The Colorado River Is Disappearing And Here’s What That Means For Mexico

September 20, 2021 By Jessie Stringfield

Originating from the snowmelt in the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado River supplies water for 40 million people before it even has the chance to reach its terminus in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. Before the introduction of the Hoover Dam and the All American Canal, the Colorado River flow in Mexico was over 1,200 cubic meters per second.

After American businessmen and corrupt Mexican politicians took control of the river, more water was diverted to US farmlands and arid cities to supply rapidly growing populations. Today, the Colorado River flow in Mexico is .5 cubic meters per second. Yes, you read that right, .04% of what it once was.

What water that does reach Mexico is only guaranteed for agricultural use, beneficial for farmers, but not so much for civilians. 

Like the United States, Mexico’s population is quickly growing. Consequently, groundwater is getting used up dangerously quickly. Due to Northern Mexico’s arid climate and the lack of freshwater coming from the Colorado River, freshwater reserves will run dry before nature has time to replenish them. 

It may be easy to look at the location of these desert cities in the United States and blame the lack of water on a drought, but the problem is not a draught – it’s us. Global warming and a growing population are attributing to the decline in water flow in the Colorado River.

The problem boils down to us asking too much of this mighty, yet delicate river.

We are diverting water across cities that basically don’t have their own water supply and instead rely on water from the Colorado River even though it’s nowhere close to them. More people in the United States are given access to this water than what exists in the Colorado River itself and are leaving barely any for the people at its terminus in Mexico.

The Colorado River’s course through Mexico used to create a rich wetland habitat for all kinds of birds, mammals, and reptiles, but now they are hurting too.

Animals that once called this wetland home are long gone as their habitat dried up.

Many people living in Mexicali had no idea that a river used to run through their home, but there is hope.  

Organizations are working with local communities in Baja California to help them raise awareness and understand their connection with the river that once flowed through their lands. These people are the Colorado River’s biggest hope. Along with local communities, both American and Mexican governments are working to cut water usage and help save the Colorado River, its communities, and ecosystems.

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