservoir fell to its lowest level since the construction of the Hoover Dam in the 1930s.

“These are two countries that badly need each other at a time of water shortage on the Colorado,” said Stephen Mumme, a political science professor at Colorado State University and an expert on water and environmental issues on the U.S.-Mexico border. With treaty rights to its water, “Mexico has a pretty good hand to play, but it wants to cooperate with the United States, and it needs the storage upstream,” Mumme said.

The talks between the United States and Mexico, which have been taking place since 2015, are being led by the IBWC and its Mexican counterpart, Comision Internacional de Limites y Aguas. “The minute will have the same basic sections as Minute 319 but will be updated appropriately,” said Sally Spener, foreign affairs officer for the IBWC.

Signed in 2012 in Coronado, Minute 319 involved unprecedented binational cooperation on the Colorado River and for the first time in the treaty’s history recognition of the environment as a water user.

Its provisions included a “pulse flow” of a large volume of Colorado River water during an eight-week period in 2014 delivered to wetlands in Mexico that have been getting little water due to diversion upstream for urban and agricultural users.

Another component of Minute 319 involved a collaboration among three U.S. water agencies — the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the Central Arizona Project and the Southern Nevada Water Authority — and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to pay $18 million for water conservation projects in Mexico.

In exchange, they were to receive 124,000 acre-feet of Mexican water being stored at Lake Mead.

“The value of working with Mexico is key,” said Bill Hasencamp, Colorado River Resources manager for the Metropolitan Water District. “If we’re not done by January, that doesn’t mean we still don’t have an agreement with Mexico. We want to make sure it’s done right rather than done fast.”

Approving the agreement before the end of January “is going to be a challenge, because we’re running up against the clock,” said Tina Shields, water department manager of the Imperial Irrigation District. “Obviously people are moving very quickly now.”

The Lower Colorado Basin states of California, Arizona and Nevada are working on their own drought contingency plan which must be approved before the water scarcity provisions in the binational agreement can be made effective.

The states’ agreement would parallel the binational water scarcity provision with Mexico under the new accord, so that if the lower basin states take cuts under their contingency plan, so would Mexico, said Tanya Trujillo, who is representing California in the bilateral talks.

Trujillo, executive director of the Colorado River Board of California, was doubtful that the provisions would be worked out.

#ColoradoRiver: Sharing Water: A Special Presentation from Author John Fleck Wednesday, November 30 #COriver

Young girl enjoying the river restored temporarily by the pulse flow March 2014 via National Geographic
Young girl enjoying the river restored temporarily by the pulse flow March 2014 via National Geographic

Register here. From the website:

When the governments of the United States and Mexico released water from Morelos Dam on the Colorado River in the spring of 2014, it marked the culmination of one of the most important environmental restoration experiments in arid western North America. In the midst of deep drought, water returned to the river’s desiccated delta, and with it birds, riparian plant communities, and even beavers. But while all nature is ultimately local, bringing water and wildlife back to that landscape required linking those local environmental concerns to water management in the entire Colorado River Basin, spread across seven U.S. states and two in Mexico. John Fleck will talk about his new book “Water is for Fighting Over: and Other Myths about Water in the West,” which chronicles the environmental success in the delta and the broader problem solving that made it possible.

waterisforfightingoverandothermythsaboutwaterinthewestjohnfleckcover

Center for #ColoradoRiver Studies: Fill Mead first — A Technical Assessment #COriver

fillmeadfirstatechnicalassessment

Click here to the Denver for Colorado River Studies at Utah State University for all the inside skinny on the report. Here’s the executive summary:

