Institute Sponsors Workshop on the Future of the Colorado River Basin

November 15, 1999, Oakland, California -  On November 18-19, the Pacific Institute will convene a workshop for government officials from Mexico and the United States, non-governmental organizations, representatives from Indian tribes and various other stakeholders to focus on water-related challenges in the Colorado River Basin, including protection of imperiled ecosystems. The workshop will take place at the Araiza Inn Mexicali in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico.

The Colorado River Delta/Upper Gulf of California ecosystem has been severely degraded by the construction of upstream dams and diversions on the Colorado River. Prior to damming, the Delta supported some 200-400 plant species, as well as a rich array of birds, fish, and mammal species. Despite the changes caused by upstream development, the Delta remains home to the largest and most critical series of desert wetlands in North America.

Until recently, the ecological and social significance of the Delta/upper Gulf region was almost entirely ignored in the United States. Managers of the Colorado River disregarded environmental impacts in general, and paid no heed to the impacts of management decisions on habitat and communities in Mexico. This was partly due to the limited number of stakeholders empowered to participate in the decision-making process, which consisted primarily of U.S. irrigators and urban water districts. Although in recent years there has been increased recognition of the critical ecological significance of the region, the Colorado River’s Delta and estuary are at a very important crossroads. A series of imminent water management decisions, primarily in the United States, threaten the re-emergence of habitat and return of estuarine conditions.

The objectives of the workshop are to assess proposed changes to the management of the Colorado River, highlight the linkages between the restoration of the Salton Sea and the Colorado River Delta, and to promote a multi-stakeholder dialogue that ensures that both Mexican and American interests are addressed, and that ecosystem protection is a preeminent component of water management decision making. Participants will include government representativesfrom the U.S. and Mexico, as well as non-governmental organizations and academic institutions in both countries.

“We believe this workshop will clearly demonstrate the biological, ethical and legal imperative to protect the Colorado River’s Delta. National boundaries should not be an excuse to ignore legitimate instream flow rights of the entire lower Colorado basin. Bi-national cooperators possess a historic opportunity to restore the region’s bloodline,” said Bill Snape, Legal Director for Defenders of Wildlife, an American biodiversity conservation organization.

Press credentials are available for the workshop from the Institute.

Contact Michael Cohen or Wil Burns.

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Contacts

Michael Cohen: mcohen @ pacinst.org
or
Wil Burns: wburns @ pacinst.org

654 13th St. Oakland, CA 94612

Phone: 510.251.1600

Fax: 510.251.2203

www.pacinst.org