Restoring life-giving flows for all after 200 years of building river-killing dams

In 2016, hope to see more firm commitments — through policy and in practice — to restore life-giving flows to depleted rivers, wetlands and other freshwater ecosystems.

Such commitments unlock the vast potential to use and manage water more productively and to increase the value of water.

The binational agreement signed in late 2012 between Mexico and the United States to restore flows to the desiccated Colorado River delta was a groundbreaking achievement of this kind. It called for a five-year experiment — including a “pulse flow” through the delta, which occurred during the spring of 2014, along with sustaining base flows — to restore pockets of native habitat for birds and wildlife.

The restoration involves less than 1 percent of the Colorado’s historic flow, but is yielding tangible ecological benefits.

On the heels of Australia’s Millennium Drought, during which many beloved rivers and wetlands dried up, the nation is taking bold action in the Murray-Darling River Basin to rebalance the allocation of water between economic and environmental purposes.

Photo credit: The Nature Conservancy.

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