The Fill Mead First (FMF) plan would establish Lake Mead reservoir as the primary water storage facility of the main-stem Colorado River and would relegate Lake Powell reservoir to a secondary water storage facility to be used only when Lake Mead is full. The objectives of the FMF plan are to re-expose some of Glen Canyon’s sandstone walls that are now inundated, begin the process of re-creating a riverine ecosystem in Glen Canyon, restore a more natural streamflow, temperature, and sediment-supply regime of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon ecosystem, and reduce system-wide water losses caused by evaporation and movement of reservoir water into ground-water storage. The FMF plan would be implemented in three phases. Phase I would involve lowering Lake Powell to the minimum elevation at which hydroelectricity can still be produced (called minimum power pool elevation): 3490 ft asl (feet above sea level). At this elevation, the water surface area of Lake Powell is approximately 77 mi2, which is 31% of the surface area when the reservoir is full. Phase II of the FMF plan would involve lowering Lake Powell to dead pool elevation (3370 ft asl), abandoning hydroelectricity generation, and releasing water only through the river outlets. The water surface area of Lake Powell at dead pool is approximately 32 mi2 and is 13% of the reservoir surface area when it is full. Implementation of Phase III would necessitate drilling new diversion tunnels around Glen Canyon Dam in order to eliminate all water storage at Lake Powell. In this paper, we summarize the FMF plan and identify critical details about the plan’s implementation that are presently unknown. We estimate changes in evaporation losses and groundwater storage that would occur if the FMF plan was implemented, based on review of existing data and published reports. We also discuss significant river-ecosystem issues that would arise if the plan was implemented.

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

Making Lake Mead the primary water storage facility on the Colorado River isn’t as simple as it might seem and would require more study than it’s been given so far, says a study released Thursday.

Backers of the Fill Mead First idea said the study underscores the need to move ahead with studies and a spokesman for the Colorado River Water Conservation District said the discussion ignores a significant element: the need for Colorado and other states to save water in Powell.

The Center for Colorado River Studies at Utah State University said more study of evaporation from Lake Powell is needed, as well as a study of groundwater into the reservoir and of the fine sediment that would be released should Lake Powell be drained.

That would be a good start, said Eric Balken, executive director of the Glen Canyon Institute, which drafted the idea of filling Lake Mead instead of storing water in Powell so as to reduce water lost to evaporation.

The Interior Department has so far “written off” the idea, Balken said.

“Now is the time to initiate new measurement programs of (evaporation) losses at Lake Powell and Lake Mead so that future policy discussions have access to less uncertain data regarding evaporation and groundwater storage,” Balken said in an email.

The idea ignores Lake Powell’s “primary purpose,” which is to serve as a savings account for the upper Colorado River Basin states to deliver an average 7.5 million acre-feet of water per year to the lower basin, said Chris Treese of the River District.

The amount is set in the 1922 compact that governs the use of the river, which provides water to millions of people in the arid Southwest.

Advocates of draining Lake Powell tend to write off the upper basin concerns by saying it’s “with a wave of the hand that you’d have to ‘make a few changes’,” to the compact, Treese said, “As if it’s simple and desirable to open up the Colorado River Compact.”

The Fill Mead First idea proposes draining Lake Powell in a three-stage process and storing the water in Lake Mead, 300 miles downstream.

“It is surprising how much uncertainty there is in estimating losses associated with reservoir storage,” said Jack Schmidt of the Center for Colorado River Studies, who served as chief of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Grand Canyon Research and Monitoring Center from 2011 to 2014.

Evaporation losses at Lake Mead are measured by the U.S. Geological Survey in a state-of-the-science program, but there have been no efforts to measure evaporation at Lake Powell since the mid-1970s, Schmidt said.

Using the most recent data, researchers showed the Fill Mead First plan might reduce evaporation losses slightly, but noted that such a prediction is uncertain.

The Interior Department should conduct a thorough scientific investigation of evaporation and seepage losses at lakes Powell and Mead, as the Utah State study suggests, Balken said.

Delph Carpenter's 1922 Colorado River Basin map with Lake Mead and Lake Powell
Delph Carpenter’s 1922 Colorado River Basin map with Lake Mead and Lake Powell

#ColoradoRiver: Moffat Collection System Project update #COriver

Denver Water's collection system via the USACE EIS
Denver Water’s collection system via the USACE EIS

From The Wall Street Journal (Jim Carlton):

Next year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to decide whether to issue a permit to triple the capacity of Gross Reservoir in the Rocky Mountain foothills, with additional shipments of about 18,000 acre feet of water a year from the Colorado River watershed. An acre foot is enough water to meet the annual needs of an average family of five.

