Water again to flow across U.S.-Mexico border in 2022

Continued binational cooperation in stainable Colorado River management benefits nature, communities, and farmers in the Delta region

May 18, 2022

On May 1, water began flowing into the arid Colorado River Delta for the second consecutive year, as part of an ongoing program of scheduled deliveries, to advance sustainable management of the Colorado River, and to restore this region of vital and historic importance. Formalized under a bi-national agreement and implemented through the U.S. and Mexican sections of the International Boundary and Water Commission, these transformational water deliveries are supported by an alliance of conservation organizations from the United States and Mexico.

The releases of water designed to mimic the river’s natural spring flows began on Sunday, May 1, and will extend through mid-September, delivering approximately 35,000 acre-feet (43.14 mcm) of water downstream into the long-depleted Colorado River Delta. The strategic water deliveries will be very similar to the successful 2021 program, tactically managed and designed to maximize the water’s impact. The highest flow rate is expected in early June, which will once again amplify the environmental and recreational benefits for the central delta. The water flows will continue for 20 weeks, bringing support to wildlife habitats while also being able to be enjoyed by local communities.

“Our Raise the River coalition continues to work collaboratively with the governments of the United States and Mexico to allocate scarce water resources in the most efficient manner to improve water security in the region, while also supporting the tremendous resilience of the Colorado River Delta,” said Carlos de la Parra, Academic in border studies specializing in water issues, and a member of the Minute 323 Oversight Group.

Members of the Raise the River coalition of conservation non-governmental organizations (NGOs) continue to play an active role in the implementation and monitoring of water deliveries, as specified and required under the binational agreement, Minute 323. These organizations include the National Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, Pronatura Noroeste, The Redford Center, Restauremos el Colorado, and Sonoran Institute, which have been working collaboratively for more than ten years to bring water and life back to the Colorado River Delta.

The continuation and implementation of the program come at a critical time for the Colorado River. In April it was designated by American Rivers as the “Most Endangered River of 2022”. This was based on the Colorado River’s significance to people and wildlife, coupled with the magnitude of the threats to the river and its neighboring communities from the combined pressures of climate change and overallocation. The collaborative restoration work by Raise the River is essential to moderate the threats that led to this designation by American Rivers.

After years of drought and declining reservoirs made worse by climate change, Colorado River water users in 2022 are experiencing unprecedented shortages, and river operators are taking unprecedented actions to preserve infrastructure viability. Conditions are expected to further deteriorate as climate change impacts become more severe over time, expanding water shortages for people and nature. The modest Minute 323 environmental flows will ensure water is available for the birds and other wildlife that depend on the Colorado River in its delta.

“The monitoring of environmental impacts has proven very helpful to inform how to obtain the greatest benefits from the smallest amounts of water delivered into restoration sites,” said Francisco Zamora, Director General of Sonoran Institute Mexico. “This information becomes increasingly relevant as we face droughts with more frequency, not only in the Colorado River basin but also in other watersheds.” 

As with the 2021 program, water will be delivered to the river corridor in the central delta via existing irrigation canals in the Mexicali Valley that distribute Colorado River water to Mexicali’s farmers. The Colorado River’s water is diverted into this canal system just south of the United States – Mexico border. Once there, it flows down the canals to specific locations where the Raise the River coalition partners have developed successful restoration sites, and where these programmed releases of water can benefit the habitats and the wildlife that use them.

“Based on our prior work and the careful monitoring of its impact, we have been able to steadily increase the extent of restored sites in the delta. This expansion of healthy habitats has compounded the positive impacts on wildlife in the region,” explained Gaby Caloca, Coordinator, Water and Wetlands, Pronatura Noroeste, a Mexico-based non-profit conservation organization that manages several of the restoration sites. “These water releases are vital to support our ongoing restoration efforts,” she added. 

These water releases are implemented under the terms of Minute 323, the multi-faceted binational treaty agreement negotiated between the U.S. and Mexico federal governments in September 2017. The treaty and this historic accord define how the two countries share Colorado River water through 2026 amidst growing pressures on water resources. It is part of a larger Colorado River policy framework that provides multiple benefits for water users on both sides of the border, with guidelines for sharing surpluses in times of plenty and reductions in times of drought, as well as incentives for leaving water in storage, and conserving water through joint investments in projects from water users in both countries.

