Colorado River

A Pulse of Water for the Delta

Learn more about the delta pulse flow in this interview with Conservancy scientist Eloise Kendy.

Conservancy scientist Eloise Kendy, a member of the team that designed the “pulse flow” water release, stands in the middle of the dry Colorado River channel, waiting for the water to arrive.

A historic moment, as water from the Colorado River is released back into its channel from Morelos Dam near Yuma, Arizona. Water will be released at varying rates for several weeks.

Conservancy scientist Dale Turner sets up a camera to take “before flood” photos. He’ll return to the same photo points during and after the flood to monitor plant growth and other changes.

The leading edge of the pulse flow sinks into the ground almost as fast as it arrives. It forms a rushing stream 100 feet behind the front, but needs to fill the sand before it can advance.

Conservancy scientists Dale Turner and Eloise Kendy document flood water flow and the impacts on plant growth. Typically floods are hard to predict making them hard to study.

Wildlife appears with the water at the leading edge of the pulse flow. This Woodhouse toad was ten feet behind the front of the water.

The pulse flow is timed to help germinate seeds from native cottonwood and willow trees. These trees provide critical food and shelter for many birds migrating along the Pacific flyway.

Black neck stilts are among the many species of waterfowl supported by the Colorado River Delta.

Community members came out to the river every night once the water reached San Luis Rio Colorado. This town named for the river had not seen it flowing in 17 years. People celebrated with music and family picnics.

Photos taken from the same spot a week apart on March 20 (left) and 27, 2014 (right) show the dramatic effects of the pulse flow.


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