That is one of the last regulatory barriers for utility Denver Water’s $380 million project, for which district officials say they hope to break ground in 2019 to help ensure local water supplies.

“We have an obligation to supply water,” said Jeff Martin, Denver Water’s manager of the project, as he stood recently atop a 340-foot concrete dam that is to be raised by 131 feet under the plan. “It’s not an option to not have water.”

[…]

The Corps of Engineers is expected to decide next year on a proposed new “Windy Gap” project in Colorado, which would divert up to another 30,000 acre feet a year to the Front Range, the heavily populated area where the Rocky Mountains rise up from the plains.

In addition, more than 200,000 acre feet would be diverted for proposed projects in Utah and Wyoming…

Water officials in California and other lower basin states say they aren’t overly concerned about more diversions upstream, because a 1922 compact requires the upper basin states to deliver them about 7.5 million acre feet a year, or one half the river flow set aside for human use north of the U.S.-Mexico border. Much of that water is stockpiled in Lake Powell on the Arizona-Utah border.

With the Colorado running much lower than when the compact was signed, water experts say there is less water to divert.

“So long as their development doesn’t impinge on their release to us, that is their business,” said Chuck Cullom, a program manager at the Central Arizona Project in Phoenix, which pulls from the river and stands to lose a fifth of its deliveries if a shortage is declared on the Colorado. “If it falls below that, then they would have to figure out how to manage their demand.”

Don Ostler, executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission, which oversees use of the river in the upper basin states of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico, agreed that new diversions increase the risk of shortages.

“The more you develop, the more a severe drought can affect you,” said Mr. Ostler. “But we are able to live with a certain amount of shortage.”

In Denver, water officials don’t feel they have much choice but to seek more Colorado water.

In 2002, tons of sediment from a forest fire clogged one of Denver Water’s reservoirs during a drought. “We came close to running out of water in the northern end of our system,” said Jim Lochhead, chief executive officer of Denver Water, a utility that serves 1.4 million people.

That crisis helped prompt the district in 2003 to undertake the Gross Reservoir expansion, which would store more water from an existing tunnel that transfers Colorado River water from the west side of the Continental Divide.

Denver officials pledged to only take the water in wet years and release more into streams when it is dry—measures that drew praise from some conservationists…

Gov. John Hickenlooper in July gave the state’s approval, calling the dam’s expansion vital. “The state’s responsibility is to ensure we do the right thing for Colorado’s future,” the Democratic governor said at the time, “and this project is vital infrastructure for our economy and the environment.”

The dam that forms Gross Reservoir, located in the mountains west of Boulder. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism
The dam that forms Gross Reservoir, located in the mountains west of Boulder. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

#ColoradoRiver: “This really is a critical time. Action is required” — Anne Castle #CORiver

Colorado River Basin, USBR May 2015
Colorado River Basin, USBR May 2015

From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

The next president could be faced with ordering a first-ever reduction in water siphoned from the river by 333,000 acre feet next August, a report by the Colorado River Future Project contends. That’s an amount equivalent to the water used in 666,0000 homes.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials on Tuesday confirmed the finding. Federal models show a 48 percent chance that, without cuts, lower basin states Arizona, California and Nevada would face shortages starting in 2018.

Anne Castle, President Obama’s former Interior Department Assistant Secretary for Water and Science and now a senior fellow at CU’s Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment, led a team of five researchers. They interviewed 65 western water policy experts and decision-makers in addition to analyzing federal data.

“This really is a critical time. Action is required. We’re closer to the edge than we ever have been,” Castle said.

The report concludes the next president must prioritize a Colorado River “crisis” within the first 100 days and ensure that key positions dealing with water are filled. A convergence of events related to the river includes an essential not-done deal with Mexico, which has claims on a share of river water, and unresolved claims by Navajo and other Indian tribes.

An imbalance in water use along the river — cities and farmers for a decade have been taking more than the river gives — means future development in the arid West may not be possible because there’s not enough water, Castle said.

