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,
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 representatives
from 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.
Michael Cohen: mcohen @ pacinst.org
Wil Burns: wburns @ pacinst.org
654 13th St. Oakland, CA 94612