Leaders in Yuma say they need binational help for Colorado River Delta restoration

Critical habitats near Yuma border are being threatened due to water loss.
Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 9:12 PM MST
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YUMA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — The United States Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission held a citizens forum in Yuma about restoration efforts for the Colorado River Delta. Local leaders say it’s going to take a binational effort from Mexico and the U.S. to restore higher water levels in the Colorado River.

The Colorado River is the lifeblood of the Southwestern U.S., providing billions of gallons of water to cities and farms in states including Arizona and eventually down to Mexico. Estuaries along the river in Mexico dried up, losing vital habitats along the way. “Along the course of the Colorado River, most of the water isn’t there anymore,” said Karl Flessa, geosciences professor at the University of Arizona.

Flessa said the delta is slowly being restored thanks to an international water treaty from more than a decade ago. The efforts allowed Mexico to store water and buy water rights to bring some life back. “A little bit of water is coming back into the river zone, the riparian zone, and it’s bringing back the vegetation. It’s bringing back the trees, it’s bringing back the beavers and the families to recreate along the river,” he said.

Flessa said the Colorado River Delta needs more water to continue to thrive. Part of the treaty expires in 2026, which will bring the U.S. and Mexico back to the table to address ongoing water issues.

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