“It depends on how you do it. The major municipal suppliers have shown they can reduce per-capita water usage so they can serve more homes with the same amount of water,” she said. “But increasing the draw on the Colorado increases the risk of shortages for every other water user in the Colorado River Basin.”

The CU team sent the report to presidential transition teams for candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Clinton officials said they’d like to discuss the findings, but the Trump team has yet to respond…

For a decade, cities and food growers who irrigate 5 million acres have drawn far more than the river gives. This imbalance, combined with recent dry years, has led to a draw-down of Lake Mead, created by Hoover Dam, to record low levels. On Tuesday, federal officials said the water level measured 1,076 feet (9.5 million acre feet), or 37 percent of capacity — right at the threshold for ordering cuts. A draw-down of Lake Mead forces, under legal agreements, a draw-down of Lake Powell, above the Grand Canyon, which imperils hydro-electricity essential for the western power grid.

Drawing down Mead water levels below that threshold triggers, under 2007 legal guidelines for western states, federal intervention to order cuts. The initial cuts starting in January 2018 would reduce water diverted to Arizona (by 320,000 AF out of the state’s 2.8 MAF share) and Nevada (13,000 AF out of the state’s 300,000 AF share).

Federal officials who operate dams along the Colorado River said they agree with the Colorado River Future Project’s conclusions…

“Obviously, the next administration will set its own priorities. However, we agree that follow-through on the activities identified in the Colorado River Future Project Report should be prioritized,” Bureau of Reclamation spokesman Peter Soeth said.

Obama administration officials “have prioritized science-based decision making on the Colorado River, and we are working to reach agreements within the U.S. and with Mexico to address the effects of historic drought and a rapidly changing climate,” Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Estevan Lopez said. [ed. emphasis mine] “Our efforts to work with stakeholders, tribes, states and our neighbors in Mexico are all designed to reduce risk in the Colorado River Basin — and will provide a foundation for continued engagement and progress on the Colorado River in the months and years ahead.”

[…]

Federal officials would order and enforce the cuts in water use.

“The goal is not necessarily a far more aggressive federal oversight role,” Castle said.

“But what we are noticing is that a confluence of events in the next 12 months will have a big influence on the ability of that river to continue to provide a reliable supply for the river basin that has grown up relying on it.”

West Drought Monitor October 18, 2016.
West Drought Monitor October 18, 2016.

Study: Next US President Must Act Fast on #ColoradoRiver — VOA #voteclimate #COriver

Hayfield message to President Obama 2011 via Protect the Flows
Hayfield message to President Obama 2011 via Protect the Flows

From the Associated Press via the Voice of America News:

A survey of policy- and decision-makers by the University of Colorado concluded that the president who takes office in 2017 could almost immediately face the prospect of Colorado River water supply cuts to Arizona and Nevada in January 2018.

“This is a nonpartisan issue. There’s a confluence of urgent issues that need to be dealt with,” said Anne Castle, former assistant U.S. Department of the Interior secretary for water and science.

The new presidential administration “will have an opportunity, no matter who it is, to help bring balance to this system,” said Castle, now a senior fellow at the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment, which conducted the study.

The Colorado River Future Project focusing on critical issues for the river surveyed some 65 water managers, municipal and agricultural customers, conservationists plus government officials at the tribal, state, federal and Congressional levels…

It points to a continuing 16-year drought diminishing the amount of promised water and says the most urgent need is to firm up contingency plans and extend water-use agreements.

The agreements include a key share-the-shortage pact signed in 2012 between the U.S. and Mexico. It expires in December 2017 and lets Mexico “store” water at Lake Mead – helping prop up the surface level of the crucial Colorado River reservoir behind Hoover Dam.

The lake, currently at 37 percent capacity, is the measuring point for federal Bureau of Reclamation water supply decisions made every August.

So far, the level has barely remained above the point that would trigger a shortage declaration and cuts of 11.4 percent to Arizona’s usual water allotment, and 4.3 percent of Nevada’s supply…

The policy paper points to the complexity of negotiations among hundreds of water-rights holders dating to 1922, all overseen but not controlled by the federal government.

