The Colorado River Returns to the Sea

Colorado River into the Gulf of California, Sea of Cortez.
These two pictures illustrate the extremes of water flow in the Colorado River since measurements began in the late 1800s. The 1985 image (Left) was taken in the midst of record high flow, while the 2007 image (Right) shows the driest period. Excessive rains or severe droughts directly change the amount of water available in the Colorado River Basin, and so does the increasing pressure of human needs throughout the western states. The river, which has its headwaters in the snowmelt of the Rocky Mountains, is 1,400 miles (2,253 kilometers) long and empties into the Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez. Captions and Images source: U.S. Department of the Interior / USGS and NASA.


After coursing through its delta for nearly eight weeks, the fresh waters of the Colorado River have touched the high tides of the salty sea.

It is the first time in sixteen years that the Colorado River, which flows 1,450 miles (2,334 kilometers) from its headwaters in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) in northwestern Mexico, will have reached its final, natural destination.

This reunion between river and sea is due to an agreement between Mexico and the United States, known as Minute 319, to advance the restoration of the Colorado Delta by releasing a pulse flow and sustaining base flows in a five-year experiment…

Read Full Article, National Geographic

The Return of the Colorado River to the Sea, Take Part
Eight weeks after the facilitated pulse flow, which began on March 23, and now nearing its end, the Colorado River touched the Gulf (also known as the Sea of Cortez). National Geographic reports that scientists didn’t expect the pulse flow to achieve the historic occurrence, which they describe as a “wonderful bonus…”

Historic “Pulse Flow” Brings Water to Parched Colorado River Delta, National Geographic (02-22-2014)

Relief for a Parched Delta, The New York Times (04-17-2013)
Thanks to dams that throttled the Colorado and diverted its water to fuel the rise of the American West, the river has effectively ended at the Mexican border. The Colorado delta, once a lush network of freshwater and marine wetlands and meandering river channels and a haven for fish, migrating birds and other wildlife, is largely a parched wasteland…

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