“Ten years ago, the United States and Mexico modernized Colorado River management, collaborating to proportionately share surpluses and shortages in the Colorado River’s water, while boosting cross-border investment in water conservation and beginning to restore the Colorado River in its delta,” stated Jennifer Pitt, Colorado River Project Director, National Audubon Society, and Co-Chair, Raise the River Steering Committee. “Our collaborative efforts and demonstrated commitment to improving water supply for nature and people is a shining example of what two nations can achieve when we work together.”

The 143-day program of scheduled water releases is part of a broader commitment under Minute 323 to provide water for the Colorado River in its delta, for supporting key restoration sites for the conservation of riparian habitat in the river’s corridor through 2026. The sites that receive this water are a part of the international cooperative management standard established by Minute 319 (in effect from 2012 to 2017), providing proven benefits to wildlife species and communities in the Colorado River Delta region in Mexico. The United States and Mexico are providing 2/3 of the total water committed (140,000 acre-feet or 173 mcm over 9 years) and the Raise the River coalition of NGOs is providing 1/3 of the water (a total of 70,000 acre-feet or 86 mcm, over 9 years).  

“Through these cooperative efforts, we are rewriting history by increasing the resilience of the Mexicali Valley,” said de la Parra. “Coming together once again, the U.S. and Mexico are allocating resources to improve the water delivery infrastructure, helping Mexicali Valley farmers increase their resilience to the impacts of climate change,”

With climate change amplifying the impacts of overuse and overallocation of the Colorado River, collaborative water management is vital to increase the resilience and sustainability of this essential resource. Raise the River is working with Mexico’s national water authority, CONAGUA, and Mexicali Valley agricultural water users to share opportunities for more efficient water use and conservation in a series of ongoing workshops. Additionally, Raise the River and its coalition members have active community engagement programs within the Mexicali Valley that offer environmental education and provide recreational opportunities in the newly restored green areas.

 “Our work in the Colorado River Delta is becoming a model for long-term water-sharing agreements across borders,” says Pitt. “Since the initial releases of water for the environment in 2014, we have demonstrated the long-term benefits of binational cooperation for the environment, for the river itself, and for all water users in the region.”

Raise the River is committed to continuing its work to bring water and life back to the Colorado River Delta. Its active involvement in the 2022 program of strategic water releases is an important part of its ecosystem restoration efforts, which serve to help combat the impacts of climate change and water scarcity that are projected to intensify in the coming years. It is through the continued collaboration, cooperation, and participation of each of the various stakeholders in this region that we can raise awareness and support for the Colorado River Delta.


Colorado River named #1 Most Endangered River of 2022

Collaborative restoration work by Raise the River is essential to mitigate threats that led to this designation by American Rivers

The combined pressures of climate change and overallocation are threatening the vitality of the Colorado River, which was named today by American Rivers as the #1 most endangered river in the United States. The Colorado River is a critical water source for seven U.S. states, 30 Tribal Nations, and Mexico, and provides drinking water for 40 million people. The Colorado River received this designation for 2022 based on the river’s significance to people and wildlife, combined with the magnitude of the threat to the river and its neighboring communities. 

Each year, American Rivers evaluates the health of the rivers in North America and highlights those most at risk. Their annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers report is the result of these efforts: a list of rivers at a crossroads, with the goal of bringing attention and awareness to the rivers where near-term key decisions can impact their fates.

The Colorado River basin is home to almost 400 bird species – many of which are currently classified as threatened or endangered – and the dramatic change has significantly impacted the region’s essential wildlife habitat. The Colorado River has not flowed regularly in its delta in Mexico for decades, turning the once vibrant river corridor into a desiccated and barren landscape. 

The member organizations of Raise the River have been working together for twenty years to mitigate these deteriorating conditions. Since 2012, this coalition of non-governmental organizations has been collaborating with the U.S. and Mexico sections of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC & CILA), CONAGUA, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to mitigate these threats, and to revive the Colorado River Delta ecosystem through science-based conservation practices and strategic restoration work.