It says treaty negotiations involving the International Boundary and Water Commission are “at a decisive stage, and should not be derailed by unrelated political considerations.”

“This is too important to let concerns about immigration, drug trafficking, U.S. corporations and jobs derail it,” Castle said in a nod to hotly contested issues in the race between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Other urgent attention is needed, the study said, to determine whether San Diego and other Southern California water agencies will continue to replenish the shrinking Salton Sea after 2017…

“Nobody wants the feds to step in and run the process,” said Craig Mackey, co-director of the Denver-based organization Protect the Flows and one of those surveyed for the report.

He added: “But there’s a great opportunity for whoever the president is on Jan. 20 to set the tone for agreements at the local level. Hopefully we can hit the ground running.”

The Colorado River Basin. The Upper Colorado River Basin is outlined in black.
The Colorado River Basin. The Upper Colorado River Basin is outlined in black.

#ColoradoRiver Delta Flows Help Birds, Plants, Groundwater — @UofA #COriver

The "Minute 319 Colorado River Limitrophe and Delta Environmental Flows Monitoring Interim Report," released by the International Boundary and Water Commission, documents the effects of the environmental flows in the delta from the initial release of a pulse of water from March 23 through May 18, 2014, plus subsequent supplemental deliveries of water through December 2015.
The “Minute 319 Colorado River Limitrophe and Delta Environmental Flows Monitoring Interim Report,” released by the International Boundary and Water Commission, documents the effects of the environmental flows in the delta from the initial release of a pulse of water from March 23 through May 18, 2014, plus subsequent supplemental deliveries of water through December 2015.

Here’s the release from the University of Arizona (Mari N. Jensen):

Two growing seasons after the engineered spring flood of 2014, the delta’s birds, plants and groundwater continue to benefit, according to a report by a binational, UA-led team.

Two growing seasons after the engineered spring flood of the Colorado River Delta in 2014, the delta’s birds, plants and groundwater continue to benefit, according to the latest monitoring report prepared for the International Boundary and Water Commission by a binational, University of Arizona-led team.

“This short-term event has had lasting consequences. This really demonstrates that a little bit of water does a lot of environmental good,” said Karl W. Flessa, UA professor of geosciences and co-chief scientist of the Minute 319 monitoring team.

“Some of the cottonwoods that germinated during the initial pulse flow are now more than 10 feet tall,” Flessa said.

Martha Gomez-Sapiens, a monitoring team member and postdoctoral research associate in the UA Department of Geosciences, stands on a riverbank next to willows and cottonwoods that germinated as a result of the pulse flow. (Photo: Karl W. Flessa/UA Department of Geosciences)
Martha Gomez-Sapiens, a monitoring team member and postdoctoral research associate in the UA Department of Geosciences, stands on a riverbank next to willows and cottonwoods that germinated as a result of the pulse flow. (Photo: Karl W. Flessa/UA Department of Geosciences)

The “Minute 319 Colorado River Limitrophe and Delta Environmental Flows Monitoring Interim Report,” released by the International Boundary and Water Commission, documents the effects of the environmental flows in the delta from the initial release of a pulse of water from March 23 through May 18, 2014, plus subsequent supplemental deliveries of water through December 2015.

Minute 319 is the 2012 addition to the 1944 U.S.-Mexico Water Treaty that authorized environmental flows of water into the Colorado River Delta from 2013 to 2017.

Birdlife responded to the post-flood burgeoning of vegetation, and bird diversity is still higher than before, the monitoring team reports. Migratory waterbirds, nesting waterbirds and nesting riparian birds all increased in abundance.

Upstream dams and water diversions for farms and cities in both countries have dried up most of the river south of the border. With the exception of a few wet years, the river has not reached the Gulf of California since 1960.

stopcollaborateandlistenbusinessblog

“This is the first time environmental water has ever been delivered across an international boundary.” said Eloise Kendy, a senior freshwater scientist with The Nature Conservancy’s North America Water Program.

