LAS VEGAS – A Mexican channel that’s been dry for decades as cities and farms drink up the waters of the Colorado River will once again flow in an experiment to restore the region’s flora and fauna.
The gates of Morelos Dam, located a mile south of where California, Arizona and Mexico adjoin, will open March 23 to release a man-made flood. The flows will continue until May 18 and will be followed by a smaller stream of “base flows” meant to keep the channel wet as plants grow.
The so-called “pulse flow event” mimics the floods that happened each spring before the Colorado River was dammed up and its waters stored in reservoirs such as Lake Mead.
Water hasn’t flowed regularly to the Gulf of California since 1960, according to Jack Simes of the Bureau of Reclamation. Virtually no water gets past the Morelos Dam, which stops the flows and diverts them southwest to Mexico’s Mexicali Valley.
The pulse flow was authorized by a 2012 amendment to a 70-year-old U.S.-Mexico treaty.
Conservationists in both countries applauded the opening of the dam gates, which is expected to send water all the way to the Gulf of California once again.