In 2014, an international effort secured the release of a pulse of water into the parched Colorado River delta. As ecologists delighted in the success of returning water to the natural channel of the Colorado River, communities in the Mexicali Valley celebrated as well. Yuliana Dimas, a social worker for one of Mexico’s leading environmental organizations, ProNatura Noroeste, recognizes the cultural significance of restoring the flow of the Colorado River through its natural delta. While ecologists continue to monitor the health of the ecosystem, Yulie studies the surrounding communities’ relationship with the pulse flow, which she says has largely been positive. Historically, communities in the Mexicali valley were very connected with the river and Yulie believes that the pulse flow is restoring those connections. When the water came, people gathered alongside the river banks to celebrate the long awaited sight of water flowing toward the sea. Yulie explains that children are learning about the river ecosystem and that families are volunteering with restoration projects which has “made the place happy, very happy.” The work of community advocates like Yulie means that returning water to the Colorado delta has strengthened the community as well as the ecosystem, reminding people of the joy of water.
By Sarah Dunn