“The level of collaboration was really unprecedented — from two national governments to the individual farmers whose irrigation canals were used for some of the water deliveries,” she said. [ed. emphasis mine]

Flessa, Kendy and Karen Schlatter of Sonoran Institute compiled and edited the report on behalf of the binational partnership of many people and federal agencies, universities and non-governmental organizations that monitored the Colorado River Delta under Minute 319.

Some of the water from the pulse flow and subsequent smaller environmental flows recharged the groundwater, which had both ecological and social benefits, Kendy said. The vegetation greened up in areas that received surface water and also in some areas that did not.

“The farmers were happy because it recharged the aquifer they use for groundwater irrigation,” Kendy said. “And plants that were outside the inundation zone got a big drink of water.”

Before 1960, spring floods regularly roared down the Colorado River, scouring the river bottom and overtopping the bank, thereby creating the conditions necessary for cottonwood and willow trees to germinate and establish.

An invasive plant species known as salt cedar or tamarisk is now the dominant plant along the river. Cottonwoods and willows need bare ground and sunlight to germinate, so they cannot establish themselves on tamarisk-covered riverbanks, said Schlatter, a restoration ecologist of the Sonoran Institute’s Colorado River Delta Program.

The March 2014 pulse flow delivered a fraction of the water the pre-1960 spring floods delivered. People from Sonoran Institute and Pronatura Noroeste cleared some areas of non-native vegetation beforehand. The researchers hoped that reducing competition would allow native plants such as willows and cottonwoods to germinate and grow after the pulse flow.

“We mechanically cleared the tamarisk vegetation from the riverbank and old oxbows,” Schlatter said. “We reconnected the meanders to the main river channels so when the pulse flow came there were these nice backwater areas where the conditions were good for the establishment of native trees.”

Now in those restoration areas, cottonwood and willow seeds that germinated after the pulse flow have become trees 3 to 4 meters tall (10 to 13 feet), and bird diversity and abundance has increased, she said.

“Now we have diverse habitat types, including lagoons, cottonwoods-willow forest, mesquite bosque and marshes,” she said. “We are seeing a much higher diversity of riparian bird species in the restoration sites compared to other areas along the river.”

The abundance of 19 bird species of conservation concern, including vermillion flycatchers, hooded orioles and yellow-breasted chats, was 43 percent higher at the restoration sites than at other sites in the floodplain, the monitoring team found.

In addition, the pulse flow reduced soil salinity in some areas that had been targeted for restoration, Schlatter said. “We didn’t expect that — it is a huge bonus.”

Reducing the soil salinity makes conditions more favorable for native plant species.

If there’s another pulse flow, she suggests mechanically clearing tamarisk and other non-native vegetation from the river’s bank.

“We’re not going to get a huge flood on the Colorado River anymore,” Schlatter said. “If the flood isn’t going to provide the same ecological processes floods did in the past, we will have to have active management.”

Other UA members of the monitoring team are Ed Glenn of the UA Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science and Martha Gomez-Sapiens and Hector Zamora of the UA Department of Geosciences.

The International Boundary and Water Commission in El Paso, Texas, funded the UA portion of the Minute 319 monitoring program.

Carlos de la Parra of the Colegio de la Frontera Norte is co-chief scientist of the Minute 319 monitoring team. Key contributors to the report include Osvel Hinojosa of Pronatura Noroeste, Jorge Ramírez and Jesus Eliana Rodriguez Burgueño of the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Francisco Zamora of Sonoran Institute, Jeffrey Kennedy of the U.S. Geological Survey and Dale Turner of The Nature Conservancy.

The Minute 319 monitoring team includes more than 21 scientists from universities, government agencies and nongovernmental organizations from both Mexico and the U.S., including El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, the Ensenada-based Pronatura Noroeste, The Nature Conservancy, the Tucson-based Sonoran Institute, the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, the University of Arizona, the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Colorado River pulse flow (Minute 319) reaches the Sea of Cortez for the first time since 1998 on May 15, 2014 via the Sonoran Institute
Colorado River pulse flow (Minute 319) reaches the Sea of Cortez for the first time since 1998 on May 15, 2014 via the Sonoran Institute