“Collaboration is the only path to avoid catastrophic water shortages for people and nature. We know how it works – ten years ago, the United States and Mexico modernized Colorado River management, collaborating to share the Colorado River’s water proportionately, while boosting cross-border investment in water conservation and beginning to restore the Colorado River in its delta.”  Jennifer Pitt, National Audubon Society’, Colorado River Project Director; Co-Chair, Raise the River Steering Committee

In partnership with federal agencies in the U.S. and Mexico, Raise the River is making substantial progress and positive outcomes in the Colorado River Delta region. Strategic deliveries of water and the planting of native trees in the region are components of their active management and maintenance of the river. To date, more than 1,100 acres (446 hectares) have been transformed into restored sites, comprised of cottonwood and willow groves, mesquite forests, marshlands, and open water. 

The announcement of its status as the most endangered river of 2022 underscores the impact climate change is having on the Colorado River. It is unequivocally clear how important the binational commitments to water and the complementary restoration efforts are to the future health of the river. This ongoing cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico governments supports a more secure water future for the region.

“Our ‘Raise the River’ coalition continues to work closely with the governments of Mexico and the United States to achieve gains for water security in the region, while also demonstrating the Colorado River Delta’s tremendous resilience.”  Carlos de la Parra, Academic in border studies/water issues, member of the Minute 323 Oversight Group

The Colorado River is overallocated and overused, and climate change is further reducing the water supply. Raise the River is working with Mexicali Valley water users to increase the resilience and sustainability of agricultural water use in the region. A component of this effort is a series of workshops organized in conjunction with Mexico’s national water authority, CONAGUA, to share opportunities for more efficient water use and conservation with the local agricultural community. Also within the Mexicali Valley, Raise the River has an active community engagement program that offers environmental education and provides recreational opportunities in the newly restored green areas.

This is not the first year that the Colorado River has received this concerning designation; prior designations occurred in 1991, 1992, 2004, and 2013 (with portions of the river designated in 1997, 2010, 2014, and 2017). Based in Washington, D.C., American Rivers has been working since 1973 to support the protection of wild rivers and the restoration of damaged rivers for people and nature. www.AmericanRivers.org

“On the Colorado River and nationwide, the climate crisis is a water crisis. Just, equitable solutions for rivers and clean water are achievable and are essential to our health, safety, and future.” Tom Kiernan, President and CEO, American Rivers

Despite the positive impacts of the work of Raise the River, much remains to be done. Climate change and water scarcity are only projected to intensify in the coming years, and both need to be addressed globally and regionally. Ecosystem restoration is the principal way Raise the River can combat these impacts. This requires continued collaboration, cooperation, participation, and support from each of the various stakeholders in this region. Raise the River is committed to continuing its work to bring water and life back to the Colorado River Delta, and in doing so, provide support – and hope – for this endangered river.

– 2022 Report from American Rivers; April 18, 2022: https://www.americanrivers.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/MER2022_Report_Final_04062022.pdf

Our Plan to Count Shorebirds in the Colorado River Delta

A peek into Audubon’s scientific efforts to better understand a critical migration bottleneck.

By Chad Witko
Outreach Biologist, Migratory Bird Initiative, Audubon Society

Colorado River Delta. Photo: Claudio Contreras Koob

Nestled within the heart of the Pacific Flyway, nearly halfway between Alaska and Chile, the Colorado River Delta is one of the most important wetland ecosystems in the Western Hemisphere for birds. Many people also live there and rely on the river—for their homes, farms, and other businesses. Audubon’s own research, published in the journal Ornithological Applications, shows that this region of Mexico is critically important to the populations of over 100 landbird species. Millions of landbirds use the delta during migration, with some species, such as the Tree Swallow, seeing about 27% of their global population migrating through this corridor. But with its riparian habitats and expansive mudflats, the Delta is equally vital to the hundreds of thousands of shorebirds—like American Avocets, Willets, and Western Sandpipers—that overwinter here each year or migrate through to locations half a hemisphere away. Because a healthy Delta is important for the people in Mexicali Valley and essential to the survival of so many birds, and other wildlife, there are many ongoing efforts to protect and restore this area. Audubon—in partnership with the binational Raise the River coalition and federal and university partners in the United States and Mexico—is working to restore the Colorado River Delta and its associated wetland ecosystems.

To obtain data and better understand how birds use the Colorado River Delta, Audubon and our partners at Pronatura Noroeste initiated a semi-annual aerial shorebird survey, conducted three times each spring and fall, to evaluate the impacts of water deliveries for the environment and its effects on shorebirds. This is all done within the context of Minute 323—a binational agreement between the United States and Mexico. While the study is just starting and will continue until at least 2023, we wanted to give you some insight into what we are studying.

