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Effects of Water Management on the Wetlands of the Colorado River Delta, Mexico
Edward P. Glenn, Christopher Lee, Richard Felger and Scott Zengel
Vol. 10, No. 4 (Aug., 1996), pp. 1175-1186
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2387153
Page Count: 12
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The lower delta of the Colorado River has been severely affected by the upstream diversion of water for human use. No river water is officially appropriated to support delta wetlands, yet large marsh areas of conservation interest still exist below the agricultural fields in Mexico. These are supported by flood water, agricultural drainage water, municipal sewage effluent, and seawater in the intertidal zone. From 1973 to 1993 the area of freshwater and brackish marsh varied widely, from 5800 to 63,000 ha. A new opportunity exists to restore wetlands in the delta now that the upstream water impoundments on the Colorado River are filled and flood flows are once again being directed to the delta. But flood control structures now channel most of the flood water directly to the sea, and most of the effluent waters are deposited in evaporation basins rather than used to support wetlands. If the Yuma Desalting Plant in the United States becomes operational and if the Rio Hardy wetlands continue to be drained, the area of brackish wetlands could decrease to less than 2000 ha in the near future. Preserving the remaining wetlands will require a binational water management plan. The plan should maximize the benefits to wetlands of flood and irrigation return flows that enter the delta, and it should minimize flood risks.
Conservation Biology © 1996 Wiley