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Historic Agreement Creates Momentum for the Restoration of the Colorado River Delta

Minute 319 and the Growing Case for Reconnecting the Colorado River to the Sea
Blue Legacy | November 28, 2012

On November 20, 2012, delegations from the United States and Mexico met in San Diego, California to sign a historic binational agreement that will help shape the future of the Colorado River.

Minute 319, an amendment to the 1944 Treaty with Mexico, signifies an important shift in attitude towards water sharing and conservation—a pivotal step in creating a more equitable binational water distribution policy that maintains the integrity of the entire Colorado River watershed while satisfying the needs of the farmers, the fishermen, and the communities that depend on this vital river. By promoting the ecological health of the Colorado River Delta, this agreement provides an avenue for restoring critical base flow to the lower basin so the river may once again reach the sea.

In Blue Legacy’s film, Death of a River: The Colorado River Delta, we explore why it is so important for this iconic river to reach the Gulf of California, and why the prosperity of our communities is intricately tied to the health of our watersheds. In the film, while prowling the waters of La Ciénega de Santa Clara, we are presented with a vision of a restored, vibrant wetland ecosystem. The scene serves as a bittersweet reminder of what we have lost these past several decades—and what we continue to fight for.

Minute 319 marks a turning point in a long and committed effort by environmental advocates and community leaders on both sides of the border to restore the Lower Colorado River and the surrounding delta region. For an ecosystem that has been severely damaged by decades of over allocation and inequitable management, this agreement represents the beginning of a renewed, deepened partnership between the US and Mexico that will take the ecological health of the region into greater consideration when developing water management schemes in the future.

Here at Blue Legacy, we would like to extend heartfelt congratulations to everyone that has worked so hard to make this happen. Together, we are taking back this watershed.

And when water starts to trickle into the gulf once more, the estuary will begin to recover, and a rich web of life will slowly return to what is now mostly a desolate mudflat.

With the passage of this historic agreement, the finish line is nearly in sight. Now is the time to take this momentum—and ride it all the way to the sea.

To learn more about the work being done to reconnect the Colorado River to the sea, check out this recent BLOG POST by National Geographic Freshwater Fellow, Sandra Postel.

Read the PRESS RELEASE from the U.S. Department of Interior.