Audubon and Pronatura Noroeste, with support from LightHawk (a non-profit conservation flying organization), conducted the first surveys of the multi-year study in 2021. These surveys, both airplane-based and on-the-ground, took place during the spring and fall migration seasons, with three surveys each season spaced approximately two to four weeks apart.

For the airplane portions of the survey, Audubon hired Jonathan Vargas Vega, a local shorebird observer, to join LightHawk volunteer pilots. The purpose and benefit of the aerial surveys are to conduct shorebird counts over large and remote areas of shorebird mudflat habitat, which make up a large portion of the Delta’s composition but are otherwise inaccessible. While counting every bird in an entire ecosystem is impossible, researchers can obtain accurate snapshots through aerial surveys, which cover large areas in a relatively short period of time.

Photo of Jonathan Vargas Vega, left, aerial shorebird observer, and Bill Rush, LightHawk volunteer pilot. Photo: Courtesy of Jonathan Vargas Vega

Over time, the weight of these snapshots is compounded, providing researchers with critical insight into changes in the number, timing, and locations of migrating shorebirds. These changes can be further linked to various factors including water management, habitat loss or restoration, and climate change.

As our quantitative ecologist Tim Meehan put it, “Getting a birds-eye view of when, where, and how many shorebirds are using the Delta will help us evaluate the effectiveness of ongoing water policy and habitat restoration work being conducted by Audubon and its international government and NGO partners. This work both creates a solid baseline for evaluation and serves as a measure of how things improve as work is conducted.”

For the aerial surveys, planes departed from the Mexicali International Airport in Baja California, Mexico, and flew over the same pre-determined flight-line across the Delta. Partners of the study and local collaborators established priority areas for flights with a particular focus on two areas: along the main stem of the river that is affected by instream flow management and site-level habitat restoration, and within the Cienega de Santa Clara, the largest remaining wetland in the Colorado River Delta.

During these flights, the expertise provided by LightHawk’s volunteer pilots really shines.

The goal is generally to fly as low and slow as possible, giving the observer the ability to identify, count, and record the shorebirds, which under normal conditions on land are difficult enough to identify. During the aerial surveys, from within the plane, the observer records shorebirds to species whenever possible. When unable, shorebirds are identified to the most appropriate taxonomic grouping (e.g., small plovers, yellowlegs, peeps, and phalaropes) or by size (e.g., small, medium, large). When conducting these surveys habitat matters, especially when it is tied to water levels and pulse flows. In addition to shorebird totals, the aerial observer also estimated the percent cover of surface water, vegetation, mudflat, and bare ground at each of the count locations where shorebirds were present.

As Vargas and various LightHawk pilots—Bill Rush, Will Worthington, and Ray Lee—flew the transect, perfectly timed with the neap tide to improve the rate of success, three to four Pronatura Noroeste ground crews simultaneously surveyed shorebirds from land across ten sampling units. Unlike with an airplane, ground surveys are limited to locations accessible by automobile or, at times, small boats, which were employed during these surveys for a few locations. As with the aerial portion of the survey, habitat variables were measured at each site from the ground and included the percent of flooded, vegetated, and bare ground. One of the benefits of running ground surveys concurrently with the aerial surveys is that the surveys from land can support and bolster the aerial observations where they overlap by providing increased accuracy in count numbers and more precise information on bird taxonomy.

The flight route local shorebird observer Jonathan Vargas Vega, with the assistance of LightHawk, took over the Colorado River delta. Map: Joanna Grand/Audubon

During the three spring surveys of April and May 2021, approximately 31,000 shorebirds across ten species were counted from the air, with most falling within the small shorebird category, unable to be identified to species. Identifying shorebirds is difficult! From a plane, with no binoculars, it can be nearly impossible. While less numerous, some of the more regularly identifiable shorebirds identified from the air, likely owing to their larger size, include American Avocet, Willet, Long-billed Curlew, and Whimbrel.

Across the three fall surveys in 2021, we counted approximately 33,000 total shorebirds. These fell across seven identifiable species and several categories of shorebirds, with the small shorebird species once again representing the highest abundance, followed by large shorebirds (e.g., avocets, curlews) and those that would be considered medium-sized species.

With six surveys completed, three each for the spring and fall of 2021, this research is just beginning. We’ll do the same counts in 2022 and 2023, and hopefully several years beyond that. Nevertheless, they are beginning to paint the picture of shorebird presence and habitat use within the Delta.

“The initial surveys provide a baseline,” Meehan said. “We get to know how many birds there are, and where they are spending their time. By comparing locations where birds are more or less abundant, we start to get a picture of what the birds value for habitat.  The real power comes after, say, a decade of counts. This allows us to look variation in bird abundance over both space and time. By looking at variation over space and time, we have more confidence in our conclusions and get to learn about how birds respond to conservation actions.”

These surveys also reflect the importance of multi-national partnerships for studying and conserving species that are hemispheric migrants. For shorebirds that breed in the Arctic and winter in Chile, there are no such things as geopolitical boundaries. If we want to protect them for generations to come, we must do our best to remove those boundaries through collaborative partnerships across the hemisphere, on their breeding and wintering grounds, and at important rest stops along their incredible annual journey.


Restoring the Colorado River Delta

How building binational support brought water, trees, funding, and birds back to the Colorado River Delta.

By Jennifer Pitt, Colorado River Program Director, Audubon
Verdin. Photo: Lisa Langell/Audubon Photography Awards

Today, the United States and Mexico, through the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), released an implementation report documenting the first environmental progress under Minute 323, a binational Colorado River agreement adopted in late 2017. The report documents more than $3 million spent and nearly 7,000 acre-feet water delivered for habitat restoration during the first year of the agreement. The story behind these numbers is remarkable.

First, there’s the fact that restoration is taking place at all. Not long ago, the United States and Mexico were locked in a bitter battle over Colorado River management, disputing lining of a canal that saved water for the United States and depleted water availability in Mexico. Today the two countries are collaborating to put habitat back in the Colorado River Delta—an extraordinary success of diplomacy that stands out at a time when U.S.-Mexico relations are otherwise fraught.

Throughout the 20th century, both countries developed water for farms and cities that desiccated the Colorado River Delta throughout its 250,000 square mile watershed. A vast expanse of wetlands and riparian forests disappeared as the river ceased to flow through its final hundred miles towards the sea.

Now, more than 1100 acres thrive with native trees and wetlands vegetation. In 2018 alone, restoration crews cultivated more than 50,000 native plants in on-site nurseries before planting them—significantly hard labor in the desert sun.

It takes extraordinary effort to make this landscape bloom again. Hard-working non-governmental organizations (NGO) restoration crews spend countless days in the hot sun preparing lands and planting trees. An NGO environmental water trust cooperates with the vast Mexicali Irrigation District to ensure those trees are watered. A binational team of scientists travels the area repeatedly to collect data on the ecological and social impacts so that the effort might improve in the future. An impressive, binational collection of organizations, including federal and state agencies, NGOs, and universities work together to coordinate the work and ensure dollars and water are available to support it.

We know from past monitoring reports that birds are returning—species diversity is 27 percent greater and populations are a stunning 80 percent greater in restored sites along the Colorado River in the delta when compared to lands not yet restored. Birds recently spotted include: Albert’s Towhee, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Blue Grosbeak, Black Phoebe, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Cactus Wren, Crissal Thrasher, Gila Woodpecker, Hooded Oriole, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Song Sparrow, Vermillion Flycatcher, Verdin, Western Kingbird, and Yellow-breasted Chat. We expect more good news when the IBWC publishes the next monitoring report later this year.

Originally appeared on Audubon.org, May 7, 2020

Water to Flow in Colorado River Delta Again

Canal maintenance a reminder of the 2014 pulse flow

By Jennifer Pitt, Colorado River Program Directo. Reprinted with permission from The Audubon Society

Tomorrow, water will flow again in the Colorado River along the US-Mexico border. The long-dried out channel—the final 100 miles of the Colorado River before it ends at the Gulf of California—has not seen this much water since the 2014 “pulse flow.”

However, this is brackish water. For a few months, we will see it in the Colorado River below Morelos Dam, reminding us of the river that once flowed there. It is agricultural drainage that comes from farms in southwestern Arizona that use the Colorado River to irrigate in the desert. Because these farms sit above salty groundwater, their drainwater is too saline for return to the Colorado River. The drainwater is usually sent down a concrete-lined canal that takes it on a path parallel to the Colorado River, across the border into Sonora, Mexico. There it empties into the Ciénega de Santa Clara, the last great wetland of the Colorado River Delta.

But the nearly 50-year-old canal is badly in need of repair. So the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) will close it temporarily, and with nowhere else to put the brackish water (which cannot be used for farming, or even for swimming), they will divert it back into the Colorado River, below Mexico’s diversion at Morelos Dam, where it does not mix with Mexico’s water supply.

Repairs to the canal will extend its life, which is a good thing, because the Ciénega and the birds that call it home rely on this water. When first built, the canal’s terminus was dry mudflats, land that was once the eastern extent of the lush Colorado River Delta ecosystem of nearly two million acres. When the Colorado River Delta went dry, that entire ecosystem shriveled. The canal was not designed to resurrect delta wetlands, but inadvertently it did.

Today the Ciénega de Santa Clara is a watery and green expanse, standing in extraordinary contrast to the Sonoran Desert that surrounds it. It harbors hundreds of thousands of birds, including the world’s largest remaining population of Yuma Ridgway’s Rail, an endangered species. On a visit you can see long lines of White-faced Ibis in flight, squadrons of pelicans, ducks and cormorants by the hundreds. It is a spectacular oasis, 40,000 acres protected in Mexico as a Biosphere Reserve.

Scheduled repairs mean the canal must sit dry for 3-4 months. In the short term, the Ciénega de Santa Clara is deprived of that water supply. Migrating waterfowl are not present in the fall, although resident and partially-resident species like the Yuma Ridgway’s Rail will be impacted. Fortunately, the disruption to flows will be relatively short-lived, and the United States has funded a binational team that includes Audubon scientists to document the impacts and the recovery. The monitoring effort has been coordinated with the International Boundary and Water Commission, and includes scientists from both the United States and Mexico.

However, a more serious threat to the Ciénega de Santa Clara looms. If operated, the dormant Yuma Desalting Plant could divert the canal’s flow on a more permanent basis. Reclamation might do that to increase water reserves in Colorado River reservoirs. In the wake of the 2019 Lower Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan, that is a real possibility as it commits Reclamation to work on approaches to find 100,000 acre-feet of water (about 100,000 football fields in water one-foot deep) annually. Finding “new” water is a tall order for an agency that does not have a Colorado River allocation. The desalting plant would deplete the water in the canal, replacing it with super-salty brine waste. That would be a double-hit to the Ciénega de Santa Clara, severely reducing both quantity and quality of the water that sustains it. The wetlands and the birds that call it home would be devastated. Because the United States and Mexico do not yet have a treaty agreement to protect the Ciénega de Santa Clara’s water supply, the threat is real.

Fortunately, Reclamation has alternatives. The agency is already implementing infrastructure improvements and other programs that can help, and there is more that can be done. Rehabilitation of faltering pumps, improved operations of existing infrastructure, and paying water users to conserve could create just as much “new” water—and for far less cost.

In the meantime, water will flow in the Colorado River Delta. Though the drainwater is not safe for human contact (both the United States and Mexico have posted warnings), and is too salty to help the few native trees that grow riverside, it is an important reminder that this river needs water.

Back in 2014, the United States and Mexico, in accordance with a binational agreement (Minute 319), created a “pulse flow” in the Colorado River Delta to simulate, at a small scale, the spring flood that once took place every year. The pulse flow was celebrated near and far as an unprecedented nod from the governments, that nature and local communities were worthy beneficiaries of a flowing river. It was an infusion of life-giving water that – at least temporarily – created habitat for hundreds of species of birds, and the return of the river to the sea.

In a successor agreement signed in 2017 (Minute 323), the United States and Mexico committed again to send a modest—but ecologically significant—volume of Colorado River water for the environment into the Delta. While cooperative planning is underway, their water has not yet been delivered, and it must soon.

The canal repair reminds us of what is at stake, including a Delta ecosystem that still needs water, communities that mourn the loss of the river in their midst, and a large wetlands oasis sustained by an uncertain water supply. Can the United States and Mexico commit to provide water to these last remnants of nature in the Colorado River Delta?